Monthly Archives: April 2016

reviewing jackdaw’s songs of the north

img_8071Out of darkness, the bleakest point from the island, came cobbled thoughts, a flash of ink blended with salt – now nights have cleared, here comes my humble impressions of jackdaw’s blend of geopoetics inside his début collection, Heading North.

“Heading North”, by Andrew James Murray, is the second volume from Nordland Publishing’s Song of the North Series. Its author defines himself as a northern guy with a northern accent and attitude, yet attracted to even more northern latitudes, landscapes and who follows in the tradition of both geographical and inner landscapes – bleaker in places, mysterious and remote. His journey takes us from the comfort of his familiar Manchester world to the Ring of Brodgar on a far away archipelago bathed by both a sea and an ocean, via a myriad of known & unknown places – Berlin, Prague to the cobbled streets of Stromness. But it also takes us across gritty and sometimes wonderfully chiselled inner scapes.

It all begins at midnight in summer.

Blind to great masses / that dance in dark orbits. / And a soft, summer wind. Midnight, July.

There is game of light and dark as poems juxtapose the poet’s mood and sense of place. From the Spanish Hills to Backyard, we meander through light shafts at will to find ourselves in the scarce sunlight.

There is elegance in simplicity,

The sunflower / grows alone,/ […] and a penchant for flattery. Sunflower

And there comes the jackdaw.

The one robed in capes / swooping first over parched soil / and shrivelled roots – from Storm Coming.

Poetics scapes towering contrasts, I love the allieration from Row Mojo,

the bleak blushes of dusk, and from sensuality we find ourselves drinking beyond oblivion, sometimes eating death, tasting ash, eating a father. Brutal and yet poetical.

We are tossed at sea like guillemots inside tides; we know we are heading north. That’s when the zenith turns to twilight. From the dockland to the ocean to reach the realms of the northern lands. As we progress throgh the poet’s journey, we wander though dark lands. And then we hit winter, as we reach ravaged, savage scapes & its dwellers, the crows.

Yet we are tossed between seasons, as we are drawn to the blackbird that emerges with exquisite sensuality, songstress of the twilight / I am lost in your song.

I am sensitive to the poet’s observation of his surroundings, real or not. The raw beauty of a savage sky, in this rugged hour, / a low inter sun / glazes soft… From Savage Sky.

A solitary road, cobbled, winding, / […] engineered perhaps, to break the tumult / of wind and sea … From Stromness. I believe George MacKay Brown would have smiled.

Without a question or a doubt, Andrew James Murray’s poetic collection certainly encompasses key elements of geopoetical dimension, and gives the reader a sense of north. His quest took him as high as Orkney. Elegant in places, harsh and chiselled with flair and savagery in others, Heading North is an invitation to beauty. Very much recommended.

Merci pour ta poésie, mon ami :-).

Jackdaw sings with corvids, the rawness of a northern song, and a blackbird.

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The Jungle Has A New Queen — City Jackdaw

Have you ever seen I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here? At the end of each series, the winner from the previous year comes on to hand the crown over to the new King or Queen of the Jungle. Well that’s how I feel right now. In December I was the latest poet to be […]

via The Jungle Has A New Queen — City Jackdaw

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fluttering [3]

compass head

Four weeks away from the book launch at the Shetland Library in Lerwick, and heaving a memorable night of celebration, reading and signing on Friday 20 May 2016. Our librarians are fantastic!

There will be special guests, some poets, others, artists (or poets with an instrument).

nordicblackbird | the roost now duly updated, both home and writer’s corner pages.

Excitement begins to mount…

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Meantime,

enjoy Compass Head, and please please please do not forget to bring your copy on 20 May, as I will be more than happy and honoured to sign it at the end of the event.

And if you don’t have it yet, do not delay!

get it HERE!

More to come 🙂

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Compass Head has come home, or should I rather use “returned” home yesterday, as I found my own copy in the postbox.

Funny enough, I had tidied up my main writing table the night before, when I notably found the original paper manuscript, still inside its blue plastic binder, with each piece tightly typed and protected by a plastic pocket. 

What a journey it has taken, from regular wandering in between writers’ groups right from the start… Ninian’s Café in Bigton, Bowlers’ Bar in Lerwick and various private houses in between Weisdale and West Burrafirth, before we (as the Westside Writers) settled at the Whiteness & Weisdale Hall. Until last December, it was confined within the delimited coastline of the Auld Rock.

And then the digital manuscript turned a galley, as it travelled East, across tides of our shared North Sea, to Norway. It slid across that much loved latitude of 60N. 

You could think of the auld Viking trails and sea routes, amazing waterways as those borrowed by the Northmen… I love this concept. 

So, if we follow such line of thought, we could mention a homecoming, or, as we call it here in Shetland, a hamefarin. 

Welcome back home, Compass Head. 

   

 Compass Head, as viewed from Sumburgh Head. 

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12933134_1730950360525488_8546018913097351899_nPlease mark a date in your diary, Compass Head, available on Amazon, will be celebrated at the Shetland Library in Lerwick on Friday 20 May 2016.

We – the poet, our Shetland Librarians and friendshave the beginning of a plan.

More to come, as dusk slides into a starry night.

 

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