Category Archives: 2012

Arcania by the Wood

photo Arcania has many places – from its northern edge by the great northern ocean to its more southern edge, closer to the warmer shore bathed by a star we call our sun. Not that its north end never sees it, but a difference in latitude makes subtle changes, especially in winter, as light dimmers in various ways and lingers a little longer…

Trading salt for berries

For the very first time in moons, I traveled back south of the vol de nuitancient wall – that once separated the wild & rugged north from its greener and gentler slopped south – in order to reunite with loved ones. I left my island tip in a storm at twilight to fly away from Force 10 winds. The whole journey proved a wild adventure from the start. In between flights, I paced myself. I was so eager to arrive and look through the eyes I last gazed at four years ago. And then, on approach to my destination, broken clouds let me remember how populated south is, as Tinsel City unveiled itself a few minutes before landing. However, this was not quite my destination, which lies on the edge of the wood, in between two hillsides, where spirits wander free from tarmac and concrete.

arcania by the wood [2] Every morning has its birdsong, every twilight, its majesty. How I longed to be reunited with this corner of Arcania. A (southern) Woodsman’s world where fire roars in between logs, smiles and orange. For Arcania has many faces too. Every square of it has its own dwellers. My hosts opened their door for a special Yuletide.

I love Arcania by the Wood.

We trudge back through time and brown leaves, h0ld kissing gatesloyal Braxie at every stage and admire every now. Led by loyal Braxie the golden Labrador, every walk turns a new quest. For the first time, we walked beyond the Fairy Tree, as young ones grow and wish to trek beyond its edge. We sometimes walk by Hideaway Cottage to avoid the main road;

bicycle at hideway cottage

on the edge of the wood

inside the wood with moss and leaves

stumbled through miles of mud, blackberry bushes and dead leaves, before we reach its edge. The wood is also home to clawed, furry  and scaled creatures, so dear to Arcania. As we cross a footbridge, scaled   ones welcome us at eye level… Their many eyes focus on us. You do not really notice them at first sight, since they camouflage at leisure. Others hide under piles of leaves, and remain there until twilight… Their coat of armour shines beneath the shafts of light, that add colours to the ground.

arcanias dwellers [6]

arcanias dwellers [4]

arcanias dwellers [5]

They are the guardians of the forest floor. As night returns, children are warned to stay in the safety of their own cottage, closer to their hearth, as the wood turns into a forbidden forest, where colder spirits wander free among the nocturnal dwellers. Higher up towards canopy level, owls & other birds of many enchant every tree.

arcanias dwellers [1]

 A single encounter with either of those wild creatures could cost you a limb or two. But the fiercest of all, wander loose around trees. It is said to be so territorial and fierce, others keep well away, even the three-meter dragon that seeks its solitude among mud and dead leaves. So we watch where we trudge and stravaig! Always further, where we seek light, the wood offers an opening.

Arcanias dwellers [3]But Jae-Jae the big cat knows every inch of the old wood. he will scent you and use his stealth to check you out. Braxie has flair to detect him. During day time, he will not strike, as Arcanians wander without fear from the sun.

Now, we have reached edge of the wood. Rolling hillsides and on the other side of the woodenclosed trees define more open countryside. It is warmer and enchanting. In the distance, red kites glide through the eddies and make the most of winter light. Voices gather at edge of fields and walk together to the road. We come back home in time for lunchtime or for tea.

The wood is home to light and darkness – its beauties & its beasts, but when night comes, it is time to enjoy the moon behind glass, as I too stay warm among my kind after twilight. Every woodsman knows that.

And until my return to my northern shore, my Arcanians will share their home, for they have a great sense of love and warmth.


Filed under 2012, Arcania, celebration, colours, december, geopoetics, home, images, spirit, Uncategorized, winter, writing, Yuletide

Yuletide Collaboration: A Christmas Carol

In the Presence of Spirits by James MacKenzie The great fun about  December resides in the fact that we are crossing swords with night, sleet, gales, deadlines and this mid-winter solstice (for those of us who belong to the Northern Hemisphere…) It is the darkest of moment in many respects. Over the past few weeks, I have had the great opportunity to be invited to a a collaborative project at UK scale through ArtiPeeps. I still remember yesterday, when my partner in crime, artist James MacKenzie, tweeted me about mounting excitement about the Project’ release online. It has been a fun experience and a grand collaboration with Jamie. I quickly peeped at ArtiPeeps’ blog at lunchtime, and discovered the unveiled works from all collaborators. Well, here it is, everyone, and I hope you too enjoy it!

A Christmas Carol

Wishing you all a wonderful Yuletide, with all the very best for 2013.


Filed under 2012, celebration, colours, december, images, poetry, poets, project, snow, spirit, winter, writing, Yuletide

The book is OUT & Available online

Shoormal_cvr_s I’ve yet to get my print copy, but it is out and available online: From Shore to Shoormal / D’un rivage à l’autre

co-written with Donna Allard and published by Broken Jaw Press, Fredericton, NB, Canada –

norbicblackbird in snow e-

En ettendant ma copie,  je sais qu’il est maintenant en vente en ligne – il suffit de “cliquer” sur le lien en-dessus

(ou ci-dessous…)

Co-écrit avec Donna Allard et édité/publié par Broken Jaw Press, Fredericton, Nouveau Brunswick, Canada –

Wild Man fae 60N

terre d’Acadie!

Boannie Yuletide gift / joli cadeau de Noël 🙂


Filed under 2012, 60N, atlantic, Canada, celebration, december, earth, geopoetics, home, north, poet, poetry, poets, project, shetland, shore, spirit, verse, verse poetry, world, writing

MAKK an YARN (NTS, Ignition)

IMG_1749 “Makk an Yarn”, to any Shetland lass, is second nature. For centuries on end, Shetland women have gathered by the fire and knitted socks, shawls, gansies (jumpers), toories (woolly hats) to whomever they wanted to trade in with for bread or other primal commodities, since they had no money in their pockets (well, until very recently, say the 1970s) … Some even spent their entire time caastin (knitting) whilst walking to and back from the paet bank (peat/turf hill) with kishies (baskets specially designed to carry peat/turf) on their backs. Multi-tasking is not a modern thing at all!

Now, when the National Theatre for Scotland (NTS) approached Creative IMG_1746Scotland and Shetland Arts for a very special project, Ignition, friend and playwright Jacqui Clark accepted a creative challenge: that of coming up with, literally an army of knitters to come together and produce 50-stitch squares in order to knit a car (cosy), since Ignition explores our relationship with the car. Shetland could not be rivalled, since it is the home of the Sullom Voe terminal – or a nordic version of Dallas (by the sea!) ever since the very first gash of oil turned the archipelago on its head economically.

Jacqui Clark

Jacqui Clark

So Jacqui called in a few knitters and “Makk an Yarn” (“knit and chat”) emerged from her imagination earlier on this autumn, with sessions at The Shetland Library (first floor) and Shetland Arts’ Mareel throughout the dark season.

“Can du caast?” (“Can you knit?) asks Jacqui when you come around. My humble answer made Jacqui smile, “yes, wi wirds an metaphors,” I mumbled. Jacqui invited a poet into this amazing project. So we gathered and sat with needles & wool, supplied from local brokers & suppliers, Jamieson & Smith. And what a wonderful time we’ve had! Jacqui ensured cake and other fancies would garnish our evenings! Whether at The Shetland Library or Mareel, we have been fed with a myriad of delicacies – food (largely cake, tea/coffee), stories, verse and laughters!






..And if you think this is reserve to ladies, well, think again! Jacqui’s welcomed everyone, regardless of gender, as knitters unite for the project!

Chris Wright (Parkour) gave it a go!

Chris Wright (Parkour) gave it a go!


Jacqui is ambitious: not only will the car be knitted, but a small (glove compatment-size) book with thematic recorded stories about our relationship with such motor should be produced later on in 2013. Her makk and yarn will stitch itself onto a much bigger celebration of music and dance next March.







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Filed under 2012, home, images, island, life, project, shetland, Uncategorized, writing

Hello, Timespan – Artists’ Community :-)

Nat 2_RB AVATAR[mini] It’s official – have joined my northern Scottish community, north of the Caledonian Canal – and am chuffed about it! Ruth, Patty, Rachel, Laura, Paul, Lindsay and Anne will be chuffed |:-)

It makes complete sense, especially with my involvement through Humblyband. We are now even more united.


Please click and visit! Thank you 🙂

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Filed under 2012, 60N, celebration, december, home, Humblyband, life, north, poets, project, spirit, Uncategorized

on my way to Yuletide

Yule Spirit Friend, columnist & writer Marsali Taylor offered me an e- advent calendar to help me go through the dark times of December. Even though religion’s not my thing, I embraced her present with a certain degree of joy, for I know it came from her heart. Marsali’s just like me – a tough cookie when it comes to be resilience in life; a great spirit and a heck of a pirate when it comes to seafaring! Haha, my dear Marsali, yes, am talking about you! Where did our friendship begin? Was it at The Westside Writers’ Group? I love the way our lives entwine – from words to pages into  books. In have to confess Death on a Long Ship will travel with me this Yuletide. It may travel by air instead of sea, but I shall delve into it away from the island.

For the very first time in years, there will be no holly wreath on my door. Twenty sleeps left until my familiar shore and favourite sandbridge roar away from my feet.

frosty morning If I’m longing to re-unite with loved ones, I am enjoying each sunrise & sunset from my lofty latitude – every moment of now that bathes inside light – let it be glimpses from a low-lit sun, beam or candle. Sunrise remains my favourite moment, as dawn vanishes with Venus. Whether I enjoy it from the heights of Setter (looking SE towards Mousa, or from The Sletts in Lerwick, it is precious, like a rare stone. I can never imagine a moment away from the edge of my world without light… However the low the sun may glow, currently flirting the edge of my horizon, it is a star that defines us, you & I, on this Earth. Today, in the face of more Arctic conditions, I adorned the edge of the composter with nailed apples, for the starlings, that (like pirates) dilapidate the dangling bird food for sparrows I had attached to tree branches on the previous morning. Mister Robin joined in the feast.  How delightful! Sadly, I have not heard the wren for a while… And as my world neared roosting time, I counted over twenty garden birds perching on the alders & roses, feasting like kings and quarrelling like kids (!) The price of survival in such harsh conditions remains a daily set of jousts. Earlier on this afternoon, in between snow showers,  I littered my area of No man’s land with unwanted soup leftovers. My avian friends are not fussy and will accept all offerings! Gripped inside a thin layer of ice, the grass felt like cardboard when treading on long blades.

my nordic shore I imagined a winter’s tide, when the Atlantic wrecks the very bed in the shoormal and vomits kelp, like a greedy Pantagruel.  Master Rabelais (with whom I humbly share my birthday!) still echoes in my heart, after all those years away from my lycée years in Aix-en-Provence, where, Madame Silve, my French Literature teacher, introduced us to such giant, who, like his father had impressed me. The very essence of geopoetics from this time… Walking the shore after a storm rekindles light. I promised myself to walk that edge before I go.


Collaborative work with Jacqui Clark (NTS Ignition) and with James Mackenzie (ArtiPeep’s Project) are flourishing with grace. Verse has reached each artist and creation can follow. As for the verse collection with D Allard from New Brunswick, Canada, I wait for words from Broken Jaw Press. Look for it at the bottom page. Until tide turns, the hyperlink sleeps in shallows… Twenty sleeps till the magic of Yuletide, with unknown rocks along the shore. I’ll always love the dark jade sea, from wherever I stand. Must be flowing inside my Norman veins. 🙂


Filed under 2012, 60N, Arcania, atlantic, colours, december, earth, geopoetics, home, island, poets, project, snow, white, winter, writing

new collaboration

 From the depths of Artipeeps & Kobo Art. Fresh from the press and own palette, we have a collaboration starting with Artipeeps’ English correspondent’s & artist James Mackenzie. It’s got to do with present, now. I shall choose my god or ghost carefully, as with zest from jolly giant – the very one that comes to mind is no other than


More to come through artist’s grapevine…

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Filed under 2012, colours, december, geopoetics, images, poetry, project, snow, spirit, winter, writing, Yuletide

end of day

 At the other end of November’s spectrum comes indigo. Saturday shone till it majestically vanished inside headlights. If starlings own most of the day, together with curlews, common gulls, blackbirds and sparrows, dusk and night belong to the geese. At such a time of year, I love to drive into the night from the very edge of my world, Ninian.

As I was tidying the boot of my car – then filled with sandgrains, bruck (trash) and poetics from the beach, together with old verse left in an A4 envelope and  hiking boots – I noticed clouds had turned the pale colours of flamingoes. My eyes focused on in the SW direction. Time to catch today’s sunset! On a nearby fencepost, a starling performed a fabulous solo, as an alto apprentice. So I left my township, armed with my lens and best fleeces. Under fifteen minutes, I reached a perfect orange glow from the top of Bigton Farm. If Dragon Head looked was already engulfed inside a dusky blue, Ninian’s holms silhouetted like polished gem stones, backlit by a daring evening sun. Black fleecy hat and mitts were de rigueur.

 A first glance  from the top kerb, all began to show the magic of Arcania.

The tide was high and its magic synchronised rollers engulfed the very sandbridge that leads to the island. From the distance, I imagined the sheer power of rollers engulfing the dragon that sleeps near the edge at the north side… So I wandered down at slow pace. And reached the edge of evening at the edge of the sand. Walking the shore that felt like very soft – as soft as descending winter light itself. Now and again, the Atlantic leaves traces of delicate lace at your feet, and come to drape sand as a shawl or a petticoat.

 The mighty North Atlantic leaps without shame to the centre of the sandbridge, like wild fire would engulf desert bushes, leaping over ditches. I know I cannot fully walk across, so wet the sand & restless tide… Before my eye, the turtle-shaped island lies inside blue that we call dusk. It’s not yet 4, but Arcania slides into shades that will gradually unveil Venus and later the whole of our Milky Way. I am not racing against time, and merely listen to water. I paused and turned like a wind rose, as waves offered a spectacle that never fails to marvel at. Spray flies very high in the wind. It wanders like scores of mayflies above a river or lake infested with summer evening. Mesmerised by the this whole moment, I stopped and listened to evening. Redshanks and ringed plovers made themselves scarce, although a trio of waders flew through the spray to reach the edge of the island. Somebody asked, “what’s an island?” I once answered in a poem the many faces of the word. 

Now, we reached the point of no turning back. Our closest star has retreated below this Nordic horizon.   A darker hue of indigo begins to fill this winter sky. I need  to walk back to the side of the biggest island.On my way back to the dunes, a woman walked to the widest part of the beach with an infant. I caught their silhouettes and smiled. I take they too wished to see the end of day by the sky- and waterline. And by the time I reached the top of my sandbridge, the time in between  the end & beginning – or the ticking & the talking clock, as Kate would put it –  tolled in my sky. Soon, too soon now, time to drive back to the warmth of my own hearth.

Until a new dawn takes over, we’ll have to make do with the mystery of darkness – time of earth spirits, magical creatures of the cairns, water horses inside surf. Every fencepost along my road turned a saluting soldier on parade. On the eve of the eleventh day of the eleventh month, my thoughts remember their bravery & sacrifice. Inside night, geese call in their flight. They too need to find their own way to live and survive through the mystic of nocturne.

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Filed under 2012, Arcania, atlantic, colours, geopoetics, home, images, island, magazine, ninian, north, shetland, shore, spirit, winter, writing

morning light (November style)

Considering we have embraced the paleness of northern winter, waking to (even pale) blue warms everyone’s heart. Over the course of this weekend, my island and I have been graced by such wish and beauty. I usually tweet every morning with a hashtag “presseslugtowindow” , then started off by a friend in Scalloway a few months ago, sharing my dawn chorus with the language from the earth (including, obviously, birds!). However, I must confess this morning was so calm, I just opened the back door from my kitchen and marvelled at the golden light.

On the day before, more Scandinavian invaders tore more rose hips all around us. Whereas a single individual popped its pinkish crest on top of my tree skyline, eight more appeared in the course of the afternoon (as photographed on the right by D Hall). All in all, some 300 waxwings were reported in Shetland and, when you add to that 200 from Caithness, well, the image begins to shape up about the sudden irruption of such species. These are linked with the berry crop failure in Scandinavia. Ultimately, the weather determines life and death. They really delighted everyone over the past few days!

On Sunday morning, I walked around my neck of the heather – or should I say, my neck of the torn away rose hips! – so clement morning was. I first inspected my local community garden, just a few hundred meters (yards) away from home. Starlings and blackbirds distracted my eyes around lawns and willows. I wanted to see for myself the extent and impact of waxwings’ hunger. I still remember a message via Twitter, encouraging the giving of fruit in every possible garden… Well, many rose hips did not resist their need for replenishing their energy levels!

My walk then took me back to much more familiar, and equally dazzling, birds – starlings. You find them everywhere: around gardens & buildings – perched on stone walls, fenceposts or on sheep (as personal fleece keepers – just like ox peckers in Africa with giraffes – or cattle egrets with bulls in Camargue!) They are truly beautiful birds, especially in such honey light. Walking around my neck of the township can stretch quite like a rubberband, since it comprises quite a few scattered groups of settlements… However, I decided to walk to the sea.

Every burn (local word for “stream”) leads to the mighty great North Sea (or Atlantic). In my case, it is the former, since I live on the eastern side of the (main) island. I first followed the single track stretch of tarmac and then, that burn. On my way, I met with Kate, who came to the shore to collect flat pebbles she would then decorate in time for Yule. We both marvelled at the quality of light, and she also confessed she could not really believe how kind the sky was to this first weekend of November. She knew I would not need a lift, since I had my lens in hand. I said I would meet her at the edge of the water. I went cross-country through the brae and joined her back among boulders and pebbles. Joy, as a wren welcomed me by rotting kelp. To our avian dwellers, kelp’s just an open-air restaurant! All join in: starlings, wrens and sparrows.


As Kate harvested her bagful of small flat pebbles (the very best for skimming on the surface of water!), we reconvened and begged each other a good day. She would drive home to her part of the township, whilst I would carry on with my morning stravaig (wandering)… As I walked past Eileen’s pampas and waved at Rosemary, a robin led me to the narrow lanes of Hoswick, for it was happily hopping in front of me. I lost my sense of time in between weathered doors and stunning windows. The chicken coop looked s a stunner too & I fell nose to nose with a peat stack! I love Hoswick – so charming and so picturesque… It is a haven in all seasons!

As I turned right once more, I chatted with Alison, joined in a few minutes later by Jim, and Lee, who popped out from his inn with his kit – “half an hour of freedom by this light is not to be missed indeed,” he smiled. We still have a blackcap and a crestie (goldcrest) playing around the old sycamores! In November, those peerie guys are the very last remnants of some autumnal migration. Yet their size and knack for a solid game of hide n’ seek kept us on a look out for a while… I trust Lee eventually caught them through his gigantic lens! As afternoon overrode morning, I wandered back to the burn, where a detour would take me towards Swinister (the place where pigs were once kept…) – well, still do!

Wonderful morning light dazzling my entire world! It brings folk to their surroundings, keep them smiling and share a slice (or two) of life. November began with honey… Let’s hope we won’t have to re-pay with too many icicles too soon… I don’t want to turn a waxwing!

Have a great week, everyone 🙂

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Filed under 2012, Arcania, celebration, colours, geopoetics, images, island, life, north, shetland, shore, winter, writing

nordicblackbird’s roost – website / the roost

All in one nest!
Thank you for visiting and, if you like it,
just bookmark it! 🙂

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Filed under 2012, 60N, Arcania, celebration, geopoetics, images, island, metasaga, north, poet, Uncategorized