Category Archives: 2014

Passage

In between time, tides, meridians…

2014 had its magic moments – new friends, projects, travels, publications… Holding my breath when it mattered, smiled at the world without restraint, burnt my fingers, ego & pride…

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Now my heart’s reconciled with each moment, I celebrate then & now.

Than YOU for being a part of it, wherever you are,
thank YOU for
your
kind eyes,
support and
help in any way
along this
path.

As we prepare for the next stretch, let me wish you the very best –
may 2015 fill your eyes & hearts with smiles, health, joys, happiness beyond desires.
Let it guide you towards success.

I love that word that means the world of boundless beauty inside out:

Namaste:-)

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Yule

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Yule, Mother Earth’s rite of passage towards the coming Equinox.
From 60N,
it’s impressive –

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Night overrides shafts from a sun that barely dares getting aloft…
A few degrees’ elevation to be precise.

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In other words, light from our great celestial star becomes precious.
Shortest day, longest
night,
as
sun eyes
directly into tropic of
Capricorn.

What
does it
mean to islanders
inside a storm?

Candle-lit world, cinnamon scented sanctuary as darkness creeps earlier than thought…
Time to
open tokens of love, and
reconvene with a few friends – enjoy the magic of powder propelled & sparked to light us up for a moment. Live music shared in between hail and rain showers… Then a hot drink before retracing our own steps.

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Time to regain precious seconds and gaze at return of the sun.

Have a wonderful Yule, festive season, Solstice Day, whatever side of the Equator 🙂

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Armistice Week 2014

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One hundred years on,
10 million dead,
another 10 million crippled, too many headstones… Vanished hearts – brothers, fathers, uncles, cousins… My great grand father, Pépé Duval, was a stretcher-bearer on his country’s battlefields, lunar landscapes… He, like millions of men, was thrown into a carnage, brain-washed by a propaganda led by warmongers. He was lucky enough to return home, twice gassed and deeply scarred for the rest of his life, shell-shocked…

One hundred years on,
How can we forget?

Some politicians (at least in France) attempted to “turn the page” by declaring we should drop the bucket… Sorry, we have a duty to honour those who were sacrificed against their full will. Nobody wishes to endure what so many million men endured in horrid conditions… I recently read that, in some cases, 1 1/2 mile recovered in No Man’s Land cost well over 200,000 lives. That is more than sacrifice, this is a crime against humanity.
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Over the course of such week, leading to Remembrance Day on 9 November around the UK, the Anderson High School, my school, has honoured all those fallen in and around Western Europe.

1200 North Islanders on the Orkney & Shetland respective Rolls of Honour…

One hundred years on.

No one wants a return to hatred & carnage, deep bleeding of nations.
My recent visit to Northern Germany with 22 pupils from the AHS reconnects ties between peoples, hence breaking down barriers, ignorance, fears.
We are all connected through various ways – sea, fish, herring, history, heritage. Our own language alone has been forged inside an incredible melting pot – metamorphic, enriched by words that included old German ones, brought over by the people who came to settle and trade on the land in the first place. We must not forget that either.

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We commemorate our own, however, with one hundred years on, my heart also feels for all those who perished in blind madness (war of attrition).
Military, civilians, irrespective of colour, religion, gender, or island -ethnic origin, continent, nationality.

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On such occasion, I was invited to contribute to two events – a creative writing project within a collective, and, reading my own work from such project on the school tannoy.
And so I did.
I therefore let Wildred Owen’s Dulce ET Decorum Est for my own piece entitled Ricochets, a poem which sits within a suite of verse & flash fiction created during this autumn thanks to a project called “1914 and all that”, a joint partnership between the Shetland Museum & Archives and Shetland Arts.

Ricochets resonated in the hearts of many 21st century AHS pupils, who shared their reactions throughout the day.

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Touched & happy they could reach out to one another, pupils & words.
One hundred years on,
let us all remember.

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So, in honour of all victims of the conflict, as well as a “taster” to the event at Wordplay 2014, here is the piece I shared a hundred years later.

Ricochets

Devil’s in the trench,
scavenging round the Earth –
against sandbags,
school, chapel walls or parapets, through cloth of brand new uniforms, grey, khaki, blue –
across cornfields
somebody ploughed in hope for bread,
where boys ventured to kill
boredom away from home in
a bull-ring*,
they remind me of
skimming stones,
light on the loch,
summer, crane flies…
Sleek impromptu or
intruder,
hum-buzz-quick hiss,
whizz, woosh and plop,
to find their way deep inside mud or
in between innocent eyes,
an unknown name
turned animal inside a trench,
who dreamt of blackbirds and angels…

© Nat Hall 2014

Notes: Bull-ring: the famous infamous Bull-ring, training camp in Étaples, where harsh conditions were common place. (Source: Robert M Creig, Doing His Bit, Shetland Times, 1999-2003)

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I think my great grand father would approve of not only my verse, but my thoughts as a whole.

Thank you,
Donald, Brian & Jon.

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Ailleurs

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Somewhere else…
Today is a PJ & blanket day on my latitude, as October shows its more familiar face – rain & gale filling a titanium sky. I shan’t complain, as Hairst (that wonderful Shetlan word for autumn, and more accurately the “time for harvest”) has been exceptionally dry, with a sky that would make a jeweller proud!

Time to rewind life’s clock and look again at September.
September, a strange month in many respects – the “go-betweener” – Equinox, halfway though light & darkness… A time when I wish to clone myself to be in different places at once, including Hanse House in King’s Lynn to help launch a book of poetry & art for the Transformations’ Project…
Yet this September was different, for I spent it in between Lerwick & Lübeck.

Dates are fascinating.

1814, Norway begins to taste democracy… Sir Walter Scott lands in Lerwick at Robert Stevenson’s (RLS’s grandfather) invitation.
1914, Western & Central European nations slide into total war, entailing the peoples from their respective empires, and which they believe will finish at Christmas, fleur au canon… An old order crumbled into the vacuum victors wrote as History.
On a more personal level,
1984, second (and last) participation to a school exchange with Herborn, Hessen, Germany. Fantastic experience as a pupil to learn & understand about culture from the “other side of the Rhine” and first-hand experience (eye witness) to the impact of land occupation when traveling to “die Grenze”, the frontier – no man’s land area created by the bi-polar world since 1949. A world, Europe, country divided by a “Cold War”, itself a by-product of WWII. The sight of barb wire, watch towers & tanks, respectively Soviet & US, with guards armed to the teeth remains forever tattooed in my memory.
2014 – Germany reunified (since Oct 1990) in a more homogeneous and harmonised Europe (although a world which still bears the scars of the Cold War in some respects…) and a formidable opportunity to help empower 22 young Shetlanders to experience a slice of life with their respective German partners in Schleswig-Holstein, in & around Reinfeld, thanks to a well established German Exchange, the brainchild of my Anderson High School colleague Peter Haviland. This time, I would go as staff, together with my other accompanying colleague, Stephen Arnold.

And what a fabulous opportunity it has been to empower our pupils, equipping them with a very valuable life experience, developing life skills, enabling them to taste continental life in a thriving culture – making them aware of cultural as well as linguistic differences, and, maybe inspiring them in a way in developing language skills at some point in their life… I still remember some of our young participants expressing frustration when communicating, and realising how unfair it felt “not to speak as good German as their German counterparts could speak English”… Serious awareness. Come think of it, and not (too) too long ago, when Shetland was part of a Hanseatic world, with Lübeck as its capital, Shetland fishermen had found a linguistic compromise to understand and be understood by the German fish merchants with whom they were trading; and develop it later on with the Dutch merchants… Shetland’s own dialect borrowed many words from the old Frisian tongue – not only Norse words from the Viking world.

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Our pupils were formidable ambassadors for our school, community and ultimately, Scotland. The guests of Reinfeld’s school, KGS, or die Immanuel Kant Gemeinschaftschule, for their 10th Anniversary, our young Shetlanders put to the stage their own spirit & dancing skills, which, in turn, encouraged German participation and applause from the Reinfeld community.
Watching them dance, smile, explore, discover new things, new places, and listening to them sharing their reactions to daily challenges, their emotions throughout their respective voyage of discovery has contributed to a fantastic human adventure.

Schleswig-Holstein was, like Berlin itself, uncharted territory to me. Returning to a (re-) unified Germany with a unified capital proved to be a wonderful slice of life. So great to bathe into such culture and language – to “switch” again into the Germanic way of life, weaving new bonds with colleagues from Reinfeld and reinforcing existing professional bonds with my Shetland ones. Affectionately, I called us Les Trois Mousquetaires, after Alexandre Dumas, very aptly so.

We – pupils & staff – returned home with a collection of stories & fabulous memories to treasure.
Proud of our young generation 🙂

Here, selected images as illustration.

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Poetics came through words too.

Tattoo –
Brücke, Glocken und
die Amsel,
Königin der
Hanse
#haiku #micropoetry
da brig, da bell an
da blackie,
queen oda
Hanse

———————–
Die Glocke – bell
die Amsel – blackbird
—–

Peerie Fat Man
(an icon fae old Ost Berlin)

Tiergarten,
Tauentzienstraße KaDeWe,
du, peerie fat
man;
Pariser or
Potsdamer Platz,
Check Point Charlie,
Karl Marx Allee,
Peerie fat
man;
bear & eagle as your guardian –
I noticed you in
red & green,
peerie fat
man –
short-legged with a
felted hat,
on either side,
plump,
iconic –
peerie fat
man in
the
traffic.

© Nat Hall 2014

—————

To my German Exchange AHS S4 Pupils

Flying Lasses

Travemünde,
terminal
line,
where
foliage chimes
in between light & Baltic Sea,
and acorns ripe in
September,
you dare and dance,
harnessed to
life –
hooked between
clouds & gravity,
against bark of
greenest
forest,
your
heart beats
fast,
metal cable
will keep you high;
high as a kite amid branches,
velocity veils frantic
wings of
butterflies that
spread across in
your stomach, as you glide from
helm to oak tree.

From
forest floor,
you look a spider in
my eyes,

Sur le filin, l’épeire diadème.

———
For Kelvin A., S4 AHS Pupil in Reinfeld, KGS’s 10th
Anniversary.

Star Dancer –
sleek on his feet,
meticulous on every step,
even the wind embraced his whirls, as he showed
everyone the
way,
Boston Two Steps.
He made us
proud.

© Nat Hall 2014

—-

 

All words, images and verse © Nat Hall 2014

And, oh, to avoid any confusion, “Peerie Fat Man” is that little red/green man from the German traffic lights, as photographed below 🙂

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out

Transformations

ArtiPeeps’ 15 month collaboration between world poets & artists – celebrated on 12-14 September at Hanse House in King’s Lynn, Norfok, England, edited by the Project’s Curator, now comes to you in its printed form.
Ovid’s Metamorphoses revisited and fit for our 21st Century world.

Just click on the link and order your copy.
It will transform you!

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poetry day 2014

It is today, so enjoy it! UK National Poetry Day IMG_6771.JPG

Mine is painted in pink & blue as observed from this morning’s luminous sunrise 🙂

Here, my humble stone to the edifice,
with a poem dedicated as a token of geopoetical friendship:

For Tanja M., host, friend and Lübeckerin

Lübeck-Lerwick

In Between Lübeck & Lerwick,
there is only a thin blue
line,
forest of domes
in shades of green,
where bell towers echo
warm chimes,
their
majesty,
red & black
brick – a bric-à-brac
lost inside time…
In between
Lübeck & Lerwick,
there are waterways as
lifelines,
olive-green
painted iron brigs*,
our sense of place among
islands, miles of
cobbled streets where
footprints tattoo themselves
and find a home.
In between
Lübeck & Lerwick,
there are white sails rigged to
our hearts, wooden floors
polished out of dreams,
where we wander
in between
doors
now
left
for a
lifetime.

* brigs = Shetlan word 4 bridges

© Nat Hall 2014

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jardin secret

A woman’s world is her own heart. From the roadside, nothing is visible.

So many times – in between Central and Sandsayre – have I driven & walked past those high walls without notice… Yet in summer, there is a sign, that womans worldreads “Open to the public”. One has to stop and dare to step through the high wooden doors. The creator of this secret Eden on 60N has shimmering eyes and she answers to the forename Margaret. Her heart beats as she leads you through to her secret garden. Very soon you forget you are actually on an island battered by gales, storms or other relentless winds from August to May! All is so secretly guarded by tall fences of all kinds – rock, panels or palettes. Every thing will do in order to grow her world’s plant kingdom… And I heard some trekked as far as from South Africa.

Her welcome is unparalleled. Her verve is insatiable. She speaks of her passion for her vegetal realm you feel enchanted in your heart. It feels you are surrounded by angels 🙂

Some forty years have been necessary to reach this stage of growth. Margaret does not count, even though she is bound to the planet’s own agenda and seasonal calendar – Mother Earth’s own rhythms. Hospitalisation even does not deter our intrepid gardener – she is a survivor who lives for her own world, with her husband & cats. A grand tour of the place is necessary to enjoy the full extent of this woman’s work.

And if you are invited to make a small donation, as a tn’s marked, you will only show your own appreciation of a gardener’s sheer passion in the face of such Nordic latitude. And yet, so possible.

Away from salt and wind, amazing gardens emerge from the roughest of soils and elements. It is a joy & sheer pleasure to step inside!

angelheart of the greenpathwaysinto the bluegardener's homei am in the garden

 

 

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