Excellent news from Nordland Publishing! A few days ago, I received a message from a blog reader regretting not to be able to order Compass Head directly from her own island-continent, Australia. I relayed the message to my publishers in Norway, who, not only were concerned, but have now made for amends. And they did more.
Now, this geopoetics in action and in full motion. That peerie yoal has already travelled far and wide. Let it reach YOU.
“Row, row your boat” as the tune says…
From now on, dear reader, you can now reach out to Compass Head DIRECTLY from practically WORLDWIDE, including Australia, China, India, Brazil, as well as other amazing places on Earth! So jump on the boat and, fair wind, sailors, and join in all those who have already enjoyed the ADVENTUROUS journey from The Songs from the North 🙂 Just CLICK ON the LINKs!
Category Archives: book
That tunnel ride across mountains, under water (as I once left Måløy on the first time…) has left a mark indelible, and illustrates how I feel at the start of 2017.
Here, the highlights back in limelight.
From winter into spring, as I rolled back in Provence for a short while, bringing Compass Head to the last survivor of that trio of women to whom the book is dedicated. Symbolic journey in itself… However, there was another reunion as important with a lifelong friend, artist and Art restorative Artisan, Isabelle Foriat, who took me to Manosque to meet with Jean Giono’s surviving daughter, Sylvie. Marvellous encounter.
Prior to that trip to the foot of Le Lubéron, a night at the Library to meet with Liz Lochead, Scotland’s former makar; and a much cherished reunion with a friend and fellow poet, Emma van Woerkom, who will pen, among others, an eloquent review of my peerie book of verse.
20 May 2016, launch of Compass Head at the Shetland Library. Full house, for a memorable night I will treasure all my life. I really felt humble and touched.
Mid-June, my first crossing across the sea with a close friend to be reunited with da Norskie Clan.
A dream come true for the first time. I knew this was my early gateway to Vestlandet. Unforgettable and tattooed in my heart forever.
Throughout summer, wrestled with a boiler without a suit. That techno-joust cost two plumbers who worked wonders, though at some cost I cannot regret…
July, with an event at the Peerie Shop Café for the purpose of a mag launch by Shetland Create. Great fun and pleasure to share selected verse from Compass Head in a place where I come to write. 🙂
Summer, spent around those wild islands with the world, come rain or shine. I love its magic and blue nights; that sense of freedom, colour saturation and overgrowth… And in between May and July, friends & fellow writers – Marsali Taylor and Laureen Johnson – will pen their respective & eloquent reviews for the Shetland Times and the New Shetlander. Both are trilingual like me. A blessing.
August, invited to read at Sumburgh Head, as part of a unique project, Extreme Light North, led by Carol Duffy. Friend, playwright and Shetland Library Book Champion Jacqui Clark is a magician! I will share verse broadcasted to the whole world via the Internet from the great height of my favourite headland that first made me dream some 19 years ago… Tout un symbole et une histoire, from which Compass Head derives and was born.
Whereas mid-August rhymes with a return to class and school bells, September reminds us of a slow return to darkness and a trade of wings, as avian visitors perform that orchestrated seasonal ballet…
But by October, the deal is struck. Winter visitors found around, and I would marvel at those Norwegian White-tailed sea eagles again around Kvinnherad and Fanafjorden! What none expected was a twist of fate from the sky! Crystalline, diamond blue, with only one hour of rain, as I set foot in Krokeide… Out of this world!
Reunited with some of my Norskie kinsfolk for my October break. Magical, ethereal, as we had so much to share. All would also provide me that space to write, develop what I started in June – namely, that second collection of poetry. Furthermore, François took me further afield, across mountains, the Sognefjord to Vågsøy and Måløy, Viking country, where friendship grows so beautifully since 2010 and a certain encounter with the NYBAKK . La boucle est bouclée. Full circle, past-present and future sealed in one stone.
November, Lerwick Book Festival, and, on a less happy note, saying goodbye to [another] close friend resettling in Glasgow at the final Open Mic Night Chris Grant co-hosted with passion with friend & artiste Lisa Ward. What I did not know would be the taking part in a creative project with Chris and his two musical buddies, Andy Kinnear and Cho Johnson before the end of the year. That was great fun. Chris recorded me inside his tiny office at the Anderson High School on his final day…
Yule – stormy and filled with lights, Compass Head has a readership on both side of the Atlantic AND the North Sea, in Scandinavia. Chuffed 🙂
December, and a final accolade for the poet, as Compass Head features in the annual review of the Shetland Times, the long printed island newspaper. In addition, and on the last Wednesday of December, a special Singer/Songwriter “Cabaret style” event takes place at Mareel. My verse has a new home. It was warmly welcome by both organisers and the audience present that night. Magic within the great vessel of glass continues. 🙂
Thank You all for a marvellous 2016, both in Shetland, the UK and Norway. It has been a fantastic journey, and I can only wish 2017 to be a year of growth. Storms may be raging round my hut and my island, there is so much to look ahead, on either side of the North Sea.
Very best wishes to YOU all from my breezy 60N latitude! 🙂
October belonged to Norway in autumn gold
Never have I dared to think to see the magic of West Norwegian fjords in such crystalline light during autumn… According to my Norskie friends, this happens only “every thirty years”. One of them even called me a hildigris (lucky devil) when the tenth month of the year remains (with November) the wettest month according to statstics… I had to alter the content of my backpack before I flew.
Magic names, warm welcomes and koselig slices of life awaited my eyes and heart. The term koselig, too often translated in English as “cosy”, does not feel adequate enough. It is deeper than this. It transcends into much deeper meaning that notably includes “warmth of the heart”. If you want to make friends with Norwegians, the simple phrase of gratitude for a shared time and their hospitality – Tusen takk. Det var kjempe koselig – could help you a great deal in that way.
Back to magic names that have animated my heart for quite a while now.
Hordaland,Bjørnefjorden, Hardangerfjorden, Kvinnherad, Fanafjorden, Bergen, Bryggen i Bergen, Sognefjorden, Måløy… Vågsøy, Sogn og Fjordane…
To the nomad that I am at heart, my sense of home turns into a linguistic triptych – hame, heim, home – that takes all its dimension. I have long learnt that home is not necessarily a place, but a feeling. Hame on my side of the North Sea, heim on the West Norwegian side, and home whenever I find my way back to the Scottish Highlands.Three places where I feel happy and safe.
Amusing, amazing, as the tongue adapts itself to such feeling. On my initial voyage, time felt far too brief, even as an appetiser. And yet, it fed my appetite for this facet of Scandinavian culture that seems to be fashioned by the ruggedness of both sea, land and climate. Only now am I beginning to appreciate the Norskie way. And I love it.
Six years ago, when Anita O. led me on board M/S NYBAKK, was I exposed to a brand new world. Nynorsk spoken – the “Viking tongue” as Per Kåre chants with such pride – the official language from Vestlandet (the Norwegian Westside that comprises Rogaland, Hordaland and Sogne og Fjordane) and although Stavanger is still uncharted in my life journey, the other two districts now taste like honey in my heart.
AND what a journey it has been!
From Flesland to the shore of Hardangerfjorden, via the E39 and a ferry… Magic ride in by ethereal autumnal blue. As majestic as last June!
October, the hunting season. As a result, red deer is mostly visible after twilight, as they come to feed on roadsides… Some also seek asylum in private gardens or meadows. This was notably the case when I arrived back in my first fjord. Since R has an orchard, they come not only to find sanctuary, but to crunch through fallen fruits…
The poet returned to the slate table at R’s secret place to enjoy once again the magic of the farm in Hardangerfjorden.
There, my first host offered me the space I needed to sharpen a little more the forester’s way of life at her place. I sat under one of her birch trees and watched leaves fall in a warm breeze, woodpeckers and jays off the old pear tree, blackbirds feed off fallen apples and listen to the tawny owl after dusk. On my arrival, I was welcomed by a white-tailed sea eagle flying over head. an encounter with a red squirrel animated further my pen. Veldig koselig!
And in between, Bergen, the gateway to the fjords.
To the islander and maritimer that I am, a harbour is above all the heart of it all. Last June, I walked it with Aneta, this time, solo. And reconvened with Vågen, Bryggen i Bergen, the very labyrinth of wood and salt that links Bergen to my island from Hanseatic times. The story of the fish, barrels, sailors and gold that could be made. A whole day in the great city to explore a little more. I stepped back in now more familiar gater (streets) and explored the rich culture Bergen offers. I lost myself inside several museums, incuding The Hanseatiskmuseet” and Kode. Whilst the former allowed me to peep into the local wealth woven by the trade of fish, the latter made me discover Norway’s Greats in fine art. Astrup, Dahl and Munch to name but a few. Bergen deserves so much more than a day or two! Friday night life proved both delightful and colourful in many ways, especially in fine company.
Back to the peninsula for a slice of delight,
I first photographed Oseana in June, and now in October. The Arts’ hub, coupled up with Restaurant and cinema really mirrors my one in Gutters’ Gaet… There, we walked from the heights of Os to reach water level, and enjoy a Saturday treat, a delicious prawn sandwich from heaven! R really relishes it :-).
The stroll down and back keeps you fit, and lunch there is worth all its kroner! Very homely place too.
Fanafjorden, the other one south of Bergen
And there, I stayed with my second hosts, Anita and François. They too said to come back, and I would feel “heime”. I did! And we shared so many delectable slices of life.
And what a magical place! Privileged to share their home, before they move to their next one in
Måløy… Vågsøy. Anita’s home town!
To that effect, François offered me the ride to their new home. The ride north of 60N. Epic journey through tunnels and fantastic scenery that included Astrup’s country, Jølster, on the way. Unforgettable. Mesmerising.
Hello, hei, Sogn og Fjordane!
Mighty Sognefjorden and amazing land and water scapes awaited us in sheer splendour. Really unforgettable. We reached our destination in early evening and stayed overnight at Anita’s parents, Ingrid and Magne. Third fabulous koselig welcome. Accentuated by Ingrid S Nybakk and Tanya Myhre with whom I reconvened since their last trip to Lerwick! We left before dawn the following morning to drive back to Fana. Tusen takk, venner!
EPIC initial exploration of Anita’s county, and now I know my next visit will have to include a return to her homeground as well as the Bergen peninsula and fjords.
And if I did not meet everyone from the Nybakk clan on this occasion, there will be time for a reunion soon. Meantime, I was lucky enough to reconvene by Anne Mabel and Arve Nybakk in Bergen for a day. Another precious unforgettable moment..
Hmmm. So much happened in October. So much love felt on this side of the North Sea. There is now poetics unfolding, brand new pages to be written, as well as a collection of verse to fashion.It has begun last June. It is now flourishing.
Histoire d’amour, love story. Last June I flew to Hordaland to be by their side. In nine days’ time I shall return and reconvene with this other side of the sea. I remember François speaking of belonging to the clan. I know I do, and cannot wait to step out of the plane in Bergen. Somehow it begins to feel like a Viking’s homecoming, hamefarin.
Dear Anita and François, it is on its way to you, and should arrive a day before me. :=)
I did not know what to expect.
Performance art instigated at Shetland level by our Shetland Library Reading Champion, playwright & artiste extraordinaire, Jacqui Clark – in which light is celebrated in collaboration with Clare Duffy & her troupe.
On the 18th night of the eight’s month, selected reading of Compass Head were broadcasted to the world via the internet, whilst being recorded in the intimacy of the stone wall with a mic in a cranny…
On a more personal note, Sumburgh Head has a very special place in my heart. The most southerly headland from da Auld Rock, the place where I twice worked as an Assistant Warden for the RSPB in the early 2000s, a place I celebrate as a poet, and share with the rest of the world. A place associated with dreams and adventures. And when I think adventures, RLS springs to my mind like a boomerang. After all, his grandfather has left luminous prints with his family of lighthouse builders! So all in all, it felt a pretty funky night to the wildest audience! Open air poetry reading… Both ethereal and fab fun!With gracious thanks to Jacqui Clark and Lucy for nurturing me at such event. Local actors are preparing with Clare Duffy’s troupe for a very special event. There is an upcoming art performance on the 28 August at Sumburgh Head. Grab a ticket and come along.
It is truly a unique experience and Project in full osmosis 🙂
Sumburgh Head, 18 Aug 2016.
Always a peculiar feeling when you taste something different.
Hordaland, Bergen, Bryggen, Straume, Krokeide, Fana, Os. This other side of the North Sea, the western fringe of Norway, along my very 60N latitude, I longed to see, feel, taste with my own heart, turned reality at the start of summer.
All this for the wedding of friends. That leap eastwards for an extended weekend flung new doors wide open. A leap that proved more than a mere one. To reconvene with Anita and François felt such a joy, as much as with Catherine and Iris in Bergen for the celebration, unimaginable, only years ago! We, da peerie Shetland contingent, were made so much welcome by our respective hosts. Magic! I had promised Any a beer in Bergen. We crossed the sea together, I would fulfil my promise; and we did just that. Whereas time vanished like lit gun powder, we made the most of it.
Saturday was Anita and François’ Day, and we had fun! Wonderful, multi-lingual ceremony followed by a great party. Though I was conscious this too would be swallowed by time…
To stop the clock when we are connected in the moment is every man’s dream.
How I too wish to hold our planet still for a while… That race against time cannot be won. I left my friends at the barn in Fana to be reunited with another kindred spirit I had not hugged for a good four years. Precious time.
She, like Annbjørg in Straume, offered me her home as a base. Norwegian hospitality feels as warm as on my side of the North Sea. We yarned very late, slept very little, but shared such a precious slice of life.
Sunday inside her fjord, farm and world. I wished for sea eagles, and Ragni gave me so much more.
Magic Sunday found inside blue, the majesty of Heime, the local équivalent of “hame” (home), starting point of a second collection of poetry now in motion.
So much I have found in such a short time spent on the other side of the sea. So fruitful, inspirational, now I know there is a home on either side of the North Sea.
Poetry is flowing, and, for the very first time, in Norwegian too.
It feels a brand new adventure in the making. My heart now beats on both sides.
That journey took time in itself.
Launched virtually on Amazon to let it fly to readers’ hands on 30 March, as if to break a curse (that of losing my grandmother to whom Compass Head is dedicated, among two other generations of mothers) my wish to celebrate it with some very special guests took place on the twentieth day of the fifth month.
And they all answered present.
Local poet, friend & mentor when it comes to the dialect, Laureen Johnson, to whom I feel grateful to put my work in the limelight as early as 2004 inside the New Shetlander, would grace the floor; James Andrew Sinclair, with whom I read, wrote and performed over over a decade; but also a string of weavers of sounds in the names of Alan McKay, Suzanne Briggs, Lewis Hall, and – last but not least – Donald Anderson, singer songwriter & former Literature Development Officer at Shetland Arts. We share a creative story.
They are my compagnons de voyage.
What a great night we gave the audience at the Shetland Library. A total of seventy folk came to the Hillhead. I felt overwhelmed at some stage, and so humble.
Marghie Thompson West, one of our Hillhead librarians, turned mistress of ceremony.
One by one – or in two’s, as Suzanne and Alan joined up to delight us with two classics, La mer, and Les feuilles mortes (Jacques Prévert) or as Alan & Donald duetted with their respective guitars – we entertained with flair and grace.
On this occasion, I wish to thank you, who came to listen to us all; you, who contributed to a fabulous celebration – our Shetland librarians, who homed it, your hospitality, smiles and joie de vivre added to your first-class service. To Margaret for a very special cake that left me breathless (on top of all other goodies you prepared with love).
To Marsaly Taylor for your glowing review in the Shetland Times the week before; to Jane Moncrieff from BBC Radio Shetland (Scotland) & Lawrence Tulloch (Give us a Tune, BBC Radio Shetland) for airing it on the air waves. To Aneta, for your presence, keeping me smiling & hospitality in Lerwick. 🙂
And there is more to come. 🙂
Compass Head is travelling and reaching so many headlands. It is beautiful. Am ever so thankful to my Norway-based publishing house, Nordland Publishing, and James Andrew Murray, their second poet, for believing in my work in the very first place.