Category Archives: book

Krásná (#wearewoman #3)

COMPASS HEAD BOOK COVER I owe her the back cover photograph of my book, a lifetime friendship on a plate, a well of laughters and shared moments of emotions…

 

We are woman, beautiful.

 

Any i Bryggen 17 June 2016 I met Aneta Lukzikova through Anita Orheim (see blog post “Vakker #wearewoman [3]“) over a decade ago. Like Anita, Aneta was then in academic transit and decided to establish her own “hame” on this latitude. Our friendship blossomed through time and shared slices of life. We earned each other’s trust and respect gracefully, travelled the length and breadth of our islands, and even crossed the sea last summer to reconvene with Anita on her homeground for a weekend of sheer happiness in and around Fana. I had promised Aneta a beer in Bergen, we did just that. Today, we know ourselves pretty much inside out.

Of this, I’m very proud. Forever grateful to have her friendship, her love and trust as a woman and a close friend, so close I can call her my Czech sister.

 

For you, dear Aneta, I am going to improvise you a poem as I’m typing,

 

We have travelled so many roads,

crossed many bridges,

sea, earth marks.

You have

listened and dried

so many blueprints from cold rain;

laughed at my face by

the White Wife,

helped me to

rise from

earth

and

mud…

We crossed the sea to

share a pint,

taste simple pleasures in Bryggen to reconvene with

our own clan made in Norge.

And every time

I needed

you,

dear Czech sister,

you offered me a hearth and smiles.

I am in awe of your pure

heart.

 

© Nat Hall 2017

 

 

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worldwide

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…

compass-head-book-cover 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!

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quantum leap & back flip

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.


2016 proved to be one of those truly extra-ordinary years, tainted with hues of paradoxical emotions on the the principle of the kaleidoscope. So much happened in those twelve months.

Here, the highlights back in limelight.

On the making and soft release of Compass Head, joint editing with Nordland lead to let this first solo collection fly at a time dear to my heart, 30 March.


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.

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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.

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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. 🙂

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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.

jacquis balloon writing 18 june 2016

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!

from-the-slate-table

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. 🙂

compass-in-st-dec-2016

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! 🙂

sumburgh light

 

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nomad in vestlandet

hame-heim-home-e 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… 

vestlandet-map

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…

from-the-slate-table

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! 

da-farm red-squirrel-ekorn-at-da-farm-oct-2016-e sunset-in-kvinnherad-oct-2016 And in between, Bergen, the gateway to the fjords.

dscn9455 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.

bergen-at-dusk-e

Back to the peninsula for a slice of delight,

oseana-oct-16 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 :-).

prawn-sandwich glacier-from-oseana 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.

fanafjorden And what a magical place! Privileged to share their home, before they move to their next one in

løy… 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!

jolster-1  jolster-2

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!

sognefjorden

Mighty Sognefjorden

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.

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love story

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. :=)

anita-og-francois Access to the wedding photobook HERE 

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lumière

sumburgh lightI did not know what to expect.

Extreme Light North based at my favourite headland, Sumburgh Head, and so very aptly at my favourite lighthouse, where a troupe, led by Clare Duffy, has a very precise project.

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!

jacquis balloon writing 18 june 2016

Jacqui Clark & her balloon adventure

With gracious thanks to Jacqui Clark and Lucy for nurturing me at such event.

poet and Lucy

with Lucy from the Extreme Light Project, 18 August 2018

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.

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Hame, heime

   Not space, but sea oddity.

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.

Any and her promised beer


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.

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