Category Archives: festival

2018

Phenomenal time in Northern Ireland’s Co. Antrim and Belfast, Oct. 2018, that crowned an amazing year.
Two days left (or thereabouts) before a brand new year dawns with its own brand of hope, anticipations, expectations as well as challenges and trials… On the 29th day of the twelfth month, a fresh breeze blows on the island. It is a time for reflections, that final look over one’s shoulder before a leap in the unknown.

2018 has proven an amazing year, filled with challenges and adventures of all kinds, reconvening with old friends whilst bonding with new ones. It has taken me, the seeker-wanderer, across seas to discover unchartered places within the Isles. For the first time, I set foot in Glasgow in spring – and discovered the magic of Northern Ireland’s  Co. Antrim & Belfast in October. How I loved meeting again with Chris and Roo whilst meeting for the first time (in the flesh) with poet & former Co-Editor from the Scottish Geopoetics Elizabeth Rimmer at Jim Ferguson’s book launch in Glasgow, as well as with Emma and fellow Shetland poet & graphic novelist Chris Tait at the Project Café. I would reconvene with Emma in Belfast in October. On both trips, I was also given the opportunity to share my own poetics and verse at the Project Café and the Sunflower respectively. Two great fun experiences where folk enjoyed selected poems from Compass Head.

2018 has been filled with challenges of many kinds – from translating an entire book (late Dec.- 30 March) to returning to studying whilst complementing my professional qualifications within education, now adding Edinburgh University to Oxford, Southampton and Université de Provence (Aug.- Nov.). If Georges Dif’s “Shetland” was a project that occupied many of my winter nights between late December and March, editing alongside Jonathan Wills continued till mid-April here at 60N whilst two fellow poet friends & authors Emma Van Woerkom and Andy Murray also added their critical eyes over the poetic side of Dif’s book. What a formidable teamwork it proved to be. We all raced against time to achieve it for the English version to be found on shelf at the Shetland Times’ Bookshop by July. Epic. 25,000 words or there about. Working without its original author proved the greatest challenge, and I can only hope Georges can only smile from the heavens. 

2018 has continued to let my writer’s work fly within both my writers’ groups – Lerwick & Westside – and places around the island that welcomes the spoken word. From Mareel’s Open Mic sessions to Fjara’s Singer-Songwriters, respectively hosted by friends & artistes Keirynn Topp and Gail Wiseman, but also at Lerwick’s The String, as hosted by Jordan Clark and also, within the sanctuary nurtured by Radina and Alan McKay at Soul Time throughout the year. Fantastic bubbles of humanity treasured in my heart. Delectable moments of pleasure. On a wider level, I was invited to contribute to the #patchworkpoem through my Federation of Writers (Scotland) which was broadcasted by Andy Jackson on National Poetry Day. Great fun and gracious thanks for mapping Shetland through my humble contribution. I always value inclusion. 🙂 

2018 homed an incredible summer of wonders and adventures under unparalelled blue, where I shared my passion with friends and kindred spirits – where I reconvened with my Norskie clan in style. Tattooed in my heart. I miss Norway, and Norway came to me.

2018 also celebrated the memory of Alex Cluness at this year’s Wordplay. This was the opportunity to salute the phenomenal work of Alex as a poet, but also as the “Father of Wordplay and Shetland Arts’  Trust’s main project has outlived him. For the occasion, friend, poet & author Alan Jamieson (RAJ) played MC at the Shetland Writers’ Celebration Night event with great flair, and he also conducted a brilliant Creative Masterclass at Bonhoga during that literary weekend. Memorable slices of life and creativity that awoke the pen in new directions. Fruitful writing that I later read at Wordplay’s closing event, the Open Mic’. RAJ smiled. What a fabulous weekend it proved to be. So happy to reconvene with both Alan and Rozeanne on such occasion.  2018 also commemorated the century of an Armistice that engulfed humanity into genocide and the National Theatre of Scotland allied with C.A. Duffy to pay homage to all the men sacrificed  in the Great War as Pages of the Sea. For the occasion, Lisa Ward invited me to read poetry at Ninian Sands. A very poignant experience. Thank you, Lisa and NTS. And as we descended back to the winter solstice, my school term eventually melted into a low December sun. Yule upon us, and the festive season kicked off with Singers-Songwriters’ Christmas Concert at Fjarå. Sadly, I had to curtail due to a double-booking, however, I honoured both. Thank you, dear Gail, for your kindness.  Two days away from a New Year, and I returned to Ninian Sands, my dear sand bridge, where the sand shifts on either side.Your shoormal looks peaceful at low tide, Christmas Day, a mere memory. Time to sample the now, reconvene with great friends, and share a slice of life. 2018 has been a fruitful year. May the forthcoming one keep you well and happy. 365 brand new pages I hope to fill with joy and brand new adventures! Happy Yuletide and New Year, everyone! 

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2018

Yule and now Hogmanay behind us.

The tidal loch remains frozen at Wadbister on New Year’s Day, and it may well stay in this state for a while…

Wadbister is the place where I buried 2017 with good friends & two of their neighbours. I woke up this late morning and breakfasted with my hosts, Sharon and Andy, looking at a brand new sky. Blue, serene, by a garden and bay that homes a wonderful wildlife. If I missed the otter, I was blessed with my first avian visitors – starling, blackbird, sparrow and robin – when an unusual visitor (to our latitude here anyway!) graced the garden, a great tit. What a grand start to the primal day of the year! 

By the time I left my friends’ home, a West wind was recolouring the heavens, as light rain showers began to christen the land… 

2017

A year of contrasts – a tale of two halves, with its kaleidoscope of emotions – that took my heart across headlands, bays, the English Channel and the North Sea. 

A creative year, as it has anchored my pen into this second collection of poetry in the making… Writing on both sides of the North Sea, with a fabulous return to West Norwegian shores last September.  


And our descent to Yule marked by the shifting of our AHS to its new 21st building at Lochside, which proved an extraordinary exercise. 


Yet October was graced by extraordinary moments, reunions and meetings that began to pave my way into 2018. For this, I feel humble, blessed and grateful to 2017. 

Christie Williamson and Hazel Frew, see you both in your great Celtic town in April! 

November also graced by new humane and creative connections thanks to friend and poetess Choman Hardi, who made me discover Barbara Cumbers, a kindred spirit based in London, and regular visitor to Shetland. Magic slices of life shared since, including two readings at the Book Fest and in Scalloway. 


December crowned by many smiles

The joy of reaching Yule marked with many delights – a poet’s working blurb published in Shetland Life, a poem inside the Yule Issue of the New Shetlander. 

The island clad by sun and snow on the eve of a well deserved break. 


A peaceful end to a year that felt a real roller coaster, and as the twelfth month was about to draw to an end, a brand new project now at my writer’s table in the translation of a manuscript. Wonderful challenge and task that began on the Eve of Hogmanay.

So,

Thank you, 2017, for your joys and tears, harvest of adventures, new friends across headlands and seas.

Today, on the primal day of the year, there burns a fire in my heart, like a beacon for the twelve months ahead.

Hello, 2018. Let me welcome you with fresh eyes, a shameless smile, heart filled with hopes.


The road ahead feels both very exciting and promising.

A very happy new year to you all, wherever you walk on this amazing planet. May 2018 grant you good health and happiness.


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tribal

Every first Friday of March, as told by the tide, we gather, united by bond and fire, and we celebrate the return of the sun.

#smuha 2017, from Cunningsburgh, with burning at Mail Beach.

 

SMUHA Community 2017

SMUHA 2017 tribe

SMUHA 2017 Community spirit

viking SMUHA 2017 e-

 

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burning

  It takes one jarl to lead his squad to beach and flames, and his community to celebrate the return of the sun.

SMUHA is a young fire festival that has now grown to rival with well established ones, such as Delting in the more northern township of Brae.

Every procession is magic, every burning of the galley, mesmerising, every moment, memorable.

   This  year, I shared it with a friend, who came especially for her first experience. She would tell you it is unique.
And it is! The atmosphere, torches, embers and smiles glow inside night.


A moment to savour every time!

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veritas 

  
What do we know of a people sheltered from old Roman dogma?

Isolated from old scriptures that shackled man off his own heart?

The Norsemen  lived under such terms, lived their own lives, free as the wind, so unafraid…

   
They treasured beliefs to the sea, where they would reach their Valhalla. To them, death had its own meaning, glorious to their reputation. 

Immortality through men’s songs… 

Here, as a song to their greatness, 

some brand fresh verse, in time for bed and your own dreams.
Viking 

They say

history down to us…

Like a

river of fire, 

they never feared alien God – 

whatever raid was meant to be, 

in the name of

skin trade & gold, what mattered 

was reputation.

Swing an axe or

a heavy oar,

everything done, 

forever written in your bones. 

© Nat Hall 2016

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Feathered

Feathered for a day,


Feathered and proud, on the final Tuesday of January, as eyes of the world turn to a group of young Vikings about to perpetuate a tradition fit for our Nordic latitude.

It is a time when our Junior Jarl Squad shines inside our hall before they stampede through the school and then the town with their elders for a marathon of merriment.

Every year, the island’s sole urban centre sets itself for such day.

As night settles, their replica viking long ships will be torched like a winter bonfire. You can watch live via 60N TV online.

May this summons the return of the sun 🙂

Happy Lerwick Up-Helly-Aa!

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noir

   “Turn off the light, switch on a starry night…”

Noir, as November might predict. And if winter makes us reflect upon the dead, it is a time for us, living, to remember light in darkness. 

Under that category, the world could feel a frozen garden. Whereas sleet, hail and snow batter the island in a horizontal manner, people fall, cry, fight wherever human bestiality strikes. The horrors of terrorism bear so many faces & masks.   

Humanity feels in a state of emergency. 

Our planet, our homeworld, our cradle of life, will turn our grave. This is Noir, without fiction. 

Have we forgotten who we are, and where we live?   

Are we missing the boat? Are we too shackled to money to risk such perilous gambling? On reading the French press, we are heading towards our end. 

Noir,

Le Point.fr – COP21 : les lignes rouges des pays-clés dans les négociations.

Tour d’horizon des points de blocage pour chacun des pays les plus influents pour la conclusion d’un accord sur le climat à Paris.

Le Point newspaper reads noir. As if we were doomed like the lost civilisations who were incapable to save themselves in ancient times. It tastes rotten deep in my heart. Maybe a handful of humans are solely blindly driven by greed and are prepared to take that road. Gosh,  how selfish and masochistic. Do they know there is no way back, and nowhere else to go? This alone would feel a crime against humanity.

   

Talking of crime, Shetland hosted its first literary Noir Festival in November, as part of Iceland Noir.

   For a weekend, selected authors gathered at Mareel, and shared with the public. Helmed by friend & fellow Westside Writer Marsali Taylor, we grabbed the oar and added a rivet to clinker by launching our unique noir anthology, as part of a book launch event shared with Marsali’s latest crime fiction opus. On a more personal note, and with the Beyrout & Paris shootings in the backdrop, it felt a very strange weekend.  

Noir as man’s brilliance & blindness. 

Noir is a path I do not like by nature. It feels sordid and dangerous.

When I think Noir, movies like Sir Ridley Scott’s Bladerunner & Luc Besson’s (satyrical) Fifth Element come to my mind. 

I can only hope we are not heading into total blackness. 

Hello, Earth 

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