Category Archives: launch

visitors – little did I know it would mean “home”

visitors rehearsal 28 apr 2017 “Nat, I challenge you to a short poem…” I still remember Chris’ words one fine evening at the Mareel Café in Lerwick during one memorable Open Mic’ Night in 2016.

At the time, little did I know those words would generate such a fabulous collaboration with Visitors – a trio of very talented singer/songwriters based in Shetland (till band member Chris Grant left last autumn for his Glasgow homeground with a mix bag of excitement and sadness…).

To the poet, writing for a band feels playful and self-indulgent.

Whilst band member Chris Grant has known my writing from 2012 through the National Theatre of Scotland’s Ignition project, fellow members Cha Johnson and Andy Kinnear have been exposed to my poetical world from the Shetland Open Mic Night sessions. When it came to their project as a band, they had some of my spoken words in mind for the purpose of one song when the opportunity arose. Whilst they were assembling an EP later named after the final lines of my short poem, I quickly scribbled a very short piece recollecting my “first time” as a then visitor to 60N. This recollection never left my heart and mind, so magical and powerful this very first experience felt, and became imprinted in my heart forever.

This I translated into words,

submitted to Chris, who immediately related to the piece. Perfect was his response. And left it like this, until he recorded me in a tiny office on his last day at work.

Although I had no idea of what was really happening, I later received words from Chris explaining me about Visitors’ plans and project. A bigger picture began to shape in my head. With Chris in Glasgow, I left the spoken word in good hands. Meanwhile, Shetland Times journalist and singer/songwriter Adam Guest penned an article in the islands’ weekly. More light on Visitors‘ work!

An EP to be launched in Shetland

So little did I know Visitors would launch their work at this year’s Shetland Folk Festival in South Nesting. News filtered gradually via all three members earlier this spring. I still remember Cha’s lovely words- both at Gutters’ Gaet and Andy’s… We all turned more excited about such launch! From Cha’s messages to the rehearsals at Islesburgh and Clairmont Place, I discovered the entire EP, tasted fabulous slices of life (as well as Andy’s newly improved home made chilli con carne!) in fabulous company; a wild ride in Andy’s car to listen to the CD newly arrived in his lair, and reconvened with Chris and Roo. IMG_4092 IMG_4093

On the night, 29 April 2017

VISITORS BANNER

Whilst Visitors had already invested the South Nesting Public Hall for the indispensable sound check, I joined in with the audience. Familiar and other faces lined up against the wall, ticket in hand. The air was crisp in a dry though overcast world… I left the comfort of my peerie buggy as soon as I saw my trio of artistes emerging from the building. Reunited on the night for the gig! Hugs, smiles and kind words filled our hearts.

da night ticket Visitors 29 apr 2017

south nesting hall queue 29 april 2017

Little did I realise the concert would be performed in a jam packed hall with other great bands following in our footsteps…

Visitors Live on stage 29 april for EP launch

Visitors live on stage, 29 April 2017 at the South Nesting Hall for the launch of the EP at the Shetland Folk Festival 2017.

And Chris invited me on stage to close the act, whilst reading those words I once scribbled about “little did I know this would mean home”. The act well, very well received by the audience on this fun night of performance. Maggie already released in iTunes. The rest of the EP to follow in the great digital constellation of the apple.

nordicblackbird april 2017 with Visitors.jpg Happy poet, humble and thanking you, dear Visitors for such an epic adventure 🙂 IMG_4112

Tattooed in my heart forever.

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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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connected

When writers meet,  share and offer work, words and more,  Poetics shine.  

On the ninth day of July,  such thing was done.  Inside the stones of the long house,  by the harbour, we gathered on shiny floorboards on the first floor, where a mix of faces beamed with delight.

Familiar ones – Kevin, Doug, Marsali, James and Debra… And then new ones who smiled and unleashed most kind words.  Among them,  the co-editor of Shetland  Create, Angie,   the grand orchestrator of it all, welcomed us all, eager to meet us in the flesh. 

What a splendid night we all had. 

One by one we shared words created on the very island where we walk and draw inspiration from.  

With such theme as home,  selected verse from Compass Head felt so very apt on the night.

Fabulous slice of life shared in the warmth of Lerwick’s Peerie Shop Café – a place where I still come to write – in fabulous company. 

Angie’s feeling so very much shared.  Here,  the night in her own words: https://shetlandcreate.com/ 

Now we are connected.

…to Jacqui Clark’s clunk 😇

Havra,  celebrated once more, shining in the limelight, this time thanks to Scottish poet Sally Evans via her blog & brainchild, keeppoemsalive,  and featured along other poets Sally enjoys. 

https://keeppoemsalive.com/2016/07/17/that-big-blue-dream/ 

Connected to the great Scottish family one more time. 

Happy poet 🙂

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launched

  Inside the great temple of books, readers and authors, we found home.

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.

 From the back, it looked like this…

 From the side it looked like that. 

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.

That’s when time turned irrelevant (for a moment)… 

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.

Compass Head, as part of the Songs of the North. 

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fluttering [5]


I love amuse-bouche. Either at appéritif or any other time. 

Here, here, as appetite is awaken, let me offer you, dear reader, two of them, as conceived and produced by Nordland. 

And I do hope you too will find both enticing.


When asked to select snippets from Compass Head, some of my favourite lines literally jumped to mind. Here, above, two from some favourite poems you find in this first solo collection. 

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fluttering [4]

amazon-buy-buttonIf Charles Baudelaire opened his masterpiece, Les Fleurs du Mal, with an open letter with “dear reader”, he invited the world to discover his literary monument with a quill. He lived with his time.

I too write with a traditional tool – a fountain pen – and I too live with my time, that 21st century yellow button. Click on it, and it will lead you straight to Compass Head.

His invitation au voyage has remained one of my favourite poems, and catalyst for my own life journey as a woman and a poet. It has animated my heart since I discovered it back at le lycée Paul Cézanne in Aix-en-Provence whilst studying French Literature for the Baccaulauréat. Today,

I am inviting you to my 21st century invitation au voyage, through some 124 pages peppered with sand, spray, earthly elements, headlands, lighthouses, in a triad of tongues.Light [3].jpg

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celebration

YOU are INVITED 🙂

Come along and enjoy. We will be delighted to have you on the night. Bring a friend or a loved one 🙂

There will be a kaleidoscope of voices, with live music, at our Home of books – and a few nibbles too 🙂 

And bring your own copy for me to sign on the night! 

We are looking forward to see you.

See you there! 

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