Category Archives: literature

storm

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Provençal Sakura

I always associate the coming of cherry blossoms at the foot of the Luberon with my grand mother’s change of world. To me, she flourishes every spring, and this year, I arrived just in time, for the season is precocious.

Already most fruit trees had shed most blossoms… Only a few quince and cherry trees gave me that joy. The kitchen garden well ahead for April. I landed back at Marseille-Provence in soaring temperatures, thanks to a twist of luck that allowed me to to fly direct from Edinburgh the very morning I left my northern roost.

And what a trek across the sky 🙂

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My favourite mountain, Luberon, so majestic, as we descended into Marseille… Giono’s blue whale so bright and clear by afternoon.

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Marseille, gate to the East and Africa, Massilia-Massalia, founded by Greeks, grown by Romans, with les îles du Frioul and If in the foreground, minutes before landing. La Grande Bleue, plain and magic.

 

I shan’t forget such moments. Always a thrill from my humble seat inside the fuselage. This year, I reconvened with JJ and Monique, whom I had such pleasure sharing with again. JJ fell in love with my poetics and he is very sensitive to artists and poets. As a matter of fact, he invests in art as a benefactor. We shared beautiful conversations and he is becoming to know me much better now. Let’s see what is going to heave out of those moments of sharing. 🙂

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Ten days inside blue could be called a fantastic symphony. I reconvened with Les Huguenots, where life turns out immoveable, but also with relatives and my close friends from Pertuis, Isa and Michel, who hosted me for two days – sheer moments of pleasure.

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Two days with my lifelong friend and her clan, including her grand children. We had lots of fun jam-packed in and around their home. Moments of pleasure.

 

L’orage

Out of ten days, an afternoon tainted by grey and rain, as April strikes in any form. That heat heaved thunder and lightning in one afternoon.  Not surprising as the thermometer had soared a bit too quickly to my taste.

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The air turned more breathable, colours vanished and the whole of the sky blackened to unleash its madness. That palm tree and flowers suddenly yielded to its wrath and felt the weight of freak clocking rain.

It prompted a poem, entitled l’orage / the storm.

 

L’orage

 

En un Ă©clair,

le ciel est devenu métal, nuages de

charbon et d’acier.

Fort de ton flash, ciel

photographe,

tous les oiseaux se sont cachés, entre les fleurs du cognassier.

Sous les tuiles je t’entends gronder,

glisser les gouttes de ta colère sur toutes

les feuilles de l’olivier.

Et sous le poids de ton humeur,

toutes les tulipes se sont courbĂ©es – robes d’or et

de rouge, leurs pétals protègent

le trĂ©sor…

Le vent fait frétiller les palmes toutes luisantes de la pluie;

nettoie ce ciel chargé de cendres,

décharne un peu plus le vieux chêne.

Tu montes le ton et vide

ton sac…

Et maintenant tu t’envenimes et te dĂ©chaĂ®nes!

Son et lumières, tes perles tombent

drues, s’Ă©crasent sur tout

ce qu’elles touchent;

sacageur de bleu provençal, dans la maison

je trouve refuge, et me souviens

du mot  frisqué.

 

The Storm

 

This sky

turned metallic in a flash, with clouds tainted

charcoal and steel.

Fully charged

blitz,

photographer,

all the birds hid between the flowers of the quince.

Under that roof, Provençal tiles,

I hear rebuke land & heat;

let slide raindrops

from your own

wrath on

the

leaves of the olive tree.

Under the weight of your temper,

all tulips bowed to protect

the treasure clad inside gold and red petals.

The wind animates every palm of

the date tree

drumming snipe

style…

And wipes a sky

charged up with ash,

unloads the old oak of dead leaves.

Now, you raise your voice, spill the beans…

Unleash your wrath, torrential

style!

It felt epic, equatorial.

You, Provençal

blue

saboteur,

against my will, I seek shelter, and

remember that word,

frisqué*.

 

© Nat Hall 2017

 

Note:

frisquĂ© (Provençal) meaning “chilly”/ “cold”)

 

 

All in all, nine and half blue days, moments of pleasure, and every time, that same feeling about where I really belong.

My trek back home – to my northern roost – proved even more epic. A story of mechanical failure miraculously took me home A LATER than scheduled, but am back hame, and am happy.

 

 

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world tales


On Top of the World



After the rain,

three herring gulls on

chimney pots;

now

sun’s blazing

Anderson’s slates.

In

between

two rounds of

showers,

blackbird voices,

raw

arc-en-ciel. 

young maa



out of wharf, ripples & ruffle,

it comes to dip among

brown kelp;

bobs

up

&

down

water surface

and finds solace amid

islands,

where clouds

harness silver edge

tides… Where wings wrangle

herring gull pride.

Where they

come to

feed

at

present.

The Edge

Look at the edge of your own world.
Free your heart & feet from tarmac,

where gutters offer

no relief.

Untie your boat, grab your

own oars.

Hear the call of the

waterline,

everlasting song of rollers

melts in white

sand –

some call it a desert

island,

but to my heart,

it is music.

Either side of the shining

edge,

we find our prints tied around kelp:

on the dry side of the mirror,

men have wandered among knives and

white broken

shells spewed offerings;

so few can listen to the wind,

the song of seasons inside wings

of a kingdom made of

lush Land,

where the sun rests

after crimson.
I hear you

say,

“you’re a dreamer” –

“time is money to all of us.”
I say “throw your coins to a sea, paper to oblivious

limpets..

The world you live feeds from

despair, liars and lice;

they gave you dreams as

tasty bait.

Tied to a tree inside concrete,

sea rockets smell so alien…

We imagine resolutions

and yet

shackles

locked around feet,

with their keys kept inside

boardrooms, between

the

hands of

their makers –

make no mistake,

they will not give them easily;

magpies like anything

shiny.

This world I love has its

pure gems.
© Nat Hall 2017

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beautiful (#wearewoman) 1

common-mouse-ear I love common mouse ear, and so much so it embodies beauty a lot of us take for granted.

We are woman, and we are beautiful.

Yesterday, my heart marched in the streets of New York, Lerwick, Bergen, Edinburgh, Oslo, Lisbon, Paris, Philadelphia – wherever women marched along with those who love, treasure, respect them. And they were joined by a whole spirit, the one that says and reminds all that America and the free world make one.

To celebrate that spirit, fire that shines deep inside us, I will celebrate our womanhood, the way we love, look at the world and smile; and hashtag it in the title of every post.

Many women have touched my heart throughout my life journey. Let them be now known to the world. Some so famous, others, unknown.

I will begin with Victoria, the one who smiled and touched my heart – a station nurse working for USAID, based in NYC, NY, USA.  Tremendously spirited, so aware of the ills from far less privileged regions from our world, and investing herself in her duties and people in her care – she, humble, unknown American ambassador of the world’s bastion of freedom and democracy . I am in awe of her beauty inside-out.

peerie-mouse-new-fringe I am so proud of you, Peerie Mouse 🙂

For you, my tiger, in my own words, as a poet and a woman, and wish you well on your forthcoming tour, from my island to your island.

 

I already chiselled your name on

every train you take and

back –

on every door yet to

open, on every

brick,

footbridge and rope that

suspends us in between now and

the river that divides

blocks and

yellow

cabs,

galvanised world

where I wonder how Venus shines; and

imagine the big apple,

towering world

made of

metal,

compressed sand grains…

Beauty

born,

flower of chaos,

that little big bang from your heart.

 

© Nat Hall 2017

 

 

 

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in my own words…

 I write because I have things to say. When I don’t, I listen to the world – the wind, the ocean, birds and auroras – and I look up to the stars. The onpaper-and-wordse who stops looking at them forgets. The one who keeps looking at the stars will find his/her footprints in he snow. I live on an extraordinary island that feeds my spirit and imagination. Come and discover my journey, as I have lived my life with a compass in my head.

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quantum leap & back flip

That tunnel ride across mountains, under water (as I once left MĂĄløy 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 LubĂ©ron, 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 VĂĄgsøy and MĂĄløy, Viking country, where friendship grows so beautifully since 2010 and a certain encounter with the NYBAKK . La boucle est bouclĂ©e. 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. 🙂

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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, MĂĄløy… VĂĄgsøy, 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 KĂĄre 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 VĂĄgen, 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

MĂĄløy… VĂĄgsøy. 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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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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