Category Archives: mareel

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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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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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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magician

seckou [4]Seckou Keita returned to the island, with his koras, smiles and magic. A privilege, I felt, deep in my heart, as his hands began to weave the most ethereal sounds out of those 22 strings, fisher’s, musician’s dream. The man has a story to tell, fingers & voice to unleSeckou [3]ash. To listen to him and his beautiful vibes from Casamance, Senegal, blended with hints of nomadic spirit from his native Africa to Wales, is a delight. A joy to treasure in your heart. calebasse If you have not yet discovered his art, please, go find it!

To listen to the magician live remains a privilege.

With grateful thanks to Shetland Arts for bringing Seckou, as well as Gwyneth to the island. Magic moment tonight.

What a fabulous way to slide from Hairst – the harvest season – to the start of winter. Happy Samhain, everyone 🙂

Gwyneth [1] OCT 2015Seckou [2]And in response to his great show at Lerwick’s Art Centre, Mareel, a short poem woven from his music.
Fisherman’s Strings

Hear his fingers on stretched nylon –

Calebasse-skin from 

Casamance,

each note travels through

waves & wind,

inside his heart shines Sénégal,

his grand father’s wisdom

so sharp,

the 

taste of

dust South of his dreams;

his father’s eyes 

locked inside

his,

travelling chords of he-nomad,

toute la souffrance des 

harpistes.

© Nat Hall 2015 

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