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!
It’s all about adding and substracting… In the artist’s own words.
Paul Bloomer’s latest exhibition ar the Shetland Museum & Archives in Lerwick, Scotland, UK, feels an epic saga in charcoal, cladding the whitest of walls inside da Gadderie, that non-static space devoted to the muable world.
The huge pictures felt they had been tailored to perfection. Paul needs to create his own creative time at his Bigton studio when he is not lecturing at the Shetland College at Gremista, or travelling to Europe with (or without) his students.
My top favourite picture – swans’ flight – was inspired by a recent trip to Vienna… A regular visitor to Spiggie Loch as a visual artist or devoted angler, I was both surprised and amused to hear it on Sunday as Paul spoke of each charcoal on paper gigantic pictorial metaphors.
Originally from the Black Country, Paul anchored his heart & art on this symbolic latitude where time and space are regulated by light and darkness in that perpetual dance of seasons.
However, as an islander, he too looks at the world in a unique perspective.
And he works like a poet or a writer, with a pocket size sketchbook, to capture moments he will later reproduce on a gargantuan scale…
Paul makes parallels between people and avian migration. His dreams transcend through circles… Black versus white.
He constantly reminds us how mankind generates that poisoning world, itself pictured as a leitmotive throughout and in various ways, metaphors, as Paul reflects on each throughout that Sunday afternoon stroll in his presence.
Paul the environmentalist – politically engaged… Raged by a poisoning world, in which political disciples hide, such as those deduced by populism. His charcoal stick does not fail to challenge the viewer…
He nonetheless searches for lightness through nature, to find love and sensuality among geese, swans or starlings, Shetland’s commonest and yet captivating birds.
Sensuality expressed though the oneness of entangling whooper swans.
Paul very aptly entitled his exhibition a prayer for the healing of nations.
It all started with a shameless star, low (at around 6 degree elevation) but present in my Nordic sky.
It fills the heart with spirit.
And what a prologue to exciting times ahead. As a kind of ritual, there is a hill I love to walk on every first day of every year’s primal month. It bears the name of the Wart of Scousburgh.
I leave da buggy by the parish’s Eiffel Tower, and wander free among ravens, January’s cold air and ephemeral blue. The views always fill my heart and eyes with awe and humility.
Fitful Head, just under 300m above ocean level, stands as a vigil to the SW corner of the island.
Such kind of wandering notably has the power to give you perspective for the months ahead.
And from my hilltop to my favourite stretch of sand – Ninian’s Isle Tombolo – for a first reunion with shells, pastel sky and rollers, like a rite of passage into a realm where we wander before sunset, before ice grips fingers and roads.
There, kindred spirits can be met, and marvel at such everlasting (even though shape shifting) magical place.
2016 began with magic. Although I don’t usually do “resolutions”, I broke the rule and have endeavoured to add Norwegian to my bow. It makes absolute sense 🙂
Let me take this moment to thank you all for your follows, your “likes” and comments during the past year; and to
Wish you a wonderful year ahead. May 2016 realise many of your desires, dreams, hopes, with, above all, good health and happiness.
That bridge of sand at St Ninian knows so many prints of our feet. Human or not, we tread its length in and out, trace & retrace like sand weavers…
The other day, I took a friend after lunchtime. The sky was right, and we fancied to share our marks with sand and shells, light… Atlantic.
So we walked it, came heart to heart with waterline… Reflected with clouds in mirror – smiled at the sun & sea of jade.
And if we felt alone on this vast expanse of freedom, our journey back to the mainland was crowned with a fabulous encounter in the form of two Arctic Skuas that came to add their prints to ours. My friend spotted them first from the distance. She knew my heart would pounce, and lens would wish to immortalise them. So I approached them with caution, and deep respect.
What a moment. Eye to eye with their majesty – heart to heart with our world. Such earthly encounter.
Their tolerance allowed a couple of shots before they decided to leave the sand for a moment… At every opportunity, such meeting feels a privilege, so natural and whimsical.
I still feel grateful to my friend for pointing me out to such moment.
And as we continued to imprint that fabulous sand bar, other wings on passage ennobled our afternoon, in the form of our swallows of the sea, locally known as tirricks, or Arctic Terns, those phenomenal travellers that come to grace our skies every summer.
It only takes a moment.
Be in the right place at the right time. Stand up and feel.
Plenitude found in one of those precious capsules of happiness when we align to earth and sea – feel at one with our homeworld.
As life allows, such communion with our land- (or sea-) scapes should not feel privileged moments, but natural ones.
My nearest safe haven of now remains my local favourite beach. As a longer weekend loomed on the calendar, I took full advantage of it.
So I wandered down to the shore and locked my heart into the now
Here, my homeworld in panoramic 🙂
I had the whole of the beach, sea and sky to myself. I listened to the wind and waves in the shoormal, where sand and shells shift.
Sheer plenitude in such moments, topped up by magic northern lights way past twilight.
The Federation of Writers (Scotland) is an organisation dedicated to making the written and spoken word available to the public of Scotland, with respect for diversity and recognition of additional support needs. Caidreachas nan Sgrìobhaiche (Alba) ’S e prìomh-amas Caidreachas nan Sgrìobhaiche (Alba) litreachas sgrìobhte is labhairte a chur mu choinneamh poball na h-Alba, a’ toirt spèis do dh’iomadachd agus feumannan-taice a bharrachd.