Category Archives: scotland

je me souviens #14-18now

One hundred years ago, a small party of men gathered in a wagon inside a French forest somewhere in Picardy to stop madness and attrition, a futile butchery, unparalleled till then, agree to terms for an Armistice. Humanity defaced, filled with hurt, on its knees.

To those millions of innocents, victims who fell and died, I wrote a short poem four years ago, entitled


Of Flowers and Men

Little lead men
fell one by
 one
inside a field other than theirs, 
 where
 red flowers now flourish high -
scarlet to colour
a river to remind us
 there is 
danger
inside our walls.

Four years later, on that same month of November, I penned a string of verse to remember you all – irrespective of alliance, skin colour or religious denomination – because you were all human beings turned inhumane inside a theatre of death. You fell or you were shot, because you had beliefs.

On this occasion, the following verse is in your honour.

In memoriam, 14-18 Now

War Flowers
Time belongs to lush poppy fields. 
They walked by their millions in wet mud, 
France or Flanders, 
leather laces in No Man's Land, along with 
shells and barbwrire. 
Canary girls back in Clydebank or in Gretna 
manufactured what was to kill 
somebody's boy in a cornfield, or 
their own genes here on homeground... 
An assemblage of sacrifice in 
the name of an empire, country or king. 
They fell by millions in cold mud, 
furrow or field they never sowed - 
through earth layers, 
chromatic world recorded shell shock and their fears, 
humanity's blood in a flood. 
They rest by millions as poppies, 
pinned on thick tweed on some jacket - on 
photographs and cenotaphs, 
a sea of names on 
monuments, 
lost inside waves, 
crosses, headstones,
inside the flame from a candle, in 
every heart and every 
home.
© Nat Hall 2018    

Within an hour, I will join all those who remember them at my local beach – St Ninian’s Sands – and read poetry to those clad in a uniform as part of this project  #pagesfromthesea because I don’t forget. Later tonight, as part of this year’s edition of #shetlandwordplay (the annualbook festival in Lerwick), I will join in for the last event, the Open Mic and read both aloud, as part of a sequence dedicated to #14-18now.

Je ne vous oublie pas.   

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change

On the fourth day of the tenth month, I found a way to break my day, sit and obey my headteacher, as she encouraged us to celebrate #nationalpoetryday through the tannoy. To find, read or write a poem on such fine day.

My lunchtime turned so creative. My after-school behind splashed glass, here, at Mareel, to re-draft it and share with you.


And now, our star looks a beacon out of greyness, I have finished what I began.

This year’s National Poetry Day challenged the pen to the theme of change. Already, I contributed to my Federation of Writers (Scotland) by submitting a few lines to a massive collaborative poem which is to be read today, in Glasgow, I believe under the watchful eye and voice of former Makar Andy Jackson, the very man behind it all.

That peerie offshoot adds to the millions of poems written today to celebrate the spoken word.

So, Happy National Poetry Day 2018 fae da island in da far North, and enjoy Change. 🙂


Change


Open your eyes to a new day.

Ask me again,

… So, what is change?

Something exotic on your tongue,

say hello in a new 

language –

collect laces to please your heart,

lace up your shoes with

unkennt loops,

pick a new path to love pavements;

that biggest box of CaranD’Ache where 

colours burst out of pencils to

break the dullness of

Tarmac, 

allow you to grow from darkness.

Dare it,

         dare it, or

                        just die now –

harness your fears,

                 bite da bullet,

dare to step out on new cobbles,

light that new road that

needs beacons;

hands on

tight ropes,

               Carrick-a-Reede,

what you once dreamt,

                                 incidental.
© Nat Hall 2018

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Mørkin (2)

I toy with the thought of
touching the Moon that
hangs out in
this dark blue sky;
and as
tide turns in
your favour, on that last weekend of
July,
I feel its pull, rolled up in
clouds.
I lit a tea light in your name, and
let the lantern on the deck, for
you to find me in
the dark,
mørke, mørkin, in murky night, where
the Moon shies here in
thin clouds, between my world and
summer tides – where Angle shades fly to the flame, where your voice vanishes with
night.

© Nat Hall

Sandwick, 26 July 2018.

 

Note: Mørkin, from the Norwegian, mørke, dark(ness)

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C’est la vie

Marcel Proust had his madeleine in France, I have mine in Lerwick!

Falling in love with an island (or any place on Earth) will make you shift mountains and turn a dream into reality.

This certainly happened to Valérie and Didier Pîquer, today’s proud owners of C’est la vie, located in Commercial Street opposite Harry’s Department and the Fort Café (the town’s best Chippie). 


An authentic French experience guaranteed from the moment you step in. The décor, atmosphere and a welcome with a smile invite you to a very convivial establishment. Your eyes are drawn to the myriad of treasures ranging from le comptoir to the brioche and other delicacies displayed under glass bells on a table in one corner. 

Whereas Valérie comes from Paris, Didier is Basque. A magic blend that brings an amazing 3-page menu on a clipboard! There is something for everyone. 


From the famous Croque Monsieur family  to the platter of charcuterie, they offer you the best produce. Brioche, madeleines, cookies, gauffres and langues de chat are homemade. If some dishes are directly imported, Didier confided they came from the finest Basque (from either side of the Pyrénées) or French supplier – local artisans. 


Each plate feels gastronomical – each bite, an exquisite moment your senses will memorise for a very long time!

Valérie shared her deep delight as clients shared smiles and even their appreciation in French, as it feels such a heart warmer.


Although they only opened to the public on the third day of April, locals and visitors are already flocking in, sampling what C’est la vie has to offer, and the menu has so much to offer. 

It is the start of a great adventure! 

If you are a fine gastronome in search of some culinary and traditional Gallic delights, just come along and push the door. You will be in for a real treat! 

Book your table to avoid disappointment. 

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Skydiver

Six wonderful days in the great Scottish city of culture. 

Reconvening with friends, meeting old and new ones – treading on flagstones and cobbles uncharted till then…

Book launch, Open Mic’ reading… Now Compass Head introduced, well received and since well shelved in Renfrew Street. 


With gracious thanks to Christie Williamson and Hazel Frew for rolling the ball, Chris Tait for a great crack, Basil for homing the verse at tell it slant and orchestrating that marvellous night at the Project Café, and to E for being here all along. 


So lovely to meet up with Elizabeth Rimmer at the Clutha Bar for Jim Ferguson’s book launch and blending with Glasgow poets that same night.
So chuffed to share such precious slices of life with precious friends. 

Felt so welcomed at the Project Café as well as any public place treaded into. Glasgow shines through the folk who make the place!

Till my next visit, Sláinte, Glesga! 

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#worldpoetryday

With the Vernal Equinox, that sense of joy and revival, as Mother Earth awakes and grows deep in her bounty and belly, comes an invitation to create, celebrate, as today, Wednesday 21st of the third month, was chosen as our World Poetry Day. 

The chance to reconnect with ourselves as Mother Earth’s children, and allow creativity to flow like sap inside our souls.

It is exactly what happened this morning during Period 3 in the classroom with Fourth Year pupils who wished to practise their own creative writing skills through poetry. 

They asked me for the first theme, whilst they picked the second.

They sat down inside our world, and, with a few words of guidance, began to write their poetics. Not only happy to hint them into using their own senses, they asked me, the poet, to write my own.

Theme 1

The Rain

It drips and clops like

a metronome against time,

Clop, clop, clop, clop… 

that sense of Spring past Equinox, as they lash into their 

trillions, clones,

cold water unleashed from clouds;

aborted, unborn icicles,

unwanted so late inside March.

I hear them crash against windows, on every corner of

meadows, and feel them

drop inside the

warmth of my collar, as 

morning vanishes in

vain.

——–

Theme 2: 

The Beach

There isn’t a pebble in sight,

heart-shaped, 

polished by angry tides, 

riptides and rollers 

rolled in wrath

a jealous moon pulled & twisted.

But there are prints from

our own past, 

hundred of footprints in white sand

a gale will blow, obliterate through

hands of time, like

a school slate wiped by a child,

timetables & mathematics in

an attempt to unwind 

Pi.
NH 2018

————-

Now your turn to be creative and celebrate the spoken word on this fine day! 🙂 

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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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