Category Archives: spring

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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vakker (#wearewoman #2) 

anita orheim work From Norway, West Norway, I COULD HAVE A TRIPTYCH of three beautiful women featured in today’s post – and they are rightly in my heart. Yet I choose the ONE who opened me that wonderful door to Norge, and this is obviously my friend and photographer Anita Orheim, now Perrone.

We are Woman, creative, beautiful.

Anita Orheim Perrone e- Our friendship feels ancestral as well as creative. And when I was asked to attend her wedding to François Perrone, read at the Fana kirke, my lens was also very active on that very magical day. Moment tattooed forever in my heart.

How long now have I known Anita? Photography connects us. Our story flang brand new doors wide open when Anita asked me to cover Norway Liberation Day 2010, celebrated for the very first time in Shetland, with Norwegian Royal representation via the Norwegian Coastguards & closer to her home, via NYBAKK,  the floating museum led by the Nybakk family, which in turn became part of “my Norskie Clan”. We shared so many slices of life since Scalloway, Lerwick, and Shetland…

As many folk say, the rest is history.

 

Please visit Anita’s photographic constellation under Anita Orheim Photography

 

Today, my “Norwegian sister” lives back home happily with François and their peerie man, Alvar.

Here, to celebrate her woman’s work, as a mother in her homeworld, a poem.

 

Le Petit Prince de Norvège

The one who stops looking up at the stars forgets.

He counts clementines at Yule time on a table fit for a prince, or

a dreamer;

give him a glass that will

allow Jupiter’s moons, or the

silky rings of Saturn shine in his eyes –

smallest of things,

single filed ants along a stem,

mayflies newly born at sunrise,

dust from Lyra, or comet hairs

enlight his mind.

Let him

lie down in the meadow where

grass grows high to home hoppers,

mimmick the blackbird,

feel the elk,

befriend a rose or a red fox…

Give him

goggles and leather gloves,

map & compass, coordinates to

avoid dunes in the desert.

Show him

the Moon, the way each waves shapes the heart stone*,

the way the sun clads earth spirits,

weaves green saris in winter skies –

teach him the songs from

auroras.

And if the bridge feels strong enough,

he’ll look at you when he’s afraid, and reach for the string of his kite.

The one who keeps looking at stars will

find his footprints in the

snow.

© Nat Hall 2017

Note:

* the “heart stone”= Kannesteinen Rock, from Oppedal, off Måløy.

 

 

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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 éclair,

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 courbées – robes d’or et

de rouge, leurs pétals protègent

le trésor…

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 déchaînes!

Son et lumières, tes perles tombent

drues, s’écrasent 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:

frisqué (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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silence 

In a world full of noise,

Time out.

Silence


Rotation, collision.

Sample the joy of

outer

space.

 

Not

a trickle,

breath from the breeze,

hanging raindrop off

growing leaves;

not

a

single

roar after dawn;

not

a

single

cry from

wild dogs, hyena, cheetah,

hunter’s own –

not

a

morning

sound from the land,

high pitch crossing legs from

hoppers clung to

the meaning of

grassland…


Now 

try harder.


Not

a

sound wave, echo from your

device to

mine;

golden

smiley gone

after nine,

as am explained the rule of

Pi in

a

lesson doused by

north sun;

where

gas & dust glide and

gather,

give

birth to new stars in

cradles, in the

most

natural motion,

cosmic and bright in a

circle.
© Nat Hall 2017


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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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visitors

The island remains a honeypot for all kinds of visitors – sometimes I let my imagination loose at sea, and imagine lighthouse beams as magnets… Too irresistible to the intrepid one to ignore.

  Two kinds of visitors caught my eye. The first clad in clinker and rivets looked at the lerwigian sky like in defiance – yes, a dragon in the heart of our only town!

 From the Norwegian, it translated as Dragon Harald the Fairhair, back at Alexandra Wharf for a first time in a couple of years – en route to NY via the old Viking routes. Draken Harald certainly caught our attention & hearts.


Statsraad Lehmkuhl had arrived and already moored at her usual place at Victoria Pier. I would catch her the following morning just off Bressay Light with my other notable visitor, Lancashire based Landscape Photographer, Peter Laurence who followed in the footsteps of Britain’s Landscape Photography master, Faye Godwin,  who had immortalised the island in the 1980s…


A day in the field would only seal friendship, challenge the eye, as we employed a whole day well spent between the old lime kilns of Fladdabister to the edge of the rocky promontory, Grutness.

And what a day it proved to be. Armed with our respective lenses, time turned irrelevant, for our wandering in between tall grass and muddy roadsides filled our eyes with smiles.


And we wandered across tall grass and May flowers…

And pointed to the majesty of the southern edge of my homeworld.




I may spend a lifetime  capturing that power of place, the eye remains challenged as time loses sight in salt. 

With gracious thanks to Peter for a memorable day. Enjoy Compass Head inside each page. 🙂 

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fluttering [3]

compass head

Four weeks away from the book launch at the Shetland Library in Lerwick, and heaving a memorable night of celebration, reading and signing on Friday 20 May 2016. Our librarians are fantastic!

There will be special guests, some poets, others, artists (or poets with an instrument).

nordicblackbird | the roost now duly updated, both home and writer’s corner pages.

Excitement begins to mount…

HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

Meantime,

enjoy Compass Head, and please please please do not forget to bring your copy on 20 May, as I will be more than happy and honoured to sign it at the end of the event.

And if you don’t have it yet, do not delay!

get it HERE!

More to come 🙂

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