Category Archives: verse

Bressay

Lerwick Harbour [1]It takes a day to meet and share an adventure.

In anticipation to meeting a kindred spirit at the Bressay Ferry Terminal – en route to the most westerly point of the island – came that invisible bridge between two harbours, tied by one stretch of water, our very Bressay Sound. From April to September, many seaworthy crafts come to anchor or to moor in our waters… And Leirna criss-crosses like a spider.

Bressay, the great sheltering whale-shaped island just opposite our only town, stands between two worlds I love.

My visiting friend, who  emerged from the ferry with two Bressay residents I know so well, had freshly arrived from this other side of the North Sea, via Bergen. She too was ready for a great adventure, in the hope to see an otter among our many local wild treasures. As I waited for her on the Lerwick side, came a poem.

 

Bressay

 

Alexandra Wharf on a Sunday afternoon, where

feet wander between islands, and

boats are tied to

known

bollards;

I look at you from

my town side, between

the Knab & Kebister.

You, inside

waves,

in

between Hay’s Dock and Bryggen, where

clouds fly past, white,

oblivious; where

fishermen anchored in hords to

fill barrels with

scales and

salt,

silver darlings –

we share the sea, wharves,

dark box beds, cracks in floorboards,

lead diamond shapes from old windows, as two towns rose,

rust, labyrinth of wood and salt,

two stories tied where

folk wander off

a ferry and

imprint their lives on tarmac… And still

remember old cobbles.

I’m still counting

ripples and

tides,

ink and blotches from well-kept books somebody wrote on

Bergen side –

countless columns,

whole salesman’s world.

But you stand firm against each gale,

shelter my side of the

harbour,

and

when

I look at your

portside, I see the meadows of summer,

the great white whale

clad inside

snow.

NH, 2017

 

Oh, we saw that otter in Sandness, and savoured cake, as we sat on the edge of the pier.

dratsie at Melby 13 Aug 2017

 

 

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swallows

 

 

 

 

 

On the topic of migration, hirundines – the embodiment of summer – and swallows in particular have always captivated my heart. I remember them nesting under the roof in rue de la Libération in Gisors as a child; and their return every year throughout life – wherever I have settled – remains magical.

Today I watch them return on the island, so far away from my grandmother’s home, and every time they rekindle that moment of discovery as a child… They fly from West Africa to reach us. Their journey feels incredible – travellers without papers across our northern hemisphere. They come to create the next generation – they have two homes, they are the product of two worlds, and they embody with so much grace many of us, humans, who have been blessed with more than one home…

A powerful allegory.

 

Here, to celebrate those amazing avian wanderers, a string of micropoetry, first written in French, then, translated in mirror.

 

Les hirondelles

1.

Furtives,

des anges habillés bleu et noir,

avec dans leurs yeux, du courage;

l’iris riveté au soleil, avides d’amour hors des nuages, sous

les génoises, elles font un voeu.

1.

Furtive,

they, angels clad in black & blue,

with courage in their eyes;

iris riveted to the sun, avid to love in cloudless skies, under

a roof they make a wish.

2.

Intrépides,

elles traversent déserts, champs et mers,

se confient aux cours d’eau, les chansons de la terre

pour retrouver enfin une once du berceau.

2.

Intrepid,

they fly across deserts, meadows and seas;

confide to waterways, the many earthly songs, to

find at last an ounce from home.

3.

Je les entends venir enfin,

leurs longues plumes dans mon ciel,

s’arrêter  sur un fil de fer, entre iris et mur de pierres,

un rebord de gouttière,

la latitude de leurs ancêtres.

3.

At last I hear them come,

their long feathers inside my sky,

to perch on a wire, in between iris and stone walls,

the edge of a gutter –

their ancestors’ latitude.

 

 

 

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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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vakkert (#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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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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worldwide

Excellent news from Nordland Publishing! A few days ago, I received a message from a blog reader regretting not to be able to order Compass Head directly from her own island-continent, Australia. I relayed the message to my publishers in Norway, who, not only were concerned, but have now made for amends. And they did more.

Now, this geopoetics in action and in full motion. That peerie yoal has already travelled far and wide. Let it reach YOU.

“Row, row your boat” as the tune says…

compass-head-book-cover From now on, dear reader, you can now reach out to Compass Head DIRECTLY from practically WORLDWIDE, including Australia, China, India, Brazil, as well as other amazing places on Earth! So jump on the boat and, fair wind, sailors, and join in all those who have already enjoyed the ADVENTUROUS journey from The Songs from the North 🙂 Just CLICK ON the LINKs!

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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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