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belle (#wearewoman 2)

les-coquelicots-by-isabelle-foriat

How I love the way she paints those flowers, poppies, coquelicots, as she knows them in Provence.

In a second #wearewoman post, I am celebrating  lifelong friend I met in 1990, in transit between two life chapters, en route north, beyond the horizon…

Her name is Isabelle Garnier Foriat.

isa-foriat-restauratrice-de-tableaux

Isabelle Foriat

Sensitive eye, accurate, meticulous in every sense of her iris,hand and brush… Please click on the two following links, ELLIA, the painter’s constellation, and ATELIER PATRIMONIUM, where the artist turned saviour of artworks.

Every visit weighs all its gold.  We reconvene at spring by the shores of River Durance. Our friendship flows by Les Moulins.

 

I recall a poem I dedicated to the artist. Initially written in French back in 2003 and available online at Poésie Française.

 

Pour toi, Isa la Belle, en attendant de te rerouver dans ta constellation.

 

Regards de peintre

A Isa, avec tendresse.

Cézanne, écoute :
Le Lubéron s’est éveillé –
Maître Foriat,
Isa la belle
A fait jaillir
De ses palettes
Un pic épeiche,
Un âne bleu –
Dans la chaleur du vent,
Ses pinceaux sont encrés ;
Dans un panier de pêches
Tout son génie est né.
Coquelicots,
Cyclamen,
Iris ou fleurs d’amandiers,
Entre Haute-Loire
Et Durance,
Mont Mezenc
Et Sainte Victoire
Se sont comptés fleurette…
Pommes d’amour
Ou coloquintes,
Ses mains de peintre
Ont enfanté
La magie des couleur,
Tout un plaisir
Des yeux,
Bleutés par l’huile,
Ou l’aquarelle –
Dans ses regards
De peintre,
Crue luminosité.

© Nat Hall 2003

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beautiful (#wearewoman) 1

common-mouse-ear I love common mouse ear, and so much so it embodies beauty a lot of us take for granted.

We are woman, and we are beautiful.

Yesterday, my heart marched in the streets of New York, Lerwick, Bergen, Edinburgh, Oslo, Lisbon, Paris, Philadelphia – wherever women marched along with those who love, treasure, respect them. And they were joined by a whole spirit, the one that says and reminds all that America and the free world make one.

To celebrate that spirit, fire that shines deep inside us, I will celebrate our womanhood, the way we love, look at the world and smile; and hashtag it in the title of every post.

Many women have touched my heart throughout my life journey. Let them be now known to the world. Some so famous, others, unknown.

I will begin with Victoria, the one who smiled and touched my heart – a station nurse working for USAID, based in NYC, NY, USA.  Tremendously spirited, so aware of the ills from far less privileged regions from our world, and investing herself in her duties and people in her care – she, humble, unknown American ambassador of the world’s bastion of freedom and democracy . I am in awe of her beauty inside-out.

peerie-mouse-new-fringe I am so proud of you, Peerie Mouse 🙂

For you, my tiger, in my own words, as a poet and a woman, and wish you well on your forthcoming tour, from my island to your island.

 

I already chiselled your name on

every train you take and

back –

on every door yet to

open, on every

brick,

footbridge and rope that

suspends us in between now and

the river that divides

blocks and

yellow

cabs,

galvanised world

where I wonder how Venus shines; and

imagine the big apple,

towering world

made of

metal,

compressed sand grains…

Beauty

born,

flower of chaos,

that little big bang from your heart.

 

© Nat Hall 2017

 

 

 

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entente more than “cordiale” :-)

1917, somewhere in hell, the fabric of humanity and life

I smiled tonight as, scrolling down the “Reader” section of wordpress, I found a xmas post from fellow poet & blogger Jackdaw.

One hundred years ago, London and Paris were building that Entente Cordiale, from the ashes of centuries of political warfare that engulfed generations of men to their deaths via so many bloody battles. Even though distrust was/has always been de rigueur, the two old enemies had found common ground. The necessities of the alliance system had eventually prevailed in an early 20th century torn by imperialistic competition and jealousy. Ironic, when we know it all began with a family feud between cousins who, notably, did not seem to agree on their own “gallery of toys”… Incidentally, 1917 also resonates with the entry of the US in that war of attrition, as well as the collapse of the medieval tsarist Russia…

This image, so powerful, prompted a comment to Jackdaw’s post. How humane, powerful will to defy the absurdity of war (total or not)  and show the world nations do not “hate” one another… There is light in darkness.

2017… One hundred years later

Russia has her 21st century blend of tsar under a more capitalistic etiquette, dealing happily with the world in a nostalgic way… The US have a new leader looking towards such Russian counterpart… Writing a brand new page of history that – I dearly hope – will not plunge our planet into chaos as in the first half of the last century. London is on her way alone… Somehow I would like to think that today’s generations of men and teenagers will not end up in a patch of no man’s land filled with horrors and absurdity. My grand mother’s words still echo in my head, as I still hear her telling me, as a child, how lucky I was to be born under “the right star”. By this, she meant in a period of (relative) peace in our homeworld. I still want to believe it. And I am also reluctant to be sucked in a bipolar world again. I still remember die Grenze between East and West as a teenager on a school exchange in (then) West Germany back in 1983 and 1984. Much favour a united world in which people feel “home” without (too many) fears…

Thank you, dear Jackdaw, for such blogpost. What a kiss!

May the image be plastered, like W. Owen’s poem, Dulce et Decorum Est, on every town square, national parliament, school, embassy and the UN, both in Geneva and New York.

A soldier of the Machine Gun Corps in a sheepskin coat kissing a French farm-girl under a sprig of mistletoe. Hesdin, France, December, 1917. Merry Christmas to you all. Don’t get chapped lips from all that kissing.

via Christmas Kiss — City Jackdaw

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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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quantum leap & back flip

That tunnel ride across mountains, under water (as I once left Måløy on the first time…) has left a mark indelible, and illustrates how I feel at the start of 2017.


2016 proved to be one of those truly extra-ordinary years, tainted with hues of paradoxical emotions on the the principle of the kaleidoscope. So much happened in those twelve months.

Here, the highlights back in limelight.

On the making and soft release of Compass Head, joint editing with Nordland lead to let this first solo collection fly at a time dear to my heart, 30 March.


From winter into spring, as I rolled back in Provence for a short while, bringing Compass Head to the last survivor of that trio of women to whom the book is dedicated. Symbolic journey in itself… However, there was another reunion as important with a lifelong friend, artist and Art restorative Artisan, Isabelle Foriat, who took me to Manosque to meet with Jean Giono’s surviving daughter, Sylvie. Marvellous encounter.

Prior to that trip to the foot of Le Lubéron, a night at the Library to meet with Liz Lochead, Scotland’s former makar; and a much cherished reunion with a friend and fellow poet, Emma van Woerkom, who will pen, among others, an eloquent review of my peerie book of verse.

20 May 2016, launch of Compass Head at the Shetland Library. Full house, for a memorable night I will treasure all my life. I really felt humble and touched.

img_0757

Mid-June, my first crossing across the sea with a close friend to be reunited with da Norskie Clan.

A dream come true for the first time. I knew this was my early gateway to Vestlandet. Unforgettable and tattooed in my heart forever.

img_1039

Throughout summer, wrestled with a boiler without a suit. That techno-joust cost two plumbers who worked wonders, though at some cost I cannot regret…

July, with an event at the Peerie Shop Café for the purpose of a mag launch by Shetland Create. Great fun and pleasure to share selected verse from Compass Head in a place where I come to write. 🙂

wp-image-1769546758jpg.jpg

Summer, spent around those wild islands with the world, come rain or shine. I love its magic and blue nights; that sense of freedom, colour saturation and overgrowth… And in between May and July, friends & fellow writers – Marsali Taylor and Laureen Johnson – will pen their respective & eloquent reviews for the Shetland Times and the New Shetlander. Both are trilingual like me. A blessing.

August, invited to read at Sumburgh Head, as part of a unique project, Extreme Light North, led by Carol Duffy. Friend, playwright and Shetland Library Book Champion Jacqui Clark is a magician! I will share verse broadcasted to the whole world via the Internet from the great height of my favourite headland that first made me dream some 19 years ago… Tout un symbole et une histoire, from which Compass Head derives and was born.

jacquis balloon writing 18 june 2016

Whereas mid-August rhymes with a return to class and school bells, September reminds us of a slow return to darkness and a trade of wings, as avian visitors perform that orchestrated seasonal ballet…

But by October, the deal is struck. Winter visitors found around, and I would marvel at those Norwegian White-tailed sea eagles again around Kvinnherad and Fanafjorden! What none expected was a twist of fate from the sky! Crystalline, diamond blue, with only one hour of rain, as I set foot in Krokeide… Out of this world!

from-the-slate-table

Reunited with some of my Norskie kinsfolk for my October break. Magical, ethereal, as we had so much to share. All would also provide me that space to write, develop what I started in June – namely, that second collection of poetry. Furthermore, François took me further afield, across mountains, the Sognefjord to Vågsøy and Måløy, Viking country, where friendship grows so beautifully since 2010 and a certain encounter with the NYBAKK . La boucle est bouclée. Full circle, past-present and future sealed in one stone.

November, Lerwick Book Festival, and, on a less happy note, saying goodbye to [another] close friend resettling in Glasgow at the final Open Mic Night Chris Grant co-hosted with passion with friend & artiste Lisa Ward. What I did not know would be the taking part in a creative project with Chris and his two musical buddies, Andy Kinnear and Cho Johnson before the end of the year. That was great fun. Chris recorded me inside his tiny office at the Anderson High School on his final day…

Yule – stormy and filled with lights, Compass Head has a readership on both side of the Atlantic AND the North Sea, in Scandinavia. Chuffed 🙂

December, and a final accolade for the poet, as Compass Head features in the annual review of the Shetland Times, the long printed island newspaper. In addition, and on the last Wednesday of December, a special Singer/Songwriter “Cabaret style” event takes place at Mareel. My verse has a new home. It was warmly welcome by both organisers and the audience present that night. Magic within the great vessel of glass continues. 🙂

compass-in-st-dec-2016

Thank You all for a marvellous 2016, both in Shetland, the UK and Norway. It has been a fantastic journey, and I can only wish 2017 to be a year of growth. Storms may be raging round my hut and my island, there is so much to look ahead, on either side of the North Sea.

Very best wishes to YOU all from my breezy 60N latitude! 🙂

sumburgh light

 

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nomad in vestlandet

hame-heim-home-e October belonged to Norway in autumn gold

Never have I dared to think to see the magic of West Norwegian fjords in such crystalline light during autumn… According to my Norskie friends, this happens only “every thirty years”. One of them even called me a hildigris (lucky devil) when the tenth month of the year remains (with November) the wettest month according to statstics… I had to alter the content of my backpack before I flew.

Magic names, warm welcomes and koselig slices of life awaited my eyes and heart. The term koselig, too often translated in English as “cosy”, does not feel adequate enough. It is deeper than this. It transcends into much deeper meaning that notably includes “warmth of the heart”. If you want to make friends with Norwegians, the simple phrase of gratitude for a shared time and their hospitality – Tusen takk. Det var kjempe koselig –  could help you a great deal in that way.

Back to magic names that have animated my heart for quite a while now.

 Hordaland,Bjørnefjorden, Hardangerfjorden, Kvinnherad, Fanafjorden, Bergen, Bryggen i Bergen, Sognefjorden, Måløy… Vågsøy, Sogn og Fjordane… 

vestlandet-map

To the nomad that I am at heart, my sense of home turns into a linguistic triptych – hame, heim, home – that takes all its dimension. I have long learnt that home is not necessarily a place, but a feeling. Hame on my side of the North Sea, heim on the West Norwegian side, and home whenever I find my way back to the Scottish Highlands.Three places where I feel happy and safe.

Amusing, amazing, as the tongue adapts itself to such feeling. On my initial voyage, time felt far too brief, even as an appetiser. And yet, it fed my appetite for this facet of Scandinavian culture that seems to be fashioned by the ruggedness of both sea, land and climate. Only now am I beginning to appreciate the Norskie way. And I love it.

Six years ago, when Anita O. led me on board M/S NYBAKK, was I exposed to a brand new world. Nynorsk spoken – the “Viking tongue” as Per Kåre chants with such pride – the official language from Vestlandet (the Norwegian Westside that comprises Rogaland, Hordaland and Sogne og Fjordane) and although Stavanger is still uncharted in my life journey, the other two districts now taste like honey in my heart.

AND what a journey it has been!

From Flesland to the shore of Hardangerfjorden, via the E39 and a ferry… Magic ride in by ethereal autumnal blue. As majestic as last June!

October, the hunting season. As a result, red deer is mostly visible after twilight, as they come to feed on roadsides… Some also seek asylum in private gardens or meadows. This was notably the case when I arrived back in my first fjord. Since R has an orchard, they come not only to find sanctuary, but to crunch through fallen fruits…

from-the-slate-table

The poet returned to the slate table at R’s secret place to enjoy once again the magic of the farm in Hardangerfjorden.

There, my first host offered me the space I needed to sharpen a little more the forester’s way of life at her place. I sat under one of her birch trees and watched leaves fall in a warm breeze, woodpeckers and jays off the old pear tree, blackbirds feed off fallen apples and listen to the tawny owl after dusk. On my arrival, I was welcomed by a white-tailed sea eagle flying over head.  an encounter with a red squirrel animated further my pen. Veldig koselig! 

da-farm red-squirrel-ekorn-at-da-farm-oct-2016-e sunset-in-kvinnherad-oct-2016 And in between, Bergen, the gateway to the fjords.

dscn9455 To the islander and maritimer that I am, a harbour is above all the heart of it all. Last June, I walked it with Aneta, this time, solo. And reconvened with Vågen, Bryggen i Bergen, the very labyrinth of wood and salt that links Bergen to my island from Hanseatic times. The story of the fish, barrels, sailors and gold that could be made. A whole day in the great city to explore a little more. I stepped back in now more familiar gater (streets) and explored the rich culture Bergen offers. I lost myself inside several museums, incuding The Hanseatiskmuseet” and Kode. Whilst the former allowed me to peep into the local wealth woven by the trade of fish, the latter made me discover Norway’s Greats in fine art. Astrup, Dahl and Munch to name but a few. Bergen deserves so much more than a day or two! Friday night life proved both delightful and colourful in many ways, especially in fine company.

bergen-at-dusk-e

Back to the peninsula for a slice of delight,

oseana-oct-16 I first photographed Oseana in June, and now in October. The Arts’ hub, coupled up with Restaurant and cinema really mirrors my one in Gutters’ Gaet… There, we walked from the heights of Os to reach water level, and enjoy a Saturday treat, a delicious prawn sandwich from heaven! R really relishes it :-).

prawn-sandwich glacier-from-oseana The stroll down and back keeps you fit, and lunch there is worth all its kroner! Very homely place too.

Fanafjorden, the other one south of Bergen

And there, I stayed with my second hosts, Anita and François. They too said to come back, and I would feel “heime”. I did! And we shared so many delectable slices of life.

fanafjorden And what a magical place! Privileged to share their home, before they move to their next one in

løy… Vågsøy. Anita’s home town!

To that effect, François offered me the ride to their new home. The ride north of 60N. Epic journey through tunnels and fantastic scenery that included Astrup’s country, Jølster, on the way. Unforgettable. Mesmerising.

Hello, hei, Sogn og Fjordane!

jolster-1  jolster-2

Mighty Sognefjorden and amazing land and water scapes awaited us in sheer splendour. Really unforgettable. We reached our destination in early evening and stayed overnight at Anita’s parents, Ingrid and Magne. Third fabulous koselig welcome. Accentuated by Ingrid S Nybakk and Tanya Myhre with whom I reconvened since their last trip to Lerwick! We left before dawn the following morning to drive back to Fana. Tusen takk, venner!

sognefjorden

Mighty Sognefjorden

EPIC initial exploration of Anita’s county, and now I know my next visit will have to include a return to her homeground as well as the Bergen peninsula and fjords.

And if I did not meet everyone from the Nybakk clan on this occasion, there will be time for a reunion soon. Meantime, I was lucky enough to reconvene by Anne Mabel and Arve Nybakk in Bergen for a day. Another precious unforgettable moment..

Hmmm. So much happened in October. So much love felt on this side of the North Sea. There is now poetics unfolding, brand new pages to be written, as well as a collection of verse to fashion.It has begun last June. It is now flourishing.

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