Tag Archives: lerwick

wheel of life

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September, month of smiles and tears.

Yesterday, I congragated with friends and fellow writers from the Westside as well as the Waas community to say agoodbye to one of us. I loved the way his son spoke of my friend, and the way Janet somewhat managed to conceal some of her grief. The service was very poignant. I, among so many of us, will miss the good doctor who animated our monthly friday nights in Weisdale, as well as the many facets of everyone who was connected to his life. But he lives in our hearts, and his writings testify the life journey of a very brave, adventurous, life and children loving man. Rest in peace, Robin.

September, change of light.talking sky in Hairst.jpg

Weeks fly like lit gun powder; fridays tear down the pages of our almanacs like a develish, untamed child too eager to rid of school days. And the sky follows suite. Little have I noticed sunsets and sunrises shifted on the the great cosmic clock… That daylight had begun to shrink. The island now unveils those autumnal hues.  A more difuse light now clads everything on the island. The sky awaken and talks again.  Whereas swans are starting to flock at Spiggie, others are thinking to go… Northern wheatears, pied wagetails and meadow pipits, together with a few swallows still grace our fence posts, road verges and fields… Though they too will depart from our shores and let others replace them for the darker months ahead.

September, trade of wings. young wheatear.jpg

That juvenile northern wheatear will home itself south of my eyes for a few months, should it survive that great epic maiden flight south. I feel somewhat eager to reconvene with our winter visitors, whilst already marvelling at eclipse or winter plumage from some of our local avian friends. Guillemots certainly are noticeable from Gutters’ Gaet or Bressay Sound.  And if observation feels rather limited during weekdays, the odd visit to harbours, lochs, fields, voes and wicks (bays) rekindles that pleasure.

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And as nothing remains the same, September will vanish in flames, and let October take over. With the tenth month, I too will trade land and migrate for precious time to the other side side of he North Sea, as I will reconvene with friends and fjords. That second collection of verse demands so, as my heart does.

With October, the more prominent return of darkness… And the almanac will obey the laws of the universe.

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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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celebration

YOU are INVITED 🙂

Come along and enjoy. We will be delighted to have you on the night. Bring a friend or a loved one 🙂

There will be a kaleidoscope of voices, with live music, at our Home of books – and a few nibbles too 🙂 

And bring your own copy for me to sign on the night! 

We are looking forward to see you.

See you there! 

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showcase

  It takes a gang of lens’ lovers to assemble thoughts & pixels for a project sleek & visual.
  
It takes time & dexterity to sit & select 80 images (out of a pack of 300) to grace the walls of Da Gadderie, Shetland’s SMA&A’s non-permanent exhibition space for a good part of a summer.

  It takes pleasure to see folk smile and share their thoughts & reactions on the first day as they embark on a journey between four walls…
  
It was a pleasure to see you. There is still time to come and see how we present our shared home world – how we look at all its treasures, and thank you all for your visit, wherever you began your journey.

  

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Armistice Week 2014

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One hundred years on,
10 million dead,
another 10 million crippled, too many headstones… Vanished hearts – brothers, fathers, uncles, cousins… My great grand father, Pépé Duval, was a stretcher-bearer on his country’s battlefields, lunar landscapes… He, like millions of men, was thrown into a carnage, brain-washed by a propaganda led by warmongers. He was lucky enough to return home, twice gassed and deeply scarred for the rest of his life, shell-shocked…

One hundred years on,
How can we forget?

Some politicians (at least in France) attempted to “turn the page” by declaring we should drop the bucket… Sorry, we have a duty to honour those who were sacrificed against their full will. Nobody wishes to endure what so many million men endured in horrid conditions… I recently read that, in some cases, 1 1/2 mile recovered in No Man’s Land cost well over 200,000 lives. That is more than sacrifice, this is a crime against humanity.
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Over the course of such week, leading to Remembrance Day on 9 November around the UK, the Anderson High School, my school, has honoured all those fallen in and around Western Europe.

1200 North Islanders on the Orkney & Shetland respective Rolls of Honour…

One hundred years on.

No one wants a return to hatred & carnage, deep bleeding of nations.
My recent visit to Northern Germany with 22 pupils from the AHS reconnects ties between peoples, hence breaking down barriers, ignorance, fears.
We are all connected through various ways – sea, fish, herring, history, heritage. Our own language alone has been forged inside an incredible melting pot – metamorphic, enriched by words that included old German ones, brought over by the people who came to settle and trade on the land in the first place. We must not forget that either.

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We commemorate our own, however, with one hundred years on, my heart also feels for all those who perished in blind madness (war of attrition).
Military, civilians, irrespective of colour, religion, gender, or island -ethnic origin, continent, nationality.

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On such occasion, I was invited to contribute to two events – a creative writing project within a collective, and, reading my own work from such project on the school tannoy.
And so I did.
I therefore let Wildred Owen’s Dulce ET Decorum Est for my own piece entitled Ricochets, a poem which sits within a suite of verse & flash fiction created during this autumn thanks to a project called “1914 and all that”, a joint partnership between the Shetland Museum & Archives and Shetland Arts.

Ricochets resonated in the hearts of many 21st century AHS pupils, who shared their reactions throughout the day.

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Touched & happy they could reach out to one another, pupils & words.
One hundred years on,
let us all remember.

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So, in honour of all victims of the conflict, as well as a “taster” to the event at Wordplay 2014, here is the piece I shared a hundred years later.

Ricochets

Devil’s in the trench,
scavenging round the Earth –
against sandbags,
school, chapel walls or parapets, through cloth of brand new uniforms, grey, khaki, blue –
across cornfields
somebody ploughed in hope for bread,
where boys ventured to kill
boredom away from home in
a bull-ring*,
they remind me of
skimming stones,
light on the loch,
summer, crane flies…
Sleek impromptu or
intruder,
hum-buzz-quick hiss,
whizz, woosh and plop,
to find their way deep inside mud or
in between innocent eyes,
an unknown name
turned animal inside a trench,
who dreamt of blackbirds and angels…

© Nat Hall 2014

Notes: Bull-ring: the famous infamous Bull-ring, training camp in Étaples, where harsh conditions were common place. (Source: Robert M Creig, Doing His Bit, Shetland Times, 1999-2003)

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I think my great grand father would approve of not only my verse, but my thoughts as a whole.

Thank you,
Donald, Brian & Jon.

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Ailleurs

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Somewhere else…
Today is a PJ & blanket day on my latitude, as October shows its more familiar face – rain & gale filling a titanium sky. I shan’t complain, as Hairst (that wonderful Shetlan word for autumn, and more accurately the “time for harvest”) has been exceptionally dry, with a sky that would make a jeweller proud!

Time to rewind life’s clock and look again at September.
September, a strange month in many respects – the “go-betweener” – Equinox, halfway though light & darkness… A time when I wish to clone myself to be in different places at once, including Hanse House in King’s Lynn to help launch a book of poetry & art for the Transformations’ Project…
Yet this September was different, for I spent it in between Lerwick & Lübeck.

Dates are fascinating.

1814, Norway begins to taste democracy… Sir Walter Scott lands in Lerwick at Robert Stevenson’s (RLS’s grandfather) invitation.
1914, Western & Central European nations slide into total war, entailing the peoples from their respective empires, and which they believe will finish at Christmas, fleur au canon… An old order crumbled into the vacuum victors wrote as History.
On a more personal level,
1984, second (and last) participation to a school exchange with Herborn, Hessen, Germany. Fantastic experience as a pupil to learn & understand about culture from the “other side of the Rhine” and first-hand experience (eye witness) to the impact of land occupation when traveling to “die Grenze”, the frontier – no man’s land area created by the bi-polar world since 1949. A world, Europe, country divided by a “Cold War”, itself a by-product of WWII. The sight of barb wire, watch towers & tanks, respectively Soviet & US, with guards armed to the teeth remains forever tattooed in my memory.
2014 – Germany reunified (since Oct 1990) in a more homogeneous and harmonised Europe (although a world which still bears the scars of the Cold War in some respects…) and a formidable opportunity to help empower 22 young Shetlanders to experience a slice of life with their respective German partners in Schleswig-Holstein, in & around Reinfeld, thanks to a well established German Exchange, the brainchild of my Anderson High School colleague Peter Haviland. This time, I would go as staff, together with my other accompanying colleague, Stephen Arnold.

And what a fabulous opportunity it has been to empower our pupils, equipping them with a very valuable life experience, developing life skills, enabling them to taste continental life in a thriving culture – making them aware of cultural as well as linguistic differences, and, maybe inspiring them in a way in developing language skills at some point in their life… I still remember some of our young participants expressing frustration when communicating, and realising how unfair it felt “not to speak as good German as their German counterparts could speak English”… Serious awareness. Come think of it, and not (too) too long ago, when Shetland was part of a Hanseatic world, with Lübeck as its capital, Shetland fishermen had found a linguistic compromise to understand and be understood by the German fish merchants with whom they were trading; and develop it later on with the Dutch merchants… Shetland’s own dialect borrowed many words from the old Frisian tongue – not only Norse words from the Viking world.

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Our pupils were formidable ambassadors for our school, community and ultimately, Scotland. The guests of Reinfeld’s school, KGS, or die Immanuel Kant Gemeinschaftschule, for their 10th Anniversary, our young Shetlanders put to the stage their own spirit & dancing skills, which, in turn, encouraged German participation and applause from the Reinfeld community.
Watching them dance, smile, explore, discover new things, new places, and listening to them sharing their reactions to daily challenges, their emotions throughout their respective voyage of discovery has contributed to a fantastic human adventure.

Schleswig-Holstein was, like Berlin itself, uncharted territory to me. Returning to a (re-) unified Germany with a unified capital proved to be a wonderful slice of life. So great to bathe into such culture and language – to “switch” again into the Germanic way of life, weaving new bonds with colleagues from Reinfeld and reinforcing existing professional bonds with my Shetland ones. Affectionately, I called us Les Trois Mousquetaires, after Alexandre Dumas, very aptly so.

We – pupils & staff – returned home with a collection of stories & fabulous memories to treasure.
Proud of our young generation 🙂

Here, selected images as illustration.

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Poetics came through words too.

Tattoo –
Brücke, Glocken und
die Amsel,
Königin der
Hanse
#haiku #micropoetry
da brig, da bell an
da blackie,
queen oda
Hanse

———————–
Die Glocke – bell
die Amsel – blackbird
—–

Peerie Fat Man
(an icon fae old Ost Berlin)

Tiergarten,
Tauentzienstraße KaDeWe,
du, peerie fat
man;
Pariser or
Potsdamer Platz,
Check Point Charlie,
Karl Marx Allee,
Peerie fat
man;
bear & eagle as your guardian –
I noticed you in
red & green,
peerie fat
man –
short-legged with a
felted hat,
on either side,
plump,
iconic –
peerie fat
man in
the
traffic.

© Nat Hall 2014

—————

To my German Exchange AHS S4 Pupils

Flying Lasses

Travemünde,
terminal
line,
where
foliage chimes
in between light & Baltic Sea,
and acorns ripe in
September,
you dare and dance,
harnessed to
life –
hooked between
clouds & gravity,
against bark of
greenest
forest,
your
heart beats
fast,
metal cable
will keep you high;
high as a kite amid branches,
velocity veils frantic
wings of
butterflies that
spread across in
your stomach, as you glide from
helm to oak tree.

From
forest floor,
you look a spider in
my eyes,

Sur le filin, l’épeire diadème.

———
For Kelvin A., S4 AHS Pupil in Reinfeld, KGS’s 10th
Anniversary.

Star Dancer –
sleek on his feet,
meticulous on every step,
even the wind embraced his whirls, as he showed
everyone the
way,
Boston Two Steps.
He made us
proud.

© Nat Hall 2014

—-

 

All words, images and verse © Nat Hall 2014

And, oh, to avoid any confusion, “Peerie Fat Man” is that little red/green man from the German traffic lights, as photographed below 🙂

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poetry day 2014

It is today, so enjoy it! UK National Poetry Day IMG_6771.JPG

Mine is painted in pink & blue as observed from this morning’s luminous sunrise 🙂

Here, my humble stone to the edifice,
with a poem dedicated as a token of geopoetical friendship:

For Tanja M., host, friend and Lübeckerin

Lübeck-Lerwick

In Between Lübeck & Lerwick,
there is only a thin blue
line,
forest of domes
in shades of green,
where bell towers echo
warm chimes,
their
majesty,
red & black
brick – a bric-à-brac
lost inside time…
In between
Lübeck & Lerwick,
there are waterways as
lifelines,
olive-green
painted iron brigs*,
our sense of place among
islands, miles of
cobbled streets where
footprints tattoo themselves
and find a home.
In between
Lübeck & Lerwick,
there are white sails rigged to
our hearts, wooden floors
polished out of dreams,
where we wander
in between
doors
now
left
for a
lifetime.

* brigs = Shetlan word 4 bridges

© Nat Hall 2014

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