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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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Filed under 2018, 60N, Arcania, ash, blogging, celebration, colours, earth, festival, geopoetics, home, images, island, life, light, metasaga, north, norway, poet, review, scotland, shetland, shore, snow, spirit

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.

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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.

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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. 🙂

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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.

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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!

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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. 🙂

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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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Filed under 2017, 60N, Arcania, arts, blogging, book, celebration, colours, Compass_Head, geopoetics, home, Hordaland, island, launch, life, literature, north, poet, poetry, project, review, scotland, shetland, shetlandarts, shore, spirit, verse, welcome, winter, wishes, world, writing

reviewing jackdaw’s songs of the north

img_8071Out of darkness, the bleakest point from the island, came cobbled thoughts, a flash of ink blended with salt – now nights have cleared, here comes my humble impressions of jackdaw’s blend of geopoetics inside his début collection, Heading North.

“Heading North”, by Andrew James Murray, is the second volume from Nordland Publishing’s Song of the North Series. Its author defines himself as a northern guy with a northern accent and attitude, yet attracted to even more northern latitudes, landscapes and who follows in the tradition of both geographical and inner landscapes – bleaker in places, mysterious and remote. His journey takes us from the comfort of his familiar Manchester world to the Ring of Brodgar on a far away archipelago bathed by both a sea and an ocean, via a myriad of known & unknown places – Berlin, Prague to the cobbled streets of Stromness. But it also takes us across gritty and sometimes wonderfully chiselled inner scapes.

It all begins at midnight in summer.

Blind to great masses / that dance in dark orbits. / And a soft, summer wind. Midnight, July.

There is game of light and dark as poems juxtapose the poet’s mood and sense of place. From the Spanish Hills to Backyard, we meander through light shafts at will to find ourselves in the scarce sunlight.

There is elegance in simplicity,

The sunflower / grows alone,/ […] and a penchant for flattery. Sunflower

And there comes the jackdaw.

The one robed in capes / swooping first over parched soil / and shrivelled roots – from Storm Coming.

Poetics scapes towering contrasts, I love the allieration from Row Mojo,

the bleak blushes of dusk, and from sensuality we find ourselves drinking beyond oblivion, sometimes eating death, tasting ash, eating a father. Brutal and yet poetical.

We are tossed at sea like guillemots inside tides; we know we are heading north. That’s when the zenith turns to twilight. From the dockland to the ocean to reach the realms of the northern lands. As we progress throgh the poet’s journey, we wander though dark lands. And then we hit winter, as we reach ravaged, savage scapes & its dwellers, the crows.

Yet we are tossed between seasons, as we are drawn to the blackbird that emerges with exquisite sensuality, songstress of the twilight / I am lost in your song.

I am sensitive to the poet’s observation of his surroundings, real or not. The raw beauty of a savage sky, in this rugged hour, / a low inter sun / glazes soft… From Savage Sky.

A solitary road, cobbled, winding, / […] engineered perhaps, to break the tumult / of wind and sea … From Stromness. I believe George MacKay Brown would have smiled.

Without a question or a doubt, Andrew James Murray’s poetic collection certainly encompasses key elements of geopoetical dimension, and gives the reader a sense of north. His quest took him as high as Orkney. Elegant in places, harsh and chiselled with flair and savagery in others, Heading North is an invitation to beauty. Very much recommended.

Merci pour ta poésie, mon ami :-).

Jackdaw sings with corvids, the rawness of a northern song, and a blackbird.

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Filed under 2016, arts, birds, blogging, celebration, colours, geopoetics, literature, migration, north, poet, poetry, poets, review, spirit, verse, verse poetry

Chalk n’ Cheese 

 
I love bruck. 

…Not any bruck. The one you find washed off from the sea – the one that can be recycled into artistic  meaningfulness  – rubbish turned creative with a strong sense of place.

Somebody’s work that awakes your senses, makes you whisper “wow” and lights up your own imagination. 

Shetland’s main Gallery based in Weisdale – Bonhoga – has a knack to attract a palette of artistic minds in order to please everyone (interested in the Creative Industries).

Two great examples notably include Malakoff and Shadowed Valley – two distinct exhibitions recently viewed in this micro-hub.

Art is subjective. Art is a dialogue, a connection between two minds via a product or a medium. It talks to you, or it does not… It feels as whimsical as an orb in the forest. In any case, let us allow such encounters in order to write our stories. 🙂

   
   

   
     

Above, that transformed bruck from our island-based collective… 

   
   

   
     

Something different for everyone 🙂

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June 7, 2015 · 4:35 pm

year of courage

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2013 – I still remember its first day. Mister Robin was singing high just outside my peerie South African sister’s home in the Chilterns. The sun had engulfed late morning. She woke me so gently. I was just about to start what she aptly named “my year of courage” – the start of my brand new life.
Although the term “abandoned” does not feature among the list regarding marital status, you don’t wipe out 22 years of married life in a few days…
How right she was to name it this way.

20131231-020243.jpg I returned home to my 60N Latitude with a heart re-charged with courage and the will to harness my life.
I will not delve into details, but will celebrate its highlights.

With “From shore to Shoormal” on the way to my doorstep, I prepared the book’s homecoming on this side of the Atlantic in view to launch it in Lerwick at the local book festival. Although Donna, my co-author, thought of crossing, our publisher would turn her voice.

Two main projects – NTS Ignition and ArtiPeeps’ Transformations – would keep me occupied with verse & performance. Again, Tai knows my creative writing function as “rails” along the path.

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Within the Westside Writers’ Group, friend & author, Marsali Taylor steered another publishing project – the group’s primal anthology – entitled “Wirds fae da Waastside”. She also penned a first review for “From Shore to Shoormal” for the local newspaper. She and Laureen Johnson, co-Editor of the New Shetlander were my top choices for such task, since both can read English & French, on top of Shetland dialect. How fortunate & privileged to have such reviewers. My gratitude to both, as BBC Radio Shetland broadcaster, Marie Blance, for a February interview for The Book Programme 🙂

As spring gave way to summertime, I discovered a new passion – sea rowing among a team of great friendly ladies, who welcomed me among their “clan”.
And reinforced creative bonds with neon artist, Lili Morgan, through a new collaboration entitled Music.
Yet I would also discover the joys of keeping up with home & grass (!) as well as sharing my homeworld with visitors from other parts of the planet – gosh, how many times have I cursed Odin & Thor for hiding islands in seafog!

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My resilience & love for “my Treasure Islands” won every time.

Within those months, I learnt so many new skills – from replacing a door sealant to handling power tools of all kinds. Summer is a short window to prepare home for the winter. With help & advice from two great friends – Magnie & Richard – I don’t feel so cold inside storms.

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I also learnt my own limits, notably with grass cutting… Though my love for “wild” in “wildlife”, I accepted tall grass can live among flowers, bugs and nettles. I swapped a streamer for a scythe. Maybe next year, I’ll do better.

With September came Mr Blades, my publisher from New Brunswick. The book would be launched at Wordplay on the first weekend without fault. Joe discovered Ninian sunset & northern lights on arrival. To our surprise, we read to a lovely full house and made that day memorable.

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Friends & guest readers, Marsali Taylor & Christian Tait – shared their own work, smiles and talent. Together with Steve Davidson & Alan McKay, who provided magic music, Joe and I smiled. The room was graced with both famous & unknown faces, who delighted spirit & heart. My deepest thanks to all involved – friends & public who attended this first book launch. Donna’s spirit filled the moment.
I say “first” launch, although two days before, another book came into light – the Westside Writers’ Anthology… So “first” happened on a Thursday (!)

With October, came a new friend – kindred spirit – Stephanie Spindler for a month. We both marvelled at the grandeur of my homeworld when she notably drove us to that magic peninsula called Eshaness. It never fails in sheer blue light 🙂

With Tai’s & friends’ renewed encouragements, I faced winter with a strong heart. Whereas creative collaborations continued within ArtiPeeps, Ovid & a new experience would keep me occupied at night. As light vanished, I found my way amidst a mix of old & new friends from the Open Door Drama group led by fiend & Theatre Director Izzy Swanson. Pantomime would lead back to Lerwick’s Garrison Theatre till the winter solstice.

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So, there we are. On the final day of 2013, I am looking to a new dawn. Tai’s in the bush with her loved ones. Joe’s deep in snow. Everyone’s love and words of encouragement – either as family or friends – carried me through this frantic year.
I am grateful to your kindness. 🙂

May 2014 bring new light, good health and joys to each of your days.

Happy New Year / Bonne année / Glückliches neues Jahr to you all 🙂
May you find peace & happiness inside your heart.

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Filed under 2013, 60N, atlantic, celebration, colours, december, home, island, life, north, poet, review, shetland, spirit, winter, wishes, world, writing

and from canada

Shoormal_cvr_s http://artseast.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/from-shore-to-shoormal.html

thank you for a great, eloquent book review, Arts East 🙂

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Filed under 2013, 60N, atlantic, Canada, celebration, geopoetics, home, island, north, poet, poetry, poets, project, shetland