Chant du monde boréal
Sandshifter, 60N.
Where it all makes sense.



Through Chronicles from Arcania, I shall attempt to share walks with you, this poetics from 60N, where I feel at one with our Earth, my sense of place so maritime.

Thursday, 31 December 2009

Walking into a new decade

Outside the wind is hissing high. Final moments of 2009. Candles are lit on window sills and everytime I look outside,  I feel might of our icy world. Our Moon will act as cosmic torch, friend in blackness, enlightener...
Before we slide into the dawn of that brand new 2010, I wish you well, follower-friends. May this new year strenghen our bond, kinship, spirit and share our world in which each one of us connect & celebrate the shore[s] we walk.
Blissins fae 60N

Wednesday, 30 December 2009

Walk 1 - Morning Light

Primal morning on 60N.

Sandwick's quiet. All I can hear are birds and sea - waders with such exotic names, shalder, snippik and sandy loo... respectively oystercatcher, snipe and ringed plover.
Dawn has begun in late July. In the distance lies Hoswick Beach from where I listen to the tide, new melody out of our wish. We left behind our city life, non-stop traffic, hissing sirens... For the first time in many years, I reconnect with our cosmic mechanism - in slow motion, just like those past summer mornings in Provence: gentle, lightsome with some distinctive scent in the air. Not rosemary, thyme or sage... Here everything yields to sea spray.

Here, like at the foot of the Luberon Mountain, our Earth rotates in silence. I feel so small in the garden.

So I witnessed birth of a day and called my piece "Morning Light".

This very first poem written in our new home was subsequently selected for The Pull of The Moon or Bicycle Dreams [New Shetland Writing Anthology, 2004] and the entire experience still feels like a waking dream.

Morning Light

I hear your voice,
I feel the sea;
lingering clouds caress
our hills - night wants to flee.
Drakness slips away
to the side
to let the light surf
on the return of the tide.

...Fast asleep,
I feel your hand,
I hear the sea;
strong like granite, my love
qand yours sing in a shell -
in deep ocean,
the song of whales;
on the water
morning light fell.

When fast asleep,
you roam my dreams,
we are the sea -
flowing abreast between skerries
now we can see
...light blue heavens where seagulls
fly & skylarks sing;
you are my life, my rock & blood...
not just a fling.

Now I can wake,
unlike the tide you'll stay
with me.

© Nat Hall 2001


Arcania, poet’s world – sea, sky, earth scapes were born off a moment during a creative session with Jen last August, who asked us all to fashion our personal inner scapes out of local / known physical ones. Jen started us off with specific concepts and let our poetic minds wander for each section. Such exercise was taken as self-indulgence and started off with a piece of verse entitled Snapshots from Arcania.

Yet Arcania represents more than the poet’s world to me. For all I know, it is the very fabric of the shore I walk on a daily basis, virtually free of mind pollution, or chains and feel more real as it brings me closer to earth, the real world.

I once mentioned an earlier life experienced south of the border; needed and yet compartmented, obeying to specific laws, system in which we lost ourselves… By walking away from this kind of materialistic world, we learnt to appreciate each sunrise; the taste of salt glued on our lips, the way wind talks through breeze or gale, folk work and speak…rawness of land and elements, the way we fit inside it all. It’s like learning to live again.

Tuesday, 29 December 2009

Intellectual nomadism

What more enriching than opening up to a palette of languages and cultures?
Humanity, our home planet, blue gem of civilisations.

Why limiting ourselves to our own (and by this I imply the one imposed by our parents, family, nation) when we can access others so easily?
As a child, my favourite authors made me trek across the planet.
R.L Stevenson, Jack London, Sir Walter Scott, André Brink, Voltaire, Joseph Kessel and Jules Verne remain my top all time favourites... And the list is by no means exhaustive! Furthermore, Africa knocked on my door in my early teens and it made a profound impact.
As a learner, humanities - literature, languages, art, history and geography - have shaped my path of destiny.
Duality in cultures & homes - one inherited by birth, the other, chosen. (Interestingly enough, Kenneth White and I have "swapped" place of birth & chosen home. He left Scotland for France and I, the opposite.)
A trinity of twangs in my tongue and this avid curiosity to widen my horizons... Living and writing in the UK's most northerly archipelago in the middle of the North Atlantic makes my mind want to reach out in all directions. SSW, to the Scottish mainland & more southerly islands; NW to Iceland & Faroe, east to Scandinavia and west, towards Canada.
We share this young ocean, cultures and languages. Connecting with (notably) the bi-lingual Canadian sphere seems a natural progression. Hence my involvement with the Canadian Poetry Association.

Yet from childhood, travelling without moving has always been possible: as a reader, books act like long ships, computers, like star ships.
As a poet, this ability to write without (physically) travelling allows the mind to go adrift and exploit that rich palette of shores, sea spray, jungles, forests, civilisations in order to create a kaleidoscope of lanscapes through a distinctive view of the world. As a teenager, I learnt to appreciate this substantifique moelle and cultivate one's (inner) garden.

And talking of gardens, this intellectual nomadism does not stop at neither distances nor artificial boundaries. Connecting with Lissa's Australian world forged many bonds as well as an exciting project: Garden2Garden.

Such activities enable men to metaphorically tear their passports and elevate them to the real status: that of world citizens.

Involvement with CPA's e-Poemata (and full Poemata)

Monday, 28 December 2009

Octavias' Dream by Nat Hall

Octavias' Dream by Nat Hall

...And talking of "white world"

...Or the snowball effect.
Social networks are fantastic. Not only do we keep in touch with "friends" but make new ones. Hence networking allows the nomadic spirit to explore brand new trails.
As 2009 draws to an end, I am now fully connected with the world of Kenneth White, as introduced to Geopoetics by fellow island poet, essayist & friend Norman Bissell.
The more I delve in this concept, the more it speaks to me (either in English or in French!).
So I am looking forward to contributing to the Forums from Geopoetics' Scottish Centre and "walk the shore". Funny enough, Norrie confessed I was to become its most northerly member... Meanwhile, am devouring Grounding a World as my freshest substantifique moelle.

Sunday, 20 December 2009

Snow Day on 60N

Three images to celebrate Snow Day on 60N.
This big rock, bathing in the North Atlantic, just like a gem.

White World has indeed reached Shetland and with it a new sense of peace. Daylight is melting like ice to the sun. This nordic sun, all clad in pink from either angle of the day, warms up my heart. From flamboyance at Simmerdim to timidity in winter, this colossal celestial star provides us with distinctive light on such latitude.

For every time I walk the shore, my eye is rivetted to that perpetual game of light and it will search for deep contrasts, those reverbarations onto mirrors - from the lochan to the ocean - as light gives colour to our world. And when we look at each brae (hillside), those hues of green, purple and brown change all the time. My photographic portfolio is a testimony to such light.

Today my world bore a blue tint so uniform as snow covers each inch of land. How long it will last is another question... However, we shall soon find out!

white world on 60N

Our very first

Saturday, 19 December 2009

Yuletide Wishes from 60N

With winter solstice upon us, I woke today to "white world", as the north wind brings drifting snow on every hill, stretch of shoreline and every stone, wir innerdaeks, porch & roof slate.
Shetland turns in a mini-Canada. Yule is now truly under way!

On this occasion, have a piece to share with you:

Winter Spirit

Today I made my home ready to welcome darkest of season.

Fruit of the rose in the garden,
crown of holly in your honour,
the thinnest moon at its zenith,
icicle sky –

your eyes, those juniper berries,
poured in mulled wine,
we toast to our despotic star to rise again from its ashes;

playful Amabael smiles outside.

Runic dream found in nordic night,
we shall feast by the bowing spruce, light bonfires on every hill,
meddle with creatures of the cairns,
free to wander with the living…

They say it starts on Tulya’s E’en.

For you,
dark world, my offerings – cinnamon stick & evergreen,
my wheel of light instead of fears,
my sheaf of corn,

© Nat Hall 2009

May you all have a joyous festive season, or, as we say in Shetland,
Hae a guid Yöl wi aa da very best fur 2010!

Blissins, N

Friday, 11 December 2009

2009 through the fisheye

December, month of mirror.

Shetland Writers & Landscape Summer School - by running my first worshop on Modern Shetland Poetry. Re-booked for next summer already!

2009 has been fruitful, exciting and productive on da Auld Rock.

Poet's highlights:
* Feb.: Poetry Nights at the Shetland Library, Lerwick - with Poet Partner Jen Hadfield, Open Mic' and guest reading at James Robertson's & Gordon Dargie's double book launch. Great nights!
* May: Guest reading at Marsali Taylor's book launch, Shetland Library, Lerwick. Moving.

* Spring: Verse, Lady Mist published on PoetryScotland's website and Da Hansel, published in the New Shetlander's Simmer Issue. Pleasure :)

* July: Involvement with Donna Heddle & R. Alan Jamieson from UHI's Centre for Nordic Studies - 

*Aug.: Creative Connections [aka Shetland Fiddle Frenzy], Lerwick.
As a participant to Jen Hadfield's creative writing summer school & reading at The Garrison Theatre. "Fun & immensely productive!"
 With special thanks to Davy Cooper for the shots! :))

* Oct.: Contributing to Shetland ForWird's effort to promote the dialect through the Phrasebook Project (ongoing). My niche: birds & wild flowers. We hope the phrasebook to be ready for 2011, Shetland's Year of Culture. Exciting.

*Nov.: Creative writing & publishing workshops with Poet-Publisher-Editor of Markings John Hudson. Public Reading at Islesburgh, Lerwick. Month of creative madness & great fun.

*Nov.- early Dec.: (cont.) Involvement with Poemata, December Issue by assisting Donna Allard, Magazine Editor, with submission reading. Learning curve.
The December Issue is about to go live/to press...

And still working on manuscript. 2009 has been a good year :).

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

North Atlantic Celebration

Current writing project with Canadian poet Donna Allard is taking shape.

It consists of a two-part collection of verse in which the reader journeys from the shores of New Brunswick to Shetland in a linguistic duality [English & French] with a twist. Argh weel, wi a peerie grain oda [chosen] midder tongue tö!
With seascapes from either side of our ocean as a backdrop, we celebrate our sense of place, culture, heritage, language... our north atlantic world.

So far it has been a formidable adventure in many respects but I took half the manuscript to the critical eye of Poet, Editor & Publisher John Hudson [Markings, Dumfries & Galloway, Scotland], who, as Shetland Writer in Residence throughout November, challenged it further!
More time may be needed to add final touches to the edited version, however, John's bon prince and kindly accepted to add his stone to the edifice by proofing it. We share that lingusitic duality like a treasure.

My connections with the ocean...

A tale of two harbours, norman and shetlandic.

When I am asked, "are you going home for Christmas?" - I smile.
I am home, it is where my heart beats....

Norman, Shetland, it is quite explicit: nor... norse....north.

I once shared a first poem entitled Confession to a Foreigner with Colin Will [Calder Wood Press, Poetry Scotland]who posted it on the Open Mouse.
In this poem, I notably underline the lack of choice for a passport.

And when I face the Atlantic, I know "I'm home".

To some extend, I celebrate my ancestors.

photographic portfolio

...Please copy & paste on your browser :)

Monday, 7 December 2009

"...Hello Earth.... Hello Earth"

There's a starling eating apples nailed on my fence.

It's December on 60N,

welcome to my nordic garden.

Sandwick, Shetland, Scotland, in harmony with earth and sky - my great escape from the rat race that belonged to another life...
Here I can breathe, hear ebb and flow, each equinox outside my shell.
It's late again...