Wednesday, 22 September 2021

Papa Westray (Papay)

                                            The Maes Howe dragon painted on a green slurry bin,
                                                                     Papa Westray

My 4th visit to Papay as the locals call it.  Mist and rain. But in one clear spell  I managed to pay my respects to the 'sights': the dragon on Holland Farm's slurry bin, of course; 

Knap of Howe

also a walk to  the Neolithc Knap Howe, the oldest extant house in Europe, older than Scara Brae on Orkney mainland and without the hordes of tourists.   

                                                                  Mobile by  Kerrianne Flett,
                                                   exhibition in the Kelp Store, Papa Westray.

Also walked to the Kelp Store, now a Heritage Centre, and found an inspiring art exhibition by young art graduates from all over Orkney. My favourite was a mobile hanging from the ceiling, with tiny porcelain hands on fishing wire.  Made during lockdown, I found it very poignant,  and that the artist was maybe thinking of the sense of touch, which we were not allowed to do, to so many loved ones.



Friday, 17 September 2021

Stir Crazy and Trip to North Ronaldsay, Orkney

 Going stir crazy, hearing about other people's 'staycations' (What a ghastly word).  Got away at last - staying within Scotland much safer than chancing trains where no one wears masks the English side of the border (Are they mad?!).

So off to North Ronaldsay, Orkney's northernmost isle, staying at the Obs (Bird Observatory). V. excited twitchers here announcing what they've seen - vagrant rarities (migration from Scandinavia, Russia and Greenland in progress. Two hen harriers and,
most excitingly not birds but a pod of 6 orcas (killer whales). Sadly I did not see latter. But I did learn how to sing to the seals.

The Obs. 

N. Ronaldsay lighthouse (with red and white stripes) built by, you guessed it, Robert Louis Stevenson's uncle. 

It rained apart from one day when I did walk the entire length of the island and back (6 miles) to reach the lighthouse.  But I was there to write as much as to walk so lucky to have a wee alcove off my bedroom where they let me set up a table (borrowed from the outdoor bar) and desk lamp. Perfect. 

And below is a photo of the famous N. Ronaldsay sheep who feed off kelp on the sea shore, kept on the beach by a stone dyke (wall). It's supposed to have a distinctive taste so I couldn't resist the temptation when mutton was on the menu. Hmm. Very strong, and game-like and quite chewy but delicious.

Saturday, 4 September 2021

PoetryLit Anniversary

And here we are, our first Anniversary!  In September, 2020, partly to counteract lockdown blues, I became involved with POETRYLIT, an online monthly poetry reading event (first Friday of every month). 
POETRYLIT  has two Featured Poets  - the criteria is the poet must have at least one pamphlet published - many have a collection or more published by reputable publisher (not self-published).  The Featured Poets have 10 mins each. These are followed by 5-6 Open Mic spots (5 mins each). The founder and M.C.,  Milla Van Der Have, creates a wonderfully welcoming atmosphere. 

Milla and I met at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Ireland (a writers' and artists' centre).  She is Dutch but writes poetry in English.  I liked Milla's warm and enthusiastic personality, so mainly to support her, when I heard about her plans for PoetryLit  I started off doing an open mic, then got invited to be a Featured Poet. A request for suggestions for writers led to me offering so many that Milla asked me to be co-curator. This might explain why so many of the poets are Scotland-based (where I am) but also we have many from Ireland, the UK and USA, and occasionally poets (English-speaking) from other countries such as Spain, and to come, Italy and Norway. It has proved immensely popular and our open micers and audience are global, spanning UK, Ireland, USA, Canada, Alaska, the  Philippines,  India and South Africa. 

 So to celebrate our first anniversary we had a special extended event with 3 instead of the usual two Featured Poets, starring the extraordinary MacGillivray (aka Kirsten Norris). Milla and I as hosts also read one poem each and there was an extended number of open mics.

Do register to watch online. It's fun, stimulating, inspiring and at times, moving.  See to see who the up and coming poets will be. Then you must register on Eventbrite to get sent the Zoom link.  

NB It starts at 7pm GMT.  ( Don't be confused by Eventbrite listing 8pm CEST. That is the Netherlands time where Milla is based.)

 And you can scroll down the FB page to see the fantastic line-ups we've had so far.

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