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The Seasons of Love: autumn by Shirley Golden (FreeSpace #4)

11 Nov

 

Universe

 

The Seasons of Love: autumn

 

Foundations

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I turn the page, you stay put. It’s okay. We can do that, it doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be together; I tell myself this as a mantra when I sense that shift in either of us.

I like to drink until my head fizzes. Not every night, at the weekends. I like to discuss human nature, the world, the universe, its stars, galaxies, time-travel, or the possibility of other selves. You call it, talking about the “ins and outs of a rat’s arse”.

You like to earn money, and relish the challenge of persuading people to part with notes or coins. You start campaign groups after watching political debates. You separate out glass bottles from empty tins for the bin men, and remember more about the reality of everything. I admire your efficiency: you won’t waste a Joule on matter you can’t influence.

At night, we curl up and wait for the cat to come home. I balance a novel in one hand and rub your shoulders with the other. You watch documentaries until you can no longer keep your eyes open. You’re ready for bed before me. We’ve given up on compromise. Compromise means you get crabby and I’m wide awake at 3am.

I wait in the yard for the cat. I scan the night sky by the back door and try to count the stars. The cat makes his demands: supper and sofa. I rub my arms in the cold-spiked air, and am ready to return to the house.

I carry my novel and glasses upstairs, in case I wake before the alarm. I’m thinking of the duvet and its comfort. I imagine the feel of you shifting towards me, your half-conscious mutter that you love me, your breath hot on my neck, your arms tightening around my waist.

And like leaves in autumn everything falls away, leaving our skeletons in readiness for the next spell when light and warmth trigger buds to unfurl.

 

The Seasons of Love: autumn is the 4th of 4 short pieces by Shirley focusing on the theme of seasonal love.

You can find winter here, spring here and summer here.

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Some of Shirley Golden’s stories have found homes in the pages or websites of various magazines and anthologies; a few have won prizes. She lives in Hampshire where she is door-person and arbitrator to two wannabe tigers, and can sometimes be found on Twitter when she should be writing. She likes to bake jumbo chocolate and pecan cookies. www.shirleygolden.net @shirl1001

Shirley’s debut novel, ‘Skyjacked’ is to be published by Urbane Publishing  in 2016.

Big thanks goes to Shirley for sharing her Seasons of Love series with us!

 

 

 

The Seasons of Love: summer by Shirley Golden (FreeSpace 3)

7 Oct

 

Conceptual cells

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The Seasons of Love: summer

 

Reboot

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He builds her, piece by piece. He doesn’t need to compare the image, grainy, not designed to display on current tech. He knows her by heart: violet eyes, long lashes, button nose, black silk hair and pale skin.

No one cares how the thing looks. He works for perfection but they’d be happy with bolts and big stitches. She needs to be wise and strong, obedient without question; something that will serve and protect; something that will adore, not destroy its creator.

He keys in height, based on estimation, body shape, based on his data entries – a combination of how he imagined, and the machine predicted, she would look.

***

She’d run up the path, arms open to be captured by him. He’d scoop her into a bear hug and tell her he’d missed her. It won’t be forever, that’s what he told his wife. Contract work, high paid, away from Earth for months at a time. He’d stop when the code was complete – he promised – they were so close to a break-through. But that was getting old.

His wife didn’t trust bioelectronics. Where should one life finish before the other thing takes root? She wouldn’t allow them to test the implant when Isha got sick. The therapy was high risk with side-effects. But they both knew the alternative. His wife argued treatment was too much for her, too much for them. Let’s enjoy the time she has. He watched his daughter transform from flesh to threadbare.

After the service, his anger multiplied. He should have forced his wife to agree to the programme. He didn’t know who to be mad at, his wife or himself.

He stayed at work when they insisted he should go home.

***

His creation sits up and opens her eyes. ‘Hello,’ she says.

He can barely look, or look away. She’s a blur through his tears. Already he plans how to make more, hundreds, thousands; if one crashes, there’ll be another ready to spark into life. He pictures how they’ll spring, fully grown and armed, like Athena. And how, godlike, she’ll remain unchanged, like summer on playback forever.

 

The Seasons of Love: summer is the third of 4 short pieces by Shirley focusing on the theme of seasonal love.

You can find winter here and spring here

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Some of Shirley Golden’s stories have found homes in the pages or websites of various magazines and anthologies; a few have won prizes. She lives in Hampshire where she is door-person and arbitrator to two wannabe tigers, and can sometimes be found on Twitter when she should be writing. She likes to bake jumbo chocolate and pecan cookies. www.shirleygolden.net @shirl1001

Watch out for the last season…. coming soon!

 

 

The Nine Realms Poetry Workshop Special

5 Oct

 

IMG_0102

 

 

We ran two workshops in The Gallery at Hanse House on the 4th day of The Nine Realms: a Norse-themed poetry workshop in the morning, and an art workshop experimenting with the printing technique of monotypes in the afternoon.  Both workshops were facilitated by creatives involved in The Nine Realms project: poet, Rebecca Audra Smith and artist, Robert Fitzmaurice.

What you’ll find below is the first of 2 specials on the workshops. This week we’re focusing on the poetry, with an overview by Becca of  her  poetry workshop and what was created in it. 

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Poetry Workshop 3

Poetry Workshop 2

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Hello!

On Monday 14th September we ran a poetry workshop as part of The Nine Realms- a 5 day festival of events for the ArtiPeeps  combined arts experience themed on the Icelandic Norse myths.

Many thanks to Elaine, Jan, Karen, Louise, Shelia, Denise, Sandra, Caitlin and Karin for being such great participants!

We started by creating phonetic translations of Old Norse, translating by sound and look of the word rather than meaning!

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This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

Then we free wrote from two lines of the translated Poetic Edda; there were some great pieces flowing out of this. Below are two group poems collected of lines from everyone’s free writing:

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If I journeyed with thee to the giant’s home

But honey and honour I’m expecting to find
Our world is changing before our very eyes:
Beasts and mankind softening and blending together.
I would feel the pressure of the surroundings bury into my soul.
Would our way be smooth as honey or would we find trauma?
I will protect you from the perils ahead.
We moved tip toe terrified testing the tunnel
How will I show thee a single vision?
The stern of the ship turned
The giant’s home where legends are born and honour won.

 

.We pulled suggestions for prompts from people’s Nordic translations, some of these prompt words for the second piece were: eye-opener, single, eight, haven, stern.

 Do you still seek to know? And what?

Like stern Odin who seeks for an eye-opener but with a single eye
Let us drink the mead of poetry
From it’s primeval, battered beginnings new life sparked and bubbled into being
Will our haven be ahead?
Have we left it behind?
A single word can set off a journey into the unknown
I have my eight-pointed scimitar
An eye-opener for you, my friend
Can we find the eighth haven to read the home of the honey seekers?
Stern words will no doubt hiss and spit
From this forked tongue
I was supposed to be there at the crack of dawn.

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We also created our own kennings, match the kenning with the object it describes below:

Kennings

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The last exercise was to respond to a selection of the different realms from the five. First we created our own map of the realms, then we wrote a piece examining the piece of realm we had deciphered. It was a great experience to be facilitating the workshop and I really enjoyed everyone’s amazing words! The space of Hanse House was really beautiful and conducive to writing, the art from the afternoon session also looked amazing. I hope to see some of the free writes again on the blog.

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A map of the realms and some kennings

A map of the realms and some kennings

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Roaming the Realms with Giants and Words

I would taste of honey and mead
only a woman
wearing a cloak can come and
be beloved of the giants
tall and huge and thumb-like

Your hammer is too big to carry
what a honey trap filled with oil
tasting of lizards and smoking of heat
If I journeyed with thee I might end nowhere

Hiding in a single leaf
a haven of the heavenly giants
You’ve produced an eye-opener of a tale
long as the serpent that circles the world

A storm of the end with a single eye- seconds later
I look- you spy- you caught my answer
A fish in the water a river-dancer
Hand me your words we’ve come so far

 

Rebecca Audra Smith

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Extras

In case you ever wondered what a Norse-inspired Poetry workshop sounds like it sounds something like this:

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And here is Becca reading the collaborative poem created at the workshop:

 

As Becca has said, many thanks to all those who participated in the poetry workshop, and to Hanse House for the great gallery space which was the perfect environment for our workshops. Watch out for the art workshop post coming up shortly. 

 

Thank you for your interest.

The Seasons of Love: spring by Shirley Golden (FreeSpace 2)

8 Sep

Shirley's FreeSpace Picture 2

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The Seasons of love: spring

Afterwards

Dana can’t cry, not in front of everyone. Bradley breaks down a couple of times. He leans against his wife and children for support. Dana holds onto the front row pew as the coffin appears. The service wasn’t her idea. She’d have preferred a woodland clearing surrounded by oaks and beech, the whisper of a breeze disturbing new shoots and a carpet of bluebells. But it was November.

Instead, she stands to sing, ‘All Things Bright and Beautiful’. She mouths the words, never comfortable with singing out loud, and listens to the rain lash against stained glass. She checks her watch, no need to retrieve the ten o’clock pills from their box. Her fingers twitch.

Bradley said she looked tired and asked about the Will. She’d gone grey since the last time they met. He used to phone once a week. Their mother would wait for his call while Dana ran her bath or made sure she had the right sized clippers for toenails. The rest of her evening consisted of drying, moisturising and plucking, whilst her mother reeled off Bradley’s achievements: his commercial appearances, his talented children and wife, his house, his car, his fancy suits.

Dana had fallen in love, years before with an entrepreneurial man, but she was never a part of his long-term plans. She retreated into her paintings. Her mother referred to her work as ‘Dana’s little hobby’. At first Dana took it as an expression of interest and would show her the pieces she was working on. Her mother would glance at them and talk about the time she won the school trophy for her collage. So Dana stopped doing that long before her mother lost hold of reality.

Their mother forgot when she was supposed to wait by the phone for Bradley’s call, so she’d sit close to the handset every day. Dana tried to persuade her that she could carry it in her pocket, but her mother didn’t trust that. Bradley’s calls became less frequent.

Dana ran baths, cooked meals and clipped nails.

She kept the trimmings, and stained them a multitude of colours, creating a page of flowers from her mother’s offcuts: bone-thin crocus petals, bursting from layered, green, convex stems.

She never showed anyone but intended to hang the piece on an east facing wall once she had secured a bright dwelling of her own. After the funeral, once everyone else had forgotten.

 

The Seasons of Spring is the second of 4 short pieces by Shirley focusing on the theme of seasonal love.

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Some of Shirley Golden’s stories have found homes in the pages or websites of various magazines and anthologies; a few have won prizes. She lives in Hampshire where she is door-person and arbitrator to two wannabe tigers, and can sometimes be found on Twitter when she should be writing.She likes to bake jumbo chocolate and pecan cookies. www.shirleygolden.net @shirl1001

 

There will be another 2 seasons to come so watch this space!

 

 

The Seasons of Love: winter by Shirley Golden (FreeSpace #1)

13 Aug

Welcome to the first of 4 FreeSpaces featuring fiction writer Shirley Golden who, over the next few months ahead, will be sharing 4 pieces of fiction around the theme of seasonal love. Here’s her first piece:

 

Shimmering

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The Seasons of Love (winter)

SAD

by Shirley Golden

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He wanted to ride all the time, feel the air, driven tepid by speed. She’d cling to his back and watch scorched wheat fields pass. They’d stop, if she begged him to sunbathe in the grass, pour melted iced water from wet plastic bottles over the other one’s throat. She liked the way the liquid pooled into his jugular notch. They never stayed still for long.

The roads were slimy with heat.

She can still hear the crack and blister of tarmac, the spark of metal and snap of bone on road.

When hot weather descends, she draws down the blinds, turns up the air-conditioning, and retreats from stark chinks of light.

It doesn’t take much to pretend that she’s caught in dead winter’s grasp.

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First published by Visual Verse

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Some of Shirley Golden’s stories have found homes in the pages or websites of various magazines and anthologies; a few have won prizes.  She lives in Hampshire where she is door-person and arbitrator to two wannabe tigers, and can sometimes be found on Twitter when she should be writing.  She likes to bake jumbo chocolate and pecan cookies.

shirleygolden.net

@shirl1001

 

Image: Shimmering Lights on Sumida River by outakuwannabe

 

More soon….

 

The Art of Storytelling: Norse Sagas from Millfield School Pupils #3

3 Jul
IMG_0799

Image by Nat Hall

 

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Year 9: Norse Sagas

Featuring

Martha

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Our Year 9 pupils have studied the craft of story-telling, and what better way to learn than by reading the Norse sagas, with their epic storylines and memorable characters? We gave them a brief to create their own variations on the Norse saga, drawing upon the old tales for inspiration, but taking them into new territory. Everyone in the English teaching team was impressed by the boldness and skill of the stories our young pupils wrote. Here is [ part 1 of ] a small selection. I hope you enjoy them. Our thanks go to Nicky for giving Millfield pupils such an exciting platform for their creative writing!

James Baddock

Head of English, Drama & Media
Millfield, Somerset, UK

ArtiPeeps has been thrilled to have  Millfield’s pupils working in tangent with one of our projects (The Nine Realms), and to see their talented, creative pupils on our site once again. It just goes to show how inspiring the Icelandic sagas still are and how alive the art of story-telling still is! For the past three weeks we have posted out 5 short stories from 5 of their very creative pupils. Below is the final saga and story.

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SANYO DIGITAL CAMERA

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My Viking Saga

by Martha

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The Fegr province was regarded as one of the most beautiful lands in all of Iceland. Its snow- capped, mountainous peaks interlaced the horizon with silhouettes of all the interesting shapes imaginable to man. Wisps of glistening snow crystals illuminated like shining jewels by the effulgence of the moon shine, drift in the wind from the icy mountain tops, patterning the skyline. Its incomparable allure, a fit location to be the home of only the most divine of beauties. On the Northernmost peak, Iss Fjell, Ice Mountain, lived the most celestial of beings, angelic, and fair. Her name was, Sassa, the Ice Princess, the daughter of the great King Eeirikki Egilson, son of the once vigorous, candid ruler of Iceland itself.

Sassa had long white hair cascading in perfect curls down to her waist, her sapphire blue eyes were striking against her fair complexion, slender and tall, she had an certain elegance and grace that would be enviable to all women. Her loving and gentle nature was adored throughout the Fegr province, she would often visit the small town beneath Iss Fjell, where the inhabitants would approach her and could not help but feel at ease in her presence, as if she was part of their community. Sassa was young, only seventeen years old, she had an ignorance, a beautiful ignorance, making her pure, innocent… Her eyes had a light that should always come with youth, and her effervescence was enlightening. Her father rightly felt that only the finest of men would be fit for his daughter and, on the day of her eighteenth birthday he invited young suitors from every corner of Iceland to compete for her hand in marriage.

Little did her father know, Sassa, wasn’t interested in being married off to these great nobleman. She had fallen in love with the village huntsman. She had met him in the woods almost seven years ago, when they were both children. From that day forth she had met him most days. They would spend hours hunting together, and slowly they fell for each each other. The huntsman was a strong young man, named Vidar, he wielded an axe, simple and plain unlike the fanciful decorated weapons of the noblemen and had a bravery but yet a sentimentality lacking in most headstrong youths. Vidar was a descendant of the great warrior Bryanjar Erlingson, and it was evident he had inherited many of the qualities of an exceptional fighter. Of course the King could never approve of such a romance between the pair, a village huntsman in the eyes of the King wasn’t good enough for his crown jewel, Sassa. So Sassa kept their meeting a secret, a secret she had kept for many years.

One the Day of her matching, Sassa had decided to approach her father, she couldn’t keep her secret any longer. She told him of her disapproval of the matching ceremony, and of her dislike of the suitors he had selected for her.
‘Father I simply can’t marry any of these men, for I’m in love with another man’ Sassa pleaded.
‘And who is this other man!’ The King demanded, his tone burly and authoritative. His snowy grey beard shook with rage.
‘He is a huntsman’ Sassa replied proudly, yet her inner fear of her father’s anger showed in her timid expression. ‘He’s a brave man, strong and kind, he loves me with all his heart, isn’t that what you want for me father, to be happy?’
‘Not if it is to marry someone of such a low class in our society, a huntsman is not fit to marry for a princess, the men I have selected for you are of the finest in Iceland, surely that is good enough for any girl’, the king spat.
‘My huntsman is a far finer man and better warrior than any of these suitors, I would stake my life on that’ Sassa replied. There was an honesty in her voice, something that could convince anyone that her words were genuinely the truth. The king may have not been willing to believe this, but he knew his daughter believed that the man she loved was stronger than the suitors.
‘Than he shall prove to me, he shall prove that he is a better man and stronger warrior than the noble men I have selected for you. What I propose is a series of battles, If he defeats all the suitors , than you shall marry him, if you wish, yet if he is defeated, you will marry the single and first suitor that defeats him, you will no longer have a choice of the suitors and the huntsman not killed in battle will be banished to another Kingdom. If this agreement is broken, he shall be executed for treason’ the king suggested. Sassa had no other option if she didn’t want to lose her true love. The agreement was made and the next day Vidar came to the palace, to fight to the death for the girl he loved.

From a distance. The palace on Iss Fjell looked like it was entirely made out of ice but as you neared it was apparent that it was in fact a crystal palace, with spired towers, magnificent pillars, and decadent ballrooms. Every little detail within the palace was intricately designed, masterfully placed. Vidar entered into the cavernous marble hallway at the entrance to the palace. His footsteps echoed throughout the room, the sound bouncing off the high ceiling above. At the end of the hall was a throne, made of marble as the rest of the hall was, on it sat the King, his piercing glassy blue eyes examined Vidar sending chills through his body. Next to the throne stood four suitors that he would face in battle. The first suitor named Bryanjar was dressed in full armour, his steel plated appearance revealed his most well known trait, his coldness. He was a good soldier and the son of a great nobleman but was no warrior. Stood next to him was a young man named Cuyler, he was not as well built as the other men, he was small, and slight, however he had superior agility and speed, his skill was with a bow, it was acknowledged well that he would never miss. The next suitor was named Fritjof, he is a descendant of the God of tricks Loki supposedly. Fritjof was not a kind man in any respect, he had long dark hair and dark black eyes, like a snake, he had a sceptre glowing in an eerie green glow. As his name indicated Fritjof was known to steal many thrones and the peace of many kingdoms, by tricking his way into the many various kingdoms he had conquered. The final suitor was Hagen the highest son of the present ruler of Iceland Eirik Halvardson, his family were known to be ancient descendants of the God of lightning Thor, Hagen was handsome and notorious for his charming demeanour, any princess would have married him, yet he was desperately in love with Sassa, who he had known since they were children, the King was very good friends with Eirik Halvardson. Although Sassa had great respect for Hagen she didn’t love him. Hagen did not just have charms and good looks on his side, he was stronger than any other man in Iceland and was almost a giant in size, he was muscular and broad, Vidar knew that he would be perhaps his toughest competition, as Hagen didn’t have just sheer size and strength he had the same sentiment as Vidar, he was genuinely in love with Sassa.

The battles took place on the tower arena of the palace, it had a semicircle of seating and a stage that hung off the edge of the tower to a great drop below. Many came from all over the land to witness the choosing ceremony. Vidar fought Bryanjar first, Vidar refused to kill anyone in these battles, his only aim was to win and not get killed himself. Bryanjar was no match for Vidar’s skill with an axe. Bryanjar’s amour protected him from any major injuries but he soon conceded, Vidar had proved to the king he was a far mightier opponent for the suitors than he could have ever imagined. Next Vidar faced of Cuyler, this battle was less hand to hand combat, Vidar was forced to dodge Cuyler’s arrows of fire aimed directly at him, he hid behind the obstacles in the arena, he found some branches as wood on the ground and used his knowledge and hunting skills to quickly create his own arrow. Vidar grabbed an arrow that had landed in the ground behind him and loaded his new weapon. He waited for the right time before releasing the arrow which hit Cuyler directly in the torso, Cuyler was taken out by this unexpected attack, and Vidar had again proven not just his might but his cunning and intelligence. 

Vidar then faced Fritjof, it was night now and only the moonlight illuminated the arena, Sassa sat nervously watching attentively, her fear was perhaps greater than Vidar’s. Fritjof’s sceptre gleamed on the cool moonlight. Vidar charged at Fritjof with all his speed and force he faced certain injury, and, possibly, inevitable death. Fritjof dodged to the side in one fluid move. His enemy swivelled in his direction. His menacing eyes were a blazing red and his dark hood made the rest of his features indistinguishable. Vidar’s opponent thrust his sceptre forward, only to be met by Vidar’s axe. The two weapons met in the air with a resounding ‘clang’. Vidar was surrounded now by at least ten images of Fritjof which one was real he could not tell. He swung his axe around at each of the figures, slashing the real Fritjof across the face, the wound healed almost immediately. Fritjof thrust Vidar against the wall, his axe skidded along the ground, Fritjof was choking him with his strong left hand, Vidar although he knew Fritjof had superior magical qualities, he matched him in strength, using his free hand Vidar pulled a dagger from his pocket and stabbed Fritjof’s torso. Fritjof recoiled in pain, giving enough time for Vidar to escape his grip and bring Fritjof to the floor. Grabbing his axe he held it to Fritjof’s throat indicating it was time for him to surrender. But suddenly the image of Fritjof lying on the ground in front of him disappeared and the real Fritjof plunged his sceptre into Vidar’s back, a hollowing gasp escaped the audience and Vidar collapsed to the floor. Fritjof now stood over him, Vidar used this as an opportunity to throw his axe at him killing him leaving Vidar injured but the winner of the battle.

Hagen upon witnessing this battle saw how brave and strong a man Vidar was, he knew that he was good enough for Sassa and he also knew he would probably lose if he were to fight him, Hagen loved Sassa but in doing so wanted what was best for her. He could see how much she loved Vidar, and knew if he were to defeat him in battle how unhappy she would be married to the man who killed her true love no matter how good of friends they were. Hagen addressed Vidar personally.
‘You are better than any man I know, you are truly the perfect man for Sassa’ Hagen said, his statement was humbling.
‘Thank you, you are fine man for doing what is right’ Vidar replied, before Sassa ran up to him and told him her father had approved of their marriage. Vidar smiled and nodded in respect to Hagen before carrying Sassa away into the woods to be married.

 

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More creativity from Millfield:  

You can find some other poetry and writing from Millfield pupils here and here (their Freshly Pressed ‘Sense of Place Poetry’ 1 & 2) and their ‘QUEST short story openings‘ here.

Thank you for your interest.

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The Art of Storytelling: Norse Sagas from Millfield School Pupils #2

25 Jun
IMG_0799

Image by Nat Hall

 

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Year 9: Norse Sagas

Featuring

Reanna and Harriet

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Our Year 9 pupils have studied the craft of story-telling, and what better way to learn than by reading the Norse sagas, with their epic storylines and memorable characters? We gave them a brief to create their own variations on the Norse saga, drawing upon the old tales for inspiration, but taking them into new territory. Everyone in the English teaching team was impressed by the boldness and skill of the stories our young pupils wrote. Here is [ part 1 of ] a small selection. I hope you enjoy them. Our thanks go to Nicky for giving Millfield pupils such an exciting platform for their creative writing!

James Baddock

Head of English, Drama & Media
Millfield, Somerset, UK

ArtiPeeps is thrilled to be having Millfield school working in tangent with one of our projects (The Nine Realms), and to see their talented, creative pupils on our site once again. It just goes to show how inspiring the Icelandic sagas still are and how alive the art of story-telling still is! For the next three weeks we will be posting out 5 short stories from 5 of their very creative pupils. Watch out for another two stories next week.

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Vikings

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Viking Saga

by Harriet

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WANTED : STRONG MEN, ANY AGE. That’s what the sign said. I wanted to go but that decision now just filled me with regret. Why would I leave? All I wanted was for my family and friends to think that I was brave, but the truth is; I am just a coward. Killing people isn’t brave it’s cruel. How could I let myself be so cruel?

I shook violently. I had the visions again. It had been four days since our ship arrived back in the village of Shlaahra. Shlaahra was a beautiful village off the west coast of Scandinavia, Shlaahra was small but it had enough to provide any person with the essential equipment that they would need to survive. Massive trees sheltered the whole village and the crystal clear lake stretched out until it stroked the feet of the mountains on the horizon. My face had been slit open and I had lost a lot of blood but I was recovering slowly but well. I had grown up in the village of Shlaahra and spent all my time here as a child, never really wanting to leave, until I was about the age of seventeen. Leaving the village no longer sounded scary. It no longer felt dangerous. I would be fine. Oh how very wrong I was. I remember the day that those huge men who wore furry boots up to their knees and long flowing capes that were decorated in purple and gold. They came to our village looking for warriors. I felt an urge in my stomach telling me to go. These men that had come to our village were brave nothing could scare them. Every single one of these men had a strange look in their eyes I couldn’t work out what is was an first I thought it was just bravery but only now I have realised that it was something more, they had pain buried deep under their stern faces. I know this now because I feel the same pain, the pain of regret.

I had been stuck in my bed whilst the rest of my comrades had been out celebrating the success of the raid and the new land that they had conquered. If I said it didn’t bother me that I wasn’t able to celebrate I would be lying but the guilt was still eating from the inside out. I sighed and looked up at the ceiling the beams of wood that had always held my house tall and strong somehow looked weaker. The gash across my face burned as I applied one of the herbal remedies the doctor had made me. I touched the opening on the left side of my face it started just below my hairline and finished on my collarbone. I got up slowly and struggled over to the door. My hand wrapped around the door frame and I watched the little children playing in the grass, remembering when that was all I wanted to do all day. The visions of the children faded away and a breathe of fresh air tickled my spine, my eyes had been taken over by the memories that I so wanted to forget.

I was back on the boat. We were sailing towards the village that we planed to raid and conquer. The sea spat on my face and the wind danced with my hair. I asked myself “is it bad to be excited?” I looked up a grey blanket of cloud filled the sky. Fog engulfed any light that tried to be seen. Nobody made a noise. Sea birds flew alongside the boat screaming and screeching. The man sat behind me whispered to the man sat next him. “we’re close”. My heart started to beat faster and louder. The skeleton of a tree emerged from the fog.

I started to shake uncontrollably. I blinked hard and fast. The sight of the children playing came back into focus. I was now sat in the doorway breathing heavily I didn’t want to remember what happened next but I couldn’t control the thoughts from crawling back into my head.

I was now running up the beach, seawater splashed up my back. The adrenalin flowed through every inch of my body. My heart was pumping so fast I could hear the blood flowing through my ears. As we got closer to the village I heard screams and yelling. I smelt something burning and smoke filled the air. The men that had run ahead of me were burning down the houses of the locals. At this point I knew I should have run. I should have hidden, but I didn’t, I kept going. A man charged towards me with a sword. For a moment I was completely stunned, the man flung his sword towards my stomach. I dodged it. The man slit my face. The axe that I was holding in my right hand swung around, I hit the man in the side…not once…not twice…but three times. His blue eyes stared at me as he fell to the ground. I left him lying there dead with his long brown hair swamped in blood.

I started to tremble. This was the memory I wanted to hold back. My eyes started to fill up with water and I shut them tight. The images of that man that I killed so barbarically will never leave my mind. My memories with forever taunt me.

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Fire

 

Saga

by Reanna

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She came to us in our time of need, the Phoenix of the gods, Thyra. She was a great sorceress, she stood at six feet tall, with scarlet hair and piercing yellow eyes, said to be so bright she burned what she stared at. She wore a maroon elk’s skin, which she was given by the her grandmother on her death bed. She had the wrist bands of Thor, protecting her from any blows, stronger than the strongest shield, with a shirt formed with the hair of Sköll. She was adorned in a flowing grey Cape, and wore the armour of Freya, with the cunning of Loki, and the courage of Odin himself. She was so strong she created flames hotter than the sun, but this was not all the time.

She lived in this very village, a young girl, who hid a secret. She was said to be fuelled by the underworld, creating fire out of nothing, a pyromancer. She helped those she could, fuelling fires for the people of our village, warming the homeless and poor, she was highly thought of by the Chief of our village. He presented her with the Phoenix gem, a perfect kite-shaped jewel said to have been chiseled by Asgard’s finest craftsmen, and given a blessing by Nótt. The chief told Thyra that only the purest may control the raging flame. She never took that necklace off, and it served her better than any other.

She also was given Thrain that day, her beloved horse. Her father said he was the descendent of Hrímfaxi, the horse of Nótt, the night, who pulled his chariot across the sky, and gave us the peace to rest. He was a small horse, only 15.2 hands, but he was brave. He was a shining dark bay, with a luminous white sock on his left hind leg, and a bright white star on his forehead. He had a jump that could take you to the stars, and a spirit so strong he would never back down; he would face the mightiest of beasts and refuse to retreat. He never left Thyra’s side, and he was her closest friend.

In the darkness of Hrímfaxi’s sky, Thyra was out riding on Thrain, using the old leather bridle her father had made for her, and an old saddle that she made herself out of an elk’s hide. She was with the daughter of the chief, Astrid, a young girl of 10 years old, who had beautiful golden hair, with a black coat on over her white shirt, and brown, tight pants that she always wore, despite her father’s hatred of them, and her little iron grey pony, Carr.

They were slinking between the trees, Thrain’s coat glittering in the moonlight, Carr marching proudly at his side, his little brown eyes twinkling with what was normally mischievous intentions. The soft wind brushed through Thyra’s silky hair, her bright eyes seemed to glow in the darkness. Astrid was chatting away, as she always did, and Thrain was listening, as he always did on these little adventures. The Great Grey Owls were hooting, and the bee-eaters were hopping from branch to branch, disturbing the trees around the four explorers, as Astrid liked to refer to their little convoy. 

But this night was different. There was a shriek, and a strong wind followed. Carr jumped at this, but Thrain stood strong, and blew at the direction of the sound. Astrid whispered to Carr, trying to calm him down. Thyra moved Thrain between Astrid and the direction of the sound. She dismounted, leaving Thrain to stand with the diffident pony, and walked towards the sound’s origin. She summoned a bright flame to her palm, which flickered as she sneaked through the bushes.

Thyra approached a clearing. Glowing ashes were floating around her, their dying light illuminated her pale face. There were five great oak trees fallen around her, charred. She ran her hand down one, lifting some of the ashes into the air. There were dark scorch marks in the ground, but they did not seem of fire, but lightning. Suddenly, there was a snap of a twig behind her. She turned, her palm ablaze with a large blue flame, which was roaring as she stopped. What she found was a rather pleased looking Thrain, accompanied by Astrid and the little Carr, who had obviously been munching on a near by bush, as he had leaves poking out the sides of his little mouth.

Astrid had now dismounted, and was inspecting one of the trees lying on the ground, while Thrain and Carr were poking each other with sticks they found, and seemed to be having a good time. Thyra was looking to the sky, hoping for a sign of the creature that caused this destruction. She was soon graced with an answer, as Ara, the Banshee Knight leaped from the cover of the trees beyond the clearing.

 It screeched as it pinned Thyra to the ground, producing a blackened purple blade from its sheath on the creature’s belt. Its eyes glowed a deep violet, its rotten, yellow teeth dripped corrosive pearls of venomous spit from a sepulchral, grotto of a mouth. Astrid gave a scram and ran behind one of the standing trees, and Carr followed. The monstrosity clicked as it formed an electric charge in its hand, making it turn a luminous purple. Thrain has begun to gallop over from where he and Carr had been standing. He angled his head so that the stick he was carrying was driven straight into the Banshee’s side. It wailed in pain as the makeshift pike impaled its exposed chest, and shrieked as the gelding placed its weight onto the fiend’s torso. There was a large crack, followed by a blood-curling scream from the banshee, and Thrain stepped back off the squirming monstrosity that now lay before him.

Thyra stepped on the creature’s wrist to remove the sword from it, and threatened it with a dancing red flame in the palm of her hand, the Phoenix gem glowed on her neck, making her eyes seem to flow with a look of inclination. Her wrist bands were coated with the beast’s drool, and the light of the flame made then twinkle like the stars above them. Thyra ended the monster’s suffering, with a swift downward blow to the head from its own blade. The creature squealed for a moment, but then lay still as the blade passed through the back of its skull.

The creature disintegrated into dust, only leaving its foul armour, which Thyra had no use for, but amongst it was a shimmering white gem, which piqued her interest. She removed it from the centre of the pile, and set the rest alight. She attempted to examine it in the moonlight, but Thrain had taken quite an interest in it also, and tried to eat it whenever she lifted it to view. Astrid was hitting a tree with her sword, with Carr standing behind her poking her with the stick he had been playing with earlier. They mounted and left the forest for the town, using the stars to guide them home.

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More creativity from Millfield:  

You can find some other poetry and writing from Millfield pupils here and here (their Freshly Pressed ‘Sense of Place Poetry’ 1 & 2) and their ‘QUEST short story openings‘ here.

One more saga coming from Millfield next week!

Thank you for your interest.

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