The Nine Realms Poetry Workshop Special

5 Oct

 

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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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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 Northlands by Carol Whittam (FreeSpace #2)

30 Sep

Vikings

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The Northlands

by Carol Whittam

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Out of the Northlands,
From that – huge before time
Before? When the world was new.
From that – ‘Once upon a time…
A deeply woven mythology grew –
When a man’s world was small.

Norsemen created their cosmos
…. As a world tree ….
Yggdrasil

To try to make sense of it all!

Heavens of stars,
Misty clouds and ice,
Dark chasms and wells below,
Whilst in the primordial centre,
A giant Ash tree started to grow!
Betwixt the Heavens & Hell,
Stretching and branching,
– Evergreen –
From gnarled roots
Deeply growing
Yggdrasil
Nine realms find!
Above, around and beneath
The tree’s gigantic girth,
One home in Midgard
For humankind,
The Viking farmers
Of
Middle Earth.

From thence sailed the brave,
– Leaving warm home fires –
Not knowing where they’d go!
Hauling wooden longships
Away from fire-stone, ice and snow;
Across serpent-ridden seas,
Steel-eyed, warrior minds,
Searching horizons, learning tides,
Battling storms, risking lives!
Crossing Utangard
Never knowing what they’d find!
Not knowing where they were going,
But knowing from whence they came:
Created from giant Ymir
Whom Odin ripped apart!
In sacrifice and renewal
He became their ancient sire.
In homelands formed of volcanic stone
Such folk were born with hearts of fire!
Their land was of his flesh,
Sacrificed to make their home.
Blood of blood and bone of bone.
O how his eyes made the sun glow!
O how his mind made the moon!
Powerful blood became water,
Breath of life the airy wind!
In this elemental world
Such Norsemen were born:
Born to be farming the land,
Born to be tested by waves,
Born with fire in their hearts,
They who were valiant and brave!

And Ymir, the life-bringer,
Sacrificial source of Earth,
The Heavens, the pounding waves of the sea!
And at the World’s centre, Firm and strong,
The mighty Ash: The Yggdrasil tree!
From this elemental world
Of the Northlands
These Vikings came!

 

 

Carol is a retired 3/4 Irish teacher of English, from Accrington, Lancashire, aged 62. Her love of drawing and painting … was overtaken by writing in the hectic course of her career. For 34 years she had the fun filled privilege of creating and selecting pieces to stimulate and facilitate children’s writing. Particularly fond memories remain of collaborative workshops ending in much appreciated performances….so, although she is not actively involved in social media …she was inspired to collaborate off the scene, becoming a ‘pupil’ by responding to the info posted by ArtiPeeps ( last year on Transformations) and for this year’s much bigger extravaganza on the Vikings. She found that following the crescendo of progress by tuning in, tends to promote infectious enthusiasm and the question: What would I make of that? (Who knows …but it is likely that there are others out there who had the same reaction!) In this situation, she says, “I find myself still thinking like a teacher considering a narrative style, offering a way in for the uninitiated by choosing a suitable voice which will address the reader directly whilst paying homage to the factual and emotional aspects of the subject. 

The poem above evolved from taking that approach and looking at some of the lovely Viking imagery and visualisations of the Yggdrassil tree on line. I had fun writing them and offer them retrospectively!

 

Watch out for a third piece from Carol in the near future….

A Mother Sings To Her Fatherless Child by Carol Whittam (FreeSpace #1)

22 Sep

yggdrasil-bronze

 

 

A Mother Sings To Her Fatherless Child

by Carol Whittam

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You came as our human child –
How can I make you understand?
For you are just a boy
Who fights to become a man.

So soon – you are knowing!
Growing, in this harsh North land of ice and fire,
Our earth, this realm of Midgard.

You came from valiant seed
Planted in a warrior’s tryst
Where Dragonboats, moored in rustling reeds,
Set out to sea
In the thawing of the year.

That year no ships returned.
Then sorrow crowned your head
As you were born my fatherless child,
Protected by his homestead fence.

In the glory of the midnight sun
We sensed his strength, now living on –
In you, my special one!

And you received his spirit
When bedded deep
In steaming straw, in warrior halls
Where mead ran sweet on victors’ lips
And the dark walls sang.

Sharpen to ancestral tones,
Tune your ear to heroic tales;
Round Thingstead fires hear wisdom
As your Father’s name sounds loud!
Your time will come!
You too will be a Viking king!

Watch hauled ships
On turning tides
Proud-set for lands anew,
See his face in valiant men,
Understand the things he knew:
Runic stones bring portents good,
Whetted swords raise battle cries,
Ever on, t‘ward lands afar
And the unknown chaos of Utangard!

Gaze South
O’er sunlit waves
On serpent troubled seas,
Dream wild
Strange shores,
You Viking boy –
This future – Yours!
Your time will come.
You will be a Viking King;

Yes – You will hear Valhalla ring!

 

Carol is a retired 3/4 Irish teacher of English, from Accrington, Lancashire, aged 62. Her love of drawing and painting … was overtaken by writing in the hectic course of her career. For 34 years she had the fun filled privilege of creating and selecting pieces to stimulate and facilitate children’s writing. Particularly fond memories remain of collaborative workshops ending in much appreciated performances….so, although she is not actively involved in social media …she was inspired to collaborate off the scene, becoming a ‘pupil’ by responding to the info posted by ArtiPeeps ( last year on Transformations) and for this year’s much bigger extravaganza on the Vikings. She found that following the crescendo of progress by tuning in, tends to promote infectious enthusiasm and the question: What would I make of that? (Who knows …but it is likely that there are others out there who had the same reaction!) In this situation, she says, “I find myself still thinking like a teacher considering a narrative style, offering a way in for the uninitiated by choosing a suitable voice which will address the reader directly whilst paying homage to the factual and emotional aspects of the subject. 

The poem above evolved from taking that approach and looking at some of the lovely Viking imagery and visualisations of the Yggdrassil tree on line. I had fun writing them and offer them retrospectively!

 

A second of Carol’s Norse-themed poems will be posted on Wednesday 30th September. We’re so pleased Carol has found The Nine Realms a springboard for her creativity. 

The Nine Realms Update #9: September

21 Sep

nine realms8

 

Vikings Ahoy! 

Having emerged from a packed week, and with my launch into the evaluatory phase of The Nine Realms on-the-go here I am to give you an idea of how  The Nine Realms five day event went. I hope you caught some of the tweeting about it and the posts by Viking participants etc. I’m thrilled to say that overall we had over 800 people passing through the Experience in King’s Lynn, and probably around 150 kids played on  our Minecraft (See section 5).   ‘Boat’  found it’s true home, and looked very stately as if it were meant to be in the space. People weren’t afraid to touch it either, and the sculpture acted as a real centre piece. You can also see the backer initials have been embossed on it, and a line of poetry hinting at the mead of poetry along the side. Mark has created a fantastically organic piece.

More Vikings came this year. With poet Jim C. Mackintosh coming, Karin Heyer and Becca Smith. Artists James Mackenzie, Lili Morgan Robert Fitzmaurice and Heather Burns coming, along with Elaine Offley, Diana Probst  and Gill Offley. Musician Simon Beavis also came too. It was a real treat!

5 paintings were sold across the 5 days and 3 prints- so all is well there too. We also had good attendance and feedback about both our poetry and art workshops. In order to decrease barriers to participation we made them free, which I think was a good thing.  60 pupils also attended our Schools’ Day and they loved our Yggdrasil Minecraft game. You’ll see some pictures below. We also found some children who were called Freyja and even Loki which was very fitting!

The poetry reading in Norwich was fun and relaxed. 34 people attended and 3 of us were there: Karin, myself and Caitlin (our Norse expert). We had somebody recording everything on a digital recorder. The audio will be winging it’s way to Future Radio on Monday.  Nearly every  poet had a poem read in the time and we even had a little girl reading as well.

1. A Visual Taster of the Experience

Under starry sky and Northern lights. Enjoying the spoken word, trying some poetry, participating, looking, responding, connecting.

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Everyone at the Experience came a way with a:

Viking Worksheet

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and a

Ragnarök Comic! 

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By Elizabeth Fernandez and Koos Kleven 

We took people around the nine realms via poetry readings whereever possible getting poets and artists to talk about there poetry and art. It was a real privilege to hear them and a very personal way to communicate.

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2. Yggdrassil!

As mentioned above, 60 pupils from Whitefriars attended on the Friday, and they absolutely loved the Minecraft game we had specially created for them by Adam Clarke. Not only did it contain all the project material in it: pictures embedded in rugged mountains or on easels, and poetry and music audios in press button boxes; it also had objects that we had subtly hidden within the individual realm boards in the Minecraft as well. Having found them on the boards, the children could then find them in Yggdrassil. The children were so engaged, it was a treat to see! We also gave away the zip file of our game to every child that wanted it. In so doing we could take the learning experience started in The Nine Realms and take it into the home as well.

Here is a video about the game from the game’s creator:

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A visual overview of the impact of Minecraft:

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and some Minecraft feedback from a pupil:

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3. Poetry and Art Workshops

We had two workshops on the morning and afternoon of the 14th. A poetry workshop facilitated by poet Rebecca Audra Smith in the morning and a art workshop facilitated by Viking artist Robert Fitzmaurice. The poetry had a maximum of 8 people as attendees  but 1 person slipped in so 9 people took part and the art had 9 attendees. Everyone seemed to enjoy themselves and came out of the workshop having learned a new skill and a little bit more about Norse mythology. Here are some pictures. I will be posting a Workshop Special post shortly which will include more pictures and videos. For now here are some photos. They should give you an idea of how engaged people were!

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4. The Nine Realms DVD is now available on Bandcamp and the Books are available too. 

I’ve just made our DVD available through Bandcamp. Here is the link:

https://artipeeps.bandcamp.com/releases

Audios are also available too!

You can also find the 40 poems selected for The Nine Realms in a book format here (£4.75):

http://www.lulu.com/shop/nicky-mortlock/the-nine-realms-poetry-book-2015/paperback/product-22354216.html

and The Schools Book here (£4.50):

http://www.lulu.com/shop/nicky-mortlock/the-nine-realms-schools-book/paperback/product-22354224.html

5.  Some audio Feedback on our project

 

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6. Interactive PDF

Here is the Dropbox link to the Interactive PDF of the whole project too. It includes 2 forewords by Caitlin Ellis (Gonville & Caius) and Anna McNay a freelance art writer:

https://www.dropbox.com/s/wmgeb6mm0rnqa7l/The%20Nine%20Realms%20Interactive%20PDF.pdf?dl=0

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 7. King’s Lynn New: Press Coverage

Here’s the latest piece that went out about our Schools’ Day! There will be a more detailed follow-up article coming out in the Lynn News shortly:

http://www.lynnnews.co.uk/news/local/latest-local-news/king-s-lynn-school-pupils-face-viking-past-1-6961536

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Vikings Day at Hanse House, King's Lynn, pupils from Whitefriars School, LtoR, Stephen Barker (10), Nicky Mortlock (event organiser), Vilma Endriukaityte (10)

Vikings Day at Hanse House, King’s Lynn, pupils from Whitefriars School, LtoR,
Stephen Barker (10), Nicky Mortlock (event organiser), Vilma Endriukaityte (10)

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 8.  The Norwich Poetry Reading

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Viking poet Karin Heyer, myself and our Norse expert trotted off to the Millennium library on the 14th all set for a reading of the poems from the project. We read and performed as many as we could between 5,45 pm and 7 pm, and then the floor was opened up to other poets, some of whom had specially written a Norse themed piece. We recorded the whole session, and the file will be going to Future Radio next week to be edited and turned into a programme.  The whole experience was very casual and we even had a young girl reading a poem by mexican poet Mina Polen. Big thanks to The Poetry Unbound Team for letting us come! It was the first time they had had something so finitely themed.

Apologies, there aren’t any photos- we were either reading or recording. Oh yes, and we also made another school contact at the reading, which is a great thing! 

Overall, the outcome of the 5 days is that the general public and the schools love what we’re doing and want us to go into schools with our work. This is a brilliant position for us to be in and we’re thrilled at the new connections we have made via Whitefriars and our Norwich poetry reading.

I think that’s all for now! I’ll post out the Workshop Special shortly.

As ever, thank you for your interest.

Nicky

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 Nine Realms Update #8: August

28 Aug

nine realms8

 

Vikings Ahoy!

There’s lots happening with preparations for The Nine Realms- now that it’s only 2 weeks away! Everything is swirling a long (in a good way).  Lots of elements for ‘The Gallery’ are being checked- like the realm boards, the scroll-downs, picture plaques, Viking Worksheets.  Pictures are being framed and books being created. It’s exciting, stressful, and wonderful all rolled into one- everything finessing into the 5-days ahead (11-15 September). 

Here is what has been afoot! 

1. Posters and Flyers

The posters for The Nine Realms in King’s Lynn have been going up all over the place, and the same is happening in Norwich for the poetry reading. I think that Minuteman in King’s Lynn have done us proud with the designs. Here are the two posters  I think they are an effective blend of Viking and the combined arts!

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2. And lo, the DVD is finished! (Sneaky peek)

I’m thrilled to say that yesterday I received a lovely box full of 200 of our project  DVD. All the poetry, art and music from the project is on it, and it has both audio and video elements as well as artists’ credits. I worked with DMS in Plymouth and in particular someone called Alex who was an absolute star in catering to our need to combine more than one art form and a visual and audio element. This was tricky and they resolved all the issues attached to this with aplomb. 

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3. Northern Lights and Starry Skies: Lighting

The idea behind The Nine Realms is to move people away from ‘merely attending’ to ‘active participation’. We want visitors at our event to engage and feel, and one of the ways we are doing that is to through the use of  lighting; to recreate (as best we can) the Northern lights and a starry sky. For that reason Pearce Hire (who are doing our lighting ) came over to Hanse |House  for a site visit to try a few different lights out.

As a consequence of this trial we will be using the baton lights on the right about 5 batons on the left of the gallery in the alcoves,  and 5 across the other side. Each have a variety of different colours and when they are all on you have the Northern lights! The pictures and sculptures will be well lit by the spotlights in the gallery and other overhead lighting. We were going to have stars on the ceiling but because ‘the Gallery’ ceiling is quite low the stars just became splotchy, so we are having a mass of fairy lights running down the centre beam of the room instead. When people walk into the room I want people to go WOW; be met with the unexpected.

4. Brochures and Press

We’ve had great press coverage within King’s Lynn. We have two more newspaper articles coming up: one to garner interest just before the event via The King’s Lynn News and another in ourlocalpaper. The King’s Lynn News will be with at our launch too. We were also featured in The National Heritage Open Day Brochure- a main entry and inside page mention too. We’re really happy to be part of the celebrations: 1000+ people are expected through Hanse House on the Open Day Sunday. 

Heritage Open Days

Apologies- the photos are a bit blurry.

.We also put an advert in the local Majestic Cinema for our workshops. It was  a great way to reach our target audience. Apologies once again a blurry photo….

Cinema Advert

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5.  Platform, The Future Radio Arts and Culture Show

Future Radio

 

Earlier this month (07/08/2015) Future Radio in Norwich put out a radio piece about ArtiPeeps and The Nine Realms. It went out on their arts and culture show called Platform.  They interviewed me, and some Vikings prepared audios which the producer is hoping to use as well- in a later programme or in another podcast…Watch this space….

The interview on 07/08 will be available shortly in a podcast. I’ll put the link in the next update. Bite-sized pieces have also been put out of the poetry and music, and Abbie (the producer) is contemplating using the full mixdown of the poetry and music for a podcast too. We’re thrilled to get so much support from Future Radio. We’ll be shortly sorting out with them how they will be recording the poetry reading in the Millennium library in Norwich.

As soon as I know when the podcast is out I’ll let you know.

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 6. Meeting Kat: Poetry Unbound Coordinator

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I travelled to Norwich  the week before last to actually meet the Unbound Poetry Coordinator in The Millennium Library. We talked everything through: our equipment needs etc. They have a well established publicity strategy, and we gave them our posters to distribute within the library and outside. There is, apparently,  a base number of around 40 attendees at their series events which is great news. There will probably be about 5/6 of us there including ‘our Norse expert’, Caitlin.  It will be exciting to share the poetry with people who are at ease with orality and are part of the oral tradition themselves. We’re hoping that some of the poets there will be reading Norse inspired poetry too…

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7. The Festival of Ideas Online Directory

Festival of Ideas logo

We are also taking The Nine Realms in a taster format to The Festival of Ideas in Cambridge on Saturday 24th October 2015. A group of us from ArtiPeeps and The Nine Realms will be going along. As well as sharing the poetry, art and music from the project we will be discussing the difficulties involved in engaging with the Norse Sagas… It’s going to be great and a BIG thanks goes to The Cambridge Norse and Anglo Saxon Department for letting us share our project with them.

Here’s the link to our entry in the online directory.

I think that’s all for now!

As ever, thank you for your interest. I’ll aim for another update next week.

Nicky

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)

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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….

 

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