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Features / Poets’ Corner- Nat Hall

Nat Hall.

Carol Jamieson’s latest guest in her Poets’ Corner feature is Nat Hall:

I have known Nat for many years now and am delighted to feature her in Poets’ Corner, write Carol Jamieson.

We have enjoyed mixing words and music to create a canvas of light and sound weaving together and have had much fun doing it.

When I spoke to Nat, she had just read the poem at the Scottish Highlands and Islands Poetry Society open mic the previous evening. I know she has used this poem many times as it is close to her heart.

I asked Nat about her childhood.  She was born in Normandy.  Her fondest memories are of her Mamie (grandmother) reading stories and poems and listening to music with her when she was very young. She added that Mamie and the natural world are her main inspirations.

Although she has always scribbled, as she put it, she started writing poetry seriously after being immobilised in a debilitating car crash in 1994.

Things really began to happen when Aaron Leask (Lerwick Creative Writing Group) suggested sending this poem to The Great Scottish Canvas and she was delighted and honoured to have it selected among the many poems submitted from across Scotland.

I wondered what drew her to Shetland and she had this to say:  “I wanted to live, not just survive in a material world.  Shetland is my spiritual home.  I knew I wanted to be away from it all.  Exposed to the natural world.  Being also a photographer, I fell in love about 25 years ago.  I pitched a tent at Levenwick and I felt I was on treasure island.  This is when I found a connection with R. L. Stevenson.”

Published in the UK, US, France and Canada, she explains how she feels blessed to be able to write in three languages, French, English and Shaetlan.

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Nat has two books already in print and her third book is nearly ready for publication.

In this poem she writes like she is holding a paintbrush, her palette illuminating the muted colours of the landscape, the sights and sound bounce up at you as you read.  She clearly loves Shetland, revelling in the varying grey tones of light and the biting cold.

Sneaking in a Shaetlan word here and there, we are very aware of a moment in time captured in these unique islands.  The birds performing their early summer rituals, the weather forever changing is tangible, the sluice gate fixed every year.  The personal touch by mentioning Ian.

She calls it a ‘Bubble of now’.

For Ian Smith

Clumlie Loch

A mean wind talks over them all.
Two bonxies joust above
the loch – was it for
love or tug of
war?
Black headed gulls
laugh from
the side…
Trio of manes
just off
the
holm,
two
meadow pipits on
wire,
eager to court tucked in
heather;
invisible crooning
curlews as
line chorus fill a sky blue in
defiance to each outburst from
the prowler that heaves wavelets on the water.
Everything yields in its presence:
from the lichen stricken fence posts to
daffodils back from the dead,
hell, hellery, blown at
Easter…
They,
like the
dwellers from
the loch, stood to
its wrath and raging claws;
yet skylarks hoist high into sky and
sing along in spring evening
cacophonous around
it all –
rain goose elegance, scarlet throats,
sleek and silent as
spectators…
And
water hums
through the old sluice, iris and
burn down to Troswick via
grinding stones,
forgotten
times,
Ian
fixes
voar after voar.

©Nat Hall 2021 

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