Monday, 23 February 2009

The Old Stile Press

The Old Stile Press have been lurking in the bloglist on the right for some time. Their blog is rich in anecdotes about books and breath-taking photos of the Wye Valley.

Last week I dropped by to see the press for myself. The printing office is not so much Beatrice Warde's 'crossroads of civilisation' as a rural idyll in the vein of Samuel Palmer, complete with moss-encrusted barns. However the latest work from the press looks far beyond the Wye Valley to the seas around Orkney. The Girl from the Sea, a little known play by George Mackay Brown, relates the disadvantages of taking a beautiful selkie home as your bride. The evocative images of seals and crofters are by Michael Onken. I love the way the play captures the sense in which humans depend on the sea, and how some are prepared to give themselves up to its mystery.

After Light at Bookartbookshop

After Light will be exhibited at the Bookartbookshop in London. Come along to the private view to see my poems and Paula's wonderful photos, together with works by other members of AM Bruno

Private View: 6pm – 9pm Friday 24th April 2009

Exhibition dates: 25 April – 2nd May 2009

Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Springtime Place - Upernavik

With snow over much of England, I'm practising for a trip to Greenland next spring. I've been selected as writer-in-residence at Upernavik Museum. Upernavik (meaning springtime place) lies so far north (at a latitude of 72 degrees north) that it is almost on top of the world; the town’s highest point is called 'Life’s Summit'.

I'll be living and working from the old cooper's shop which has been converted into a studio, and writing through the day-long darkness. It is said the townspeople, fishing by moonlight for halibut through holes cut in the ice, sometimes spot narwhals swimming below them.

Story-telling has played an important role in Greenland's culture, but writing was only introduced in the 18th century. The survival of many traditional tales is due in great measure to the efforts of a Danish couple, Hinrich and Signe Rink. In 1858 Rink secured funding and established the first printing press in Greenland, the South Greenland Press. WIth the help of the Greenlanders Rasmus Berthelsen and Lars Möller the press began by publishing small tracts and histories in 1857, moving on to more ambitious and iconic works. These histories and ideas about disseminating and preserving words will inform my work at Upernavik.

The tiny image above shows the cemetery, its wooden crosses slung with wreathes of plastic flowers. Similar gaudy garlands are sold in my local discount store - I'm planning to transport some to Greenland, leaving a trail of neon petals in my wake.