The Orange – Wendy Cope
Waking up to this poem every morning is definitely its own vibe. I’m so here for it.
Andrea Wold Johansen
Waking up to this poem every morning is definitely its own vibe. I’m so here for it.
They called me the hyacinth girl
“The Waste Land” by T. S. Eliot was one of those poems I could not find myself enjoying when I read it for a poetry module in my first year of uni. It’s fragmented, it’s confusing and it has myriads of speakers, every new voice stranger than the last – I wanted to like it, I just couldn’t get the hang of it and there was never enough time in the syllabus to actually cement any real understanding of it.
With time, this lanky, strange old poem has grown on me, though. I’ve kept dipping my toes tentatively back into it now and then, and now that I’m taking a couple of new American literature modules, I’ve finally been able to do the proper deep dive I’ve wanted to, and over the course of the last few weeks I’ve fallen more and more in love with all the things I used to not like about it at all. There are still so many things I do not understand, so many notions and ideas and elements that escape me, but that’s one of the reasons I feel so drawn to it now.
Of course, it also helps that the lecturer teaching the literature module I’m currently doing is such an inspiring and enthusiastic academic, and her lectures are a delight. Her essay questions are also of another world, and part of why I’ve been able to finally give “The Waste Land” the undivided attention I have wanted to give it for a while, is because I’ve been analysing the living daylights out of it for an assignment.
From not really having managed to get through it before, I’ve now read this poem way too many times, and I keep finding new and exciting things with every read. I wanted to share the first part of the poem with you guys – in a little reading from my very-intensely-and-not-at-all-neatly-annotated copy of the Norton Anthology, with the noise of a lorry droning in from the outside and the bunched up blanket on the sofa from where I was sat reading this to myself not even a minute before this.
I hope you like these words as much as I do.
In a time where money is pouring out of art budgets instead of into them, when people are being urged to choose tech careers over arts educations and when the importance of the arts as a craft is undermined as something a bit silly, just a bit of fun, Wendy Richardson was the driving force behind this documentary where she asked 54 arts workers (mainly in the UK) to answer these three questions:
What do the arts mean to you?
How did you get into the arts?
Are the arts accessible for everyone?
The answers were filmed on phone cameras and compiled into an hour and a half long celebration of the arts, of the different occupations within the arts, and of the great variety of disciplines the arts provides. It’s a celebration of lives lived a little richer, skills hard-earned and won, and winged moments created.
I love how different all the artists’ answers are and what sort of different tangents people go off on, even though everyone started off with the same three questions. That in itself feels like a testament to the arts’ variety and significance. I won’t take up your time rambling – the documentary participants prove their points with so much more elegance and wisdom than I could ever hope for, so I’ll just leave you in their safe hands.
The whole documentary is rather long, so if you feel up for it, this is the perfect chance to proper settle down in the corner of the sofa with a blanket and a big mug of tea. It’s snowing in Norway again (and I’m feeling thoroughly done with winter, at the moment) so I’m definitely enjoying all this summer footage.
I also really love how Wendy’s cut Marilyn’s and my footage together at timestamp 19:10-21:42. Marilyn is an educator who braved a pair of ballet slippers for the first time at 47 (and a half), and as everyone else in the documentary, she talks with that glimmer in her eyes that the arts really do bring out in people.
I hope you give this documentary a watch – it’s definitely worth it!
In January I fell in love with the album Love, Run by The Amazing Devil. It’s a haunting experience of an album and the kind of music that can comfortably accompany you on days both good and bad.
Looking for something else on my laptop today, I found this little thing. It’s a cover of The Amazing Devil’s “Elsa’s Song” – a project I started (and forgot about) in March, when everywhere started closing down due to Covid, and everyone had to more or less self isolate. Watching it now honestly feels a bit like an accidental time capsule. The video is from before I cut my hair and when I was still wearing my old glasses, and this was before I did my last exams, handed in my dissertation and before I moved and started the job I’m working now. It was also at the very start of lockdown and it reminds me of how overwhelming and uncertain everything felt at the time, and how, in March, we were still waiting for a deadline on when what we kept referring to as “these special times” would be over. Now we’re mid-October, and looking at at least another year of this, and everyone’s just doing their best. So yeah, an accidental time capsule in many ways.
The videos were recorded by an old dam quite close to my uni flat. It was a place I often went to when I just needed some space and some air, and initially I muted the rain sounds in all the clips. I decided to keep the rain however, kind of like a tribute to how The Amazing Devil often use ambient sounds and surrounding noise to add to the stories in their lyrics. There is something to the lyrics in this song – they’re about love and connection and being remembered, and humanity really not being the best at learning from past mistakes. Feels rather relevant at the moment, to be fair, with everything that’s going on around the world.
I hope you’re having a wonderful day.
As cliche as it might be, sometimes books just speak to you.
I was looking through old folders of videos, and I found two videos recounting my favourite book quotes of years long gone and passed. There was one video from 2010 and one from 2013 and it was interesting to see what kind of quotes and books made it into those videos, what quotes I felt it important to remember “for ever” and what words I wanted to share with the world. It made me think about the quotes that are important to me now, and it made me want to remake that video with my favourite books as of late.
So here goes; a couple of words to live by, some to laugh at, and others to simply enjoy.
I hope you’re having a wonderful day,
I’m moving out of my flat on the 15th of June, which is, objectively, still more than a month away. However, spending so much time inside this flat lately has really made me think about what this flat means (and has meant) to me and what the future will hopefully bring, and in a fit of … not really inspiration and definitely not passion, but in a fit of something, I decided to dismantle my postcard wall today.
I love my postcard wall. When I first moved to Kristiansand I bought my first ever mailbox, and for a couple of moments, I felt like a proper adult. To fill the mailbox with nice things, I joined Postcrossing, and since September 2018 I’ve sent 203 cards and received 202. Every single card has been meticulously pinned to my wall, and today I’ve taken them all down. It took me about an hour – I wanted to have a read through, and properly look at all of them, not just tear them down.
The postcard wall has served as an interesting and unique piece of decoration to make a student flat seem a bit less dull (and orange, that wall is oh so very orange). It was the one thing people always commented on when they entered my flat; there was always a “wow” or a “what on earth is all this?” But more important than that – it made the flat feel a bit less temporary. The postcard wall was “my thing”; 202 greetings from 202 people I’ve never met, 202 people’s handwritings and well-wishes from around the world, and something that slowly built itself up around me. And as I was taking the cards down, I looked at so many of them and I realised that I can remember receiving almost all of them. I remember when specific cards popped into my mailbox, how quickly I ran inside to register them and pop a message back to the sender, before putting them up on the wall, contemplating whether the front or the back should be on show. I do not know where any of the cards I’ve sent ended up, but maybe they’re on someone else’s postcard wall, or in an album or a box that someone flicks through when they need a smile or a giggle. The postcard wall has definitely made me feel safe and at home, like I’m surrounded by these snippets of time, these conversations happening at kitchen tables and desks all around the globe. What a privilege to get to be a part of such a thing.
I’ve moved six times in the last six years, but this is the first flat I’m genuinely sad to leave. Taking down this wall, which I’ve appreciated so much, felt like the first step to taking my time to thank the flat and start moving out of it. Having to rush all of these cards down, while simultaneously trying to pack up everything else just felt wrong; the cards needed their own time and their own moments. Silly, I know, but it just felt right.
So here you go, I hope you enjoy this little snippet of how the postcard wall came to be history. A lot less dramatic than I make it sound, but to be fair, removing the first card felt quite dramatic to me. Then it became a bit meditative, as I read through the kind words of strangers who’ve all given me a little bit of their time on the back of a card, who all helped make this flat feel a little bit more like mine. And without planning for it, the very last card left on the wall, the very last to be carefully taken down, was actually the very first I received. Full circle, and all that.
Here’s to many more postcards, in many more mailboxes to come. I hope you’re having a lovely day, and that you’re staying safe wherever you are.
Today is Santa Lucia, the day of light in a very dark winter.
It is celebrated on the 13. of December, on the winter solstice that used to be known as the longest night of the year, when the sun would turn on its heel and come back. It was a day for mischief on the farms and for strange things happening, and for candles lighting up the dark.
On Santa Lucia (or St Lucy’s Day) we sing for the the light to come back. We light up the dark corners of our homes with candles, wear crowns made of lights, eat lussekatt-pastries to get us through the cold, and wait for morning and the rising sun. We celebrate and thank the dark winter months, while preparing for longer days of sun to come.
This was my attempt at lighting up the corners of my home, however, as I live in a rather small student flat, there was no way to do this without setting off the fire alarm. I am very lucky, though, to have a pretty thick forest right outside of my home, and it was wonderful to start this project off in darkness and then see how the candles lit up the space around me. Complete silence, the only sounds were the drips of yesterday’s rain that still clung on to the branches and the chirk of the matches being lit.
This video has been a bit of an experiment; a one-take-attempt. I only gave myself one try to record the song, and the video was all done in one go, too. The song because I wanted to see how it would turn out; the video because I was filming outside at night in a cold (and very dark) forest.
And a note on safety: it had been raining for three weeks straight before I filmed this video on the one day with no precipitation, so the ground was soaked, and not particularly prone to catching fire. Just in case, though, behind the tree in the corner of the video, I had two fire extinguishing aerosols and a fire blanket waiting. Candles are wonderful, and when small flickering flames come together they can really light up a space, but I’d rather not light up the whole forest. Be safe with fire! x
I hope your winter time is filled with light.
Come spring, I want to write.
To sweep the cobwebs off of old ideas, place flowers behind my ears and pencils in my pockets. To make up dialogues that have laid dormant and put soul in characters’ eyes. I want to shake winter out of tense shoulders, to pull snow and sleep out of the tips of my fingers, I want to see new places and paint my nails.
Every winter it’s like the cold bogs me down, drowns ideas under the frost, lets fog and rain take a hold of all the things I want to do.
But come April, the sun starts to peek in through the window, like a shy child hiding behind the clouds. Bit by bit, it becomes more confident, and bit by bit, it dares peek out behind its mum’s skirt. And just like that, I want to write. I want to clean up my space, put on fresh bed sheets, air out my room, air out my thoughts. I want to open all the doors and the windows, put loud music on, move around and clear out my head.
I want to create.