Last Tuesday was Poetry Platform again – a night for “linguistical renegades and literary marvels” as it has so humbly been dubbed by its small community.
Initially settled at the Railway Inn in Winchester, Poetry Platform now takes place in living rooms and flats around England. Of course, it’s not the same as meeting up in a pub attic surrounded by the scraping of chairs, feeling the condensation of a cold Kopperberg in your hands and listening to people picking their heart out of the seams of their pockets, but you know – the next best thing to just not having any sort of spoken word poetry in your life at all. I used to attend these events monthly while I lived in England, and now I honestly believe that the one good thing to come out of this pandemic is Poetry Platform going online, so I can join in from Norway.
I did two poems on Tuesday, both centered around the notion of building a home for and with the people you care about.
The first poem (hyperlink to text) is a rather new one, thought up one evening on the floor mid-play with my nephew who’s a year and a half. It’s a response to a poem I wrote when I was 21 and terrified of the notion of ever settling down anywhere, worried of not getting the “making a home” right (whatever “right” even means). Fast forward to now and I guess the cliched realisation that’s hit is that creating a home isn’t so much about what it looks like and more about what you do with it.
The second one is for Soph, a wonderful friend who braved the world and let me be part of her adventure when she moved to Norway for a year in 2019. This poem was supposed to be a thanks for letting me fill her time with cups of tea and movie nights in the tiny uni room we made to feel like home for a while.
Most years I hold onto summer like it’s the railing of a bridge I’m not entirely sure whether to trust or not – fingers clenched around long summer evenings, oceans to swim in and the sun never really setting.
Now it’s September 1st and the fog is rolling in over the hills and the fields of my little hometown. This year something is different. This year, I can’t wait for long dark evenings enveloping us, blankets on the sofa and thicker jumpers in the office. I can’t wait for mugs of tea and warm woolen mittens, for lighting candles and having to turn the lights on in every room I enter. Maybe life’ll slow down a bit around autumn time this year, and I’m excited about that too. Spring brings life and summer brings energy – maybe this autumn can bring a sense of calm. I’m excited for books and for blankets, for sitting inside while September paints the sky with the sun rising and setting.
Yeah, I’m ready for autumn to roll around, but before that I’ll have a think about the months that have passed. May to August of 2020 have been months of moving flats twice, moving away from some very good friends, wonderful summer weekends, boat trips, cutting most of my hair off, starting an internship and seeing that internship turn into a permanent position. They’ve been months of not cooking as much as I’d like, of scouring town for a picture frame with three slots, and of nephew cuddles galore. They’ve been months of corona testing and quarantining and chewing your bottom lip wondering what the future holds. They’ve also surprisingly enough been months of woolen scarves and thunderstorms in July, but hey ho – this year’s a strange one anyway, so who’s to be surprised about having to don a bikini one day and a knitted scarf the next.
We’ve made it through the first half of 2020 – let’s get on with the next one!
I suddenly find myself in a situation I haven’t been in before. I’m sat in a borrowed fifth floor flat in the middle of the biggest city in Norway, looking out over the sun setting over Oslo, shrouding the parks and the buildings and the castle in mid-July nighttime. This is a fairly quiet part of the city center, but compared to my 2000 people-hometown, everything seems grand and loud. People are wandering on the streets below me, and I am both in the middle of more bustle than I’m used to, and also so incredibly on the outside of it. Not a bad place to be, really.
Big cities are strange. It’s in the cities stuff is happening. Big cities mean life, big cities are synonymous with energy, big cities smell of adventure, new foods and bright colours. People gather in big cities, huddle together in big cities, but people are also incredibly lonely in big cities. Big cities are for dreams and worries and ambitions and nails bitten short.
At the moment I’m so very new to this city. I’ve never lived with the sounds of trams passing outside my window, and it’s a new experience. Maybe the best way to get used to the city bustle is to sing with it. I tried that; a song about how no matter what else you have or haven’t got, at least you’ll always have tomorrow. Maybe the city is a little bit more mine now than it was this morning. Maybe it’ll be a little bit more mine tomorrow. Like I said, I’m so incredibly new to this city. I don’t know it properly and it certainly doesn’t know me, yet. But maybe one day. Maybe this city will lead to small changes that will lead to big changes, maybe this first temporary stay will lead to some sort of personal growth I’m not prepared for and certainly not aware of at the moment. This feels like the beginning of something – I’m just not sure what.
I brought one of my favourite mugs, filled it with tea and now I’m sat overlooking the buildings and the trees in the park. Cars, trams, taxis and electric scooters; meters below me life is going on and on. I can’t wait to join in, but for tonight I think I’m just going to feel oh so very fortunate to suddenly find myself on the rooftops of the capital, to see the city from above, to be in the middle of what feels like everything, and still be a little bit distanced from it. I’ll learn and grow and get to know this city tomorrow. I’m very excited about it.
Have a poem, with the aforementioned cliched title, filmed on my webcam complete with the noises of both my mum and dad in separate skype-meetings upstairs. I was only supposed to be home for a couple of days, but then the travel ban hit and now I don’t know when I’ll be able to go back to my uni town. Now we’re three people all trying to do our separate jobs in one house with strangely few doors and a lot of open doorways; it’s not the best solution, but we’re making do. And to be fair, I’d much rather be here right now than isolated all alone in a student flat. Take care of each other, folks.
Love in the time of Covid is waving at each other from across the street is walking two meters apart is «I’ll leave your groceries on the porch, take care».
Love in the time of Covid is travel bans and cancelled plans and waterfall worries and loneliness.
Love in the time of Covid is creating an everyday in cramped houses is home office landscapes and nurseries in living rooms is a kettle constantly boiling in the kitchen.
Love in the time of Covid is empty streets and darkened towns and school grounds void of children.
Love in the time of Covid is learning to be productive in a new normal is being together by being apart is showing we care by breaking the chain.
Love in the time of Covid is a team effort, a global population staying inside, a world worth of shoes left waiting by the door.
Love in the time of Covid is making the best of strange days to come, strange days we won’t know how to handle strange days we never even dreamed of.
Love in the time of Covid is singing together through open windows is lighting candles for people we do not know is gathering in applause in houses across the nation.
Love in the time of Covid is staying inside today so others can see tomorrow it is solidarity it is compassion. it is a choice.
These last few weeks have been very strange, and I don’t have anything new to add but for my own peace of mind I have to say something.
Since last Wednesday, we’ve seen a lot of societies shut down. In Norway there are travel bans and shop shut downs and all the unis and schools and nurseries are closed. The streets are empty and no one’s at work apart from critical workers.
People are isolating, turning social distancing up to the max and really taking quarantining seriously. Good.
The rules and regulations made to fight off this virus are strict and they’re a bit scary. Never before have I not been allowed to leave my own house, never before have the streets outside been so empty. Businesses are losing money, people are scared for the future, economies all over the world are taking major hits and who even knows how the world will look after this. But I am glad we’re doing it. Extreme times, extreme measure. This situation is strange and scary, yes, but so is this virus and I will loudly support any measure put in place to gather the world to fight it.
“Love in the time of Covid-19” is a phrase I’ve seen a couple of people use now, and it kind of stuck with me. It sounds silly and and silly is definitely something we need right now. I can also how it is a direct reference to Love in the time of Cholera, a book I started but could never finish. Completely unrelated to the current crisis, it is also a great reminder of my friend’s 12th birthday, when her mum rented the film version of said book, thinking “hm, this sounds like a nice film for a bunch of kids”. It was not, but hey, we got a good story out of it.
However, I think that phrase also got stuck because it poses such an important question right now: what does love look like, in these times of not being able to be together?
It is important to talk about how we show love right now, because it’s so very different from how we normally do it. When we cannot express love by clasping our hands together, by pulling the ones we love into the tightest hug, by sleeping next to each other feeling the calm of everyday, we have to find other ways. Right now we are showing love by staying away, by respecting quarantine regulations, by being cautious. We are showing love by isolating ourselves, so that the risk groups can stay safe, by coming together as we’re staying apart. So strange and so very, very important.
We’re almost through February, and I’m sat pondering this year; the months that have been and the months that are to come.
I love traditions, rituals, small things I can implement into my life to create patterns and familiarity. Sometimes a pinch of gung-ho spontaneity is needed, but I really appreciate small things that celebrate and mark the every day. Christmas (which, once again, I’m aware was a while ago) is one of those times a year that is seeped in tradition; most things done from late November to the 28th of December are done because “it’s Christmas, and that’s how we Christmas.” And I’m so here for it.
However, I’ve never really had any traditions or rituals around New Years, and wishing the new year welcome. I love the celebrations with friends and family, the fireworks and the not-champagne-bubbles swirling in champagne glasses, but I haven’t found a tradition that I’ve either started for myself, or that’s really resonated with me before.
This year I celebrated New Years in Swanage with Harvey and his family, and his mum introduced me to the New Years Mood board, and let me tell you; this is my new New Years Tradition with a capital T.
It’s a really simple idea: get a big piece of paper (I found A3 to be the perfect size, big enough to fit what you want on it, but not so big that it feels overwhelming to fill the empty space), get some of your favourite magazines and spend some time browsing, flicking through the pages. Look for images, colours, patterns and quotes that resonate with you and how you want the next year to be. I found this process a lot more interesting than sitting down and deciding on New Years resolutions, because it felt like getting a different view on things, a different perspective, some new input. I cut out images and texts I liked, put it all together just because I liked it, and then discovered what it “meant” as the process went on.
The process in itself was also nice. It was sitting down, quietly, for a couple of hours, listening to music and just being alone with my own thoughts. Saying thankyou and goodbye to the year as it quietly snuck out the door, and welcoming the new one, the one that burst in through the window.
And now we’re here. This little piece is now framed in a very simple, narrow, black frame and resting on my dresser; the perfect place for it to blend into the interior, but also for it to be somewhere where I can throw a quick glance at it in the morning on my way out the door, giving a little thought to “how can I make this moodboard happen today? What have I done to implement these elements into my life?”
My 2020 moodboard isn’t mysterious and filled with hidden riddles and symbols. It is the moodboard of someone who wants to feel a bit more comfortable in their own skin, who is on the brink of finishing her education and dreams of a job and a flat where I’ll actually be able to put things on the walls (hence the image of the mugs hanging on the wall), a place I’ll stay for more than the typical student year. This year I’ll hopefully be able to start crafting a life for myself, a life built on those strange BAs I’ve acquired, on my interests and on my skills and abilities. If I squint my eyes, I can kinda see the moodboard reflecting that. It is also the moodboard of someone who wants to learn to prioritize her own wellbeing while still staying active and engaged with the local community, politics, work and volunteering. It is the moodboard of someone who wants to get better at creating small moments of peace in her everyday; moments of books and mugs of tea and knitted blankets bunched up under my chin. My moodboard is my reminder to myself that there is so much I want to do, but all of it doesn’t have to happen right now. It’s also a reminder that unknown, but wonderful, things are yet to come. Things I’ll be excited about, but that I don’t even know about yet. I want 2020 to be a softer year; a year where I’m a bit more kind to myself and where I try to worry a bit less.
I am excited to get back to this moodboard in December of 2020, and to give it another proper think at the end of the year. I am curious to see whether I’ll be able to look back and see specific moments where this little piece of paper has impacted my life. That’s not really the case yet for this last month and a half, but who knows. Maybe soon.
I’m sat by my desk in my parents’ house – a desk where I’ve written many a paper and finished many an assignment. Outside, the grass is showing off frosted tips, and frost roses are playing on my window panes. I’ve been here before. We’ve just had a wonderful Christmas, and now we reach the days of quiet introspection and thinking things through.
This has been one hell of a year. It’s gone by so fast, and I have no clue where all the leftover seconds ran away to; all the moments I hid away, those I tucked in my pocket for safekeeping and said “I’ll keep these for when I need them”. It’s been a busy year, one where I’ve both overfilled my existing plate, and picked up some plates that were never really mine to fill anyway. But it’s been good, and hopefully it has, and will, lead to many more interesting days and experiences.
But not only has this been one hell of a year; it has been a wild and wonderful decade, and after a chat I had with my mum the other day, I’ve decided to name this decade the Decade of Decision.
This has been my decade of making decisions for myself. This has been the decade I have made a lot of choices, big and small, and the years I’ve had to realize that, though a bit wobbly at times, I do have my own two feet to stand on.
These are the years I started using social media (November 2011, to be exact), and had to figure out what kind of relationship I want with online me. Still working on that one. It’s been the years of deciding what sort of school I wanted to go to, what kind of subjects and courses I wanted to take and pursue, and slowly realizing that the choices I made at 15 are both opening and closing doors for me now at the age of 23.
This decade is the first one I properly remember, considering I was 4 in year 2000 when the last one started. 2010-2019 are the years I decided I wanted to pursue higher education, the years that will forever hold my England-adventure, and the years I met some of the people I never want to see leave my life.
The last couple of years, the end of this decade, has seen our family become both smaller and bigger at the same time; we have said goodbye to wonderful people, and hello to some bright new additions. New people, new routines, new traditions. Permanent changes has been made to our “group”, and those changes have been embraced and welcomed.
I am 23, which means that this decade has been a little bit less than half of my life. However, it’s also just getting started, and though I’m sneakily a bit terrified of what’s to come or go, I can’t wait for the rest.
Bring on new flats and jobs and opportunities, bring on new habits made and old habits broken. Merry Christmas which has come and passed and a very happy new year, now that we’re here.
(Ooof, I know I’m very late with my new years posts this year; just got two more coming in the next couple of days and then we’re properly on with the new year!)
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