Well I’m only 2.4% English and 18.3% Scandinavian, but it’s my English genes roaring the loudest today!
Come on England!
This is a post by Swedish artist Anna that was inspired by a conversation on one of my posts-some light hearted comments on a dark-subject post. Our newly fledged Anglo-Scandinavian peace movement. In Polyester or fleece 🙂
A comments thread that maybe went wild?
You can read the post and the comments to get a picture of what happened. Here’s the link.
This is the comments that made me create an image in my head
Thanks Andy for the inspiration to the drawing!
Thought I would share this with you guys. Anna is a Swedish artist, and from a throwaway comment that I made on one of her posts she created this cool picture. So be careful what you say here on WordPress-you never know what it will lead to! There are many ‘weird heads’ out there!! 🙂
A conversation with Andy from City Jack daw come to be about sleepwalking.
He said something about difficulties to sleepwalk in a hammock.
Those words immediately made a picture in my weird head.
It can’t be easy to rise up and sleep walk in a hammock. Have you tried?
Have a great day all of you!
For me, my poems serve as a diary. When I look at them I can remember where I was when I got the idea for each one, and what it was that acted as the initial inspiration. The opening poem in my book, Heading North, is called Midnight, July.
The title indicates the when, but not the where and why.
The words for this one came when I was sat in the back garden with a coffee. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and I was looking up at the stars and wondering whether we could be alone or was there life somewhere out there?
We writhe with a rage to know the unknowable, blind to great masses that dance in dark orbits. And a soft, summer wind on a night beneath stars is no balm.
While I was sat there, neck craned in the quiet of the night, the stillness was broken by the sound of somebody passing by the front of the house, their presence announced by their whistle as they went.
From somewhere a whistle casts a line, a fragile camaraderie in a world fell silent, where white moth-wing is riotous and a spider's touch carnal.
That faceless person, whoever it was, initiated the close of this poem. Sometimes we go about life oblivious of the effect we have on others, positive or otherwise. And writers can be voyeuristic vampires, stealing in secret what they need from those around them.
I had half of another poem entitled Old Town. When writing it I had the idea of an American-type run down town in the middle of the desert, with people eking out a life in a place where unknown others lived long before them.
As is their wont, the ancestors speak of nothing, just leave their handprints on rock, drying in shadow. In sterile dust we kick careless trails, tracks opening up in animal minds. In towns we lay our markers down, watering holes within arid charms. The rats have our number, wait us out, sandstorms filling our lungs like egg timers.
I wanted to add a second part to the poem.
Regular readers of City Jackdaw will no doubt know of my love for old photographs. There is one in particular that has featured on my blog a few times before. It bears the legend Mary and her Grandfather Jasper. Around 1900. In many cases we never know who the people are in photographs such as this one, but with this we know enough to give it a personal dimension.
I wanted to somehow include this in my book, and so for the second part of this poem I envisaged somebody using it as a bookmark, reading a Truman Capote book (I had The Grass Harp in mind) while, in contrast to the whole ‘heading north’ theme, thinking of the south where the author came from and set his stories.
On the porch she reads Capote. Turns her face to the south. Her bookmark is an old photograph of an old man; a girl; a dog: 'Mary and her grandfather Jasper, around 1900.' He: sat, stern and saturnine, wearing the dust. She: stood, hand lightly on his shoulder, glaring at the camera, facing down posterity: Not yet. Not yet. The dog is unnamed. The birdcage in the window, empty. In the book there are voices on the wind. Here, just the parched whisper of turned vellum.
Just weeks before Heading North was to be published I went to stay for a few days in Sweden. It being the furthest north I’d ever been I thought it an ideal opportunity to write something as a last minute addition to my collection of poems.
And thus was born Three Poems In Stockholm.
The first poem came about when I was staying on a boat that served as a hostel and I was woken early by the sound of a foghorn. On looking out of the cabin window I was greeted by the unexpected sight of a Stockholm blanketed by thick fog.
Anchored mists hold down the grey waters of Saltsjön. The mournful baritone of a foghorn splinters the hull, grinds the bones, raises us up from our slumbering wooden berth, to climb high above the city's fitful dreams.
I got dressed and went for a walk. Wandering around there was hardly anyone else around: it was a Sunday morning and the shops were still closed, even in this capital city.
I found myself on an empty street, myopic in the cataract effect of the fog. Suddenly a girl came into sight. Perhaps in her twenties, she wore a bright chequered dress, and beneath her arm she carried around half a dozen sunflowers.
The contrast between her and her surroundings struck me, and I immediately knew that this encounter would feature in the poem I was writing.
In Södermalm, shining in a multicoloured, chequered dress, a girl breezes along with an armful of sunflowers, creating a fissure of brightness in the milky gloom, ploughing a passage of light right through to the warm facades of Gamla Stan. Blind to all else, we follow her down.
Although another two Stockholm based poems followed, this is the one that reminds most of my time there. It was that image I can still see now: within a fog-bound scene a flame-haired girl in a bright dress, clutching yellow sunflowers. A centre of colour in a colourless landscape. It was like a painting.
Of course if I’d have approached her and said I was going to write a poem about her I could have been hit with a restraining order or something much more painful.
So somewhere out there, probably still in Stockholm, there is a girl who inspired a poet and is immortalised in a poem that featured in a book.
And she will never know.
I don’t know about you guys, but I think that’s kinda sad.
Archipelago between Sweden and Finland, seen from the air. A blue expanse peppered with green, unweilding shapes – like rocks we could hop across on our journey home.
Finnair’s menu adds to the northern vibe: an aesthetic of air; of sea and ice; the people and tales. They follow us down.
I’m rubbish at art, I wish I could draw. Anna can-here are sketches inspired by the lyrics of When All Is Said And Done by some of her fellow Swedes that you may know as Abba. I love them. Even picked up a pencil. Put it back down again.
More Swedish music inspiration.
Viktoria Tolstoy with Benny Andersson (from ABBA) at the piano.
A song from the Nils Landgren album Funky ABBA
Funky Abba | Nils Landgren
An awesome album by the way!
“When all is said and done” is one of my favorite ABBA songs. Love the lyrics and the Nils Landgren/Benny Andersson/Viktoria Tolstoy version is great.
So great that the version of the song inspired me to draw the lyricss. I borrowed (didn’t ask for permission) the lyrics and did some drawings.
Here are the drawings. Have fun!
My collection of poetry, being published next month by Nordland Publishing, is called Heading North. The poems in it are arranged in a particular order, reflecting a gradual journey from the summer and childhood of the south to the mortality-facing winter of the north. My recent visit to Sweden, being the furthest north I have ever been, was too good an opportunity not to write a last minute poem for my book. Below is an excerpt:
Anchored mists hold down the grey waters of Saltsjön. The mournful baritone of a foghorn splinters the hull, grinds the bones, raises us up from our slumbering wooden berth, to climb high above the city's fitful dreams. In Södermalm, shining in a multicoloured, chequered dress, a girl breezes along with an armful of sunflowers, creating a fissure of brightness in the milky gloom, ploughing a passage of light right through to the warm facades of Gamla Stan. Blind to all else, we follow her down. - from Three Poems In Stockholm ©AJM
These photographs were taken on my recent visit to Stockholm. They were actually taken by the friend who accompanied me, but some of the shots were suggested by me. I have the eye, but not the equipment! So, let’s say, we can share a 60-40 credit, yes? In his favour. Begrudgingly.
Photographs by DJB
Scenes pointed out by me.
And so I return. Stockholm was great, and I’m weary and all coffee’d out. I will post about it all later, but in the meanwhile, just a few snippets of conversation and discovered written word to give you a flavour of my time there:
On entering the country, my very eager travelling companion was having his passport inspected at passport control:
“This is the first time I’ve been in your country, I’m excited and looking forward to it.” Friendly, female passport inspector: “Enjoy your stay, I hope it lives up to your expectations.” Next, my turn, I motioned towards my departing friend: “He will be asleep within an hour!” “Not you, though?” “No-he snores!” She laughed, waved me through.
Over the four days:
“Excuse me Sir, your handbag is open.” I was that ‘Sir.’
“Do you know what Polish Alzheimer’s is? Forget everything but a grudge.” Calm down-it was said by a Polish man.
“Without struggle, there is no progress.” Okay, I can go with that.
“Kiss me like you kissed that goat.” You really don’t want to know.
Entered a restaurant, was instructed by a very-loud-voiced-it-had-to-be-heard-to-be-believed-waiter: “WHEN YOU’RE READY TO ORDER COME TO THE COUNTER, WE ARE A LAZY BUNCH IN HERE!” I did: “Can I have a draught beer, please…” THAT SOUNDS LIKE A PLAN!” “…erm, and a mineral water…” “THAT SOUNDS LIKE LESS OF A PLAN!” “…and the soup…” “WHERE IN ENGLAND ARE YOU FROM?” “Manchester.” “WENT TO LIVERPOOL ONCE. COULDN’T UNDERSTAND A DAMN THING ANYBODY WAS SAYING!”
A lovely blogger and follower of Jackdaw on here was going to email me some tips about visiting Stockholm. She didn’t manage to do it in time for my visit. It wasn’t a problem, it was a nice gesture, but a bit of a catchphrase began to feature:
Just arrived, in the middle of the city, ten o’clock at night, got on a bus. Bus driver: Have you got a ticket?” “Can we buy one off you?” “No.” “Okay, can we pay for one using a card?” “No.” “We need to get off and get one?” “Yes.” Thanks a bunch, Erica.”
In McDonald’s for breakfast, I wanted an egg muffin as I don’t eat meat. Opened it up, it had bacon on it. “Thanks a bunch, Erica.”
Next morning, emphasised more clearly WITHOUT bacon. Opened it up. Bacon. “Thanks a bunch, Erica.”
Morning after, used the Swedish word ‘utan’ meaning ‘without’. Didn’t even have to open it. “Thanks a bunch, Erica.”
We went on a cruise around the archipelago, but picked the wrong day, weather-wise. Poured down. “Thanks a bunch, Erica.” Who do you think was the only person who didn’t go inside the boat where it was heated, but stayed outside for the experience? Yep, I sat, coat fastened up, hat tightly on. Got a coffee to warm myself up, the wind blew it out of my hands. “Thanks a bunch, Erica.”
On departing the country, four days later, at passport control, the same friendly passport inspector to me: “You’re returning home then?” “Yes, to catch up on my sleep.” “Was there a lack thereof?” “Ohhhh yes!” She laughed, waved me through.
Full of a cold, probably through my rain-lashed cruise, I sneezed on the plane. “Thanks a..” Well, you can guess the rest. Poor Erica’s ears must have been burning.
More inspirational words from the toilet of a Swedish placed Irish pub:
Just a quick post to let you guys know that I will be away for a few days.
Well, the moon is a bit of an exaggeration, (and I hope that my mode of transport is a little more robust), but I thought you might prefer that image to this one:
Except all of you feet lovers out there. And mutilated feet at that.
No, I am going to Stockholm tomorrow, and don’t arrive back until late Monday night. I am pre-occupied at the moment with making that most crucial of decisions: which book do I take with me to read on the plane? And then no doubt doing some last minute packing.
In the meanwhile, I would be obliged if you could keep an eye on the old Jackdaw site for me while I’m away. Make sure she’s secure, and don’t forget to put the bins out on Monday.
See you soon.