Sunday, 11 November 2012

I HEART Orkney

There has been a good deal of sun in Orkney since I got back. A good deal, I'd say! Orkney. November. Sometimes, with the fall of light between cloud, the Hoy Hills have looked transparent. A strange experience to see such solid masses look so delicate.  

A huddle of blue shoulders 

That's what George Mackay Brown called them. 

This morning at 6.30 there is a brilliant Venus keeping track of a sliver of moon in a clear sky.

Gunnie Moberg

I've been wandering about the shore, taking photographs of stones, wishing I had the skills of Gunnie Moberg, the beautiful Swedish photographer who lived and worked in Orkney till her death a few years ago. She photographed the minutiae of the shore, the seams and clefts in the rock, as well as Orkney's landscapes from the air. With George Mackay Brown she collaborated on a beautiful book, Orkney: Pictures and Poems. Here are a poem and a photograph from it. 

© Gunnie Moberg
     Stromness, Orkney
Pebbles in Ice
A glacier dragged us
     All the way from the north.

Did he dump us like a dustman?

No, he dropped us
      Here, from his hand, like a

© GMB 1996

Orkney Readers

Some more comments from readers who come into the library regularly.  

I’m addicted – always have been!  This library is brilliant because they have a huge variety of new books every time I look.

I was encouraged to read as a child & that love of books has never left me. Reading helped expand my vocabulary.  It’s relaxing. It takes you away from everyday things into new & exciting situations.

It broadens the mind.

It taught me how to write and spell. I used to struggle with all reading and writing but through reading (starting with Harry Potter). It has developed my understanding of nearly everything else.

Do you like them short?

This is the week for you then. It is National Short Story Week. Short fiction is still published fiction's Cinderella form: not unless you are already famous for writing long fiction, are you likely to find a publisher for a collection of stories. For the most part. Check out the website for what's on all over the country and for recommendations of short stories, competitions and encouragement.

In an article in the Herald on Saturday, author David McVey puzzled over the resistance to the form because, '... short stories are so suited to modern living: you can read one during the bus or train commute or in the gaps betweenwork and study, child-rearing and socialising.'

One of my favourite stories from one of my all time favourite writers in any genre is The Bear Came Over the Mountain  by Alice Munro. Read it here on the New Yorker website.


  1. Lovely, soul-enriching post. I just came to Alice Munro's short stories recently and I'm loving them, though I can see they wouldn't be to everyone's taste. I actually find them very Scottish, with their quiet understatement. A kind of Presbyterian sensibility in the best possible sense.
    Also, you mention Gunnie Moberg. I'm putting her name onto our 'Inspiring Women' list at Glasgow Women's Library. I've not had time to check yet if anyone else has put her name forward. Or if we have any of her work in GWL. So much to do!
    Thanks for yet another superb post.

    1. Thank you, Magi! That's great that you're putting Gunnie's name onto the list of inspiring women. Her family will be pleased to know that.

      A x


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