The idea of writing poems in the voice of or about women of the Viking age came to me when I realised that almost all the images we have of Vikings – whether real or imagined - are of men.
For The Other Vikings I have produced a unique hand-made book made up of sheets joined together in concertina style. Most of the pages are printed with the poems or simple mono-prints, and the whole book is best displayed on a large surface which people can walk round.
The poems are also available in a booklet.
The Other Vikings This is my first poetry collection.
Gannets whirr and whirl in the distance.
Behind me, shaela sheep pick their way up the track. The clammy mist gradually peels back to reveal black, wet rocks, and beyond these the grass is so green it’s almost shouting.
In front a calm surface spreads out. Five ships are heading east, sails spread wide as they make their steady way across the flat sea towards a dawn the colour of speedwell.
Now I see bent backs in the two boats being rowed this way. They will soon reach here with silks, cinnamon, saffron, and, I hope, more goats and hens.
Above me, swifts scream and scythe. It is a day to rejoice in.
The title of my second collection is Maps & Poems, which comprises an exhibition of 22 maps and the 22 poems I have written in response to the maps.
South America Rainfall and Temperature
A continent draped with colour, calmness, elegance. A place cooled and warmed by swathes of pink. All that’s here are folds of heat and pools of poured rain. No roads or railways. No cities. Curves instead of angles. Numbers not names. A single smooth surface instead of mountains. Some minor fraying along the south-western edge. Nothing is named but water: Tapajoz, Xingu, Humboldt, Pacific. The Amazon heads east, the Parana south. The Equator is a thin line.
The third collection, The Lewis Chessmen, is best described as a narrative poem, in that the story of the ivory chessmen is told through various characters. Ideally, it should be read aloud. This poem is spoken by one of the characters.
I sat on a rock in the rain. The waves Spat spume, birds balanced in thin air. A sick cow sheltered by a shieling. Those low hills and wind-puckered ponds Made me yearn for fjords and peaks.
It was a Godforsaken place. I put my head in my hands. I was drenched and distraught. My body was shaking.
Without the chessmen I was nothing. I asked God to give me guidance But no help came. No one would respect me again. The lady I loved would reject me.
I could not go home. I could not stay in this place. I could not go south.