At least it used to be, and I don’t think times have changed that much, when I think about it. Tomorrow is the 17th of May, our National Day, and we celebrate our day with children parades and festivities. The May 17 celebrations vary from place to place, but usually follow a traditional pattern that makes this the highlight of the year for most Norwegian children. A must in the celebrations are the children’s parades, made up of school classes marching with the school band through the local community. Most of the children carry small Norwegian flags and the route is lined with enthusiastic onlookers. Dressed in their best, the children then engage in games and activities, and for many this is the one day of the year where the supply of ice cream and hot dogs is endless.
When I grew up, my Mom used to be extra multitasking on the night of 16th of May.
My eldest brother was a member of the school marching band, so she had to make his uniform in order, and his shoes had to shine. Shine did also his trombone, which he played, and I think something triggered my Mom into make his instrument the shiniest one in the band. Of course, this was only to show off to the neighbours who were less organized, and sent their kids out with stains and finger-marks.
My sister, was the not-so proud owner of a Norwegian folks costume already at an early age, this because my Mom had been using months one winter to follow a course in sawing this beautiful costume. It was impressive, and I must mention that these costumes are highly popular these days, but back in our childhood, there weren’t that many children with folkloric costumes. And I know my sister dreamt about having a nice summer dress, like some of her more popular friends. All though were less urban than she wanted it to be, it caused a lot of work for my Mom, to prepare it. Especially the white shirt, and all the silver had to be taken care of, – it took her hours to make it all shine and sparkle. Then there was the arguing about what shoes to were, my sister seemed to have grown out of her shoes every year, and this was only discovered on this last night. One year my Mom drove an hour to exchange shoes with my cousins, and another year my sister walked the parade in my Moms shoes, two numbers to big…
Well, by the time my eldest brothers uniform and my sisters folk costume were prepared, we normally had to go to bed. My mom continued to prepare for the celebrations after we said goodnight. I remember to always falling into sleep accompanied by the noise of her sewing machine. It was time to finish my youngest brother new jacket and shorts. I remember his disapproval of his outfit the next morning, when he discovered he once again had a good chance of being an English prep-school boy. His mood improved quickly when he met his friends in similar clothes and when my Mom started talking about making a boys folkloric costume for next year.
And then there was me. I usually woke up one time during the night by my Mom taking my measures for my new dress, and quietly shushing me back to sleep. My dresses for the 17th of May were usually in the colours of red, white and blue, and very often I matched my Mom.
The last thing my Mom did, was preparing my Dads suite, and ironing the six small flags for the parade. These six flags were marked with our names, and they lasted year after year. I thought of this today, when I saw a woman buying new flags, telling her husband that she had now idea were last year’s flags were, unless he knew?
When I think about all the preparations my Mom had for this day, I understand why she never were as enthusiastic about the day as the rest of us. I hope that today’s parents have more joy in the celebrations, and I hope they get a bit more sleep than my Mom used to.
HAPPY 17.th of May to everyone.
And eat lots of icecream. If you need an excuse to eat icecream, tomorrow is your day, just tell everyone that you are celebrating with the Norwegians!
One of my readers wrote me an e-mail asking for advices on writing poetry. I immediately felt intimidated by his question, then a bit proud. Someone asking me for writing tips? That’s a new challenge, and a big one
I spent some time before answering his e-mail, and then today I got an overwhelming thank you mail, so it seems I wrote something that helped his work…
I am much more comfortable in giving advises towards other parts of the process, like choosing a publisher house, release days and parties , working towards the press, interviewing … yes pretty much what I’ve been working on since my book came out in the end of October, last year.
By writing my advices down, I realized that the work of being my books first spoke-person have been time consuming. Even though I say and think that I’m in the middle of my writing process, my focus has changed since my accepting letter came from my Publisher House in June.
So when I wrote down my tips, I actually just wrote down my own “what to do –list” or at least what should be my list, as a writer.
Here I go:
- Say what you want to say. Let your readers decide what your poem means.
- Develop your voice. Get comfortable with how you write.
- Untitled poems are like unnamed children.
- The bigger your theme, the more important the details are. A poem with Love, Destiny, Hate or other huge themes in the title already has two strikes against it.
- Feel free to write a bad poem.
- Don’t explain everything.
- There are many excuses not to write. Try using writing as an excuse not to do other things.
- The more you write, the more you develop. Write poetry often.
- Don’t be afraid to write from a different point of view. Write a poem that says exactly the opposite of what you believe. If you can, do it without irony.
- When you write a good poem, one you really like, immediately write another. Maybe that one poem was your peak for the night, but maybe you’re on a roll. There’s only one way to find out.
- Write in different places. Keep a notebook. Write in a park or on a street-corner or in an alley. You don’t have to write about the place, but it will influence you whether you do or not.
- AND FINALLY: Listen to criticism and try to learn from it, but don’t live or die by it.
I woke up to a message from a friend that he liked my poem in the newspaper. That’s so nice, both to find my poem in the newspaper, and the response from friends.
The poem is from my book, 3898 words about life, and the title is “to say Goodbye”
One I definitely want “to say Goodbye” to now, is the snow in my backyard and the winter all in all. Mikael Åström from Denmark published this photo on his facebookpage and even though it is a bit more brutal than I usually like, I definetely agree with his late actions.
I’ve written about our natural fascination of animals on my blog before, and today I want to share some magic. Yesterday there were two lucky boys bonding with the Tigers in our local zoo. (Kristiansand, Norway)
All photos were taken by Marthe Glomset Omholt, by a smartphone
I think my cat read my blog… or someone told him about Mr.O’Mally who liked my poems last week.
He seems to be reading “3898 words about life”, and making up his own mind
Yes, Balthazar, both you and your brother are mentioned in there, twice. And one of the poems were in the local newspaper some weeks ago.
Oh Happy Day! No, I won’t sing at you, but it is a great day, and a great week, for me and my book, “3898 ord om livet” (3898 words about life) When I read our local newspaper today, I found one of my poems from my book, leaving me with a huge smile. It’s a great feeling to read my own words in a newspaper, I must admit it.
As I mentioned in my last post, I’ve received quite some photos from readers of my book this week. Mr.O’Mally, the cat, started a trend, that continued Monday, with a photo from Kristiansand, the largest city nearby.
And yesterday, a friend posted this photo on Facebook. It features my book on the recommendations shelf of the library in Kristiansand.
here is a link to my Norwegian blog were I’ve shared the poem used in our local newspaper today. www.skrivegleden.wordpress.com