We met after the wedding, as he photographed a particular gate there at the church. He told me the story of the place where he and his wife were married, and how the gate reminded him of it.
I mentioned that he reminded me of someone.
He suggested James Joyce.
I said, 'Maybe', as I rummaged round in my memory for images of Joyce.
It turns out, everyone else said he was Elton John ... 20 years ago. I didn't really look at Elton then but perhaps. There is a story about a carriage full of people on the Tube, or a train, thinking precisely that about him.
You can decide.
But perhaps he is simply one of those people who allow you to feel like you've known him a long time, and you respond to that.
On the day after the wedding, I wandered over to his website, and found this poem. I love it.
An extract, from Out of Shape Sonnet:
This is one of those tuneless songs of hope
A father scatters out into the universe
Because he wants the best for his child;
Success of the non-material kind,
And, above all, happiness,
Happiness of the forever kind.
I read enough, between processing the wedding photographs, to know I'll find my own copy now that I'm back in the UK. I reached that point where the father and son have just begun their journey ...
His book, Dead Men, was nominated for the Guardian First Book Award. It's another to hunt down, sooner or later.
Washington Independent Review of Books, 18 June 2012
Who said literary works tend to be boring? This debut novel by Richard Pierce proves a poetically written narrative can also be riveting and engrossing.
This is not a lengthy novel and the author uses every word, sentence and verbal image to craft and layer his themes. This is a love story, a historical novel, a polar expedition and a ghostly tale. From an initial improbability, page after page draws the reader in. As the author’s first effort at full-length fiction, it is a notable success. I highly recommend this novel.
You can read more on his website.
I met this man, and his wife, at the wedding and they are, so very kindly, allowing me to use the photographs I took of them.
Richard Pierce was born in Doncaster in 1960.
He was educated in Germany, and at the University of Cambridge.
He now lives in Suffolk with Marianne and their four children.
Richard is a novelist, poet and painter, and administers two charities
I'm realising how extraordinarily privileged I am, in terms of people I know. I have so many unplanned adventures gifted to me, like Norway. And friends who simply step up next to me when they see I need help ... because I'm not good at asking.
When I head off on these adventures, I'm only packing my camera, my laptop and myself, nothing more usually. And best of all, I get meet more marvelous people who often become new friends.
And so it goes.
These days in Norway have been spent on the edge of Ren and Egil's world, sharing the house with their lovely friends ... Becky and Japhet, Joshua & Jonah.
And at their wedding I met some of the 'legends' I had heard stories about, people I was so glad to finally meet ... like Lydia Lápidus Radlow, who is as marvelous, or perhaps more marvelous, than I could have imagined.
I met and photographed Richard Pierce, the writer and poet, and count myself extraordinarily fortunate to have been introduced to his writing. I have been dipping in and out of one his books, Bee Bones - 'sharing' it with Becky (whenever she puts it down) but will buy my own copy when I'm back home.
I met Richard while he was photographing an iron gate at the church and then photographed both he and his beautiful wife, more than a few times.
So many people met on this visit. I had the luck to sit next to Kjetil and Sølve, with Odd, Marianne, and Kristin, making the dinner so very enjoyable.
And then there is Sissel, captured in the photograph at the top of this post. Isn't she truly divine. And her husband, that guy from Scotland, I adored him too, and his stories.
This morning, Marcelle messaged me, offering to pick me up from the airport when I return to England and I almost cried with gratitude. I had mapped out my route, and was fine with it but to be picked up and taken home ...that's truly unexpected. And so very very kind.
And so it goes ...
There is nothing like a train journey for reflection.
― Tahir Shah, In Arabian Nights: A Caravan of Moroccan Dreams.
I have 3 red bookshelves next to me here at my desk. On those beautiful shelves you will find my favourite books, except for those that are missing in action ... loaned out to friends that I really trust and admire.
I hope to see those loaned books again one day but if not, okay. They were good books, they will only enrich the lives of those who hold on to them. Accidentally. Inadvertently. Although if the friend who has my Maurice Shadbolt book, A Touch of Clay, could return it I would be so grateful.
So I reorganised my books over two days. It's important. I don't have much but what I have, I like to have right.
The top shelf now contains some favourite novels (like Night Train to Lisbon and When Nietzsche Wept), some very small collections (like anything I can find by or about Katherine Mansfield), and biographies ... although biographies spreads over shelves because there are some in the travelers section ... the mountaineers, the war photographers and journalists ...
On the end of that top shelf there are a stack of travel books ... rarely used while traveling but referred to often when home.
The second shelf contains books written by wanderers and wise people (like Tiziano Terzani's A Fortune-Teller Told Me and Honey and Dust by Piers Moore Ede). Then we move into a small collection about writing and creativity (like The Three Marriages by David Whyte). And they stand next to my collection of books from the Middle East, (with favourites like Mornings in Jenin by Susan Abulhawa and To The End of The Land by David Grossman. And one of my most favourite books in the world, I Saw Ramallah by Mourid Barghouti, a poet who writes the most exquisite prose too).
The bottom shelf is closest to me. It begins with my Italian language books, dictionaries, and the books I have on Genova. Mountaineers appear next. Andrew Grieg's Summit Fever is a favourite but I've slipped Simon Jakeman's Groundrush in there too (about Basejumping, an exploration written back at the start of that interesting sport.)
The bottom shelf also holds the stories of war photographers and journalists - factual and fiction. Favourites ... Small Wars Permitting by Christina Lamb and Denise Leith's What Remains. I have John Simpson's series of books, and both of Frank Gardener's. I just purchased A Thousand Times Goodnight on DVD, that's there next to the dvd Which Way is The Front Line from Here.
That shelf, the one that sits closest to me, ends with a collection of poetry books. I have Pablo Neruda by Adam Feinstein and My Happiness Bears No Relation to Happiness ... the biography of Taha Muhammad Ali, by Adina Hoffman. I have a collection of poetry by Eugenio Montale, sitting next to books full of poetry by Kay McKenzie Cooke and Ren Powell too.
And so you have it, unasked for ... a glimpse of those books best-loved by me.
Music I've been enjoying lately?
Well, whenever I wander over this website, I can't resist staying a while, as their auto-play kicks in ...
And the burn-out has continued here in my world but I'm running up the stairs again, finally. I'm not taking that forgranted ever again. Now to commit to taking the vitamin D I guess. Apparently 80% of Belgians end up deficient in vitamin D ... this New Zealander too.
As for the burn-out, I'm not sure that it's still that. Now it seems more like I'm looking around and thinking 'what next?' But instead of attempting to follow multiple paths, I'm thinking of just one or two. We'll see how that plays out. I have remained slow ... very very. And I'm letting it be like that. I have had a few times of intensity, quickly followed by that descent back into slow.
I know it's a luxury. More time without income but still, the Belgian bloke seems happy enough with the housewife who has stepped up as me.
Lucy, Ruth and Fiona, lovely friends from near-by, birthday-gifted me 50euro in book vouchers for my favourite secondhand bookshop here in the city. I stretched it out over 3 visits and I'm rapt with my books. I finished it on Tuesday, with two books about artist and wise woman - Georgia O'Keeffe, with a third by New Zealand writer, Barbara Anderson. Oddly enough, I didn't see the similarities in the titles until later but Anderson's book was a slice of home that I couldn't resist.
I had my hair cut too. 'Cut' might be too big a description. I have finally found a hairdresser who listens to me ... a hairdresser that doesn't immediately start cutting while attempting to make me stylish. She also found a way of unifying the damage I had done with my boxes of hair colour bought at the supermarket. I can only adore her for this.
The Belgian boke's frozen shoulders are almost completely recovered. His flu is gone, and the relapse he had seems to have left the building too ... as of last night. Fingers crossed.
We're slowly making our way towards Christmas. We have a tree, some presents, and plans are being made with regard to the food. Since returning from that Christmas we spent at home, back in 2012, I have flashbacks to how good it was there ... in summer. And the food. And the way that my sister made sure I was spoiled. It was like a journey back to my childhood ... almost.
The haircut and colour ... it's below. I think I take the worst photographs of myself. I'd like to claim that the light in the bathroom is bad, that I use a telefoto lens and end up jammed against the wall but really, there are no excuses. It's more about the fact I quite like the difficult light and employ a little ineptitude when it comes to self-portraits. I like the blur and shake of it all, the strange lighting and I remain defiant in my use of the tele-foto. Not something I would teach but I might say, know the rules and then break them. Don't be afraid to play a little.