Archives for category: LANDMARKS

hall of faces, holocaust museum
Walls
by Shelly Blankman

Dedicated to the family of my grandmother, Regina Wallenstein, and the millions slaughtered by the Nazis while the world turned a blind eye.

I’ve walked these halls before,
seen the dimmed faces of those
born to die because they were Juden,
Jews.
Time-tattered images of people
frozen in time, matted on walls
like cheap paper.
Flammable.
Disposable
Eyes of the innocent open.
Eyes of the world shut.
Now I’m left wondering,
in a world once again
infested by
parasites of hate,
if this could ever happen
again.
We cannot forget
those who now live
only on walls.

Previously published in The Ekphrastic Review.

PHOTO: The Tower of Faces — photographs of Holocaust victims — at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. (Photo by D.S. Dugan, used by permission.)

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EDITOR’S NOTE: The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM) is the United States’ official memorial to the Holocaust. On Nov. 1, 1978, U.S. President Jimmy Carter established the President’s Commission on the Holocaust, chaired by Elie Wiesel, a prominent author, activist, and Holocaust survivor. Its mandate was to investigate the creation and maintenance of a memorial to victims of the Holocaust and an appropriate annual commemoration to them. On September 27, 1979, the Commission recommended the establishment of a national Holocaust memorial museum in Washington, DC.  Nearly $190 million was raised from private sources for building design, artifact acquisition, and exhibition creation. In October 1988, President Ronald Reagan helped lay the cornerstone of the building, designed by architect James Ingo Freed. Dedication ceremonies on April 22, 1993 included speeches by U.S. President Bill Clinton, Israeli President Chaim Herzog, and Elie Wiesel. On April 26, 1993, the Museum opened to the general public. Its first visitor was the 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet.

PHOTO: The U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, Washington DC, with the Washington Monument visible on the right. Photo by Timothy Hursley for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum.

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: When my family visited the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington DC a few years ago, I felt like I was walking in the shadow of my grandmother, whose  parents and siblings had been murdered by the Nazis. They were trapped in a world of hatred, where Jews suffered, were punished, and died for being Jewish. This haunts me even more now, as we see an escalation in this country of anti-Semitism, racism, and every other form of hatred that results in despair and death. I left the museum after about three hours. It has never left me.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Shelly Blankman and her husband are empty nesters who live in Columbia, Maryland, with their three cat rescues and one dog. They have two sons— Richard, 36, of New York, and Joshua, 34, of San Antonio, Texas. Shelly’s first love has always been poetry, although her career has generally followed the path of public relations/ journalism. Her poetry has been published by First Literary Review, Verse-Virtual,  and The Ekphrastic Review among other publications. Recently, Richard and Joshua surprised her by publishing a book of her poetry, Pumpkinheadnow available on Amazon.

St. Anthony's Seminary
Return with Us Now to Those
Thrilling Days of Yesteryear
by Paul Fericano

Barely in my teens far from my home
I study for the priesthood at a Catholic seminary
and begin to itch and scratch in places
I know little about.

A doctor in town prescribes an ointment
tells me to apply it twice a day
sends it to the infirmary for me to pick up
jokes about boys being boys.

That evening during study hall
a priest who expels boys for talking back
summons me to his bedroom
tells me my medical problem is now his.

For months everything he says and does to me
grows more and more weary and mysterious
each visit preceded and followed
by prayers invoking our lord and savior.

One night my body springs from his mouth
slips through his hands leaps from his bed
and races round and round the room
as music from a phonograph down the hall
plays the overture from William Tell

O, how I laugh inside at the sight
of all those sidekick angels hovering above
chasing after me whooping and hollering
kicking their spotted palominos.

Out in front on a white stallion is Jesus in a mask.
Like a cloud of dust and song
he gallops in the lead to head me off at the pass.

PHOTO: St. Anthony’s Seminary, Santa Barbara, California (photo by Dave Mills). In 2010, the original main building was listed in the National Register of Historic Places. In 2012, the Santa Barbara Historic Landmarks Commission recommended to the city council that St. Anthony’s Seminary be designated a City Landmark.

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PHOTO:  Author at 14 in 1965, while a student at St. Anthony’s Seminary. (Photo by Ralph Martini)

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The poem “Return with Us Now to Those Thrilling Days of Yesteryear” initially appeared in my collection, The Hollywood Catechism published by Silver Birch Press in 2015. At the time, it was my first attempt to publicly express with poetry the complexity of my experience as a survivor of clergy sexual abuse. In the process, I incorporated an element of humor, however dark, to help forward the narrative of my life at a Catholic seminary in 1965, and to facilitate some necessary healing.

AUTHOR’S NOTES ABOUT THE PHOTOS: The original main building of St. Anthony’s Seminary in Santa Barbara, California, was completed in 1899. The following year, 1900, and until it closed in 1987, the facility functioned as a Catholic minor seminary and boarding school preparing boys as young as 12 for the priesthood. The school was run by the Franciscan Province of St. Barbara, which was part of the religious Order of Friars Minor (O.F.M.) founded by St. Francis of Assisi in 1209.  ¶  In 1993, an independent board of inquiry revealed a dark and horrific history of sexual abuse at the seminary. The investigation found that between 1964 and 1987, 34 boys at St. Anthony’s Seminary were sexually molested by 11 friars. I was one of those 34. At the time, it was the largest case of religious institutional abuse in the nation. In the years that followed, future inquiries uncovered a pattern of sexual abuse at St. Anthony’s that reached as far back as the 1930s and included allegations of abuse at a number of other Franciscan schools, parishes, and missions in seven Western states. While many clergy abuse survivors have chosen to remain silent or anonymous, it has been estimated that the total number of Franciscan victims from the Province of St. Barbara is likely in the hundreds.  ¶ The window in the photograph circled in red indicates the bedroom in the seminary’s original main building belonging to the school’s prefect of discipline and most notorious perpetrator, Friar Mario Cimmarrusti. This is the room where I and dozens of other boys were assaulted by Mario, who served at the seminary from 1964 to 1971.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Paul Fericano is a poet, satirist, social activist, and co-founder of YU News Service, the nation’s first parody news syndicate established in 1980 (yunews.com). His poetry and satires have appeared in publications and media outlets in the United States and abroad since 1971, including The New York Quarterly, The Cafe Review, The Realist, Mother Jones, The Best American Poetry, Saturday Night Live, Krokodil (Moscow), Punch (London), and Satyrcón (Argentina). He is the author of several books of poetry including, The Hollywood Catechism (Silver Birch Press, 2015), and, more recently, Things That Go Trump in the Night: Poems of Treason and Resistance (Poems-For-All-Press, 2019) which has been nominated for a Bulitzer Prize (2020). An advocate for survivors of clergy sexual abuse, he serves as director of SafeNet and blogs on the healing process at A Room With A Pew (roomwithapew.com).

AUTHOR PHOTO: Author in 2019 at a pre-Covid-19 poetry reading, Bird & Beckett Books, San Francisco. (Photo by Kate Kelly)

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Grand Canyon
by Veronica Hosking

No brick wall impedes
long trip down into canyon
I keep my distance

PHOTO: The Grand Canyon (Arizona) by Sonaal Bangera on Unsplash.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: The Grand Canyon is practically in my backyard. Every time we visit, I keep my distance from the edge. It is a spectacular view, but not recommended for anyone like myself with acrophobia.

PHOTO: The author at the Grand Canyon (2019).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Veronica Hosking is a wife, mother, and poet. She lives in the desert southwest with her husband and two daughters. Her family and day job, cleaning the house, serve as inspiration for most of her poetry. She was the poetry editor for MaMaZina magazine from 2006-2011. “Spikier Spongier” appeared in Stone Crowns magazine (November 2013). “Desperate Poet” was posted on the Narrator International website and reprinted in Poetry Nook (February 2014).  Silver Birch Press has published several of her poems upon first accepting “Rain Drops” in  the Half New Year poetry collection (July 2014). She keeps a poetry blog at vhosking.wordpress.com.

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Fairy Chimneys
Cappadocia, Turkey
by John Lowe

By rights they should not be,
basalt buds on stems of stone.

Why are acrobatic boulders “fairy”?
— Theirs is the domain of wonder,
with mustard seed and whales.

Holes of solidity bored up into air
make javelins to puncture normality
and tip us from our everyday divan.

PHOTO: Triple fairy chimney (Cappadocia, Turkey) by Niels Elgaard Larsen (2009), used by permission.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Cappadocia is a historical region in Turkey that includes a variety of natural wonders, including fairy chimneys, also known as hoodoos. A hoodoo is a tall, thin spire of rock that protrudes from the bottom of an arid drainage basin or badland. Hoodoos typically consist of relatively soft rock topped by harder, less easily eroded stone that protects each column from the elements. They generally form within sedimentary rock and volcanic rock formations and are mainly found in the desert in dry, hot areas. Hoodoos range in size from the height of an average human to higher than a 10-story building.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: John Lowe has published poetry in various Australian magazines and anthologies, and jointly with his wife Virginia Lowe in the poetry collection Lines Between.  He will release a book later in the year (Houndstooth, Ginninderra Press), Covid allowing.

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by Erina Booker

so we made your last-wish trip
right into the Red Centre
the country of belonging
where spirit sings in your bones
and light splits into pure spectrum colours
from red dirt to violet rocks

I’m still living this
though you are not,
photos tumble from phones
as startling as spiders
from a drainpipe —
a deluge of memory
that bends me in two

and now a print is framed
gold dingoes
red dirt
Kata Tjuta
with its a cappella chorus
violet on the horizon,
another relic

I hold it firmly against me
and all I can think is
“I got you, babe.”

©Erina Booker

Previously published in the author’s collection A Cobbled Path (2017). 

PHOTO: Entrance to Uluru (Ayers Rock) climbing point (Australia).  Photo by Alexander Cimbal, used by permission.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Uluru, also known as Ayers Rock, is a large sandstone rock formation in the southern part of the Northern Territory in central Australia. Uluru is sacred to the Pitjantjatjara, the Aboriginal people of the area, known as Anangu. The area around the formation is home to an abundance of springs, waterholes, rock caves and ancient paintings. Uluru is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Uluru and Kata Tjuta, also known as the Olgas, are the two major features of the Uluṟu-Kata Tjuṯa National Park.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: From early schooling, Australian children learn geography of Australia, included in which is the central region, containing the iconic rock monolith Uluru, and the “singing rocks” of Kata Tjuta.  These are set within vast stretches of red desert, and close to many other significant rock formations, gorges, and billabongs (water holes). Aboriginal myths and legends concerning the creation of the land during the Dreaming, or Dream Time, abound. Many mythical creatures were responsible for the creation, and one that is well-known, in different localities, is the Rainbow Serpent. A home of the Rainbow Serpent is contained within the structures of Uluru. It is both a mystical and alluring landmark. My late-husband had wanted to climb Uluru, 1.6 kms of near-vertical ascent, since he was seven years old, and despite being fatally ill, we set off to do this. Success was heavily against the odds, but against those enormous odds, he succeeded. It was truly a remarkable feat, and an essential event with which to mark his life’s span.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: A photo of my late-husband Garry in the Uluru-Kata Tjuta National Park, Australia (2015).

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Erina Booker is a poet, musician, and counselor in Sydney, Australia. She has eight published collections of poetry, contributes to journals and anthologies, is a member of the Fellowship of Australian Writers, and the North Shore Poetry Project. She collaborates with a digital artist living in Ithaca, New York, writing ekphrastic poetry to accompany his artworks. They have also produced a book together, Coalescence, Erina Booker and David Kessler (Blurb Books, 2014). Erina gives seminars on the craft and forms of poetry in Australia, and internationally to school children, via Flip-Grid. She contributes ekphrastic poetry to art and craft galleries, and judges competitions. Her books are largely available through Lulu Press, though the latest A Cobbled Path is available from inhousepublishing.com.au. She has a page titled Uneven Wings on Facebook.

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Camels at Font’s Point
by Cynthia Anderson

At dawn, the badlands hide
nothing, their ridges and washes
repeating, impenetrable—

tale upon tale of entrapment,
a labyrinth of extinction.
The present wavers, enfolds

a mirage of water and grass,
drama of ghosts. Gold light
shines on golden flanks.

They were here.
For millions of years,
they ate and drank their fill,

roamed in herds and alone,
laid down trackways
and bones.

Time holds them tightly—
time and rock, sun and dust—
and the gusts scour their footprints.

PHOTO: Camel metal sculpture by Ricardo Breceda, Borrego Springs, California. Photo by Eric Laudonien, used by permission.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: It was April 2000. My husband, Bill Dahl, and I were on a desert getaway to Borrego Springs—one of our favorite spots, a place we have visited countless times over the years. On this trip, we got up before dawn and bounced down a washboard dirt road to Font’s Point, barely making it to the overlook in our Honda Accord. Our goal: to catch the sunrise over the badlands. ¶ The vista spread out before us, a spellbinding maze. No sound, no movement—only stillness, stretching far back into deep time. Bill got the photo he came for, and I got something totally unexpected from a battered sign: an introduction to the ancient creatures that once lived here among streams and meadows—horses, camels, mammoths, sloths, bears. ¶ Out of this prehistoric bestiary, the camels captured my imagination. I had no idea that camels originated in North America, and that many species of camels, small to large, used to roam throughout Southern California. I started following their trail, visiting camel fossils in museums and learning about their history. Many years later, I completed a long poem about the camels which appears in my book Desert Dweller. This is the first section of that poem, commemorating where my journey began. ¶ For anyone interested in the ancient camels, two of the best places to see fossils and learn more are the La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles and the Alf Museum of Paleontology in Claremont. Also, for Borrego lovers, the book Fossil Treasures of the Anza-Borrego Desert (Sunbelt Publications, 2006) is an excellent resource.

PHOTO: View of Anza-Borrego Desert (California) from Font’s Point by Bill Dahl, used by permission.

EDITOR’S NOTE: Anza-Borrego Desert State Park is a California State Park located within the Colorado Desert of Southern California. The park takes its name from 18th century Spanish explorer Juan Bautista de Anza and borrego, a Spanish word for sheep. With 600,000 acres, representing one-fifth of San Diego County, it is the largest state park in California.

Cynthia Anderson in 2000 at font's point

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cynthia Anderson lives in the Mojave Desert near Joshua Tree National Park. A Pushcart Prize and Best of the Net nominee, she has published nine poetry collections, most recently Now Voyager with illustrations by Susan Abbott. She is co-editor of the anthology A Bird Black As the Sun: California Poets on Crows & Ravens and guest editor of Cholla Needles 46. Visit her at cynthiaandersonpoet.com.

PHOTO: The author standing at Font’s Point with the Anza-Borrego Desert behind her.

12682024 - view of westport house seen from the lake, county mayo, ireland.
Dear Guest of Westport House & Gardens
by Roberta Beary

House tours are canceled and the cafe closed
Pandemics wax and tourists wane
Times change

Once Lords and Ladies ruled these walks supreme
They traced their blood to Grace
The Pirate Queen

A hotel dynasty now holds the deed
Times change
Pandemics wax and tourists wane

Mind where barbed wire meets old chapel ground
Sheep graze near graves of nobles
Titled Browne

Times change
Pandemics wax and tourists wane
Please take your litter with you when you leave

PHOTO: Westport House, County Mayo, Ireland, by Gabriela Insuratelu, used by permission.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: Westport House, a stately home in County Mayo, Ireland, was built by the Browne family, Irish peerage and descendants of Grace O’Malley, the Pirate Queen who ruled the west of Ireland in the 16th century. During the Covid-19 lockdown, when car travel was restricted, the owners of Westport House kindly opened its grounds to locals. This poem grew out of my walks among its lovely gardens.

PHOTO: The author during a visit to Westport House grounds and gardens (2020). Photo by Frank Stella. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Roberta Beary’s second collection of short poems, Carousel, is co-winner of the Snapshot Press 2019 book award contest. Her first short-form collection, The Unworn Necklace, received a finalist book award from the Poetry Society of America. Her collection of prose poetry, Deflection, was named a National Poetry Month Best Pick by Washington Independent Review of Books. A long-term editor at Modern Haiku, she lives in the west of Ireland with her husband, Frank Stella, and tweets her photoku and micro-poetry on Twitter @shortpoemz. Read more at her website or on Facebook.

Author portrait by Henry Denander

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Postcards Home
by Neil David Mitchell

Bones of the brother
brought to Christ;
martyrdom stories
come to life.
*
Fifty-two types
of icy feast;
twice Tom Morris
rests in peace.
*
Ping of the oldest
swings in town;
castles of sand
built up, washed down.
*
Sprint like Liddell
or take a seat;
Swilken Burn bridge
is crossed by feet.
*
From east, west shorelines
surfboards speed;
sniper gulls glint
their beady-eyed greed…

PHOTO: St. Andrews Old Course, fairway and stone bridge on hole 18 (Fife, Scotland) by Seevanzz, used by permission.

EDITOR’S NOTE: The Old Course at St Andrews is considered the oldest golf course in the world and commonly known as “The Home of Golf.” First played on the Links at St Andrews in the early 15th century, golf became increasingly popular in Scotland until 1457, when James II of Scotland banned the game because he felt that young men were playing too much golf instead of practicing archery. The restrictions remained in force until 1502, when James IV became a golfer and removed the ban.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem is taken from a series of poems called St. Andrews Days which appears in my recent collection Seasonal Lines. I tried to create little snapshots of everyday life mixed with some of the history of the town, during a trip to the “Home of Golf” on the east coast of Scotland.

PHOTO: The author at Swilken Burn Bridge, 18th hole, St Andrews Old Course (2008).

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Neil David Mitchell, from Glasgow, Scotland, writes poetry, prose and music, as well as balancing the challenging and wonderful roles of being a High School English Teacher, a husband and a father. He recently published his first collection of poems Seasonal Lines. His further adventures can be followed on Twitter @ndsnigh or at his Amazon author page.

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Killin
For Anne, David, Kim and James Gray
by Graham Wood

Here the centuries run like seconds, skies of cloud
and countless suns scud in time-lapse overhead.
Long swathes of time etch their histories
on the hillsides, the stones of the river bed…
This valley gouged by ice felt one day
the thaw begin, grew gradually green, inhabited —
and echoes now this summer
with the bleating of black-faced sheep.
When did the last ice melt away and the glacier
leave its footprint here, this small deep loch
holding in silence its complement of brown trout
and the elusive char? Such questions disappear
in the wind at night through Henry’s wood,
or dissolve in the brown water rounding old stones,
the river’s slow revenge on glacial imprisonment.
Here the summer dark is brief and light,
laughter and stories dance together in the Lodge …
but in Winter, if the mood is right,
the ice will reassert itself and whip
the length of glen to gale, from the blind
face of Strone to Garrogie’s spruce towers.
Each winter brings this inkling back of what
once was, a cold hackling in the early dark
of how things were for time beyond remembering.

© Graham Wood

First published in The Scottish Banner, Vol 43 Number 6 (December 2019), an international Scottish newspaper.

PHOTO: Loch Killin in the Scottish Highlands, with Monadhliath Mountains in the background. Photo by Tosca Weijers, used by permission.

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NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: This poem was written for good friends after a holiday stay with them near Loch Killin, a small loch in the Monadhliath Mountains of Scotland. It is near the southern end of Loch Ness and not to be confused with another place also named Killin, a village near Loch Tay. The poem celebrates the glacial origins of the glen in which the loch is located, and the fact that on some days in Winter it is impossible to escape the memory of the ice. The poem began in the Summer of the holiday but was completed on return home to Australia. In any season, the glen and the loch display the stark beauty characteristic of the Scottish Highlands.

PHOTO: The poet high up looking down on the glen and river of Killin in the Scottish Highlands.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Graham Wood resides in the northern suburbs of Sydney, New South Wales, Australia, but prefers to live in poetry whenever he can. His poems have been published in a range of Australian and international journals and anthologies. He is currently working on a collection of his poems and looks forward to the day when poets achieve the recognition Shelley gave them as the true “legislators of the world.” One of his poems (“Picking Up the Sun”) is included in the recent Vita Brevis anthology Pain and Renewal (USA, 2019).

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The Walk to St Ninian’s Isle
by Stephen Howarth

Contrary currents and conflicting waves
have marked this place out: Saint Ninian’s sands,
dividing the water from island to island:

a beach that reaches across the sea,
a boyhood playground with multitudes of
memories, to be told another time —

Today, let me walk you to the thistle-bound isle
to show you the remnants of the ancient
chapel in which a Pictish silver hoard was found:

the feasting bowls, the dragon-headed brooches
used to fix the folds of a cloak, the sword-hilts,
the chapes and thimble-shaped mounts,

all buried here for St Ninian’s protection,
twelve hundred years ago in defence against
the horror of the Viking raids – which helped create

Hjaltland, Shetland. An easy walk through
a thousand years of this almost holy island,
this almost heart of Shetland, absorbing

the light, the wind, the bleating of the sheep,
the washing of the sea, and the whispering waves.
In the ebb lie flattened pebbles, stones

shaped for skimming in moments when
the sea is smooth. The waves say
Hush, this calm afternoon, take rest in

our music, we will play as you play. In this country,
this is unique, a sea-crossing sand, and we,
we are the eternal beach-makers.

AUTHOR’S PHOTO CAPTION: This photo shows St Ninian’s sands, looking from St Ninian’s Isle to Mainland and the village of Bigton. Mainland is the name of the main island of the Shetland archipelago. Bigton was pretty much my Shetland family’s home there when I was a boy, with another vital set on the island of Bressay. I still have one aunt living there in Bigton, a Scrabble fanatic, whom I hope to see and play against in September. She is 88 and will probably win. Photo by Stephen Howarth (August 2019). 

NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR: I am English by birth but only 3/8 English by blood: for the rest, I’m 1/8 Scottish and half Shetland. Shetland (the most northerly part of Britain) is officially Scottish, but geographically and emotionally the archipelago is as close to Norway as it is to mainland Britain. I am positively internationalist. I call myself British, identifying as European, and have active treasured friends in many countries – not least the USA, literally from coast to coast. In pre-lockdown years I loved to travel widely and hope to do so again. Meanwhile, I invite you to a tiny taste of Shetland.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Stephen Howarth has been an independent professional author of history all his working life. He served in the Royal Naval Reserves both on the lower deck and as an officer and wrote the official centenary history of the RNR – for which he was appointed an honorary Commander by HM the Queen. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society and of the Royal Geographical Society, and a Life Member of the US Naval Institute and The 1805 Club. He earned a Master’s degree (with Distinction) in creative writing at Nottingham Trent University.