The following is an excerpt of poetic writing from Harriet Halsey who will be Joining GAMBA Z's Artist Residency for the month of September. . . We can't wait to meet you in person Harriet!
Halsey is a freelance writer from East London, UK with a background studying the languages, history and cultures of Russia and Eastern Europe. This took her into working in galleries and exhibitions, and then onto writing for and reviewing arts work and journals. Whilst to date her work has been mostly journalistic her real passion is for short fiction and poetry. Harriet hopes to bring humour and the power of honest emotional expression to topics close to her. The focus of her writing is often on religion, family life and the awkward road into adulthood. During her time at Gamabazine she hopes to gain inspiration from meeting new people and being in a focus. . .
Island Heritage (An Excerpt)
My grandmother would talk about the clock of her life ticking away, and I could hear its sound. The tick tack beat of the second hand and drawn out slide of the minute hand, like a heart palpitation; fluttering and straining in unison. It made my chest tight to hear, even if it only existed between my ears. Being young my life span was barely a reality. It was a curved horse shoe of fantasies. For grandma life was a set time zone. She wasn’t scared but she felt her time was just that. Time. Not what the young stare blindly in the face. Real spent time.
My great aunts had deep, Irish voices. They sat in my grandma’s living room and they filled the air. Their tones were open and full and I thought of clear running water and centuries old stone. Those voices shook the room. They made the table legs seem hollow and the tapestry chairs thin. They lived in a land of patchwork hills and lilting songs. Even the rocks in Ireland are softened and enriched by the green grass and moss. Trees are more perspicacious and the mud on your boots is heavy and full of clay. They would drink small cups of tea with full fat milk from cream china mugs with embroidered rims. They were compact people. They sat easily side by side on the small sofa with enough room to hold tea in one hand and a biscuit in the other, without clashing elbows.
Like many Irish people their natural philosophy was that suffering somehow purified. This was applied in appropriate measure to each and every layer of life from schooling, to eating to watching television. With age this philosophy only grew in significance.
Their country was a well- nourished lump of earth in the middle of the ocean, with its only real neighbours being it’s only real enemies. English history spans continents outwards and inwards. For centuries we colonised, then with a mixture of pride and apprehension that we believed to be the envy of the rest of the world began to practice immigration. London, especially, despite its tendency towards grey mornings, even in years past was a vivid place full of clashing ideologies and peoples that are constantly torn in several directions at once. Ireland lay still for centuries, allowing the rivers to flow and the grass to become rich underfoot. Immigration came late, if at all and was almost totally Europeanised. The music of Ireland is still the sad, solitary violin.
I feel their ghosts when the house is full of people. In stories, ghosts are singular and empty and they inhabit the dead quiet of abandoned houses. But if anything were to linger in this world from the next it would not be the cruel, hollow vision of spectres with unfinished business. I catch them out of the corner of my eye when people are moving in and out of rooms or playing card games. When you look around the room and think there’s someone missing. There is five of us here, but where is the sixth? But there were only five to begin with.