2015…hell, what a year for my creativity. I was ‘out of action’ for a considerable amount of time, due to circumstances that have been explored on this blog already, and that I’d rather not bring up here in this post.
However, the months that I was in action bore witness to some incredible accomplishments. I’d be a liar if I said I was completely content with what I’ve managed to achieve, and I’m most definitely not where I thought I’d be this time last year. But these ‘incredible accomplishments’ are proof that I can rise again, and I can succeed.
So here are the creative projects and successes that I’m most proud of.
I started a mammoth book project earlier on in the year. I knew that I was taking on something quite substantial when I first began Hyperborean Shadows, but it has honestly been one of the most challenging projects of my writing career to date (and it’s not even finished yet!) This book will explore contemporary dark culture from Scandinavia, and features some of the most talented people I’ve ever had the chance to engage with. In times of doubt, I always think to myself how fucking glorious it will be once finished.
Back in 2012 I wrote a collection entitled The Long Stillness. Written as I was grieving over the loss of two grandparents within the space of a few months, The Long Stillness is a collection which remains very close to my heart. In 2012 I published the collection online, but this year, in memory of my late Grandfathers, I had 100 copies printed. The Long Stillness has now made its way across the world, and resides in homes in Norway, Canada, Wales and America.
2015 saw the publication of my fifth poetry collection Dying Is Forbidden In Longyearbyen by Nordland Publishing. Featuring poetry dedicated to the North, Longyearbyen is a work that I feel intensely proud of. To read the kind comments left by people on Amazon left me almost in tears.
The settings are made so visible in this collection, each poem takes you to the freezing north and leaves you there. Very powerful literary art drawing parallels to our own traits. Unforgettable.
Beautiful and stark, a collection shot through with a cold finality.
I think Longyerbyen features some of the best poems I’ve ever written, and is a showcase of just how far I’ve come since my first collection One of Many Knots was published by Mudfog back in 2010. My pride extends further than the poetry and to the front cover, which features a photograph I shot of a taxidermied reindeer.
I’ve been blogging since 2004 but 2015 has been one of my best years yet in the blogosphere. In March I established Vargamor with a good friend of mine. The role of Vargamor is to provide a supportive and inspiring environment for ‘shadow dwelling women.’ Nearly ten months after our founding post, I’m proud to say we’ve come a long way and have a vast archive of posts. Running Vargamor has also inspired me to take on DIY projects. One I’m especially proud of is this DIY Taake tote bag.
My other blogging pride and joy Wyrd Words & Effigies has been going from strength to strength. One of the most exciting things I’ve started to do this year is in-depth product reviews (such as this one here on the Norwegian Rat shopping bag) something which I’m looking forward to doing on a regular basis in 2016.
I’ve always been behind the design of my websites, and have been working hard over the past several years, to sharpen my ‘design eye’ and create a website that would make people actually stop and pay attention. However, it’s only been this year that I’ve created a site that I can feel proud to share openly and widely. My current site is a true reflection of me as a human being and a creative professional.
I can’t recall how I landed upon Blogosphere Magazine, but I do recall thinking I NEED THIS IN MY LIFE RIGHT NOW. The magazine which, as you’ve probably already guessed, is written by bloggers for bloggers. I promptly purchased all of the issues that were available and, once they had arrived and I’d read them, I contacted the editor to let her know just how much they had helped and inspired me. From there, a friendly and regular exchange was born, and I was asked to write a feature about the impact that blogging had had on my life, and how it had helped me to cope better with living with mental illness.
2015 was the year I landed upon the artwork of Swede Pär Strömberg, and became besotted with his depictions of Scandinavian landscapes, and watercolour interpretations of female black metal followers. Shortly before his exhibition Those of the Unlight in Stockholm, I was asked to write for Beautiful Bizarre. I suggested a piece on Pär’s exhibition, was given the OK and so headed to Stockholm to cover it. The article that followed my trip was featured on the Beautiful Bizarre site. I managed to write two pieces for Beautiful Bizarre before life took a turn and I had to step down from my position.
This year I decided that I would establish a YouTube channel. I gave myself a week to get everything ready and make my first video. (One of the most difficult things was coming up with a slogan! With the help of friends on Facebook ‘Something Wyrd & Out There’ was conjured up.) Making videos was an entirely new experience for me, and when I say it took days to put one video together I’m not exaggerating in the slightest. I’ve since removed about half of the videos I put up – turned out I wasn’t happy with them – and action on my channel has been pretty minimal of late. Primarily because of feeling low, and not up to making videos. However, I do intend to re-vamp my channel and build it back up in 2016. Up above you can find one of the first videos I made, and one I’m actually extremely proud of.
I started to express my love for dark fashion in a much more open way in 2015 and started a fashion blog on Tumblr called Getting Dressed In The Dark. Creating Outfits of the Day really encouraged me to make use of everything hanging in my wardrobe. It also prompted me to take thrifting to the next level… Ever since childhood, the bulk of my wardrobe has been made up of second hand clothes. Charity shops were like second homes when I was growing up, and buying brand new clothing has always been a rarity for me. Getting Dressed In The Dark enabled me to document my thift finds, and share them with people who were genuinely interested in what I’d found and was wearing.
Photography has become an integral part of my life in recent years. Nowadays, rarely 24 hours pass without me photographing something. I work to improve my post-processing skills on a daily basis, and am always looking for new ways to make my photos into pieces that fascinate. It seemed only natural, then, to establish a Redbubble shop. I regularly add products, and currently have dozens of my photos available in countless formats, from your simple ‘ready to hang’ print to tote bags. Having the Redbubble store encourages me to continue to create new and interesting visions.
The End Of October There's a small, soft, white spot on the pumpkin. I push it with my index finger, it yields to my touch. It's too late to carve now. I put a candle in the place where the pumpkin should have sat, fat and grinning. Then snuff it out, and wait in the dark at the window. Mist rises steadily from the ground where wolves once ran and I can hear the dead turning in the mud. On the doorstep, I have lain sacks of apples and nuts for those that wander. Light fades faster now. Birds are taking life more seriously. The pines rattle. Winter is circling. #Halloween #samhain. #katiemetcalfe #poetry
Instagram was another new venture for me this year. I’m constantly looking at ways that I can improve my viewers experience of my page, so it’s an evolving landscape. I’ve made many friends and connections through Instagram, so it’s something I’m extremely grateful for. I wouldn’t be without it now.
One of most recent endeavours is my very first solo poetry show In The Northern Darkness. I was inspired to create the show after watching Einar Selvik perform in Bergen. (You can see some of the show here.) Containing some of my best poems from the past several years, along with a number of new works, In The Northern Darkness will be two and a half hours of dark northern poetry and music. It will provide of a showcase of what I’m capable of as a poet. I intend to take your imaginations deep into the cold dark of the Far North. I established a Facebook page so people can keep up to date with how the show is progressing.
Not too long ago I was approached by CVLT Nation – one of my all-time favourite alternative blogs – to write for them. Naturally I grabbed the opportunity with both hands, and can now proudly say I’m a part of their writing squad. To see my author bio right on the site was one of my proudest moments as a writer.
Her only desire was to be as pale and quiet
as the first frost gathering on the forgotten pines.
I will still love you when the last bird falls from the sky.
When the last bone explodes into a cloud of dust.
When the last tree is incinerated from the inside out.
I will still love you when the earth as we know it is finished.
Finally, I’d like to talk about a project which I’ve recently undertaken. As I mentioned before, photography is an extremely valuable part of my life, and something I engage with every day. However, it’s important to note that it’s not always easy. I can take hundreds of photographs sometimes, and not be happy with one. So, I decided to embark on a new project where I would take a self-portrait every day for 100 days. I wanted to challenge myself to take my self-portraits to new, uncharted territories. But there’s another part to this project… There are some days when I write thousands of words but none of them are for me. So, I decided that for this project I would team my photos with words, and make this project primarily for myself. My Other Shadows is currently on it’s fifth day, and I’m looking forward to seeing where my words and images will take me.
2016 is but a few days away, and my list of what I wish to achieve in the coming year is growing steadily by the minute. I’m looking forward to sharing every step of the way with you.