For centuries, people in the northern hemisphere have been so entranced by aurora borealis, the eerie display of lights that invade the winter skies, that they have woven myths and legends around these lights.
Colour Catchers, an all-star cast poetry performance that will be hosted on December 12, 2006, by Leicestershire poet, Siobhan Logan will be exploring some of these myths and legends.
The performance will revolve around a sequence of 13 poems which range from intimate personal accounts to epic narratives of unearthly journeys.
“Some of them focus on the science of what we know about the Aurora Borealis. But for most, I’ve raided this fantastic story-hoard from countries across the Arctic Circle. ‘Naming the Lights,’ for instance, is based on the various names used for the lights by people from the Native Americans of Alaska, to the Inuits of Greenland, the Scots, Laplanders, Russians, etc,” Siobhan Logan says.
She came up with the idea for the sequence of poems after a collaboration with digital artist and writer, Jackie Stanley.
“Originally, I was invited to work with the digital artist/writer Jackie Stanley on an exhibition to be shown in the Physics Department of Leicester University. They have scientists studying the Aurora Borealis there. She produced a short film based on one of my poems, ‘Auroral Football,’ and it was shown last May at Frog Island Mills.”
Eventually the Physics Department's reception area proved unsuitable for a sound installation, but by then, the poems had grown into a major project for Siobhan Logan.
“Over the last year, I’ve developed a sequence of 15 poems — the material was just so rich and diverse, stretching across many countries and cultures.”
She was also drawn to the subject because she has always been fascinated by the idea of the North and with how the legends that have evolved around the northern lights seem to connect diverse cultures.
“For me, as a child born in Northern Ireland and growing up in Bolton, Northern England, the idea of the North has always had a pull. We all have our own compass, our own poles, but these legends cross our globe and connect it,” she says. “Perhaps at a time when ice-caps are crumbling, we should re-acquaint ourselves with a North that may be fast disappearing.”
She adds that nothing would cheer her more than to wake up to a good hard frost on the morning of the performance.