Somewhere Else Writers (SEW) September 23: Gásadalur by Iris Anne Lewis

Iris Anne Lewis

This month’s poem was written by Iris Anne Lewis; a founder member of the Somewhere Else Writers group.

Published in print and online, and nominated for the Pushcart Prize, she’s featured in the Silver Branch Series of Black Bough Poetry, won 1st prize in the Gloucestershire Poetry Society competition 2020 and was highly commended in the Wales Poetry Award 2022. She won 1st prize in the last ever Graffiti competition and is a runner up in this year’s GWN competion. She’ll be reading at the Cheltenham Literary Festival this year for the seventh time. In 2018 she founded Wordbrew, a Cirencester-based group of poets. Her poem: Gásadalur, was published in Wildfire Words https://wildfire-words.com/open-subs-summer-2022/#Iris-Anne-Lewis.

You can read it on cirenscene.com and find out more about her work and that of other group members on somewhere-else-writers.org, and the group itself will be making an appearance at The Huddle at the Cheltenham Literary Festival on Sunday, 15th October at 4.30pm

In 2022 Iris visited the Faroe Islands for a week’s holiday. On her first day she, with her husband, visited the small village of Gasadalur and this poem describes that visit.

Until recently, the village of Gásadalur was the only village on the Faroe Islands without road connection to other villages. Until then, the path over the mountain was the only connection to the outside world. The postman carried the post over the mountain three times a week. In 2004 the Faroese Parliament built a tunnel to Gásadalur which ended the isolation. However, the village remains much of the atmosphere of an isolated village in an elemental landscape.


A gaggle of houses clusters
on a stretch of flat land

circled by steep mountains
and cliffs that fall away
in a sheer drop to the sea.
Outhouses, open slatted to the wind,
store hanging shanks of mutton.

In cord jeans and woollen jumpers
we follow the rope-marked path
through hayfields, green and lush
from rain, to Múlafossur.
A surging ribbon of water,
wind-whipped and white, plummets
into the Atlantic Ocean.

This is our land, the oystercatchers
warn us, go away. Their angry piping
fades to silence as we stroll
back to the cafe.

We sit under sun-patched cloud,
the wind benevolent, almost warm,
eat rye bread topped with black,
fermented lamb.

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