Blog

During each residency, guests will publish blog entries through which the interested public will be able to track their journey through the locations included in the project.

Elan Grug Muse: Notes from isolation / Nodiadau o ymynysiaeth

Notes from isolation.

I, technically, live on an island. That is what mainland Britain is in reality, even if it does not always feel like it. It would take days to walk from one side of the island to the other, for example. The times when it really does feel like an island are those when it goes about trying to close its borders, to attempt to ‘isolate’ itself, and break all connections with its neighbours. At those times, this island can feel very small, and prison-like.

The experience of staying on the island of Mljet, on the other hand, was very different. One could walk the width of this island in a few hours, and even its length, from Pomena to Saplunara, in a day. From the summit of one of its many hills, looking north east you can see the islands of Lastovo, Korčula, and the Pelješac peninsula, and sometimes, when the sunset is casting shadows, it is possible to imagine that you see the mountains of Italy over the horizon to the south west.

All the old villages on Mljet perch high in the hills, to hide from sea marauders. These days, newer villages have developed along the coast, as marauders have been exchanged for tourists on luxury yachts. Many generations of visitors and migrants can be found layered in the land here. Roman remains at Polače, and the monastery of Italian monks on Sveta Marjie Island. According to the legends, this is also home to the cave where the Greek hero Odysseus spent 7 years with Calypso. And in the south of the island, you can find the shallows of Saint Paul, where the Apostol from Tarsus, Turkey, was shipwrecked. Today, the beaches are covered with colorful plastics from the beaches of Albania and Greece, swept here by southerly winds.

It’s a small island that’s seen lots of coming and going, and today it is home to Ulysses’ Shelter, a scheme that creates international networks between writers from five different countries- Wales, Croatia, Slovenia, Serbia and Greece. Strengthening connections, rather than breaking them, and using the island as a meeting point for currents from many directions, rather than as a place where from to throw rocks at boats below.

Not that is was quite like this during my stay. I had to leave the island early, on one of the last flights back to London before Europe closed her borders. A police boat appeared in the island’s waters during my stay, to keep an eye for boats bringing Covid-19 with them from Italy. The rooms of the Odisej hotel in Pomena will be empty this summer; the harbours of Polače and Sobra quiet and still.

Odysseus spent seven years isolating on Mljet, according to the legend. Not of his own volition, naturally. He was there for a while, on the way to somewhere else. It reminds me of another mythological island, Gwales from the Mabinogi, or Grassholm as the island is known in English. Here, 7 warriors, who like Odysseus were returning from a terrible war, spent 80 years captive to the islands magic, isolated from the world.

We here in Wales have only been isolating for about a week. Those of us lucky enough to have homes to retreat to, to weather out the storm, as Roman ships sought shelter in Polače, the safest bay in the Adriatic.

 

 

Nodiadau o ymynysiaeth.

Rydw i, yn dechnegol, yn byw ar ynys. Dyna ydi tir mawr Prydain yn y bôn, er nad ydi o wastad yn teimlo felly. Byddai’n cymryd dyddiau i gerdded o un pen i’r ynys i’r llall, er enghraifft. Y brif adeg pan mae Prydain yn teimlo fel ynys ydi pan mae hi’n mynd ati i gau ei ffiniau, i geisio ‘ym-ynysu’ a thorri cysylltiadau gyda’i chymdogion. Bryd hynny, mae’r ynys hon yn teimlo’n fychan a chaethiwus iawn.

Tra gwahanol oedd y profiad o aros ar Ynys Mljet. Gellid cerdded lled yr ynys hon mewn ychydig oriau, a hyd yn oed ei hyd, o Pomena i Saplunara, mewn diwrnod. O gopa un o niferus fryniau’r ynys, o edrych tua’r gogledd a’r dwyrain gellir gweld ynysoedd Lastovo, Korčula a phenrhyn Pelješac, ac weithiau, pan fo’r machlud yn taflu ei gysgod, mae modd dychmygu eich bod chi’n gweld mynyddoedd yr Eidal dros y gorwel i’r de orllewin.

Y mae’r hen bentrefi ar Mljet wedi eu codi yn uchel yn y bryniau, i guddio oddi wrth morladron. Erbyn hyn, mae pentrefi mwy wedi tyfu ar y glannau, wrth i’r morladron gael eu cyfnewid am dwristiaid ar yachts moethus. Mae haenau sawl cenhedlaeth o ymwelwyr a mewnfudwyr yma: gweddillion Rhufeinig yn Polače, mynachod Eidalaidd Ynys Sveta Marjie. Yn ôl y chwedlau, yma hefyd mae ogof y morwr Groegaidd, Odysseus, fuodd yma yng nghwmni Calypso. Ac ar dde’r ynys, basddwr San Pawl, lle’r llongddryllwyd yr apostol o Darsws, Twrci. Heddiw, mae’r traethau wedi gorchuddio a darnau lliwgar o blastig o draethau Albania a Groeg, wedi eu sgubo yma gan y gwyntoedd deheuol.

Ynys fechan sydd wedi gweld dipyn o fynd a dod, a heddiw, sy’n gartref i Ulysses' Shelter, cynllun sy’n creu rhwydweithiau rhwng llenorion o 5 gwald wahanol- Cymru, Croatia, Slofenia, Serbia a Gwlad Groeg. Mynd ati i gryfhau cysylltiadau, yn hytrach na’u torri, a defnyddio ynys fel pwynt lle mae sawl cerrynt yn cwrdd o sawl cyfeiriad, yn hytrach na thaflu cerrig at gychod yn y dŵr.

Nid mai felly’r oedd hi pan oeddwn i’n Mljet. Bu’n rhaid i mi adael yr ynys yn gynnar, ar un o’r hediadau olaf yn ôl i Brydain, am fod gwledydd Ewrop yn prysur gau eu ffiniau. Ymddangosodd cwch yr heddlu yn nyfroedd yr ynys, i gadw llygaid am gychod yn dod o’r Eidal. Bydd stafelloedd gwesty’r Odisej yn Pomena yn wag yr haf hwn; porthladdoedd Polače a Sobra yn ddistaw.

Bu Odysseus yn ym-ynysu ar Mljet am saith mlynedd, yn ôl yr hanes. Nid o’i wirfodd, wrth reswm. Yno am ysbaid, ar y ffordd i rywle arall. Mae’n atgoffa rhywun o ynys chwedlonol arall, Gwales y Mabinogi, lle treuliodd y 7 milwr, oedd fel Odysseus ar y ffordd adre wedi cyflafan erchyll, 80 mlynedd yn gaeth i hyd yr ynys, yn ym-ynysu oddi wrth y byd. 

Dim ond ers cwta wythnos yda ni yma yn ym-ynysu. Y rhai ohona ni sydd ddigon ffodus i fedru cilio i gartref diogel, i geisio dod drwy’r storm hon. Fel y doi llongau’r Rhufeiniad i borth Polače, porth llonydda’r Adria.


IMPRESSUM

 

Sandorf - publishing house founded in 2008, engaged in Croatian literature and literature in translation, and in a wide range of books in humanities.

 

Center for Research and Promotion of Urban Culture (CIP) is a non-profit association that has existed for twenty years. Established in 1998, it operates in the areas of culture and art, urbanism, youth mobility and social dialogue.

 

Editor in chief: Ivan Sršen

Managing editor: Jana Smrekar

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