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Voluntary Action Shetland
NS 247 Voar 09 cover picture

Issue 247 Voar 2009

The current New Shetlander, no 247, is a lightsome and varied issue. An extract from the poem ‘Mindin’ by the late Willie Barclay of Hoswick leads off. Willie Barclay’s writing is most familiar locally through his song lyrics, set to music and sung by his son Eddie. ‘Mindin’ takes the reader back to a time of sailing men and sailors’ yarns, and paints a vivid picture of life on board ship. It is followed by ‘Swept away’, a sparkling, energetic short story by the well-known American writer T.C. Boyle, reprinted here by permission. The setting is Unst – though perhaps not as we know it!

   Four other short stories appear. Donald Murray contributes the splendidly humorous ‘Valentine’s Day in the Hebrides’, while John Cumming writes the brief but haunting ‘Walkin Man’. Barbara Fraser’s pen-portrait ‘Doris Jenkins’ manages also to paint a picture of our changing village life in recent years. Caitlin Watt’s ‘2050’ was the dialect prize-winner in the 2008 Young Writer competition.

   Ian Tait is in whimsical mood on the subject of ‘Men in tights’ at Up-Helly-Aa. There have been squads of men dressed as women since the festival began, Ian explains, but in the early days they were very different in style to modern ‘female’ guizers. Some excellent photos from a recent exhibition show us amazing proof of this.

   Local linguist and interpreter Derick Herning is brave enough to relate some of the few occasions when his meaning got lost in translation, with amusing, though sometimes embarrassing results! Charlie Simpson provides a ‘last chapter (almost)’ in the story of the Town Hall ceiling. Brian Nugent gives us some information on the history of St Margaret’s Church in Lerwick, which will celebrate its centenary in 2011. Jim Coull produces more of his fishing-based research, this time focusing on Hay & Co’s smacks. Da Wadder Eye deals with a range of topical subjects, while the editors reflect on the latest proposals for legislation on alcohol. There are the usual book reviews.

   There is more good poetry, led by work from James Sinclair, Lise Sinclair, Mark Smith, and Jim Moncrieff. Mark Smith’s work has been inspired by two Shetland soldiers who died in the Great War, Lawrence Thomson and Karl Manson, currently the subject of an exhibition in the Museum and Archives. Photos of a clear hand-written letter and some other artefacts in the exhibition accompany the poems.

   Mark Smith’s article in the last issue has produced a response – from Wisconsin! It isn’t only in Shetland that issues arise about writing in dialect or non-standard English, and author Alex Bledsoe has contributed an interesting American angle on ‘Vernacular abandon: writing the way we speak’.

   The bright, attractive cover for this Voar issue is by Meilo So. Magazine price is £1.90.
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