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New Shetlander - Simmer 2007 issue

Issue 240 - Simmer 2007

Visitors to the new Shetland Museum and Archives will quickly recognise the cover picture of the Simmer issue of the New Shetlander as one of the striking pieces done by Mike McDonnell for the Archives searchroom.   In the opening article, Art in the Archives, the artist explains the inspiration behind his work. 

Climate change is a topic of the moment, and again we have a major article allied to the subject, The Little Ice Age, blowing sand and a lost township by Gerald Bigelow and colleagues from Maine, USA.  The township is Broo, in Dunrossness, which was a thriving community until it was completely destroyed by blowing sand about three hundred years ago.  Excavations and an international research project have now uncovered important evidence about the story of Broo, and work is ongoing.  The article has excellent photographs.

Other transatlantic visitors write in this issue.  Karen Inkster, author of  Voices from the Past: a History of North Roe, shares some lively extracts from her grandfather’s 1948 diary, which gave her the interest in him and his home area, and eventually led to the writing of her book.  Adam Grydehøj, a PhD student of folklore, takes the old ballad ‘King Orfeo’, collected in Unst in 1840, and tells us why he thinks that, unlike most aspects of our folklore, it may be unique to Shetland, and what that may mean about the islands’ cultural history.  He considers the ballad to be ‘one of the most remarkable folkloric discoveries in the British Isles’.

The editorial muses on the proposed windfarm project.  Pamela Beasant of Stromness, the first holder of the new George Mackay Brown Writing Fellowship, explains what her post involves, including some forthcoming links with Shetland.  Da wadder eye surveys events both local and national, and ends with a delightful range of suggested ‘dialect collective nouns’.  Readers will be interested to see, along with his latest weather observations, a short feature on Samuel G. Irvine of Whalsay, a contributor over many years.

Jim Mainland’s amusing story Brave New World portrays a future where the Shetland dialect police are around every corner and knappin is a serious offence!  Morag MacInnes’ Chocolate crispies brings out a poignant underlying story or two in a lively everyday community.  New writer Jenny Laurenson intriguingly imagines dramatic events as seen through A child’s eye.

There is a selection of good poetry, leading off with two striking pieces by Christine De Luca on subjects from the Second World War.  Mark Ryan Smith has been writing poems about Hugh MacDiarmid in Whalsay, complementing a review article by Kirsten Matthews of a new book of letters by MacDiarmid’s wife, Valda.  More than half of these letters were written in Whalsay.

   Further reviews complete New Shetlander No 240. It is now on sale at £1.90.


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