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Cover 249

Issue 249 - Hairst 2009


The NewShetlander, Scotland’s oldest literary magazine, is nearing its 250th edition. The 249th, meanwhile, is a prose-based rather than a poetry-rich number. There are fine poems by Paolo Dante, Christine De Luca and Auld Daa; but most of the contents are stories and articles.

Bobby Gear’s detailed account of the herring industry in Shetland during its slow decline, from 1905-1939, challenges some of the rash views that have been expressed on the subject. By careful use of statistics, portrayed here in various ways, he shows exactly what was happening in the islands and where, and the effect of different events and processes on markets and the like.

Shona Manson and Julia Halcrow write about mental health in Shetland, and the “Mind your Head” project. It’s a subject that few people understand properly, and frequently misunderstand, as the editorial stresses. As usual, the writers of Da Wadder Eye deal with national and local events and themes.

Andrew Jennings, postdoctoral researcher at the Centre for Nordic Studies, focuses on some of Shetland’s less well-known ogres: gygrs, guykerls and other “grotesque females”. It’s a rich piece, darting from place to place in the Shetland landscape, and drawing in parallels from cultures east and west of the islands.

There’s a short piece on “Darwin in Shetland” by Laughton Johnston, to commemorate the 200th anniversary of the great man’s birth. And folk will be interested to read the account of “Two explorers in Shetland” by the late Victor Kiernan, written down in 1946 when the youthful historian made a visit to the islands. Linden Bicket deals with George Mackay Brown’s stories for children, part of his oeuvre which we don’t hear much about.

Two young writers, Iona Leask and Anon., contribute short stories, and one of the New Shetlander editors some “problematical reminiscences” from Lerwick around 1960. And there’s the usual batch of reviews.

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