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Voluntary Action Shetland

New Shetlander No 257

Behind an eye-catching and intriguing cover – ‘Arctic Venture’ by Bert Simpson – the latest New Shetlander has a wide variety of content. The editorial is again concerned with the reorganisation of the Council, this time especially with consultants and consulting. Articles are led off by Glenn Bard’s presentation of past supernatural events in Fetlar, ‘Ta wake da dead’: the wondrous tale of James Smith.  More conventional historical matters, in nineteenth-century Shetland, the Faroes and Denmark, are dealt with in Steffen Stummann Hansen’s article 'Governor Pløyen and Captain Cameron Mouat'. Brian Smith writes on Earl Rognvald, Shetland and other problems, where he reflects on the unreliability of the sagas as a source of historical fact.

Jim Taylor’s perceptive short story, 'The last bastion', shows us a world we may feel uneasy with, a world seen through the eyes of a former soldier now having to find his way in civilian life. The second short story, 'Shipwreck', is written in Shetland dialect by Peter Ratter, Shetland Library’s 2011 Young Writer of the year (age 12-17). Peter also features as the winner of a national competition for writing related to Scots words or place-names. Two other young writers from Brae High School were also finalists.

Laureen Johnson has been thinking about mareel, what the word means and how writers over the years have depicted the phenomenon. She wonders if anyone can ever provide an actual picture of 'Real mareel'. Our weather observer from Whalsay has been looking back to the past winter of 2010-11, and comparing it to other winters in the records. 'Da wadder eye' looks keenly at recent city riots and, closer to home, at the shortcomings of Lerwick pubs and the apparent demise of hitch-hiking.  

Jim Mainland, while attempting a translation into English of Billy Tait’s poem ‘Furnenst da day’, experimented with the online translation facility ‘Babelfish’. He describes the results in Speaking in tongues.  

The New Shetlander was delighted to see the substantial body of work from Shetland in the new anthology of Scottish islands poetry, 'These islands, we sing', edited by Kevin MacNeil. Professor Alan Riach of the University of Glasgow has written a review article of the anthology for this magazine. Poetry features as strongly as ever in this issue, and includes some work from rising young poet Roseanne Watt, heading up her own page.

There are further book reviews as usual.

The New Shetlander costs £2 and is on sale now.

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