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New Shetlander - 274 Yule 2015

Cover Issue 274 Yule 2015

The latest New Shetlander happily ignores the onset of winter. Much of its content is outdoor-based. In the lead article, Andy Long describes the world of rock-climbing in Shetland, which has developed considerably over the last ten years. The piece is accompanied by striking photographs of climbing; another, taken on a dizzying rock-face at Fogla Taing, is on the cover of the magazine.

Christine De Luca's poem ‘Ivvery day, reboarn’ depicts a kayak expedition at Ronas Voe, as ‘watter swinkles an swittles/ slaps affa da side o da craft’; illustration is provided by Richard Fleming’s photograph, taken from a kayak. The painter in Sheenagh Pugh’s poem ‘The painter’s bored husband’ is ‘out in all weathers/ painting seascapes from the cliff-path’. Ian Tait, meanwhile, highlights the traditional pastime of gyaain aboot da banks, which was sometimes a very profitable outdoor activity. Ian has been looking at the records of HM Customs and Excise a hundred years ago, and his article gives us details of ‘Declaring wir scran in World War Wan’, and the various kinds of flotsam washed up on our shores during that war. James Sinclair’s poem ‘Driftwid’ continues the theme. And on another beach, at another time, Louis Johnson’s ‘Beach boy at Fedalaand’ is based on a true story from the haaf fishing days 

This magazine features a tribute to one of Shetland’s best poets, Stella Sutherland, who died recently and was for many years a regular contributor to the New Shetlander. She will be greatly missed. There are echoes of another well-loved poet too: the 2015 Rhoda Bulter Award has been awarded to Joyce Reid by the Bulter family, and Joyce’s winning poem, ‘Joy’, is published here. 

Bruce Eunson has been translating the work of a Polish Nobel Prize winning poet into Shetland dialect, among other work. Jim Mainland writes an ‘in memoriam’ poem. A new satirical Scots voice appears: that of ‘Furst Mincer’. Another new voice is Maxine Rose Munro.

Two fine short stories feature: one darkly humorous, the other more thoughtful. Annie Broon continues her lively Sullom Voe construction boom saga in ‘A gaa afore da sun (part two)’. This sees peerie Davie attempt to cross Yell Sound in a ‘skran-biggit’ boat, while his workmates back on the site fear he will come to grief. Willa Kate’s story ‘Summer’s end’ brings to life the end of a herring fishing season, and a great community involvement, seen through the eyes of a child who takes pride in being old enough to help. 

The editorial reflects on recent events in Parliament, and its decision to use air strikes in Syria. Nina Goodlad’s ‘Wadder eye’ looks at acts of terrorism and their varying effects, regrets the apparent increase in intolerance, and speaks passionately for goodwill and kindness in the world.

A detailed historical article by Dr Pam Perkins of the University of Manitoba describes the 1806 Shetland journey of the naturalist Charles Fothergill. Although Fothergill’s intended book did not materialise, his notes and journals were extensive and commented on a great deal more than natural history. Some of his papers are to be read in the Shetland Archives, others in Toronto. (Fothergill emigrated to Canada in 1817.) Dr Perkins’ article sets him in his time, and in the context of other publications of the day.

There are several book reviews as usual. The New Shetlander costs only £2. 

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