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Voluntary Action Shetland

Issue 290 - Yule 2019

The Yule issue of the New Shetlander is full of a variety of reading for winter nights: the work of writers of all ages. The magazine is again delighted to include the six prizewinning stories from Shetland Library’s Young Writer of the Year competition. This year’s competition attracted 480 entries – a record number! The winning young writers have all responded in remarkably different ways to the theme of ‘The beach’. Imaginative play, fantasy adventure, concern for the environment, humour, consolation, the supernatural, echoes of folklore – all appear.

 Several other short stories appear in this issue, all of them in Shetland dialect. Beth Fullerton’s ‘Da party frock’ is a contemporary story with a hint of mystery, while Lynda Peterson’s ‘A very moorie Christmas’ shows a modern young woman battling life’s confusions, family ties, and mostly, snow – lots of it – with humour and practicality. Annie Broon contributes the second instalment of ‘Dancin wi Dodie’, another adventure of DanDan and friends during the oil construction boom at Sullom Voe. This episode features storm force winds, the legendary long-suffering Bedford van, drink and dancing in Voe.

 Viveka Velupillai is both an experienced linguist and a keen knitter, and recently gave a popular talk at Wool Week on the Shetland words connected with knitting, and their Scandinavian connections. A version of the talk appears here, under the title ‘Loops on wires: Shetland dialect words for knitting’.

 Another side of Shetland’s history is apparent in the article ‘The Kebister armorial stone – a re-assessment’, by David M. Bertie. The stone in question was found in the course of an excavation in 1986, and dates from the early sixteenth century.

 ‘Shetland Link Up marks 25 years’, written by Gwen Williamson, gives an insight into the work of a local organisation which has done sterling work in the field of mental health over a quarter of a century, with little publicity but to great effect, as the comments of group members show.

 Val Turner lets us in on the success of another established group, this time an unusual book group which meets regularly for ‘Lunch with Dickens’ – and with other nineteenth century writers, too.

 Some current controversies are reflected in the poetry in this issue, while older controversies raise their heads in ‘Conflux’, a collection of prose poems by Mark Ryan Smith, extracts from which appear here. Mark’s introduction to the extracted poems presents a shocking background picture from real life.

‘Da Wadder Eye’, now written by Jean Urquhart, surveys the ongoing events and issues of the day. Jim Mainland comments ironically on arguments over dialect. Brian Smith reviews, and praises highly, a new book by Wendy Wickwire on the subject of Shetlander James Teit and his work among and on behalf of the indigenous Indian people of British Columbia.

 The cover photograph is by Angus Johnson. The New Shetlander is now on sale at £3.

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