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Voluntary Action Shetland

Issue 294 - Voar 2021

You’ll see a colourful New Shetlander magazine in the shops on Friday. The Voar issue has a new look, with an A4 size.

This first issue of 2021 is something of a re-launch. This follows a crisis last year when Voluntary Action Shetland, which publishes the magazine, warned the committee that its future was no longer financially secure.

Since then there have been discussions about how to revamp and promote the magazine, to attract more readers, subscribers and advertisers, while at the same time keeping down on costs.  The outcome is a re-design, with a larger page size. There will now be three issues a year, instead of four,  with a new magazine every Voar, Simmer and Yule.

Financial support came in the form of a grant from Shetland Amenity Trust, negotiated with the Trust’s Head of Development, Davy Cooper, who died last week. The editors and committee are grateful to him and the Trust for their recognition of the magazine’s contribution to the islands’ historical, political, cultural and social life. Co-editors Laureen Johnson and Brian Smith are optimistic about the magazine’s future.  

The Voar edition has a varied range of writers, fact and fiction, prose and poetry. Readers will be able to enjoy a new folk-loric mystery by Hannah Nicholson, who has just won a Scottish Book Trust award.  Eve Eunson’s memoir takes us into Fair Isle;  Jim Mainland always has a distinctive narrative voice; there’s a poem from Jen Hadfield, whose new collection is a Poetry Book Society Choice; Christine de Luca maintains her record of having a new poem for every edition of the magazine;  Robina Barton’s article on the future of and equal access to public transport offers a contrast with Lawrence Macduff’s memories of the Earl of Zetland and flit boats. Berenice Carrington’s detailed drawings tell the story of working with straw in pictures and words.  Jean Urquhart’s Wadder Eye deals with the legacy of slavery.  There are lightsome stories in dialect, by Alma Duncan and young writer Lilybell Wood, while Joe Gray’s article on Shetland’s first garage is well provided with photos. Bressay recollections by Elizabeth J. Smith include an element of the supernatural. There’s sport news too – football reporting from 1932 by Alexander Solotti; and the usual crop of reviews.

The cover of the magazine marks its well-established tradition of highlighting and supporting Shetland’s  contemporary art scene, with a painting  by Paul Bloomer.

The New Shetlander is announcing a new writing competition. People are invited to submit short stories to win cash prizes.

Meanwhile, in a separate promotion, for anyone who’s curious to get a taste of the magazine there’s a short film on the Shetland Library’s Facebook and YouTube channel, with committee members reading extracts.

The new New Shetlander is on sale on 2 April.

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