The Simmer issue of The New Shetlander, number 248, goes on sale on Friday, with a strikingly varied mix of content: topical, historical and literary.
Alongside an editorial entitled Trönies stands a most unusual poem by Jim Mainland; both deal with recent scandals regarding the conduct of MPs. On a contentious issue nearer home, several local artists have contributed illustrations for Ian Tait’s lengthy article The (wind)power of money, which expresses the concerns of the writer and many others as the Viking Energy windfarm project goes forward for planning consent. Da Wadder eye also focuses on the possible windfarm development.
Economic worries in former times were in a different league to ours; we are reminded of the poverty of previous centuries in Robyn Hukin’s article The Winwick women. Tim Senften writes an informative piece on Shetland’s mining history, tracing the development of copper and iron mining in the south mainland from the late 18th century, a story of “. . . rivalry, power, ignorance and years of blind investments, leaving scars of disappointment in its wake”.
An almost extinct way of life is celebrated by Amy Lightfoot in Custodians of culture; faces and voices of the past. Amy reflects on the traditional craft skills that a dwindling number of old people can still describe and pass on. She highlights the value of such knowledge in our own impatient, less self-sufficient age.
The poet Christine De Luca was recently invited to a book fair in Kolkata, travelled a little in India, and found it a fascinating and inspiring experience. Some of her newest poems are here, set into context by the lead article, A Shetlander lat lowse in India; all combine to give an insight into the colour and contrasts of life in the great and fast-developing sub-continent. In Kolkata, Christine read her work in both English and Shetland dialect, and both were appreciated in that multi-lingual society.
Stella Sutherland’s article will surely fascinate anyone with an interest in Shetland writing. Stella, one of Shetland’s foremost writers, was a member of the Shetland Poetical Circle during the Second World War. Restricted by distance and poor travel conditions, and long before the days of photocopiers, the circle found a way of being a “writers’ group”. Their hand-written journal went around like a chain letter, each member adding a piece of work before posting the book on. Several names on the members’ list are now well-known.
Mark Ryan Smith has written a thoughtful, touching portrayal of a character in his story The carpenter. There are further extracts from the late Willie Barclay’s poem Mindin: this time, a sequence of sailors’ yarns which, in typical sailor fashion, become more and more fantastical – and may well remind readers of similar stories.
The magazine is rounded off by book reviews and one or two more poems, notably Sheenagh Pugh’s Dresden shepherdesses of 1908, inspired by the photo of the 1908 Up-Helly-A’ squad in The New Shetlander 247.