Short story winners to the fore in latest New Shetlander

The winners of the 2010 New Shetlander short story competition are published in the Yule issue, on sale this weekend.

The competition attracted a good response, and was judged by the magazine committee. First prize went to John Peterson, for his thoughtful, descriptive story Vapour trails, focusing on an elderly former airman. Wendy Gear was runner-up with Not up to the mark, a snapshot of a difficult day in the life of a boy growing up. While they contrast in style, both stories are perceptive and sympathetic, without sentimentality.

Another prize-winning story comes from Shetland’s 2010 Young Writer for the 12-17 age group, Bethany Byrne-McCombie. Unfinished goodbyes was inspired by the topic of legends of the deep.

The magazine is four pages longer than usual and the range of content is wide. Some contributors are far-travelled, in particular the Sinclairs of Fair Isle. Lise Sinclair writes about Vilnius in Lithuania, about performing Shetland dialect poems and songs in Eastern Europe, and working together with The Berserkers, an international group of poets and musicians.

Anne Sinclair, meantime, has taken advantage of an Andrew’s Adventures trip to Peru to meet a group of local textile workers and learn about their techniques of knitting, weaving, dyeing and spinning. She compares and contrasts the textile traditions in Peru and Fair Isle. Colourful photos enhance this lively article.

Andrew Rose, the sound engineer responsible for re-mastering the original Thomas Fraser tapes, reflects on the experience, and the ever-improving technology, while Gordon Dargie has written a poem about Thomas himself.

Ian Tait, who has recorded a tremendous amount of information about Shetland’s traditional buildings, writes about grain-drying facilities in rural Shetland. No, we didn’t all have cornkilns as per the Crofthouse Museum. Most of us had sinnis. What are they? Ian explains, with illustrations.

Two remarkable men, recently deceased, are warmly commemorated here. Willie Thompson contributes an appreciation of his friend Douglas Bain and his “lifelong commitment to social justice”, while Ewen Mackenzie-Bowie writes about the life of his father Hamish Bowie, doctor, scholar and “an early example of what is now fashionably called a lifelong learner”.

Between a rock and a hard place by Glenn Bard is an unusual article. Bard is interested in the geology element in some of Hugh MacDiarmid’s work, especially in the collection Stony Limits and other poems. MacDiarmid met the geologist Thomas Robertson in Whalsay in 1933, while Robertson was working on a geological survey, and they became friends. “This,” says Bard, “is a search for a stonen … a certain crystal identified by a geologist and put into poetry by a poet.”

Da Wadder Eye looks piercingly, and from various angles, at the Viking Energy project, and other current issues, local, national and international. The editorial reflects on how much interest we take in our past, or indeed our present.

There are fine poems, several book reviews, and a story for bairns, a Shetland adaptation of the story of the three bears. And Affrug has written a parody of a classic poem, transforming it, with many apologies to Haldane Burgess, into Scranna 2010.

The cover picture is David Gifford’s beautiful “Mallard on ice”. The New Shetlander is priced at £2.


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