Spring - Summer 2021
by Kenny Taylor
Each issue, it’s hard to include reviews of all the titles we’d like to consider. In part, this is because we need to delay coverage of books received close to our own publication time. So we reckoned it could be fun for readers to get some early pointers to books that we know will be reviewed here in the next few months - some online and some in the next print edition.
You could think of it as a kind of Northwords Now readers’ group, where you can seek-out a title that you know will later be reviewed, and then see how your perceptions mesh with those of our review writers. To help you make some of selections for spring and summer, here’s a small list of some very new titles we know will feature (many others will also be reviewed in the autumn issue):
‘Of Stone and Sky’ (Polygon) is a novel by Merryn Glover, zoom-launched this May through Grantown’s impressive independent bookshop ‘The Bookmark.’ It’s a tale set in the Cairngorms, with the disappearance of a shepherd, Colvin Munro, at its heart and the gradual finding of twelve of his possessions threading through it to reveal much wider connections.
‘A Bard’s Life’ (Rymour Books) by prolific champion of north-east Scots, Sheena Blackhall, is an autobiographical sequence of poems, stories and photographs, including work in both Doric and English.
‘The Stone Age’ (Picador Poetry) a new collection by T.S. Eliot and Edwin Morgan prizewinner, Jen Hadfield, is deep-rooted in the landscape of her Shetland home.
‘Larksong Static’ (Hedgehog Press) holds poems from 2005-2020 selected from his several collections and pamphlets by Gardenstown poet, Martin Malone.
‘The Snow and the Works on the Northern Line’ (Sandstone Press) by Ruth Thomas is a novel about things lost and found and about love, grief and forgiveness: letting go and moving on.
Ceud taing, Rody!
Rody Gorman’s involvement with the lineage of this publication stretches back to the old Northwords in early part of the new millennium. He became Gaelic Editor of Northwords Now with Issue 15, in the summer of 2010 – when Chris Powici also moved into the editorial chair.
For the 27 issues from then onwards, Rody has encouraged and edited new work from a wide array of contemporary Gaelic writers. Since 2017, this has included the Gaelic supplement ‘Tuath’ as part of the spring-summer issue. Rody’s work to nurture new writing in both Scottish and Irish Gaelic is widely respected, including through editorship of the annual ‘An Guth’ anthology, his translations into and between Irish and Scottish Gaelic, teaching at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig UHI
and his own poetry, widely published and translated. Although he’s now stepping down as Gaelic Editor for Northwords Now, we look forward to publishing more of his poetry in future, and to continued advice – preferably over a dram some day on Skye, when social distancing becomes more relaxed. Airson a-nis, gach deagh dhùrachd, Rody, agus mòran taing airson a h-uile rud a rinn thu airson Northwords Now agus Tuath.
Cover image credit: Peter Davis, North Stole, Watercolour with chalk rubbing on paper, 2018
Issue 41Download PDF
For the second time in a row, most of you will be reading this issue online, rather than in print. As with the wider world right now, the situation’s not ideal.
But the good news is: we’re still here; still making plans that will allow us to adapt to ever-changing circumstances; still attracting interest and warm support from writers and readers across Scotland and the wider north; still supported by our funders, who value the breadth of our reach in both language and geographical coverage. Advice from staff in Creative Scotland’s Literature and Creative Industries teams has been an invaluable aspect of that support in recent months.
The diversity of voices and content in this issue gives a sense of vigour. That’s reflected both in how we’ve grown from 32 pages to 40, plus the spring ‘Tuath’ supplement, in 2020, and in the energy of the work included. In turn, that reveals the current strength of new writing across the Scottish literary community.
I hope that what’s gathered here will give you pleasure and inspiration now that winter has passed and spring days are lengthening. With a hard-working Northwords board, a community valuing the publication both on- and offline and vital support and advice from our funders, Northwords Now is still flourishing. Enjoy this harvest from last autumn, and look out for the new shoots of spring from us in May, when Issue 41 will be unveiled.
Frank Rennie, winner of the 2020 Highland Book Prize, talks to Mandy Haggith about 'The Changing Outer Hebrides'.