Northwords Now

New writing, fresh from Scotland and the wider North
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Autumn 2019

Detail from Blaven and Loch Slapin by Jenny McLaren

JACKIE KAY and KATE SWAN on the work of MARGARET TAIT, DONALD S. MURRAY at Achanalt, IAN TALLACH gets on his bike, LEONIE CHARLTON pursues salmon, SANDSTONE PRESS and its road to the International Man-Booker, SHANE STRACHAN in a Doric dystopia, HELEN ALLISON and others review new poetry collections, PLUS details of our amazing new website.

Pronn-fhicsean le FEARGHAS MacFHIONNLAIGH; villanelle le NIALL O’GALLAGHER agus sgrìobhadh ùr eile le Maoilios Caimbeul, Liam Alastair Crouse, Iain S. Mac a’ Phearsain, Deborah Moffatt agus Lisa NicDhòmhnaill

Front cover image
Detail from Blaven and Loch Slapin by Jenny McLaren, painted in acrylic ink and watercolour on an old Geological Survey map. Currently on display at the Castle Gallery, Inverness, which will host an exhibition of new work by Jenny in May 2020.  


Editor: Kenny Taylor
Gaelic Editor: Rody Gorman


I’ll admit it: I’m hooked on the look, smell and feel of newsprint. It’s been that way since I was a boy, taken by my father – a journalist at Glasgow’s Evening Times – to visit the old Mitchell Lane offices at night. The film-noir lighting seemed to heighten the senses, make the mystery of words made print even greater.

I hope that’s part of the pleasure of Northwords Now for readers: the heft of a new edition. But I’m also aware of the power of online presence and the usefulness of digital archives. That’s why, with the backing of the Northwords Now board and extra support from Creative Scotland and Bòrd na Gaidhlig, we’re launching a new-look website. Constructed by the tech wizards of Plexus in deepest Cromarty (thank you, in particular, Garve, Dave and Colin) this – as before – has the current issue online, but with a much-expanded back catalogue of back issues as .pdfs.

For the contents of recent issues, you can now search on author name to point you to all the Northwords Now work by that person in the last few years. We’ll also expand online audio-visual content as resources allow. As we continue to add to this archive, we hope it will become an increasingly useful resource for readers, writers, teachers and researchers interested in contemporary writing in all of Scotland’s languages.     All this – and newsprint too. Enjoy.

Kenny Taylor, Editor

Issue 38 Index
Nothing else is ever anything unless lit by itArticle by Jackie Kay and Kate Swan
Freud’s Couch in FebruaryPoem by Marion McCready
They spoke no English Poem by Stephen Keeler
The A82 - disability, ability and cyclingArticle by Ian Tallach
The giant fatberg’s steps for successPoem by Mark Ryan Smith
The Blue ChairPoem by Mark Ryan Smith
His statue by the shorePoem by Peter Godfrey
Night Walk, Baile MòrPoem by Sharon Black
PotholesPoem by Sharon Black
The White CowPoem by Sharon Black
Last LightStory by Leonie Charlton
AchanaltPoem by Donald S Murray
WindfallsPoem by John Robertson Nicoll
From bedroom boxes to the International BookerArticle by Kenny Taylor
SaturdayStory by Julie Galante
SuspensionStory by Clare O'Brien
The GardenerStory by Tom Ashman
a cycle Poem by Millie Earle-Wright
Winter Mountain RescuePoem by Karen Hodgson Price
Travelling to the CrematoriumPoem by Stuart A Paterson
Glen RosaPoem by Stuart A Paterson
Some MenPoem by Stuart A Paterson
ÖtsiPoem by Maggie Wallis
Night walkingPoem by Maggie Wallis
Orkney riddlePoem by Maggie Wallis
QuernstonesPoem by Lydia Harris
Standing StoneStory by Shane Strachan
At the end of the dayPoem by Chris Foxall
Oldshoremore Poem by Peter Maclaren
EribollPoem by Satyapada Campbell
The Greatest GiftPoem by Robin Leiper
Threading TimePoem by Amanda Gilmour
MoonPoem by Amanda Gilmour
AmberPoem by Amanda Gilmour
ArachnePoem by David Goldie
Before WinterPoem by Liz McKibben
Woman in a field of Autumn CrocusPoem by Kirsteen Bell
Waiting for the 495Poem by Juliet Antill
A Glasgow FoxPoem by Juliet Antill
Death of a VillageStory by Hanna Whaley
New CountryStory by Anna Pia
Sneckstasy NightmaresPoem by David James Ross
A MeetingPoem by David James Ross
The Sleeping GiantPoem by Ross Wilson
FlagPoem by Julian Colton
ClayPoem by Lauren Ivers
The NPStory by David McVey
UighursPoem by Richard Myers
Her KindPoem by Anne Elizabeth Edwards
ValentineStory by Jennifer Watson
SharkPoem by Samuel Tongue
Morning has brokenPoem by Samuel Tongue
Companion Species Poem by Samuel Tongue
Not a MountainPoem by Anna Fleming
Unexpected ChangePoem by Janis Clark
LostPoem by Catriona McNeill Courtier
Ann Marie’s PartyStory by Martin Russell
The Sand PitStory by Catriona Yule
TamStory by Sandy Thomson
Loaded for bearStory by Hilton Shandwick
Elegy for a Lost BrotherPoem by Sheila Lockhart
The Amber Seeker Review by Helen Sedgwick
Precious VanishingsReview by Valerie Beattie
RattleskinReview by Cynthia Rogerson
The Shepherd and the Morning StarReview by David Alston
Skin Can HoldReview by Lydia Harris
IslanderReview by Lydia Harris
Uncommon PlaceReview by Jean Langhorne
What is the writer risking with this book?Review by Helen Allison
Issue 38 - Non-fiction reviewsReview by Kenny Taylor
Na dèideaganStory by Maoilios Caimbeul
An t-Seann TaighPoem by Liam Alastair Crouse
An Geansaidh ÈirisgeachPoem by Liam Alastair Crouse
seann chleòcPoem by Iain S Mac a’ phearsain
smodal bhreugPoem by Iain S Mac a’ phearsain
Pronn-Fhicsean: Eapasod PìleatachStory by Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh
Siosar agus SnaidhmPoem by Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh
Budachas Zen Inbhir NisPoem by Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh
Sgiathan is SgòthanPoem by Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh
Tait-tì agus CatPoem by Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh
Yeah, RightPoem by Fearghas MacFhionnlaigh
Cleas na NeasaPoem by Deborah Moffatt
Air AcairPoem by Deborah Moffatt
Na RionnaichPoem by Lisa NicDhòmhnaill
Fiùran is DùsgadhPoem by Lisa NicDhòmhnaill
A charade choir,Poem by Lisa NicDhòmhnaill
‘Is aoibhinn cumadh nan dàn...’Poem by Niall O’Gallagher
Download NorthwordsNow Issue 38 PDF

Northwords Now acknowledges the vital support of Creative Scotland and Bòrd na Gàidhlig.
ISSN 1750-7928 - Print Design by Gustaf Eriksson - Website by Plexus Media