Northwords Now

New writing, fresh from Scotland and the wider North
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Autumn-Winter 2021

JAMES ROBERTSON gathers up time through GEORGE MACKAY BROWN’s novels, BRIAN HOLTON takes hard roads to the Tang, JENNIFER MORAG HENDERSON makes Faroese kennings, PLUS many more stories, poems, essays, news, reviews and a SPECIAL READER OFFER on page 40. Sgrìobhadh ùr Gàidhlig le CEITIDH CHAIMBEUL, SHEELAGH CHAIMBEUL, CAOIMHIN MACNÈILL agus mòran a bharrachd.

Editor: Kenny Taylor
Gaelic Editor: Marcas Mac an Tuairneir


The challenges now facing humans, nature and planet are obvious and dangerous. Thinking about them – as everyone with an ounce of feeling for life beyond our individual existences should be doing from here on in – can be dispiriting. But art, including good writing, is nothing if it can’t explore both spirit and depths of experience. Even in times of crisis, artists can reveal aspects of shared experience that may empower readers, listeners, viewers through the spark of imagination.

That’s part of what Northwords Now aims to do, through the breadth of new writing we reveal in each new issue, making connections across Scotland and the wider, global north.The range of writing in this issue is no exception. Publication is a few weeks later than intended because of some autumnal cash-flow glue. But thanks to Creative Scotland and Bòrd na Gàidhlig, we’ve now got a brisk winter swing to our step and our content.

Despite problems from local to global, there have been some celebrations in Scotland’s literary community this year. Marking the centennial of George Mackay Brown has been part of that, so it’s a privilege to be able to share the full text of James Robertson’s GMB Memorial Lecture, delivered this autumn, as a resource for readers. As a contemporary counterpoint, we’re also excited to include several poems (including one read on our homepage) by Kevin Cormack – one of several Orcadian writers now attracting attention and praise far beyond their northern island shores.

As a new development, we’ve a book offer specially arranged for our readers on the outer back cover (Page 40). Think of it as a birthday present to readers as 2021 moves to 2022. The ‘Northwords’ lineage is 30, and counting. Now read on.

Kenny Taylor, Editor

Issue 42 Index
What’s New in the NorthArticle by Kenny Taylor
A Handless HoosePoem by Kevin Cormack
For a SongPoem by Kevin Cormack
GaPoem by Kevin Cormack
Gertie an AlbertPoem by Kevin Cormack
Island o DeathPoem by Kevin Cormack
PulseStory by R M Murray
SaharStory by Gillian Shearer
Deasaiche na GàidhligArticle by Marcas Mac an Tuairneir
Towards TundraStory by Hanna Whaley
GlacierPoem by Mandy Haggith
Jan MayenPoem by Mandy Haggith
SvitjodbreenPoem by Mandy Haggith
QuinuituqPoem by Mandy Haggith
Memory and ThoughtPoem by Jennifer Morag Henderson
Kennings for the seaPoem by Jennifer Morag Henderson
This is a Feigdarferð, a doomed sea journey.Poem by Jennifer Morag Henderson
SóljaPoem by Jennifer Morag Henderson
The Last RoseStory by Sally Hughes
PassengersStory by Morag Baptie
Catriona Fraser: Saving the PastArticle by Cynthia Rogerson
Some thoughts on a new kind of literary worldArticle by Megan Delahunt
AfterlifePlay by William McLean
EyriePoem by Leonie Charlton
Christmas Day 1903, Kirkcaldy Poem by Lydia Harris
The Quoybirse StonePoem by Lydia Harris
The Man in the WoodsPoem by Juliet Antill
LovePoem by Juliet Antill
Pal –Poem by Juliet Antill
GroundedPoem by Karen Hodgson Price
The Unnatural History Museum at No Miracle BayEssay by Fiona Stirling and Jane Swanson
Honouring the legacy of GMBArticle by James Robertson
As seenPoem by Robin Fulton Macpherson
Three SummariesPoem by Robin Fulton Macpherson
Three MiniaturesPoem by Robin Fulton Macpherson
Three Swedish PoetsPoem by Robin Fulton Macpherson
Undated LochPoem by Robin Fulton Macpherson
VillagePoem by Robin Fulton Macpherson
Things get lostPoem by Robin Fulton Macpherson
Deep in centuriesPoem by Robin Fulton Macpherson
Hard Roads an Cauld Hairst WindsEssay by Brian Holton
MiddenStory by Susan Elsley
Marilyn Monroe and W H AudenStory by Ian Tallach
Nae NemesisPoem by Hugh McMillan
Couple, New CumnockPoem by Hugh McMillan
A House Standing in DarknessPoem by Em Strang
Embers of FlowersPoem by Em Strang
Arthur's SeatPoem by Rob A Mackenzie
BessiePoem by David James Ross
Polished Off Story by Catherine Halliday
PruningStory by Isabel Miles
Ex-YuPoem by Rody Gorman
Strome Ferry (No Ferry)Poem by Rody Gorman
The Cairn with its Back to IrelandPoem by Antonia Kearton
The Racer BurnPoem by Robin Munro
Day of the Last StarPoem by Howard Wright
The Drink TalkingPoem by Donald Goodbrand Saunders
The Stuff the North is Made OPoem by Donald Adamson
Bathgate Hills in LockdownPoem by Michael Stephenson
Rewilding of the Dynamite Factory Ardeer Peninsula, North AyrshirePoem by Angi Holden
SpootsPoem by Jon Miller
An enthusiasm of anthologiesArticle by Kenny Taylor
A Bard’s Life by Sheena Blackhall Review by Alistair Lawrie
The Snow and the Works on the Northern Line by Ruth ThomasReview by Cynthia Rogerson
Of Stone and Sky by Merryn Glover Review by Valerie Beattie
The Broch by Graham BullenReview by Mandy Haggith
Had We Never Loved So Blindly by Liz MacRae ShawReview by Cynthia Rogerson
Lairds in Waiting by Anne-Mary PatersonReview by Cynthia Rogerson
Poetry Round-upReview by Richie McCaffery
Toonie Void by Kevin Cormack Review by Alison Miller
The Stone Age by Jen Hadfield Review by Anne MacLeod
Rib by Sharon Black Review by Anne MacLeod
Veeve by Christine de Luca Review by Anne MacLeod
Philosophical historiesReview by Ian Stephen
Òran na CillePoem by Marcas Mac an Tuairneir
A Legend Among LightkeepersPoem by Donald S Murray
The Lightkeeper Listens to WavesPoem by Donald S Murray
Tiumpian HeadPoem by Donald S Murray
Bressay Lighthouse - 6/4/2021Poem by Donald S Murray
Sea StoryPoem by Donald S Murray
Fisherman AshorePoem by Donald S Murray
TeinePoem by Ceitidh Chaimbeul
Mar an FhiadhPoem by Fionnag NicCoinnich and Brian Ó hEadhra
‘the unfinished hut’ by Gerry LooseReview by Ian Stephen
The Knitting Station by Kirsti WishartReview by Kenny Taylor
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