Northwords Now

New writing, fresh from Scotland and the wider North
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Spring-Summer 2022

Editor: Kenny Taylor
Gaelic Editor: Marcas Mac an Tuairneir


One of the many pleasures of editing Northwords Now is reading new work in a wide variety of voices. That might sound like a truism, since most good writing has a tone that reflects the individuality of its creator. But part of the further variety in Northwords Now and Tuath comes from the diversity of language and dialects we publish.

Within these pages, viewable through the .pdf here online and in print if you can meet a copy, you’ll find new writing in Gaelic and English and many pieces in diverse variants of Scots used in different parts of the country. These dialect pieces aren’t quaint museum exhibits, but reflect something current; something important. There’s now a liveliness in the use of local speech in contemporary writing in many parts of Scotland. That vigour is evident in the breadth of work in Orcadian, Shetlandic, Doric and Lowland Scots in this issue, drawn from the farthest isles to the hearts of cities.

Our Gaelic editor, Marcas Mac an Tuairneir, has also gathered a feast of Gaelic work to savour over the summer. That includes an appreciation of Ruaraidh MacThòmais (Derick Thomson). His centenary last year perhaps less widely celebrated than that of another of Scotland’s great writers, George Mackay Brown. We gave an extensive appreciation of GMB in the previous issue, so it’s a pleasure to move our gaze from Orkney to Lewis and Glasgow this time in Tuath to do likewise for Ruaraidh MacThòmais.

There’s also a nod to another writer from a previous generation whose work may not be as familiar to many readers as that of the aforementioned pair – David Ogston. His Doric prose still has bite, reckons Alistair Lawrie, without a whiff of kailyard. Some tasters of the new issue’s contents are also on this homepage, together with some fresh material in sound, vision and text not included in the print version and some picks from our ever-expanding archive.

Relish the new and archived work in many voices here, from Shetland to the Solway and Newfoundland to the Nordics. It’s our pleasure.

Kenny Taylor, Editor

Issue 43 Index
What’s New in the NorthArticle by Kenny Taylor
GannetsPoem by Hana Wilde
The underside of waterPoem by Hana Wilde
DevotionPoem by Hana Wilde
Hypnobirthing for sealsPoem by Hana Wilde
37 weeksPoem by Hana Wilde
For the sleeplessPoem by Hana Wilde
CongregationPoem by Ian McDonough
The Single-Track RoadPoem by Ian McDonough
The Smell of HimStory by Linda Buckmaster
The HeadlandStory by Linda Buckmaster
Winged SolsticePoem by Cáit O'Neill McCullagh
DriftPoem by Cáit O'Neill McCullagh
EmbersPoem by Cáit O'Neill McCullagh
This Love Poem by Cáit O'Neill McCullagh
EbbPoem by Cáit O'Neill McCullagh
Rock-fastPoem by Cáit O'Neill McCullagh
Late Or EarlyPoem by Mary Wight
Ghosts of Seasons PastPoem by Mary Wight
From Rusty Staple to Highest AppleInterview by Jennifer Morag Henderson
The FarewellStory by Ngan Nguyen
Dark IslandStory by Rachel Carmichael
On an August TrainPoem by Brian Gourley
Crossing the AegeanPoem by Brian Gourley
Long-linesPoem by Rody Gorman
FámairíPoem by Rody Gorman
Montgarrie Mill 1882 – 1st April 2020 Poem by Annie Sturgeon
Isle of Harris, 1967Poem by Belinda Jennet Weir
Tao Te Ching 9Poem by Michael Stephenson
Big SurPoem by Michael Stephenson
In the blink of an eyeStory by Mairi Sutherland
NarcissiPoem by Marion McCready
March MoonessPoem by Marion McCready
Posted from the SidlawsPoem by Beth McDonough
Rib wort plantain Poem by Beth McDonough
Ash diebackPoem by Gail Low
That Summer Story by Loretta M Mulholland
Purple Melamine Mixing BowlPoem by Dilys Rose
What Geese KnowPoem by Ewan Craig
PervasivePoem by Sharon Black
56°49.0153′N / 4°10.959′WPoem by Sharon Black
DrumbeatPoem by James Appleby
A Kingfisher, A Dead FoxPoem by James Appleby
Da PrincePlay by James Sinclair
May Day RitualsPoem by Lynn Valentine
UnlockingPoem by Lynn Valentine
The Cailleach of WoolStory by Dawn Wood and Beth McFarland
Shopping Week QueenPoem by Ingrid Leonard
VoarPoem by Ingrid Leonard
An Orkney Couple Poem by Ingrid Leonard
On Home Ground: Three poemsPoem by Gerry Loose
Twa Ducks at the Port Elphinstone BrigPoem by Derek Smith
When I was seventy-eight Poem by Derek Smith
The FollyPoem by Robin Munro
Playground 1952Poem by Robin Munro
Killing TimesPoem by Robin Munro
CyanotypePoem by Shane Strachan
Snug BarPoem by Shane Strachan
A Tod’s ThouchtPoem by Shane Strachan
Banff BailliesPoem by Jay Wilson
Cheating By NaturePoem by Jay Wilson
From Paisley to Kilmartin - recent workArticle by Graham Fulton
David OgstonArticle by Alistair Lawrie
The VisitorPoem by Lydia Popowich
The Bottom DrawerPoem by Lydia Popowich
What do I do?Story by Ian Tallach
The Cracking of GlassStory by Ellen Forkin
Song of the SealskinStory by Ellen Forkin
Just for the CraicEssay by Tom Bryan
EntanglementStory by Rebecca Ferrier
ThatStory by R M Murray
Tod-FlamPoem by Donald Adamson
Abiding SweetnessPoem by Donald Adamson
Ragna the Wise sails to Kirkwall to challenge Earl RognvaldPoem by Lydia Harris
Ragna becomes a netleaf willowPoem by Lydia Harris
Ragna as scribePoem by Lydia Harris
Northern summerPoem by Joanna Wright
Saint Tredwell and the ottersPoem by Joanna Wright
Epic misunderstandingArticle by Richie McCaffery
Island lifePoem by Sheila Garson
On the RoadPoem by Vera Butler
The NuggetPoem by Lorraine Bruce
Recipe For a Good StormPoem by Ingrid Grieve
Census: Sock KnitterPoem by Barbara Johnston
The Weather Dance Poem by Greer Norquoy
Whit wir ye thinkan?Poem by Issy Grieve
Slaves and Highlanders: Silenced Histories of Scotland and the CaribbeanReview by James Robertson
With Net and Coble: A salmon fisher on the Cromarty FirthReview by Jim Miller
Everything Passes, Everything RemainsPoem by Charlotte Luke
50 Words for Love in Swedish Review by Olga Wotjas
Birds of ParadiseReview by Kit Spink
Highland Book Prize 2021 Shortlist Review by Kirsteen Bell
Walter Perrie in conversation with Scottish WritersReview by Kenny Taylor
Perfit wordsReview by Anne MacLeod
Life’s Stink & HoneyReview by Jon Miller
Three Reviews by Helen BodenReview by Helen Boden
Four Reviews by Mandy HaggithReview by Mandy Haggith
Three Reviews by Kenny TaylorReview by Kenny Taylor
Rammo in Stenness Review by David Wheatley
Does your hand shake, Vladimir?Poem by Kenneth Steven
Sea Fret Review by Cynthia Rogerson
Cuimhneachain air Ruaraidh MacThòmais is Dòmhnall MacAmhlaighArticle by Anna Frater
Bi Modhail Poem by Ceitidh Chaimbeul
Do Dhòmhnall MacAmhlaigh nach maireannPoem by Meg Bateman
Bliadhna ùr air fàirePoem by Alasdair Caimbeul
SeachranPoem by Calum L MacLeòid
Bealltainn fo Sgàil Covid-19Poem by Efrem Jones
Èirigh Tonn air Uisge BalbhStory by Sheena Amos
FàiltePoem by Màiri NicGumaraid
Did You See My Wellie?Poem by Màiri NicGumaraid
Làmhan a’ GhlainneadairPoem by Deborah Moffatt
Marbhrann do BhàrdPoem by Deborah Moffatt
‘Crisis’ dè an ‘Crisis’?Poem by Maoilios Caimbeul
Johnson agus JohnsonPoem by Maoilios Caimbeul
Cladh sa choillePoem by Ceitidh Chaimbeul
Chan eil ro fhada bho thachair cuspair na sgeulachd-sa. Story by Dolina NicIllFhinnein
Pathadh mo DhunachPoem by Màrtainn Mac an t-Saoir
Concerto Cello ann an E minor; An UcrànPoem by Màrtainn Mac an t-Saoir
’S tu a tha air do mheadhan lathaPoem by Eòghan Stiùbhart
Faclan air ChomhachPoem by Eòghan Stiùbhart
BàrdachdPoem by Crìsdean Macillebhàin
Uilleam NèillArticle by Hugh McMillan
An Ubhal as Àirde (The Highest Apple)Review by Ceitidh Chaimbeul
An Seachdamh TonnReview by Alistair Paul
Fo Bhlàth Review by Alistair Paul
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