An enthusiasm of anthologies
by Kenny Taylor
An anthology can be an excellent way to get a flavour of the work of a range of writers. That includes through occasional volumes produced by writers’ groups. These usually require a great deal of voluntary effort form group members to write, edit, compile, design and print, which gives them an added sense of both value and commitment.
A recent work that ticks those boxes is the Grey Granite, Red Earth anthology of verse and prose published by Mearns Writers (2021) mearnswriters.simdif.com. In his foreword, Chris Powici (a self-confessed fan of writers’ groups) says that a good group like Mearns Writers: “can equip burgeoning talent with craft and skill and reassure the accomplished writers that there’s always more to be learned, and that learning itself is rewarding and invigorating, fun even!
“The fact that Mearns Writers has grown from eight members fifteen years ago to more than forty people shows just how much it is valued and appreciated. And rightly so.”
A different, and geographically more widely dispersed group of writers has contributed to Beyond the Swelkie (Tippermuir Books, 2021). As described in the introduction to James Robertson’s essay in the centre of this issue, this book is one of many works that have celebrated the life, writing and legacy of George Mackay Brown in GMB’s centennial year. Some eighty different people, including some of national and international standing, contributed to this volume of many voices. The editors – Jim Mackintosh and Paul S Philippou – made sure that each writer had the freedom to respond to the centenary as they wished, whether in a poem, or short prose, including essays and reminiscences.
The result is a collection that might have coaxed a smile of pleasure from the great writer himself. There was certainly much enjoyment when some of the contributors gathered for a launch of the anthology in the Scottish Poetry Library this autumn. With luck (what can you say, these days?), there might be a further small event in the north through Northwords Now to share some of the book’s range of poetry and prose.↑