Issue 15, our latest magazine, will be launched on 7 April.
Want to join us? A limited number of tickets are available for purchase
Can't come to the launch? Why not pre-order your copy of Issue 15?

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Tickets now available for the Launch of Issue 15

Once again we are opening up the Launch of the latest issue of Pushing Out the Boat magazine to members of the public.  Why not join us on the afternoon of Sunday 7 April and be amongst the first to see the new magazine?  This joyful event will include writers reading their poems and stories from Issue 15, and there will be a display of original artwork as featured in the new edition.  Plus you can meet the contributors and the Team!  The launch is in the wonderful Phoenix Community Hall at Newton Dee Village in Aberdeen.  Doors open at 1.30pm for a 2.30pm programme start, aiming to finish by 5pm.

Tickets cost a mere £10, or £15 for two people, which also includes a copy of the magazine and refreshments. Young people are welcome but please note that the event is open only to those aged 12 and over.

Click here to book your tickets.

Selection of contributions for publication in Issue 15 is now complete

Selections for Issue 15 of Pushing Out the Boat are now complete and successful contributors have been notified by email. Once again, the standard of submissions was very high, giving the selection panels a difficult (but enjoyable) task. So, congratulations to all successful contributors and commiserations to those who were unsuccessful – we had many fine entries but not enough space to include them all.

If you made a submission to Issue 15 you can check the details,  including confirmation of whether or not it has been chosen for publication, by logging in and visiting the My POTB page.

The hard work of editing and design is currently underway, with publication due in April.

POTB would like to say a huge thank you to all who submitted, both those who were successful and those who were not. We hope you will enjoy Issue 15 when it is published and be inspired to submit again to future issues.

Seasons Greetings from Pushing Out the Boat

Welcome to Pushing Out the Boat’s newsletter, where we let you know what we’ve been up to this year and take a look forward to 2019.

We didn’t publish a new magazine this year but managed to fit in an evening of readings at Aberdeen’s Books and Beans café, mainly work from our most recent issue. You can read about the evening in our blog.

Work is well in hand on Issue 15, due for publication in April. Our thanks to the record number of people who submitted poetry, prose and art for consideration. Our panels are hard at work making a final selection but if you want to know what it’s like editing Pushing Out the Boat, have a peek at our interview with Issue 15 Guest Editor, Martin Walsh.

Also due thanks are those who submitted work and answered our online survey to see how we’re doing. There was plenty of positive feedback: we were pleased to be told ‘It’s getting better every time!’ but did wonder whether ‘The title suggests there should be some boat related stories’ was said tongue-in-cheek (at least we hope so). Of course, there were also suggestions for improvement and we’ll let you know on the website what we’re doing about them.

Social media is another way of keeping in touch so, if you don’t already, please consider following our Facebook page and Twitter account. We welcome comments on both of them.

With autumn in Scotland already passed and winter here, you may enjoy reading our seasonal bouquet of extracts from past issues of the magazine. You can also find Issue 13 live on our website where you can buy a copy of Issue 14 as a gift for that literary friend at the festive offer price of £5 plus p&p – complete with free Pushing Out the Boat bookmark.

We end with our thanks to you – whether you bought or read our magazine, attended a reading, submitted work for publication, dipped into our Facebook page or website or just said nice things about us!

Finally, all at Pushing Out the Boat wish you a Happy Christmas and all the best for the New Year.

A Seasonal Bouquet from Pushing Out the Boat

‘ Whatever the weather, wherever you are, make sure you are accompanied for your pleasure and entertainment by North-East Scotland’s very own Pushing Out the Boat.

– from Frances Walker’s Foreword to Pushing Out the Boat Issue 12


Elizabeth Waugh [lino print]

As I write this, an October Indian summer has already hurtled downhill past a delayed North-East autumn to the long haul of winter. It’s a time to be reminded of the seasonal riches that lie in past issues of Pushing Out the Boat, our not-so little magazine of new writing and the visual arts now as old as the century – it first appeared in 2000 in, yes, autumn. Our wonderful contributors may forgive me if I slice and dice their precious work to pick out some seasonal gems. Selected extracts only hint, of course, at the deeper issues and bigger stories in their complete poems and stories. You’ll find a full listing of their work and the magazine issue it appeared in at the end of this article.

As autumn approaches, some of our authors sense the softer side of autumn, like Beate Allerton’s

temptation in the autumn mists,
the spices of soft and moist earth

and Angela Arnold’s

… hails of swallows and
then all that black bird-snow of starlings.

Of course, at 57⁰ North of the Equator (Aberdeen) or more, our contributors from hereabouts also know what the seasonal weather brings us, from Robert Ewing’s

Wind-skelfs, then
bullet-rain bruisin
the day

and Fiona Russell’s

On a nor-easterly
it comes,
gathering like a foul temper
That bastard ice wind

to Mary Johnson’s harsh reality that

For sax lang months norland fowk
Thole dreich, dark days and jeeli nichts.

It’s also not surprising in our largely rural area that birds and beasts attract attention. Jean Atkin writes that

In this endless winter at the end
of short afternoons
the sheep know
when I go out to cut holly

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

On ice heave ground I squat to watch
how their brown eyes are split
by horizontal yellow bands, and
I ache for green.

In more comforting mode, Maggie Wallis retrieves one of her hens ‘perched in the rosemary again’:

As I crunch a track over the snow
she makes a sound; that low
contented sound of hens.
I tuck her in closer.

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

So many miles we have hiked
this same journey every night.
I and a white hen
Tramping over moonlit snow.

The imagery provides a reminder that not all is harsh in those ‘dreich, dark days’. Christine Laennec records

the soft gentle darkness
of my street in mid-winter

.  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .  .

my neighbour waving to us
from her golden doorway
a moment’s greeting
before the clicking lock
returns her to the warmth of the fire.

After the excesses of Christmas and Hogmanay many of us, at least in Scotland’s North-East, feel the need like Jen Cooper to clear our minds with a New Year walk by the sea or up a favourite hill

We emptied our thoughts
off Oxen Crag today,
wind froze them to snow.

Finally, we know there’s a long way to go before spring but like Kris Erin Anderson we cope

Fields without flowers,
matted grass, trees too tired
to fight against the wind.

We are not at a beginning
but the middle – grey and silent.

We bury thoughts
beneath blankets and braid
our legs into one.

Whether or not you get to braid your legs into one, Pushing Out the Boat wishes you for the season all that you wish yourself.

Many back issues of Pushing Out the Boat are still available to buy. If any of the work featured here stimulates your interest, you can order copies online here.

This is the work cited in this article, arranged alphabetically by surname of author (and artist).    Issues 9 – 13 are available to read in full online.

Beate Allerton, Woman on the Seasons, Issue 6, page 59
Kris Erin Anderson, January, Issue 11, page 5
Angela Arnold, Autumn Move, Issue 9, page 8
Jean Atkin, White, Issue 10, page 6
Jen Cooper, New Year, Issue 11, page 69
Robert Ewing, Drawing oot, in, Issue 6, page 47
Mary Johnson, Winter, Issue 6, page 87
Christine Laennec, Winter Lights Within, Issue 9, page 41
Fiona Russell, Ice Wind, Issue 9, page 28
Frances Walker, Foreword, Issue 12, page 1
Maggie Wallis, Night Walking, Issue 13, page 83
Elizabeth Waugh, Winter [lino print], Issue 9, page 30

Submissions to POTB Issue 15 are now closed

The call for submissions to Issue 15 of Pushing Out the Boat closed on 30th September 2018. We received a record number of submissions this year – thanks to all who submitted.

Now the selection process begins, during which the Selection Panels will review all the entries received and make their choice of items to go forward to the publication. Once the selection process is complete, successful submitters will be notified by email. We aim to launch Issue 15 in April 2019.

Editing POTB: a peek behind the scenes

Today’s blog post is an interview with the Guest Editor of the next issue of Pushing Out the Boat – Martin Walsh.

We’re talking to you today, Martin, as Guest Editor of the next edition of POTB but it’s certainly not your first involvement with the magazine. It’s about to go into its fifteenth issue, quite a remarkable record really for a regional writing and arts publication. When did you first get involved and how?

It must have been around 2003/4 that I first heard of the magazine.  I liked the look of it and submitted a story.  To my astonishment and delight it was accepted, my first ever publication in a high-quality literary journal.  That was in Issue 4 (2005).  Over the next three years the magazine transitioned from one financed and run by Aberdeenshire Council to a project run entirely by volunteers.  I shared the Editor role for Issue 6 (2007) with the previous incumbent and then took over as the first volunteer Managing Editor for Issues 7-9.  To be frank, I never felt very easy with the title but we are very much a team and my own deficiencies in the role were more than made up for by the quality and assistance of those around me.   So taking on the role again is not quite so intimidating this time. NB I’m also the Sales & Finance Manager, and have been Treasurer, Publicity, and Prose Panel Convenor [as well as general dog’s body!]

And what have been the high (and for balance, low!) points over all those years?

The high points are always those moments when you hold a new edition in your hand for the first time: the culmination and justification for a lot of work and worry.   And then there are the Launches when the Team and Contributors come together to celebrate the publication.   To see the joy of the newly published contributors [especially those first-time published] is a reward in itself.  The low points are probably those of any volunteer group:  worrying about how and where to find the volunteers and the energy to keep the whole operation going.

I guess each editor of POTB since Issue 1 has brought their own overall approach to the task. What’s yours going to be and what do you see as the main challenges?

We have now evolved a pretty well-organised system, thanks to the talent within the Team, so that my job is now fairly minimal.  I used to worry a great deal about whether we would receive enough quality writing and art during the call for submissions.  But, touch wood, that hasn’t been a problem in recent years as we now have an extensive network, not to mention our wonderful website and improved publicity.

OK, so I submit a piece of work for POTB 15. It goes to one of your Selection Panels and is evaluated ‘blind’. How does that work and what’s your role in the process?

Our Panels (prose, poetry, art) are made up of three or four Panellists with a proven reputation in their field.  We try to mix age, gender and background in each panel to provide a balance of viewpoints.  We also try to refresh each panel regularly. It doesn’t matter to us if you are a famous writer/artist or if this is your first ever submission, the Selection Panellists won’t know who you are so your work will be evaluated on a level playing field.  We’re delighted when we accept pieces by first time submitters – and we have rejected works by well known writers.  My role is to recruit talented panellists, explain how the panels work and how they should approach the process – then not interfere in the selections other than offer advice.

If you had to give your own personal tips for a submission to get selected for publication in the magazine, what would they be?

That’s a hard one.   I have a particular liking for the unusual and for humour but the panels act independently of my preferences.  As a general dictum we do ask our panels to select as wide a variety as possible e.g. light/dark, local/global, Doric/English, humour/pathos.  To achieve an ideal balance we sometimes have to reject good pieces where we have more than one on a similar theme, a point mentioned in the comprehensive guidance we have evolved – see our Submissions Hints and Tips.

So the Selection Panels have done their work, you’ve got all the prose, poems and artwork the editor wants to put in the magazine. What are the remaining essential steps to getting the magazine printed and how will you be involved in them?

After the selection process, the Panel Convenors, along with our Designer and myself sit down to agree the page-ordering and layout of the magazine.  This is an important stage in the production cycle, our aim being to produce a magazine in which the juxtaposition of prose, poetry and artwork [i.e. the running order] provides maximum impact, also one that is pleasing to hold and to look at. The written pieces are then forwarded to our Copy Editors, who put the work into our House Style and may suggest minor changes to the authors.  As Editor I am there for counsel, if necessary, plus we have a Consultant Editor as a final resort.  Once we have received brief biographies from all the contributors, our layout team prepare the magazine, using a desktop publishing tool. The written pieces are sent to the authors for final proofing, then the whole magazine is transmitted to our printer.  The last task, in which several of us participate, is to check the final galley proof.

I know POTB likes to launch each issue at a special event. Any thoughts on how and where you’d like POTB 15 to be launched and when do you expect that to happen?

The Launch will take place in the spring of 2019, most probably in late April, but we don’t yet know where.  Ideally we’d like to return to the beautiful Phoenix Hall at Newton Dee, whose community ethos we share.

Finally, not all readers may know, but you’re a writer yourself. Do you have any projects on the go and will the editor’s job leave you any time to work on them over the next few months?

Yes, I am working on three different projects: a fictionalized memoir of my time in Africa; a collection of Latin-American short stories; and an assortment of magical realism tales.  There will be moments when my own writing has to take a back seat, but the Editor’s job is not hugely time consuming given our task-sharing structure.  There are other wonderful volunteers within the group who bear heavier workloads – they are the unsung heroes of our team.

The interview with Martin was conducted by POTB’s new(-ish) PR manager, Roger White.

Call for submissions to Issue 15

Submissions of writing and artwork are invited to Issue 15 of Pushing Out the Boat, North-East Scotland’s acclaimed magazine of prose, poetry and visual arts. The window for submissions is 1 July – 30 September 2018. Issue 15 will be published in Spring 2019.

Follow this link for further details on how to make a submission.

Submissions to POTB opening on 1 July

Some good news: the Call for Submissions to POTB Issue 15 will be opening on 1 July, looking to launch the edition in Spring 2019 under the guest editorship of Martin Walsh. More details here soon, and via our Newsletter, so be sure to follow us on social media and join our Mailing List to keep abreast of all the significant dates. Also do share the news with all your writing and artist friends, local and worldwide.

Pushing Out the Boat Reading Event at Books and Beans

Q. Where can you find poets from California, North-East Scotland, Bulgaria, the Yukon, Edinburgh, South Yorkshire, Texas, Mull, London, Shetland and Shropshire all in one room in Aberdeen?

A. Upstairs at Books and Beans in Belmont Street, Aberdeen.

Well, OK, the answer’s a bit of a cheat. It’s not so much ‘can’ as ‘could’ since they were assembled at Pushing Out the Boat’s latest evening of readings, on Thursday 26 April. And, no, the magazine hadn’t paid expenses for a stellar international cast to assemble for just one day. But they were all there in the way that’s most important for poets – through their words. More remarkably (to this first-timer) all their poems, with a leavening from one or two earlier editions, came from the latest edition, No 14, available, as they say, at all good retail outlets and online.

If you can’t get all your poets along to read their work, you corral the ones you can to do the deed. Which is why those present heard a team of seven excellent readers, all published in POTB, perform not only their own poems but those of other absent contributors too. Being eased into the secrets of magazine production and arts events (your author is a new team member helping POTB with its PR) gave privileged access to organiser Martin Walsh’s programming skills and how to get a good mix, not only of poetry, but of readers too. Authors might be surprised to find their finely crafted work reduced to a single word in the program eg … landscape, dark, realist, humour, poignant …’, but their juxtaposition is a necessary discipline to keep an audience engaged and make an event flow.

And flow it did, from Tobi Alfier’s opening Planting Level (an echo for me of Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath with her ‘honor your wife with Rose of Sharon …’) to Martin’s closing New York Dialogue (no, I haven’t witnessed a squirrel and a humming bird having a blether about nuts in Central Park either). Having picked out the two works that book-ended the evening it’s disingenuous to invoke the old cliché about how invidious it would be to highlight individual contributions, but that’s what I’m doing. By way of compensation, the full programme follows this brief article. You know where to find the poems if you want to read any for the first time or perhaps refresh your memory of old friends.

A final surprise for me: this being Books and Beans, two halves of readings were divided by their usual open mic session: nothing to do with the magazine of course – except up popped Olivia McMahon to read a poem, My Uncle Sonny’s Jacket, from the very first edition of Pushing Out the Boat, published at the turn of the century. That in turn led me to discover later that Aberdeen poet Eddie Gibbons (not read on this occasion sadly) had work in both the first and most recent editions of the magazine, a unique distinction.

Oh, and that first Pushing Out the Boat was sub-titled ‘New Writing from the Northeast’. How far it’s spread its wings in fourteen editions.

The evening’s poems:

Toby Alfier – Planting Level
Jean Atken – Near Todleth
John Bolland – The Retention Bonus
Bernard Briggs – Anchored
Richie Brown – My Family Tree
Jim Conwell – Like a Fist
Seth Crook – Santa Was Assassinated
Yani Georgieva – Grief Walks into a Cafe
Lily Gontard – Okanagan
Mandy Haggith – Joke and Longannet
Ian McDonough – Oratorio
Thomas Rist – Ward (Again)
James Sinclair – Differential Equations
Judith Taylor – Ship to Shore (from Issue 13)
Loretta Walker – Different
Martin Walsh – New York Dialogue
Louise Wilford – Child
Catriona Yule – Guitar (from Issue 7)

With thanks to the evening’s team of readers, all naturally with work in editions of POTB:

John Bolland, Bernard Briggs, Richie Brown, Thomas Rist, Judith Taylor, Martin Walsh
Catriona Yule

And, of course, to the wonderful Books and Beans for hosting the evening.

Roger White

Poetry at Books and Beans

Poetry at Books and Beans
22 Belmont Street, Aberdeen

Thursday 26th April

6.30 – 8.00 pm

with poetry from
the latest edition of

Pushing Out the Boat

Issue 14

Come and be enthralled, amused and moved by an eclectic mix of poetry from POTB 14, penned by  poets from both nearby  and further afield – with  several read by the authors.

PUSHING OUT THE BOAT publishes high-quality prose, poetry and visual art selected from a unique blend of the global and the local.

‘Part of the magazine’s  unique value is that it provides North-East Scotland with a journal to be proud of, one that any other region would envy, acting as a vital inspiration for emerging (and of course established) writers and artists making their own contributions to a line of local brilliance’ (Wayne Price, University of Aberdeen)

+ Open Mic

– bring a poem to share!

Entry free, but contributions are appreciated