Issue 15, our latest magazine, was launched on 7 April -  take a peek inside

Read the Editor's blog about the Launch and view the Launch Photo Gallery

Join us at May Fest - Sunday 26 May

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Join us at May Fest, Sun 26 May

Following the successful launch of our 15th issue last month, we’re pleased to invite you to an hour of readings from the latest edition of Pushing Out the Boat at Aberdeen University’s May Festival on Sunday the 26th May at 5 p.m. in the Multimedia Room at the King’s College Conference Centre. Full details are here. It’s free and no booking is necessary.

Even if you were at our launch, you’ll hear some great new pieces and some new readers. If you don’t yet have Issue 15 (or want more copies for friends and relatives) the magazine will also be on sale at the event.

Do join us if you can. We look forward to seeing you again.

Photos from the Launch of Issue 15

Here are some photos taken at the launch of Issue 15 of Pushing Out the Boat on Sunday 7 April 2019 at the Phoenix Hall, Newton Dee, Aberdeen. A selection of contributors read poems and extracts from their stories and several of the contributing artists displayed their work in a small exhibition.

Click on a thumbnail below to view a slideshow of the event.

Launch of Pushing Out the Boat Issue 15

Sunday 7 April 2019, Phoenix Hall, Newton Dee Village

Martin Walsh

Great to see so many folk at this year’s launch (we counted 82) – some well-kent, many new and all welcome. Once again the event was held in the inspiring space of the Phoenix Hall, Newton Dee, handily situated for both City and Shire. Fittingly, both Aberdeen’s Lord Provost and the Provost of Aberdeenshire joined us to celebrate the occasion, hosted by our wonderful patron, Dame Anne Begg. And something unannounced on the day: all three editors, since the magazine became a fully voluntary organisation in 2005, were present and helping.

The main focus, as always, was the chance to hear the contributing writers read from their work and to see original images by the selected artists. Issue 15 Contributors had come from far and wide (even Australia!), to meet and mingle with invited guests and the team of volunteers who had worked so hard to bring this latest edition to fruition.

Ian Stephen

Judith Taylor, one of the three editors, convenor of this year’s poetry selection panel, and talented poet in her own right, presided over the afternoon’s readings. Ian Stephen, award-winning writer from the Western Isles, master-mariner and this Issue’s foreword writer, set the ball rolling with a tribute to the high standard of this edition’s contributions. Then came the readings themselves, with their broad range of genre, mood and dialect. There was Doric in abundance, Scots, Shetlandic, rural USA, and even a hint of old Norse – oh yes and some English too!

The readers led us on a journey, beginning with that first wondrous step into a book-filled space; then the comic sparkle of a young North-East quine on a holiday visit to Fife; onto the rescuing of a stranded turtle. We heard memories of a herring quine, and the sharp observations of a talented sixteen-year-old poet. Then to a riverbank in China and the menace of what might lurk within its murky waters; the poignancy of letting go a loved one; then to the undaunted spirit of an undersized quine confronting adult abuse. And last but not least in that first half: the tall tale of North-East man spotting the iceberg that sunk the Titanic (though several months later).

After the interval [with more meeting and mingling] came the memory of a past life touchingly woven into the fabric of the new; and an escapee from Rosehearty who couldn’t quite evade her roots. Then to the image of ‘a long line of Harleys ridden by portly Dutchmen down a glen’. A wild girl from rural USA – ‘Ma said she’d grow up to borrow your husband if you weren’t careful – with her pet quetzal bird. We heard, too, of learning to speak Doric at your Granma’s knee and of the magic of a boy’s first excursion to his favourite football team’s stadium; finally, from the smeddum in the tiny body of a dunnock, to the hilarious climax of an ardent terrier.

An afternoon filled to the brim with quality and pleasure; the first-time published standing proudly alongside POTB ‘old-timers’.

For more photos of the launch, check out the launch photo gallery.

Issue 15 Launch

Issue 15 was launched at the Phoenix Hall, Newton Dee Village on Sunday 7 April.  This joyous event was attended by over 85 people – contributors, friends, guests and supporters of POTB, including the provosts of both Aberdeen City and Aberdeenshire, as well as members of the  POTB team.  All enjoyed hearing contributors read from their own poems and stories. A small exhibition of artworks from contributing artists was on display in the foyer where refreshments were served before the start of the event and during the interval, providing participants with the opportunity to socialise and chat with the contributors and team members.

Some of the Issue 15 contributors at the launch

A huge thank you to all who submitted to Issue 15 and to the team of volunteers who helped make the occasion and the magazine such a success.  The number and standard of entries was the highest ever, resulting in what we believe to be our best magazine to date.

As is our custom, we took lots of photos at the launch, a selection of which will be published here very soon.

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.]

Tickets no longer available but copies of the new magazine can be ordered here.

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.