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Issue 15

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Seeking a new Magazine Designer for POTB

Update 6 July: This position has been filled. We are delighted to welcome Claire Martin to the team as our new Magazine Designer.

We are seeking a volunteer with desktop publishing experience and some free time, particularly  in the first quarter of 2021, to join the POTB team as Magazine Designer. The task – to help prepare the next issue of Pushing Out the Boat, North-East Scotland’s magazine of new writing and the visual arts, for printed publication.

Pushing Out the Boat is a literary and arts magazine, publishing high-quality prose, poetry and art selected from a unique blend of the global and the local. Contributions for publication are chosen following an open call for submissions through the POTB website, then the Editor and Magazine Designer work closely together to assemble the content, design the layout and prepare the magazine for printing.

The current issue of the magazine, Issue 15, was published in April 2019 and now we are making preparations for Issue 16 which, ideally and COVID-19 permitting, will be published in April or May 2021. We are seeking a new Magazine Designer to join the team to assist with the design and undertake the desktop publishing of the new issue.

Sample pages from Issue 15

Interested? Take a look at the Our Magazines section of the website where you will find a sample of the most recent issues of the magazine and the full content of some earlier issues. These will give you the idea of what we will be aiming to produce for Issue 16. Text for the content of the magazine will be provided to the Designer as Word files and the artwork as JPGs. We can provide the desktop publishing and graphics software if required.

POTB, a registered charity, is run by a team of enthusiastic and dedicated (unpaid) volunteers. Although most of us are based in the Aberdeen area, the Magazine Designer could work remotely. (We’ve recently been meeting via Zoom anyway.)

If you might be interested in this opportunity or would like to know more, please get in touch with us by email to info@pushingouttheboat.co.uk

NEOS wins Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service

NEOS North East Open Studios

Pushing Out the Boat are pleased to learn that our partners North East Open Studios (NEOS) have just been awarded a prestigious Queen’s Award for Voluntary Service.

The Award is given to local volunteer groups across the UK to recognise outstanding voluntary work done in their own communities. It was created in 2002 to celebrate the anniversary of The Queen’s coronation.

NEOS artists and craftspeople have been opening their studios to the public every year in September since 2004. How they’ll do this in the year of corona is still to be decided but as they say ‘without doubt there will be something happening!’

While each attracting much wider interest, both NEOS and Pushing Out the Boat are dedicated to the cultural life of the North-east of Scotland. We offer each other mutual publicity in our magazine and their annual book, and a selection of NEOS members sell our magazine in their studios.

Pushing Out the Boat is yet to commit formally to producing the next issue of our magazine, but like NEOS ‘without doubt there will be something happening!’ Watch this space and once again, our congratulations to them on their Queen’s Award.

Martin Walsh and Freda Hasler – a tribute

March saw a major change to the crew and complement of the Boat with the retirement of Martin Walsh and Freda Hasler, who have been core members of the Pushing Out The Boat team since Issue 5. Between them, they have filled just about every one of the vital roles that keep the Boat sailing on.

Martin Walsh

They first came aboard (sorry, but Awful Nautical Puns are one of the traditions they established, and that we have a responsibility to continue) for Issue 5 of the magazine. POTB was founded and first edited by Magi Gibson, who at that time (2000) was Writer in Residence with Aberdeenshire Council. She was later succeeded in both roles by Mindy Grewar. However, in 2005 the Council found it necessary to end direct support for the magazine and Mindy, anxious to see it continue, put out a call for volunteers to take over its running.

Freda Hasler

Martin and Freda were among the first to step forward, and the work they have put in during the 15 years and 10 issues since has been pivotal to the magazine’s continued success. Martin was very much the public face of the magazine for much of this period, serving two spells as Managing Editor, as well as helming launches and fundraisers, and filling vital roles in Sales and Outreach. Freda meanwhile took a leading role on the production side as Coordinator, steering the internal and external communications, the teams handling layout, copyediting and proofing, and the multifarious organisational and administrative questions that arise in putting together a magazine.

The finished magazine is of course… well, it would be a pun too far to say “the tip of the iceberg”, but perhaps we can say it’s the grand entertainment on deck, band playing, whistles tooting, and flags fluttering, that can’t go ahead without huge efforts of organisation, expertise, and engine-power below decks. Submissions have to be attracted, then received, anonymised and distributed to panels evaluating prose, poetry and art submissions. The panels sift the daunting catch of hopeful works and make their selections, and then the work of layout and copyediting begins. Meanwhile, discussions will have been under way with a printer, deadlines set or revised, acceptances and rejections sent out, and editorial queries made, and the answers relayed. And, after the whole lot is finally ready and sent off to the printer, the arrangements for the launch need to be finalised. Post-launch there are only the small matters of publicity and sales, fundraising applications and events, annual reports…. before planning starts for the next issue.

There must have been times when both Martin and Freda pondered actually running away to sea for an easier life: but they have stuck with the Boat through 11 issues, literally thousands of submissions, uncertain financial times, a shift of gear to full charitable status, and an expanding profile both locally and internationally. Their contribution to its current standing is immeasurable. To be entering its 21st year is an enviable record for any literary/arts magazine; to have published the work of writers and artists both new and experienced, to have maintained a strong local presence while showcasing work from , and to have held to such high standards of quality throughout, is an achievement everyone involved can be proud of, and Martin and Freda most of all of us.

We will miss them both as we pipe them ashore (though we won’t be surprised if we see some contributions from them, now they have more time for their own creativity), but we wish them happiness in their hard-earned retirement, and above all, calm sea and prosperous voyage.

POTB Covers 5-15
Footnote. The Pushing Out The Boat team intend to hold a celebratory event of readings for Martin and Freda by magazine contributors and friends once we are past corona lockdown restrictions. Watch this space.
well, we don’t think we’ve had anyone from Antarctica yet, but we could be wrong

Issue 14 available to read online

Issue 14 of Pushing Out the Boat is now available to read in full online, here on the POTB website . This is the second edition of POTB to be converted into an e-magazine using the FlipBuilder software purchased using grant funding from Aberdeen City Council. We hope you enjoy reading it online and would welcome your comments and feedback. (Comments can be added at the foot of the Issue 14 Online page.)

Soon, we hope to publish online versions of Issues 9-12 here on the POTB website. In the meantime, those issues can be read over on the ISSUU website.

Introducing Lily Greenall, the new POTB Editor

The following is a Q&A with incoming Editor Lily Greenall by retiring Editor Martin Walsh.
Note from the POTB team: we are delighted that Lily has joined us, and we wish her every success in her new role.

I know I speak for everyone in the team when I say how pleased and honoured we are to welcome you aboard. Could you tell us when and how you first heard of POTB and what were your initial impressions?

I first heard about POTB from my PhD supervisor, Wayne Price. He recommended it as a good place to submit some of my work and, following his advice, I sent in my short story ‘Frank,’ which was accepted. I came to a POTB event at the Aberdeen University May Festival and was really impressed by the quality of the work read out and the friendly atmosphere among the team; this encouraged me to apply when I heard that the Editor’s position was available.

I believe that, like me, there is a little bit of Kent in you? If so what brought you to Aberdeen?

Yes, my mum’s side of the family are from Kent – I’m going on holiday there in March to visit them. I grew up on the Isle of Lewis though. We used to visit friends in Stonehaven a lot and come to Aberdeen to do our Christmas shopping, so I have nice childhood memories of the place. I came to live in Aberdeen ten years ago to start my Undergraduate Degree. After this I stayed on to do an MLitt at the uni and this led into doing my PhD here. I’ve always liked living in Aberdeen – I’ve lived in flats all over the city now! I think it’s a nice size of town for someone from a small place and I like being near the sea.

You are amazingly well qualified for this job, with your experience of editing Causeway, your PhD in Creative Writing and your own story-writing skills. Does it concern you that in generously taking on this (voluntary) job you will be reducing the number of hours you can devote to writing and/or earning a wage?

Thank you! I think it’s going to be a challenge at times, but I’m not overly concerned. I got used to doing Causeway – where the responsibilities for every stage of production were often shared between just two of us – alongside my PhD and the other responsibilities I had while I was studying, so I’m used to juggling my time. I’m also currently working as a freelance writer and, although I have lots of deadlines to meet, my schedule is very flexible because I can set my own hours. Hopefully I’ll be able to keep doing this and POTB will fit in well. In terms of my own writing, I think its always inspiring to read good fiction submissions and it keeps you motivated to write. Overall, I see POTB as a great opportunity to broaden my skillset in a way that I think will be very helpful to my future career, no matter what I end up doing.

What/who was the subject of your PhD?

I did my PhD on the figure of the Devil in Scottish fiction and folklore. Originally I planned to do it on folk tales from the Isle of Lewis but, as I discovered, there aren’t a huge amount of written tales about the Devil from there (although there is a very lively oral tradition), so I broadened my topic out and it ended up being a lot to do with Borders folktales and with Walter Scott and James Hogg.

Alongside this I wrote a collection of short stories that featured different takes on ideas about the Devil and the supernatural in Scotland. I was quite open-minded writing the stories so not all of them ended up featuring a Devil character, or even really fitting this theme. I think it was a cohesive enough collection overall, though, and it was great experience writing it.

When did you first develop a love of literature, which writers have most influenced you and do you have a favourite genre?

I always wrote stories and loved reading, but I didn’t really take it seriously until I was finishing school and deciding whether I wanted to go to university or not. What really made up my mind was, when I was about sixteen, I got really into a series of books called The Vampire Chronicles by Anne Rice, which are these very Gothic historical novels set in the 1700s in New Orleans. I loved reading them so much that it set me off reading all sorts of other things and I started seriously working on my own fiction. I decided to study English at university and, once I started, I just wanted to keep doing it. Even one of the freelance jobs I’ve got just now is writing literature study guides.

I feel like I’m influenced by whoever I’m reading at the time, but I definitely have writers who always make me want to write and whose style really resonates with me. I really like Angela Carter and Shirley Jackson. At the moment I’m reading a lot of Doris Lessing. I love the way she writes, it’s very precise and observational – she makes you feel that there’s loads going on under the surface even when, seemingly, not much is happening.

My favourite genre is definitely Gothic fiction, even when it’s a bit silly and melodramatic. I just think it’s so fun. I love classic Gothic novels, like The Hunchback of Notre Dame and Wuthering Heights, but I like a bit of modern horror as well. Stephen King is good – his novels are very vivid. James Hogg’s Confessions of a Justified Sinner is probably my favourite Gothic novel.

You had a story, ‘Frank’, in the last edition of POTB. The writing was spare and so beautifully observed. How on earth do you manage to get inside peoples’ heads, both sexes, so convincingly?

Thank you very much! I actually really like writing from the perspective of a man, although I haven’t been doing it so much recently. I used to write almost exclusively from the point of view of men. Partly, I think its fun just to imagine an experience which isn’t your own. I think men and women sometimes have a very different social experience and it can be fun to play at being someone who can do certain things that you wouldn’t do, or to imagine being someone that people would react very differently to or expect different things from.

I think a lot of it comes from the writers I’m reading as well. I think, just by accident, I used to read more male writers (or women writers who wrote from the perspective of men) and, recently, I’ve been reading more female writers so maybe that makes a difference in how I write.

How would you like to see POTB develop?

For the moment I’d like to focus on keeping the quality of the submissions accepted at the same high level and, given my own connection with the university, perhaps build some more links there. I think it would be great to see more submissions from young writers or student writers as they’re often looking for places to send their work and get their first publication. It would be great to emphasize that POTB is a friendly place where young writers can send their work.

And finally, tell us something surprising about yourself, literary or otherwise?

I quite often listen to terrible electronic club music when I write. Something about the rhythm of it gets me energized to keep writing. The only problem I find is that, because I’m listening to this, I always end up writing scenes set in nightclubs. It wasn’t so bad when I used to go to nightclubs a lot, because I’d write about things I saw there or things that happened on nights out, but now I hardly ever go to nightclubs so it doesn’t really work as well.

Many thanks Lily: so good to learn a little more about you. I’m sure our readers will feel the same.

 

An Appreciation of Gerard Rochford

Distinguished local poet Gerard Rochford died late 2019. He will be much missed. Indeed, as a key member of the original team of volunteers who kept POTB alive when Aberdeenshire council discontinued publication in 2005, we are proud to acknowledge his contribution with this Appreciation by poet Judith Taylor.

Gerard Rochford
Gerard reading his work at a POTB Retrospective in the Blue Lamp in 2016.

It would be difficult – maybe impossible – to write a full appreciation of Gerard Rochford: life led him into so many spheres. He was an academic psychologist and a therapist; a beloved husband, partner and family man; a lover of music and the countryside; a man of deep thought and of wicked, deadpan humour. And he was not only a poet but someone who opened doors into poetry for many others, myself among them. This is the Gerard I want to speak of here.

I first met Gerard, as I first met so many poets, in Books and Beans on Belmont Street. In 2003 he, Doug Gray, and Eddie Gibbons began to look for a place to perform their work to the public. Books and Beans had newly opened and owner Craig Willox invited them to start a monthly poetry night there. And so Dead Good Poets (as it was then called) started, on the last Thursday of the month, with an invited guest or guests headlining and an Open Mic space for all who wished to get up and read.

Initially all three founders shared MC duties: but with Doug and Eddie working outside town the traffic was often a problem for them, and Gerard gradually assumed the mantle by himself. He was a courteous encourager of all comers – I was one of very many poets to take their first public steps in Aberdeen when I took a deep breath and put my name down for Open Mic – and the atmosphere of listening and support he fostered still endures, while his moving but unshowy readings of his own work set a standard to which we all aspired.

Encouraging poets into print was also part of the Dead Good Poets’ ambition. In 2004 they brought out a joint collection, Three Way Street, with Doug Gray’s Koo Press (which he had founded in 2002), and also became more involved in the running of the press, with Gerard editing or co-editing many of the collections, and Eddie contributing artwork and design. Koo Press gradually broadened out its operations, showcasing the work of new poets from the local scene and beyond: in its 10 year existence, it published some 38 chapbooks, many of them first collections, as well as anthologies and even collections of poetry and recipes. All of them were meticulously edited (Gerard’s motto “Delete, delete, delete!” still whispers in my ear when I come to revise my work) and beautifully produced. It’s a record to stand beside that of any small press in the country, and a roster I’m proud to have been part of.

While this was going on, Pushing Out the Boat sent up a flare. An important showcase for North-East writing and art, it had been published by Aberdeenshire Council since its foundation by then Writer-in-Residence Magi Gibson; but the Council was ceasing to support publication, and Magi’s successor, Mindy Grewar, wanted to ensure it continued. Gerard knew its value (he had a poem in the very first issue, as did Eddie and Doug) and was one of those who stepped forward, chairing the poetry selection panel for Issues 5 to 7 under the editorship of Martin Walsh, and contributing his painstaking skills to the copyediting process. As part of that early team he helped to set the high standards that the magazine has sought to maintain ever since.

Gerard’s own poetry very much reflects the man himself: meticulous and spare in its choice of words, but rich with feeling; curious, probing, and open-hearted; light in touch even with tough subjects; and always leaving the reader wanting more. He was a poet above all of the human heart – of love, of loss; of those he knew and those he wished to know better. His work of bringing poets forward into the world continues. And although we have lost Gerard the man, his voice remains with us in his poems, and his work will endure.

Links to poems:

A Poem About Li Po (Li Bai)
https://taichination.com/latest.php?id=64&start=60

Ironing a Sari
http://www.deadgoodpoets.hh0.uk/gerardrochford/IroningASari.aspx

My Father’s Hand
https://www.scottishpoetrylibrary.org.uk/poem/my-fathers-hand/

Poems by Gerard Rochford can also be found in issues 1, 2, 3, 4, 8, 9 and 10 of Pushing Out the Boat. Those in issues 9 and 10 can be read in the online versions of the magazine.

Seasons Greetings from Pushing Out the Boat

Welcome to Pushing Out the Boat’s seasonal newsletter, where we let you know what we’ve been up to this year and look forward to 2020.

The highlight of the year had to be the publication and launch of our 15th issue in April in the wonderful Phoenix Hall at Aberdeen’s Newton Dee. Over a hundred guests joined us to celebrate the success of the authors, poets and artists whose work appears in our latest edition. Our thanks to Anke Addy who took a great series of photos of guests, readers, and the artwork that was on display. You can find her photos on our website as well as the Press and Journal’s coverage of the event, complete with inevitable boat-related headline.

As always, we’ve put a selection of work from our latest issue online. You can read it here. If you don’t have a copy of Issue 15 or want more for those last minute Christmas gifts or stocking fillers, you can find Pushing Out the Boat at nearly twenty retail outlets across North-East Scotland. You can even buy Boat on a boat, which is our cheesy way of saying Northlink ferries stock it in their onboard shops on their routes to Orkney and Shetland. It’s only £5 (plus p&p if you can’t get to one of our retailers and want to order online – you can buy previous issues there too).

We also managed to fit in a couple of readings after the dust settled on the launch of Issue 15 – at Aberdeen University’s May Festival, and to an appreciative group of Over 50s in Cults.

You may know from our website and last newsletter that we have a new editor coming on board, to which we have now added a salesperson, leaving just one role to be filled when Freda and Martin retire next March – a new coordinator/project manager. Our own search is underway, but if you’re keen to help (or know someone who might be) do get in touch for a chat or with any ideas. You can check the details of what’s involved in our recent blog on the subject.

Almost finally, a reminder that we’re also on Facebook and Twitter. If social media’s your thing, do be sure to follow us there for updates and news straight to your device.

We end of course with our thanks to you – if you joined us at the launch for Issue 15, bought or read our magazine, attended a reading, dipped into our Facebook/Twitter account page or website, or even just watched us from afar!

From a chilly Aberdeen where winter has definitely arrived, the team at Pushing Out the Boat wish you a Happy Christmas and a great New Year.

 

Coordinator/Project Manager opportunity

Following on from our post of 19th September, we’re delighted to report that Lily Greenall has joined the POTB team as Incoming Editor. Lily is an accomplished writer with experience of editing a literary magazine and will be a great new addition to the team.

But we are still looking for a new Coordinator/Project Manager. Might you be interested?

We are a team of volunteers based in and around Aberdeen responsible for Pushing Out the Boat, North-East Scotland’s magazine of new writing and the visual arts.

This role involves project management of both team and the tasks needed to produce our regular magazine.

You would be joining us along with our new editor in time to help manage an entire production cycle from the commitment to go ahead through to publication and launch of a new edition.

Our coordinator/project manager assigns and coordinates tasks with team members, compiling a schedule of tasks critical to the agreed timetable, and ensuring those tasks are completed timeously.

While an interest in the arts would be a bonus, experience in coordination and project management are more important to fulfil this role successfully. We are a friendly group and the work of the editor and coordinator/project manager is supported by a wider team at and between regular committee meetings.

You can read more about us on our website, especially the About us page. If you’re interested and would like to learn more, please contact info@pushingoutheboat.co.uk. After a first chat, the next step would be for you to meet our current coordinator, who can brief you about what the role involves in more detail. She will also be available to help hand over the work to you in a phased way.

FROM THE ARABIAN NIGHT PATROL TO POTB

The opening chapter of my political thriller, Arabian Night Patrol, was published in Pushing Out the Boat 14 in April 2017. I’d been researching and writing the novel for several years, but it was still only partially complete, still a rather tender sapling. I’d previously had textbooks and business books published by Longman and Kogan Page, but fiction is even more competitive and with less assurance of publication, can be a dispiriting enterprise. Publication in POTB therefore was encouraging and I’m grateful for the confidence it gave me to carry on and complete the novel.

The POTB extract, The Candlelight Patrol, introduced my setting, a desert oil camp in Saudi Arabia during the Gulf War and the genesis of what became known as the War on Terror. It also introduced the main protagonist, Rob, a middle-aged engineer, who’s volunteered for the night patrol guarding the camp perimeter. As fighter jets screech overhead, air raid sirens blare over the call of the muezzin, and duels between Scud and Patriot missiles illuminate the night sky, he wonders what to do next with his life. His wife wants him to come home, but he’s tempted by a more exciting future when he falls for June, a free-spirited American artist. Yet her husband, Rick, is the camp’s powerful security boss, armed and dangerous. As the battle for Kuwait and terrorist attacks intensify, Rob must fight for his own survival.

Patriot Missiles intercepting Iraqi Scuds during the 1991 Gulf War

Arabian Night Patrol, published under the pseudonym of Ian Thewlis, is based on my experience of working in the Saudi oil industry during the 1980s and 90s. Although I had that ‘lived experience’ to go on, as a Western expat, mine was inevitably a partial view and I wanted to give a fuller picture of the Gulf War. Consequently, I explored the conflicting perspectives and loyalties of a variety of Arab characters – including a Saudi detective, a young Islamist technician, an Egyptian manager – under the pressures of war and the threat of terrorism. In a sense the war puts everyone and their relationships to the test.

Reviewers on Amazon have commented on the contemporary relevance of the Arabian Night Patrol. One writes that ‘the novel deals with themes which continue to haunt the Middle East today.’ Another suggests that the novel is, ‘required reading after the recent drone strike against oil facilities in Saudi Arabia.’ Certainly, the geo-political issues haven’t gone away, and the power struggles continue for control of the Arabian/ Persian Gulf and the Middle East oilfields which still power much of the world’s economy.

Arabian Night Patrol was published by SilverWood Books earlier this year and is available in Kindle and paperback editions from Amazon.