Pushing Out the Boat: Our Blog

Welcome to the POTB Blog where we post articles about our activities and the people involved, including extracts from our magazines, author profiles, commentaries and more. If you have ideas for the Blog, do get in touch.

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Introducing the new editor, Peter Burnett

By Peter Burnett
posted on 17 May 2024


After saying a huge thank-you to Lily Greenall for her excellent job editing issues 16 and 17, Pushing Out the Boat is pleased to welcome our new editor, Peter Burnett. What better way to introduce Peter than in his own words …

I’m writer and publisher Peter Burnett, and the new editor of Pushing Out The Boat. I’m thrilled about this because I have been following Pushing Out The Boat since it was founded by Aberdeenshire Council in 2000 and edited by Magi Gibson. I even submitted something to the first issue, and to a couple more issues after that, I shall confess.

Yes, you will finally find a piece of writing by me in Pushing Out The Boat, after a 24 year wait! It will be the editorial introduction to my work on the magazine, and I am delighted to be doing it.

I was attracted to this job for several reasons, not just so I could get over my jinx and be published in the magazine. I wanted to be editor of Pushing Out The Boat because I am from Aberdeen, and I have always sought to be involved with people and projects here.  As incoming editor, I hope to make the magazine even better known across Scotland ― as many have genuinely not heard of it in Edinburgh where I live and work. Tut tut. Magi Gibson lives in Glasgow ― I wonder who there knows about Pushing Out The Boat? I will ask her soon.

Magi did tell me the story of how the magazine got its name, but I would like to save that story for another post, as I have only been asked to introduce myself and say hello today. So no story yet about how Pushing Out The Boat got its name. I have something much more important on my mind ― the longevity and integrity that has kept the magazine going, and I applaud that.

I have met the  Pushing Out The Boat  team and attended several meetings, and I am impressed with the solidity of purpose that underpins the continuation of the magazine, and I am honoured to be taking it into its 24th year ― a quarter of a century (almost) is quite an achievement in anybody’s book, and I am impressed with how effective they have been. Well done to them!

Now I am looking forward most of all to meeting the writers and artists whose submissions to our next issue are successful, and ensuring it is fun and creative, and that everybody has a good experience.

Thank you once again for appointing me as editor ― and I believe as a sneak take away, I can tell you that submissions will be opening up at the beginning of July.

If you want to know more about me, my publishing business is called Leamington Books. You can find links to the Leamington Books social media channels on that website as well as details of all the authors with whom we are proud to work.

Here is a photo of myself as a young man, in my happy place.
If you know this area, then Shout Out! I’d love to hear from you.

Pushing Out the Boat all the way to Stirling

By Naomi Greenwood
posted on 13 April 2024


At the end of March, Pushing Out the Boat were privileged to join Stirling Makar Laura Fyfe in hosting The Book Nook’s Forth Friday reading night. The monthly event invites readers to share their poetry and prose in an open mic evening filled with friendly faces and topped with fine pieces aplenty. Venturing to the central belt was a first for Pushing Out the Boat and an opportunity we hope presents itself to us again.

Attendees were greeted by the bookshop-cafe’s inviting glow and cosy atmosphere, and welcomed in with tea and cakes. We sat down amongst an eclectic mix of readers: personally invited contributors to Pushing Out the Boat’s latest Issue 17, Stirling locals, newcomers and oldtimers, and one or two students. We were glad to see some magazine contributors local to the central belt who may have missed the chance to attend our Issue 17 launch held in Aberdeen earlier last year.

A colourful bookshelf adorned with fairy lights, the perfect backdrop for the readers.

The evening was structured such that allocated slots were assigned to magazine contributors with open mic slots dotted between, introduced initially by Laura Fyfe and compèred by our own Judith Taylor. First to kick off the Pushing Out the Boat contributions was Emma Mooney with her story “Just Like Lynda Carter” (Issue 17, page 72), followed by several more familiar faces: Laura Fyfe with her poem “Scream If You Want Tae Go Faster” (Issue 17, page 84), Tom Murray’s prose “If the Face Fits” (Issue 17, page 42), and poems “Volcano” (Issue 17, p.17) and “Clutching” (Issue 17, p.62) by Matthew Keeley. After a short interval with more tea and chatter, we were treated to Morag Smith’s poems “His Number” (Issue 17, p.65) and “This Summer” (Issue 17, p.70), followed by short story “The Sneck” (Issue 17, p.55) by Don Taylor, poems “The Complexity of Simplicity” (Issue 17, p.5) and “Moving House” (Issue 17, p.54) by Dorothy Baird, and finally our own Judith Taylor’s poem, “Hill of Rubislaw” (Issue 17, p.58). Judith also treated us to a reading of the late Sheila Templeton’s poem, “The Iceberg that Sunk the Titanic” (Issue 15, p.80) which can be read here, as one of our sample pieces for Isssue 15.

Laura Fyfe reading “Scream If You Want Tae Go Faster”

The variety of genre and style was compelling, and team members agreed it is always a joy to hear the voice and see the expression behind a story or poem we may have read to ourselves several times. Some new faces appearing on open mic slots provided a refreshing selection of talent, too.

Tom Murray reading “If the Face Fits”

The evening felt relaxed and friendly, which carried into conversations with open mic attendees at the end of the night who inquired if Pushing Out the Boat were touring Scotland with our readers… maybe one day!

For more pictures of the event, head over to our Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. We would like to thank The Book Nook for their hospitality and for the exciting opportunity for Pushing Out the Boat further into Scotland.

Read the Forth Friday contributions for yourself in Issue 17, available for purchase on our sales page.

From Fiddle to Boat - a piece of North East history

By Naomi Greenwood
posted on 2 March 2024


If you have been following Pushing Out the Boat since its beginning in 2000, you may remember its predecessor, The Broken Fiddle. With Issues spanning from 1993 to its last publication at the turn of the century, the magazine not only featured a sumptuous range of poetry and prose focussing initially on the Banff and Buchan area, but also a selection of playscripts, advice columns for budding writers, a “news and reviews” section dedicated to local goings-on, and even a section dedicated to dance.

Iain Macaulay, publisher, Banff and Buchan District Council’s Arts Development Officer for early issues, suggested the magazine’s holistic coverage of the arts served to “demonstrate that the arts can be appreciated and enjoyed by everyone”. We can see where he’s coming from – the earlier magazine releases even featured a special section titled The Red Jelly Party, written by children, for children. Perhaps such a far-stretching coverage of the arts proved overly ambitious, for the magazine’s latter issues appear to have reduced their contents to poetry and prose, but preserve their “news and reviews” column.

While it was initially published by the District Council, The Broken Fiddle was taken over by its successor Aberdeenshire Council in 1996.  Its first editor was Caithness writer George Gunn, its last Angus Dunn. Sadly, Angus passed away in 2015 after a prolonged illness, but is remembered for his flair for poetry, especially that concerned with the natural world. An obituary for Angus written in The Scotsman describes his poetry as “magical”, such that it “lures us into a world where crows are fruit, the wind is a wire, the moon has a voice and water holds memory”. It was to be three years after the demise of The Broken Fiddle before Aberdeenshire Council published the first issue of Pushing Out the Boat and another seven before the boat floated free to become the magazine we know and love, run entirely by volunteer effort.

Contemporary submissions to Pushing Out the Boat show a similar valuation for the natural world. You may recognise some familiar names such as musician, writer and poet Haworth Hodgkinson, who submitted to both The Broken Fiddle and to Pushing Out the Boat. North East poet and member of Huntly Writers, Maureen Ross’s poems also feature in both.

Perhaps you recall the days of The Broken Fiddle, or are lucky enough to own an issue yourself? If so, we invite you to share your recollections by adding a comment below.

[Our thanks to former team member Martin Walsh who donated an almost complete run of The Broken Fiddle to the Pushing Out the Boat archive.]


Sheila Templeton: a personal appreciation

By Judith Taylor
posted on 29 January 2024


Pushing Out The Boat was deeply saddened to hear of the loss of Scottish poet Sheila Templeton in November 2023. An esteemed poet in both Scots and English language, she supported the magazine for many years, having both contributed her own poems, and latterly, wrote the foreword for POTB issue 16.  Below, team member and fellow poet, Judith Taylor, pays her tribute to Sheila.

Sheila reading her poem ‘The Iceberg that Sunk the Titanic’ at the launch of Issue 15

I have to admit that when I first knew Sheila, I was a little intimidated. She was a tall, statuesque woman, always glamorously dressed, and with tremendous presence, on and off the podium. I loved her poetry, but I was shy of her as a person. But then I gave her a lift to an event in Aberfeldy, and it turned out to be the most uproarious journey – we talked, and laughed, our heads off all the way there and all the way back. Later, when I bought a copy of her pamphlet Tender is the North (Red Squirrel 2013) she inscribed it “Really good to get to know you properly!” And that was what she was like – her poetic talent allied with a warm heart, an unfailing interest in the people and events she encountered, and a tremendous gift for friendship, as the outpouring of affection and tribute that greeted the news of her death bears witness.

Sheila was born in Aberdeenshire: her father was a farm-worker who later became a railwayman, and this took the family furth of the Shire and indeed furth of Scotland, when he took a job with East African Railways in Tanzania. She came back to Scotland to complete her education and went on to a career in secondary school teaching (that stage-presence was honed on tough audiences), but like many women of her generation, her own creative work had to wait for the demands of job and family to diminish – as she put it, “early retirement and a headlong dive into scribbling”. From her first pamphlet, Slow Road Home (Makar Press 2004) to her most recent collection Clyack (Red Squirrel 2021), taking in collaborations like the Writing the Asylum project (https://writingtheasylum.co.uk), and the two tri-lingual pamphlets she, AC Clarke, and Maggie Rabatski published with Tapsalteerie (Owersettin, 2016 and Drochaid, 2019), her work attracted justified praise: she appeared on many prize shortlists, and won the McCash Scots poetry prize so often that if it had been a trophy like the World Cup, she would have got to keep it. Her last-published book, Norlan Lichts, produced jointly with Sheena Blackhall and Lesley Benzie (Rymour Books), was for many – myself included – one of the poetry events of 2022. She was generous too with her time and advice, acting as a Scots/Doric consultant for Poetry Scotland magazine and commenting wisely and helpfully on the work of poets – again, like myself – writing less surely in Scots.

Sheila wrote in both Scots and English. Her poetry in both languages is lyrical, accessible, and filled with a clear-eyed understanding that responds to its subjects with unsentimental human sympathy. Her poem “Living Room” / “Leevin Room”, about the bombardment of Gaza in 2009, has been much on my mind this winter, and I remember how passionately she read it at Callander in 2013:

And so he dances, this father, this citizen of Gaza,
smiling at his girl, making funny faces, breathing
love into a space full of brokenness and fear,
reminding us exactly how war is waged among the weary.
the innocent, in broken houses, the once living rooms.

And for the Scotia Extremis project, when many of us were choosing famous monuments or spectacular scenery, she chose James Keir Hardie as her subject:

Nae for you the cauld analysis, the lang-nebbit theory o the dialectic
settin the warld tae richts. Aa yer gumption, yer scrievin, yer wirds
cam fae life, fae a day’s lang darg, fae the hard tyauve o yer hauns
burnt intae muscle memory

Though for most of her writing career she was living first in Ayrshire and then in Glasgow, her Scots poetry kept faith with her Doric roots. And although she explored those roots in poems like “Cottar Wife” or “The Clyack Shafe”, or the English “Priming the Pump”, she was not one to let her mother-tongue fade into nostalgia, using it as she used English for any and all subjects, from a sunbather on Glasgow Green, to the paintings of Whistler, to the mysterious celestial object Oumuamua. She had, too, a wicked and subversive sense of humour that glints out in poems like “Dumfoonert”, where a group of adolescents enter a fairground booth and encounter Estelle the Tassel Swinger (“Whit wye is she able tae dee that?”), or her appreciation of Captain Picard from Star Trek. The two poems from her that we were lucky enough to publish in Pushing Out the Boat 15 (and which later appeared in Clyack) capture these different aspects of her work: “The Iceberg That Sunk the Titanic“, a sly telling of a grandfather’s possibly-tall tale; and “Unn the Deep Thochted”, an exploration of the character of a woman in the Laxdaela Saga who takes her family to Iceland to escape the feuds and wars that have cut them down:

Naebody iver sang aboot my byowty. Naebody
iver spak o my bonnie face. My ain faither
niver caad me his bonnie quine. But he gied me
a byordnar gift at my kirsenin – Unn the Deep Thochted
he kythed me. And that’s been mair eese than byowty,
that’s been shinin siller in the kist o ma life.

We were delighted, too, when she agreed to write the introduction to issue 16, and we are heart-sore to think that we, and the world, will have no more poetry from her: heart-sore too for her family and their loss, all the more cruel given her delight at becoming a granny just a few years ago. I couldn’t make it to Glasgow for her funeral, but I was glad to hear that those who could carried out her wishes in the poem “Living Will”, belting out the hymns she loved as a worthy sendoff:

Don’t even think of sitting quietly.
I want you on your feet. I want to go hearing you singing.
Make a big noise.

Across the Silent Sea: A Novel by Gabrielle Barnby

By Lily Greenall
posted on 24 October 2023


Pushing Out the Boat is always pleased to discover other work published by our contributors. In this post our outgoing editor Lily Greenall reviews a work close to her heart.

This month, we were delighted to notice the release of a new novel, Across the Silent Sea, by regular Pushing Out the Boat contributor Gabrielle Barnby. The novel is set on Orkney and follows the journey of a local young woman, Esther, who has returned home to live with her parents in the aftermath of a traumatic accident. Following Esther’s attempts to piece her life back together, the novel deftly explores complex topics like addiction, family dynamics, and identity, and opens a dialogue about the way society treats those who suffer from mental illness and chronic pain. Esther’s witty internal monologue is the razor-sharp driving force of the novel and effortlessly draws the reader into her budding friendship with rebellious newcomer, Claudette, and struggling local musician, Marcus. Barnby paints a compelling and compassionate portrait of a large, close-knit family, who struggle in different ways to adapt to the changes in Esther.

The scenic island setting lends an extra unique charm to the novel’s events but also adds a refreshing sense of reality and tangibility to the story. Stripped of any cliched sense of romanticised Scottishness, the Orkney setting has a brilliantly lived-in feel and gives a strong sense of real people in a small place – something that, as a reader and fellow islander, I really appreciated. The beautiful sunsets and majestic sea views are balanced out with slate-grey winter days where the rain never stops and transportation issues – all part and parcel of life in a remote, northern place.

Across the Silent Sea is partially based on transcripts from a real Orkney witch trial that took place in 1643 and in which a disabled woman, named Esther Russell, was accused of various acts of sorcery. Updated to a contemporary setting and only loosely informing events in the plot, this story forms a fascinating backdrop to Barnby’s novel.

Gabrielle Barnby lives in Orkney. She has published several works of fiction, including her novel, The Oystercatcher Girl, a poetry collection, A Way Out, And a Way In, and a short story collection, The House with Lilac Shutters. Several of her poems also feature in Issue 16 and Issue 17 of Pushing Out the Boat. More examples of her work can be found on her website. Across the Silent Sea was published by Sparsile Books and is also available to buy on Amazon Kindle and at Waterstones.


View from American Poet, Elizabeth McCarthy

By Elizabeth McCarthy
posted on 21 September 2023


POTB is lucky to receive submissions from around the world, not just Scotland and the North East. Poet Elizabeth McCarthy, from the United States, noted she’d have loved to join our recent in-person launch of Issue 17, if only it weren’t for the 3,000 miles of distance she’d have to travel. Luckily for us, Elizabeth kindly agreed to send in her own blog post detailing her personal experience with poetry.

When my copy of Pushing Out the Boat, Issue #17 arrived, I was immediately impressed by the quality of both poetry and print with its riveting artwork throughout the magazine, particularly the vibrant colors and graphic design of its cover by Orla Stevens.  This magazine sits on our coffee table as a display of beauty and identity. As a poet, I’m proud to have my poem, “Scuttled Memories” published with so many amazing poets from the north-east of Scotland and beyond. I was particularly happy to see that my fellow Lockdown Poet, Suzanne van Leendert from the Netherlands, has her poem, “Return to Sender” in this issue as well.

I live in an old farmhouse in northern Vermont, in Caledonia County, named to commemorate the large number of Scottish settlers in this area.  Retired from teaching, I started writing poetry when the world closed down for the pandemic in 2020. Looking to connect with other poets, I met Ian Aitken, founder of the Lockdown Poets of Aberdeen, Scotland, in an online chat-room for the Billy Collins Facebook broadcast where he mentioned his online poetry group. This small group of a dozen or so poets have met online via Zoom most every Tuesday for the past three years, sharing and discussing poetry. We recently self-published a collection of our poetry called, “Lockdown Poets – still here” where all proceeds from the book goes to the Cornhill Community Centre of Aberdeen, Scotland which assists disadvantaged families in their area, also a sponsor of The Lockdown Poets.

I find comfort in being part of this world-wide poetry community that holds center in the north-east of Scotland, and appreciate the acceptance of the many poetic voices from distant shores.

About the time I joined the Lockdown Poets, I became a member of the Poetry Society of Vermont. I recently redesigned their website where you’ll find a link to my chapbook “Winter Vole” which was published in 2022 by Finishing Line Press, in 2024 they will be publishing my second chapbook, “Hard Feelings.”

Many thanks to Elizabeth for her inspiring insight – we hope she continues to branch out with her work. Find “Scuttled Memories” alongside many more fantastic poems, stories and artwork in POTB Issue 17.

Q&A with Loraine Mudie, WordsUp presenter

By Naomi Greenwood
posted on 6 August 2023


Throughout the COVID lockdown, local radio station shmu fm’s Loraine Mudie hosted eight interviews with a group of our talented POTB contributors, in a show titled “Words Up”. PR Manager for the magazine, Naomi Greenwood carried out an interview to get an inside scoop of Loraine’s own experience with the arts.

Q&A with shmu fm’s Loraine Mudie

Now that shmu fm’s Words Up series has come to a close, we couldn’t resist making the most out of host Loraine Mudie’s affiliation with POTB – she’s been fantastic, after all.

What sparked your interest in the Arts?

I have been interested in the Arts since secondary school. I was involved in school plays and won the Drama prize in my final year. I was so in love with drama that I wanted to go to the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art in Glasgow. However in the 60’s nobody left home to go to University. My father wouldn’t allow it so I went to medical school and ended up being a Physics Teacher. I am still involved with amateur dramatics.

How did you get into radio presenting?

I went on a radio training course in Glasgow at the RASMD. There I met Liz who lived in Glasgow. Near the end of the course we were chatting and I said I would like to use what we had just learned and approach a local radio station. To my astonishment Liz said she had a flat in Aberdeen which she visited quite regularly. We then approached SHMU radio with a plan to do a show which centred on the written word (stories and poems) rather than music and so this became the start of Words Up.

Talking with so many talented individuals, do you feel you have gained new understanding and appreciation for local talent? Are there any specific highlights or memorable moments from the shows?

I have gained a lot of understanding and appreciation of the authors I have interviewed. It has been truly wonderful. I hope they have also gained an understanding and appreciation of what we do here at SHMU. There were many special moments but it would be wrong of me to pick out one.

I know you’re a volunteer. It must take some effort to organise eight separate hour-long shows with authors, not all based locally, especially with various Covid restrictions. What were the challenges involved and how did you overcome them?

Yes, there were challenges. I identified a group of authors who had appeared more than twice in POTB magazine. Using Zoom we then chose material suitable for the show. A decision was made as to who would read the pieces. I would suggest appropriate music and what we would chat about. Authors would send me files with their readings which I would edit ready for the show. I would send out a plan for the show. For those who could come into the studio I would set aside two hours and use the first hour to go over the plan, allow the author to get used to the studio and do a sound check. Once recorded the show would be edited by myself ready for airing. For those who could not come into the studio we would record a Zoom call which I would later edit, add the music and the stories/poems.

Given your interest in our Pushing Out the Boat authors, do you do any creative writing yourself, and if so, what?

Unfortunately, no. I did have a poem in the school magazine when I was 7. English was my worst subject.

Do you have any more shows planned for shmu? Taking everything into account, what was it like working with Pushing Out the Boat? Do you feel it’s something that could be repeated in future?

No, I have no more shows planned this year. I decided to call a halt and retire gracefully. Who knows – maybe sometime in the future we can do all this again. I really enjoyed working with the authors who very graciously gave of their time and energy. The talent out here is tremendous. I would encourage all poets and writers to submit their work. POTB is a brilliant platform.

Pushing Out the Boat would like to give a huge thanks to Loraine, whose hard work and dedication to the magazine has been so enjoyable for readers and radio listeners alike.

Recordings of all eight of Loraine’s WordsUp interviews with POTB authors are available here on the POTB Blog.


POTB at Books and Beans June 2023

By Roger White
posted on 1 July 2023


North East literary types will know the institution that is Poetry at Books and Beans, a monthly evening of readings at the eponymous coffee/bookshop in Aberdeen’s Belmont Street. Coffee, a fine piece and good poetry. What more could you want?

Their format is straight-forward – a guest, or guests, reading and talking about their work in two parts with an open mic slot in between.

Thanks to Judy Taylor (and fellow organisers Jo Gilbert and Kimberley Petrie) the evening of 29th June was devoted to a selection of poets who feature in the latest edition of Pushing Out the Boat. Stepping forward to contribute were Alison Green, Bernie Briggs, Elaine Morrison, Gillian Shearer and Nicola Furrie Murphy, as well as Judy herself. Each read a piece from the latest issue of the magazine plus another poem.

Our commiserations to our editor Lily Greenall who was due to compere the evening but fell prey to a problem with island transport (where else have I heard that recently?).

If you don’t know Books and Beans, get along there to browse their eclectic stock of second hand (sorry, pre-loved) books. And make sure you check out Poetry at Books and Beans on the last Thursday of the month.

Our thanks to the poets who came along to read their work (photos below).

Final Words Up on shmu FM

By Webmaster
posted on 19 June 2023


The arts programme Words Up on shmu FM ran a series of monthly broadcasts featuring Pushing Out the Boat in August 2022 – March 2023. The producers have kindly given us permission to publish copies of the broadcasts here for the benefit of those who were unable to listen live.

Here is the final programme in the series – an interview with Alison Green.

Other programmes in the series

The presenter and interviewer for all the programmes is Loraine Mudie to whom a big thank-you is due for making these programmes and for all the kind words she said about Pushing Out the Boat during the interviews.

Programme 8: An interview with Alison Green

Broadcast 23 March 2023

Part 1 (12.5 mins): Introduction and welcome by Loraine, explaining her interest in Pushing Out the Boat and how she prepared for this show / Alison introduces herself and talks about speaking Doric and how it was discouraged when she was growing up/ Alison talks about how she started writing, then she gives the background to the story she’s going to read: Words O Wisdom frae my Omniscient Auntie [Issue 11, p66] / This is followed by music played on a tin whistle by Alison’s father, Alex Green


Part 2: (10 mins): Alison speaks about her father, Alex Green, and how he started playing the tin whistle / Alison reads her story The Six Wives O Harry Troup  [Issue 12, p22]

[Musical interlude: Six from the musical of the same name]

Part 3: (7.5 mins): Alison describes the experience of submitting to Pushing Out the Boat with some good advice for submitters / Alison speaks about what she like to read / This segment ends with the music Whistling Rufus played by Alex Green 

Part 4: (5 mins): Lorraine gives more details for Alex Green / Alison talks about the poem that has just been accepted for Issue 17, The Droont Quine [Issue 17, p14] / Loraine follows up with more information about Pushing Out the Boat / Loraine wraps up this interview and the series

[Programme ends with The Lark Ascending by Vaughan Williams]

Other programmes in the series

Photos from the launch of Issue 17

By Hilda Frewin (photographer) and Aenea Reid (album maker)
posted on 2 June 2023


Here are some photos taken at the launch of Issue 17 of Pushing Out the Boat on Sunday 21 May 2023 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.

Scroll down for reflections on the event and full details of the programme.

The Launch of Issue 17

By Roger White
posted on 24 May 2023


Pushing Out the Boat Issue 17 was launched on 21 May at an event in the Phoenix Hall, Newton Dee, Aberdeen. A selection of contributors and team members read poems and stories from the new issue and artists displayed the originals of their artwork in the foyer area. Here’s a reflection on the event by our coordinator, Roger White.

Pushing Out the Boat Issue 17 Launch
Is it really two years ago your humble scribe dashed out a blog post on our last magazine launch? Time passes quickly when you’re … well, when you’re in full recovery mode from two years of pandemic.

It seems a lifetime ago that we huddled around our screens for Pushing Out the Boat’s first Covid-cautious online launch in 2021. Now we could actually see the whites of our readers’ and artists’ eyes and engage them in real conversation beyond a sterile ‘chat box’.

If you’ve not been to one of our face-to-face launches, that’s exactly what you get. A chance to hear and discuss great poems and stories read by their authors to an attentive audience, as well a chance to view art suddenly sprung to life from the constraints of the A4 page.

As always, it’s invidious to pick out individual contributions from such a wealth of creativity (see full list below). But let’s especially acknowledge those who joined us from afar for the afternoon – from Dundee (well, just down the road, really), Edinburgh, West Lothian, Glasgow and even Kent. Our thanks especially to our youngest contributor, Niah Thomas and her mum Anna, who were those travellers from Kent. We hope you enjoyed the event (sorry about the Aberdeen weather).

Our thanks also to our foreword author this year, Shane Strachan, the current National Library’s Scots Scriever. You can read his kind words about the magazine (‘a visual feast across beautiful artworks and well-crafted images of language …’) in full here, along with a sample of writing from Issue 17 and a slideshow of the art in the magazine.

As well as our published authors and artists, we added a sprinkling of team members for the first time, reading their favourite pieces from authors unable to attend the launch. It worked for us and we hope it worked for our guests.

The difference from our 2021 online launch was instructive. You can’t beat the real human contact and buzz of a live event. But technology allows contributors and fans from afar to join in. Last time, people logged in from, amongst other places, Italy, Lithuania, Nigeria, and Switzerland. This year we had a plaintive contributor who wrote that she’d definitely have joined us if it hadn’t been for 3,000 miles of ocean between her and us. In all seriousness, could or should we manage a ‘hybrid’ online/face to face launch in 2025? That seems a long way off, but as I say time passes quickly …

Copies of Issue 17 are available from our online shop and from our vendors.

Photos from the launch coming shortly . . . watch this space.

Here is a full list of the readers and artists at our launch. Our thanks to all of them, as well as to those unable to join us.


Kim Crowder – Missives, Missiles, and Moves

Tabitha Gibb – Quite the Journey

Alison Green – The Droont Quine plus The Unmaking of Loneliness, by EM Strang

Karen Macfarlane – While I’m Being Born

Nicola Furrie Murphy – Blue Egg

Gillian Shearer – The Mynah Bird

Don J Taylor – The Sneck

Judith Taylor – Hill of Rubislaw

Niah Thomas (young poet) – The Double Headed Farm


Jean Gillespie – Net

 Nicola Furrie Murphy – Black Swan

Neil Russell – Travels with Kate 1: Incident at the Abbey

Charley Sim – Ulysses; The Ploughman; and The Giant and Me

Ruth Simpson – Magic Carpet Sunday Morning

Team members

Eleanor Fordyce – Scream If You Want Tae Go Faster, by Laura Fyfe

Claire Martin – Loch Lade and Fur Coats, by Elaine Morrison

Judith Taylor – Rewilding by Nathan Castle and Leaving by Dorit Green (both young poets)

Roger White – The Young-Laplace Equation, by Craig Aitchison


More Words Up on shmu FM

By Webmaster
posted on 26 March 2023


The arts programme Words Up on shmu FM ran a series of monthly broadcasts featuring Pushing Out the Boat in August 2022 – March 2023. The producers have kindly given us permission to publish copies of the broadcasts here for the benefit of those who were unable to listen live.

The first three progammes were published earlier on the blog. Here are the next four programmes.  The final programme will follow shortly.

We’ve split the programmes up into short sections, with a brief description of each, and (for copyright reasons) we’ve excluded the music played in these broadcasts.The presenter and interviewer for all the programmes is Loraine Mudie.

4. An interview with Douglas Bruton (broadcast 17 November 2022)

5. An interview with Heather Reid (broadcast 15 December 2022)

6. An interview with Vivien Jones (broadcast 19 January 2023)

7. An interview with Martin Walsh (broadcast 2 February 2023)

8. An interview with Alison Green (broadcast 23 March 2023)

Programme 7: An interview with Martin Walsh

Broadcast 2 February 2023

Part 1 (6 mins): Introduction and welcome by Loraine / Martin tells us about himself and how he became involved with Pushing Out the Boat / Martin paints the colourful background to the poem he’s about to read – New York Dialogue [Issue 14, p28]

[Musical interlude: New York, New York from On the Town]

Part 2: (10.5 mins): Martin talks about his time in Sierra Leone, working for VSO  then gives an introduction to the next story / Martin reads the first part of Momadu and the Sardine Fishers  [Issue 9, p74]


Part 3: (12.5 mins): The story pauses / Prompted by Lorraine, Martin speaks about meeting the Fante people featured in the story and his experiences going fishing with them / Martin reads the second part of Momadu and the Sardine Fishers  [Issue 9, p74]

Part 4: (2.5 mins): Lorraine and Martin chat about the story Martin has just read /Martin talks a bit more about the people of Sierra Leone and the legacy of the slave trade / Lorraine then reads Martin’s poem OoT a Bot’le [Issue 9, p25]

[Musical interlude: Good Morning Starshine from the musical Hair]

Part 5: (10 mins): Martin reads his story set in South America, Malupa and the Flying Bananas [Issue 11, p51]

[Musical interlude: Everybody Salsa by Modern Romance]

Part 6: (3.5mins): Martin talks to Lorraine about what he likes to read / Lorraine wraps up the interview, thanking Martin and giving details of how to contact her at shmu

[Programme ends with The Lark Ascending by Vaughan Williams]
Recordings of the final programme coming shortly – see Words Up Schedule for dates and details.

Programme 6: An interview with Vivien Jones

Broadcast 19 January 2023

Part 1 (15 mins): Introduction and welcome by Loraine / Vivien talks about her writing career then reads her story Daniel Does Lunch [Issue 11, p7]

[Musical interlude: Food Glorious Food from the Oliver the musical]

Part 2: (23 mins): Vivien chats with Loraine about Pushing Out the Boat / Vivien speaks about her interest in Renaissance music and the background to the story she is about to read /To set the scene for the story, David Hatcher plays Recercada Segunda by Diego Ortez, on the viol, a piece recorded specially for this broadcast /  Vivien reads her story Muse and Rapture  [Issue 14, p77]

[Musical interlude: Twelve Bar Blues performed by Eric Clapton]

Part 3: (6 mins): Vivien talks about the connection between Eric Clapton and Renaissance music / Lorraine chats with Vivien about what she likes to read / Vivien explains the background to her next poem Last Night Supper Mevaggisey [Issue 12, p77]

[Musical interlude: Cornwall My Home by Fishermens Friends]

Part 4: (5 mins): Vivien talks about her latest writing project based on artifacts from the Devil’s Porridge Museum / Loraine wraps up the interview with details of how to find out more about Pushing Out the Boat

[Programme ends with The Lark Ascending by Vaughan Williams]
Recordings of next programmes coming shortly – see Words Up Schedule for dates and details.

Programme 5: An interview with Heather Reid

Broadcast 15 December 2022

Part 1 (4.5 mins): Introduction and welcome by Loraine / Heather talks about her writing then reads her poem Saxicola torquata [Issue 14, p61]

[Musical interlude: African Drum Music by Headspace]

Part 2: (14 mins): Heather chats with Loraine about Pushing Out the Boat, the submission process, attending the launches and meeting the team / Heather reads her story Saving Olive Ridley [Issue 15, p14]

[Musical interlude: Under the Sea from the Little Mermaid]

Part 3: (9 mins): Heather gives the background to the poem she is about to read/ Heather reads her poem The Butcher’s Wife [Issue 15, p73] /

[Musical interlude: What’s love got to do with it? by Howard Jones]

Heather chats about what she likes to read, her latest work and her plans for the future / Loraine promotes Pushing Out the Boat  then winds up the interview with details of how to contact her at shmu

[Programme ends with The Lark Ascending by Vaughan Williams]
Recordings of next programmes coming shortly – see Words Up Schedule for dates and details.

Programme 4: An interview with Douglas Bruton

Broadcast 17 November2022

Part 1 (18 mins): Loraine welcomes listeners and introduces Douglas Bruton /  Douglas speaks about his engagement with Pushing Out the Boat then gives the background to the story he is about to read / Douglas read his story When Coal was Lost [Issue 12, p72] / Loraine relates a memory inspired by Douglas’s story

[Musical interlude: Working Man by Rita McNeil]

Part 2: (18 mins): Inspired by the next story, Loraine relates a tale about William Penny, a distant relative then she reads Douglas’s story Waiting for William [Issue 11, p76]

[Musical interlude: Adagio for Strings Sea by Barber]

Part 3: (8 mins): Douglas speaks about his book Blue Postcards then reads an extract [available on Amazon] / Douglas chats about what he is reading at the moment and about his new book, being published in Feb 2023 / Loraine wraps up the interview

[Programme ends with The Lark Ascending by Vaughan Williams]
Recordings of next programmes coming shortly – see Words Up Schedule for dates and details.

Oils well that ends well

By Lily Greenall
posted on 30 January 2023


‘Oil’s Well That Ends Well’: Pushing Out the Boat collaborates with University of Aberdeen and NDC on creative writing workshop

Recently, Pushing Out the Boat was offered the exciting opportunity to collaborate with the University of Aberdeen and the North East’s National Decommissioning Centre in hosting a youth creative writing workshop. The workshop was titled ‘Oil’s Well That Ends Well: New Energy Stories for the North East’ and was held in November at the Decommissioning Centre in Ellon.

It was attended by pupils aged 12-14 from Ellon Academy and was led by Shane Strachan: a well-known North East writer, current Scots Scriever, and long-time friend of Pushing Out the Boat. It was also organized by University of Aberdeen Ph.D. student, Ines Kirschner, who is specializing in the environmental humanities. The workshop aimed to encourage young people to share their views about environmental issues and climate change and to explore these ideas in a piece of flash fiction. The pieces were then entered into a competition.

Pushing Out the Boat is lucky enough to publish the winning entry here. ‘Then vs Now – A Time Before’ is a lovely, thoughtful piece about the possibility of a more sustainable world and a brighter, greener future. The writer is Erin Moore, who is an S3 student at Ellon Academy. Congratulations, Erin!