Issue 17

Published by Pushing Out the Boat, 2023

Issue 17 of Pushing Out the Boat, North-East Scotland’s Magazine of New Writing, was launched on Sunday 21st May 2023 at the Phoenix Hall, Newton Dee, Aberdeen.

Click to take a look inside

Cover: Harbour
image by Orla Stevens

FOREWORD by Shane Strachan

In one of Em Strang’s poems included in this issue of Pushing Out the Boat, one of the strongest issues yet, the following description of a moth on a bedside table could easily be a description of poetry itself: ‘It looks without flinching, lets itself be looked at in return.’ It is a poem that reminds of the power of turning away from the fast-paced flood of distractions in our lives to give our full attention to something before us, to take it in, as though in slow-motion, as though seeing it for the first time. This is the gift that literature gives us.

So many of the poems and stories held in your hands carefully and meticulously re-enact the process of looking, whether that be from the speaker’s visual memories of the past and of loved ones lost, or readings of the physical world before them which result in a sense of freedom and hope for the future. We are gifted the opportunity to see through another’s eyes, experiencing how they interpret a wave, a walnut, a painting, or a person sat across the train carriage (and across time) studying their own reflection in the window.

However, several pieces also remind of us of the deceptive nature of appearances – the outward calm of a mountain may hide the turmoil of the bubbling lava within, about to erupt. Bodies, clothes, and even words printed on facemasks may tell a different story from the ever-shifting interiors of those we look upon and interpret.

As this year’s Scots Scriever at the National Library of Scotland, I’m particularly pleased to see strong works wholly and partly in Scots, with our leid being used to great effect and across regional varieties. It is even more pleasing that these pieces take new approaches to the old-age struggle of knowing whether tae spik or nae tae spik, as well as the original ideas of a Doric-spikkin mynah bird, a young girl’s copy of Sunset Song annotated with translations from Scots into Arabic, and the experience of clinging to this rock we call Earth, spinning through space at ‘sixteen hunner mile an oor’…

This is a special issue of Pushing Out the Boat – a visual feast across beautiful artworks and well-crafted images of language which has much to be savoured throughout.

Shane Strachan is a Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Aberdeen where he graduated with a PhD in Creative Writing in 2015. He is the current National Library of Scotland Scots Scriever, writing new work in Doric inspired by the national collections. As well as a creative non-fiction book, Nevertheless: Sparkian Tales in Bulawayo (amaBooks, 2018), his stories and poems have appeared in New Writing Scotland, Northwords Now, Gutter, Stand and other national literary magazines and anthologies. He has also staged work with the National Theatre of Scotland and, following the award of Scottish Book Trust Robert Louis Stevenson Fellowship in 2018, he exhibited his spoken-word project, The Bill Gibb Line, in Aberdeen Art Gallery across 2020–2021.


– view list of contents

Sample Pieces:

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‘Elocution’ poem by Jacqueline Tweddle

‘Loch Laide’ poem by Elaine Morrison

‘Scuttled Memories’ poem by Elizabeth McCarthy

‘Saved Frae Droonin’ poem by Andy Murray

‘The Young-Laplace Equation’ extract from story by Craig Aitchison

‘The Mynah Bird’ extract from story by Gillian Shearer

‘Just Like Lynda Carter’ extract from story by Emma Mooney

The stories by can be read in full in Issue 17


Art featured in this issue:

Click on a thumbnail to view full-screen slideshow.

3 thoughts on “Issue 17

  1. Had a very successful launch today. It was delightful to hear some of the poems and stories read out loud by their authors and to see some of the artwork on display. Thanks you to everyone who participated.

  2. Pleased to get a comment from a contributor to our fundraiser last year whose donation brought him a complimentary copy of Issue 17 – ‘Magazine arrived this morning – it’s magnificent, one of the very best the team has produced. ‘ Can’t say fairer than that!

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