On 9 July, in the lovely Peerie Shop Cafe — a cosy coffeeshop a stone’s throw from the Lerwick Harbour — we celebrated the print run of our literary magazine, Shetland Create.
As the staff of the Peerie Shop set out delicious trays of cakes and scones (not to mention a few bottles of wine!), I waited for the guests to arrive and reflected on our journey here. Shetland Create has come a long way from where it started. It began with a quick meeting between me and Kirsten in our uni’s postgraduate café and an exciting realisation that we both wanted to pursue a project in Shetland.
Shetland Create was originally published online only, but due to the great success of our CrowdFunder campaign, we raised enough funds to produce a print version. Kirsten and I were inspired by Shetland’s natural beauty and sense of home (Shetland is one of the many places Kirsten calls home), and we used this inspiration to frame our editorial choices for our first issue. The result is a collection of stories, poems, and essays that explore the meaning of home and that channel the beauty of the islands.
We’re proud of the quality of writing in our first issue, which includes the voices of new and established writers, as well as the design of the printed magazine. But while our editorial vision and inspiration for the project were influenced by Shetland, only several of our contributors have Shetland connections. In response, we made new connections and invited a wonderful mix of Shetland writers to read at the launch party.
I’m so glad that we did – what a night! Here’s a small taste of what each writer brought to the event.
Anne-Trine Benjaminsen is a new writer from Norway. She kicked us off with a heartfelt short story of a woman watching her elderly parents grow older.
Debra Nicolson took the tone in a more light-hearted direction with her short children’s story about a wayward cat.
Sally Huband, a local Shetland essayist, read from her essay where she recalls the beauty and wildlife of Shetland on a trip away from the islands. Aptly, gulls were crying overhead as they flew above the nearby harbour, adding the perfect ambiance to Sally’s reading. Check out Sally’s blog here.
James Sinclair continued the Shetland theme by reading poems in the Shetland dialect. I may not have understood all he said, but the rhythm and tone of his poetry was lively and inspirational!
After a wee break, poet Nat Hall took us on a vibrant journey through her Shetland home with a reading from her collection of poems, Compass Head. Compass Head is available on Amazon worldwide, and you can visit Nat’s blog here.
Kevin Briggs shook things up with his dynamic monologue about an enthusiastic homeowner.
Crime novelist Marsali Taylor read an excerpt from the forth novel in her Cass Lynch crime series. I was on the edge of my seat! Marsali’s novels are available on Amazon.
Doug Forrest shared a story from his family history as he read from his nonfiction book Jimmy Wilds: The Solider Who Elected a Government, which is available on Kindle.
We ended the night with a reading by the Out of Bounds traveling poet, Kayo Chingonyi. Out of Bounds has been touring the UK, talking to poets from around the country about poetry and place. Kayo and Dave, the filmmaker taking photos and videos of the event all night, met with several of the writers from the launch to learn more about how their writing is influenced by home and place. Visit their digital poetry anthology here.
Thank you to everyone who joined us for a lovely evening!