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INVERNESS BOOK FESTIVAL REVIEW: Voices of Northwords Now


By Margaret Chrystall


Writers featured from this issue shared their work.
Writers featured from this issue shared their work.

THERE was the chance to hear the work of four writers at a session of readings from Highland new writing champion Northwords Now.

All featured in the quarterly magazine which cmes in the form of a tabloid newspaper, three writers entertained the Inverness Book Festival audience with selections from their own work.

But also, they each chose to read aloud poems (featured in the magazine) by the late Whitebridge poet Ian Abbot.

Inverness writer Jennifer Morag Henderson confessed: "I wasn’t familiar with Ian’s work, but I looked it up, really like his poems and discovered he also a performed his work well too."

She chose his poem Climbing Through Ammonites – bringing it alive for those present.

Then Jennifer introduced her own poem River And Child.

"It’s the River Ness, obviously! " she said.

"But I’ll not say too much about poems which will hopefully tell their story.

Moving on, she said: "The next poem is not set in Inverness, bit it’s a little bit about Jura and Orkney – Tomorrow There’s The Island."

Jennifer also shared the story of a project she had been involved with at Inverness Museum about the nineteenth century Inverness sculptor Alexander Munro.

Munro had been a well-known figure in Inverness who’d worked with the Pre-Raphaelite artists in London and had been friends with two of the movement’s major figures, Dante Gabriel Rossetti and John Everett Millais.

One of his sculptures of the provost’s two children had stood in the Town House, Jennifer told us, paid for by Invernessians proud of his achievements.

Another sculpture he kept in his studio was of the notorious Duchess Of Sutherland, "responsible for the Clearances". His work inspired Jennifer’s Alexander Munro’s Sculpture.

Time spent in Halifax, Nova Scotia, triggered her last reading, Holding The Memory Tight Like An Emigrant.

Rody Gorman read Ian Abbot’s poem On That Day which features in the latest Northwords Now, along with Rody’s six poems – part of a sequence about Irish hero Sweeney.

These poems explained why Rody had told Northwords Now editor Christopher Powici that he wrote in Irish, English and "Sweenish".

Regalia gave a detailed description of Sweeney’s battle gear, but it was the list – as if from a dictionary of Sweeney’s often onomatopeic translations of often random English definitions – that added whimsy and pure musicality of sound to relish.

Third writer John Glenday’s article in the quarterly also tackles the mysteries of the art of translation and a face of Iraq quite different from the news media accounts.

The showcase was a tantalising reminder of the exciting discoveries you find regularly in the new writing of Northwords Now. It has evolved over the years, most obviously from the magazine format of its early days to its current tabloid newspaper format.

But some things don’t change,

It’s an essential read for anyone interested in discovering new voices – and the best writing from across the world.



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