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A Late Voyage to St Kilda

The New Year is already well underway. The long-hand on the clock is stretching towards the light, as a drowning person’s hand might reach for rescue. Spring is beginning to bury its dead. The evenings delay their roosting little-by-little. And when night at last rises up in the shadows and thickens, on come the desk-lamps, out come the maps and charts, and the serious dreaming begins, in the best spirit of Baudelaire’s ‘Le Voyage’. You should not wish your life away. You only have one. But I would throw all the days between now and the end of May overboard, if I could, and put out this moment from Leverburgh, on Harris, for St Kilda. That is my plan, if the two-day window I’ve booked opens on accommodating seas. In some ways to embark for St Kilda is nowadays almost as hackneyed as setting out to climb Everest. But I’ll turn a blind eye to all that and seal myself away into the experience. Before I go I’ll glue into my notebook for handy reference a photocopy of the little map of the St Kildan archipelago from Martin Martin’s A Late Voyage to St Kilda (1698). The earliest map of the islands we have, it’s posted here (with its accompanying quaint drawings of Fulmar and Assilag (Petrel)). Martin sailed in the company of a man called Campbell and so shall I, but not in an open boat ‘to the almost manifest hazard of his life’ (Donald J. Macleod), nor ‘on a mission to pacify the recalcitrant inhabitants of the most remote island in the Hebrides’ (ODNB entry on Martin).

Meanwhile, needs must, and Clutag is busy not only commissioning Archipelago 8 for later this year – having already netted some remarkable work and being almost home and dry – but also making ready at the end of March to publish REVENANTS – Alan Jenkins’s sixth collection of poems; and John Fuller’s sonnet sequence Sketches from the Sierra Tejeda (in a new for Clutag pocket format).

Derailed a little in producing ARCHIPELAGO: THE DOCUMENTARY we have readjusted our timetable and now hope to have the finished product before the year is out or sooner, if possible, to coincide with publication of Archipelago 8.

Advance ordering functions via the website for the new publications will be available shortly. PLEASE NOTE : Clutag Press now has a Facebook page. Tell your friends.


23rd February 2013