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Winter Moorings

  Anchored stern and bow, sea-logged to the gunwales: So I have moored my mind for the winter ahead. To be the more sea-worthy if all else fails Come better weather and spring buries its dead.   13th December 2012

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Depopulated Shores

Douglas Dunn (Scotland’s greatest living poet), will be giving a reading at an occasion open to the public in the Old Library, All Souls College, Oxford, on 8 November, from 6pm. All are welcome. Professor Dunn’s St Kilda’s Parliament (1981) and a long list of his poems about Scotland’s outer limits were an important, long-term inspiration behind the eventual founding of Archipelago in 2007. Readers will remember that his work first appeared in the second issue of the magazine in the form of a lengthy disquisition – ‘English: A Scottish Essay’ – on the poet’s tongue and its – and his nation’s – relation to the English language. The poem ends, after more than 250 lines, as follows: One day I’ll…

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Ailsa Craig

Those of you who have put out to sea aboard ARCHIPELAGO before will know she is powered by an Ailsa Craig. It’s a thing we take comfort in, as she goes plunging after Seeker Reaper  (Skipper Hay at the wheel) dirling: Long is sgioba,  long is sgioba,  gaoth is gillean, gaoth is gillean . . . Now, after so many months at sea I lose count, and down to our last gugha between us, I am pleased to tell you we have glimpsed land. Issue 7 is almost all in the hold, and we’ll be ready in good time for the men in white coats – the fish-market men – as November dawns on the harbour town and the deciduous…

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High Summer

Geoffrey Hill’s Odi Barbare (see elsewhere on this site) has been shortlisted for the Forward Prize. We send Professor Hill our congratulations and urge readers to order a copy of the book while stocks last. It will not be reprinted. Archipelago 7 is almost all delivered. We have had to postpone at least two pieces to issue 8 having otherwise exceeded our optimum extent. That is, along the lines of the last three issues. Among the contributors: Tim Dee, John Elder, Seamus Heaney, Roger Hutchinson, James Macdonald Lockhart, Michael Longley, Angus Martin, Sandy Moffat, Les Murray, Katherine Rundell, Robin Robertson, Tim Robinson, and other treats and surprises. Among locations touched on: Kintyre, Raasay, Giant’s Causeway, Rathlin, Connemara, Co. Clare, Vermont,…

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Message in a Bottle

  26 April 2012, Newman House, St Stephen’s Green: ‘Over the Irish Sea’ symposium hosted by University College Dublin – Jos Smith of Exeter University gives a talk about Archipelago, its preoccupations, its contributors, and the idea of ‘critical localism’ as a radical stay against globalism. It is inspiring to have the project of the ‘unnameable archipelago’ given serious attention at such an occasion and among so many high-powered scholars. Otherwise, of course, I try not to be too serious. I have bought a first edition of Tom O’Flaherty’s Aran Men All (1934) of which I’ve only read an excerpt before.   2 May 2012: I’m writing this beside the Atlantic at Port Bhéal an Dúin (Port of the Fort’s…

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Memories Are Made Of Fish

With Geoffrey Hill’s latest book of poems in the world at last, I’ve been mending my nets these past few days and had a few prospective shots, for target catches around Barra, the Isle of Lewis, Raasay, Ornsay, Kintyre, on south to Rathlin, then down the Irish Sea and round as far as the Llwchwr Estuary, on the North Gower coast. Things bode well to make the new issue different once again, come November’s high seas, with startling new art and other illustrations too. I’ve left some fixed gear out there off Connemara and in the wider Atlantic, with my eye on a couple of catches, but mum’s the word. I’m using monofilament and I’m not after You-know-who (pace Monsieur…

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Against the backdrop of a stormy sky. . . .

This year we’re flying the Blue Saltire at our masthead as the good ship ARCHIPELAGO jibes and takes the weather’s bearings, steadying sail flapping, bilge pump outlet spluttering, riding light drawing ‘eight and eight’ against the backdrop of a stormy sky. Meanwhile remembering Hugh MacDiarmid aboard the herring fisher Valkyrie (‘lying in his bunk and writing incessantly’) off the Shetlands in 1936, I lie in mine, reading A Book Around the Irish Sea: History without nations by David Brett. Published in 2009, this inspirational study in place and locality has an approach similar in spirit to our manifesto, first published in issue 1 (Summer 2007). The magazine’s line in referring to an unnameable archipelago has been criticised for denying history.…

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Poets of Calling, Ports of Call

GEOFFREY HILL It’s 1 January 2012 as I write this. Geoffrey Hill has been knighted and we send our warm congratulations. We are pleased to have been involved in a successful campaign in his honour and to have written at some length to the appropriate mandarins. Sir Geoffrey is very dear to our hearts and much in mind as we work to bring his new book of poems ODI BARBARE to press. The poet takes fastidious interest in typography and production. Currently we are weighing the odds between Bodoni and Clutag’s more customary Garamond and the issue is the look of the italic in the former. What with one thing and another, it promises to be February at the earliest…

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Uncharted Waters

So now the good ship Archipelago makes headway into the blogosphere, uncharted waters for her, beyond the Seven Seas – the Eighth Sea. If water is the word, which it is not, except for the tear in my eye as I wave the shore goodbye. O terra firma! When shall we two meet again? The experience reminds me of the blackest December day there ever was in my notebook. I was out on Galway Bay aboard our mother ship the immortal Naomh Eanna in 1968. The rain fell so hard it seemed to rise back again in a stratospheric ‘double wet’ – a phenomenon described, on a smaller scale, in Katherine Rundell’s ‘Bate’s Creed’ (Arch 4). It fell and rose…

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Caught By The River

We are thrilled to welcome readers of Caught By The River to the shores of Archipelago! Caught By The River began in summer 2007 and shares much in the way of common ground, and even common contributors, with our own endeavours here at Clutag Press and more specifically with Archipelago. The site encompasses everything from bird watching and urban rambling to poetry, art, gardening and, last but by know means least, fishing. If you are not familiar with our watery friends we recommend that you check them out, starting with a review of our very own ARCHIPELAGO, Issue 5: Caught By The River – Archipelago

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