We are delighted to announce the publication of PENning Water, the fifth issue of New Writing, Scottish PEN's on-line magazine, and to welcome as our featured writer Aminatta Forna. Aminatta, a novelist born in Scotland and raised in West Africa, will be known to Scottish PEN readers as one of the two writers who contributed to the lively discussion at the PEN Lecture at the Edinburgh International Festival this year. In ‘Love Stories’, she tells what has inspired creative writers in Sierra Leone as the country recovers from war.
Water proved an inspirational subject for our own Scottish-based contributors - who in this issue come from places as diverse as Scotland, Zimbabwe, Shetland, Pakistan, Congo, Syria, and Sri Lanka. Our latest issue takes a journey through watery celebrations, transformations, memories and fears in poetry and prose. We were delighted with the response - 29 submissions in all, from which we have selected 17, giving priority as usual to those from immigrant writers, including some for whom writing in English is a new activity alongside experienced practitioners.
Water is a universal theme and, varied as the submissions were, many of them played off each other, like light on water. Linda Cracknell, who has professional experience of editing themed anthologies, has arranged the poems to reflect (in every sense) the interplay of subject and mood - a departure from our usual alphabetical order which we hope will enhance your pleasure in the collection. You will find here pieces on monsoon and drought, fetching water and walking in rain, rivers and oases and - naturally from writers living in a country where the coast is never very far away - the sea. Immerse yourselves!
Anne Clarke, Linda Cracknell, Lindsey Fraser, Fiona Graham
Ak Welsapar was born in 1956 in the former Soviet Republic of Turkmenistan. After six years of membership, he was excluded from the Soviet Writers’ Association following his publication of investigative articles about major ecological problems in Turkmenistan. He left his home country in 1993 and now lives in Sweden, where he is a member of the Swedish Writers’ Association. He has also been an honorary member of the International PEN-Club since 1993. He has published 19 books and received many national and international awards. He writes in Russian, Turkmen and Swedish. His works have been published in a number of languages including Turkmen, Russian, Ukrainian, English, French, Swedish, Spanish, Turkish, Mongolian and a few languages from the former USSR. He was invited to represent Turkmenistan in the Poetry Parnassus event held at the South Bank in London this summer as part of the Cultural Olympiad and the poem we reproduce is the one he read on that occasion.