Edinburgh Review

Editor Brian McCabe’s* vision for Edinburgh Review as a contemporary, progressive journal showcasing original writing and critical thinking is restoring its position as a cultural touchstone. Recent issues have focused on Northern Ireland, Poland, Australia, and the Caribbean, with material now flooding in for the China issue. The device of using a geographical perspective means that each magazine effectively forges a community of thinkers and artists – paradoxically, through this geographically defined forum, unconstrained by artificial borders.

* Edinburgh Review is now edited by Alan Gillis

Made in Poland included work by the Nobel prize-winner Pawel Huelle as well as many fine writers whose work deserves to be better known. Translator Elzbieta Wojcik-Leese threw herself into setting up a host of connections and the outcome was a very exciting poetry section featuring Jacek Dehnel, Tadeusz Rozewicz, Krystyna Milobedzka, Wislawa Szymborska, Jerzy Jarniewicz and Tadeusz Pioro. The continuing strong links between Scotland and Poland were emphasised in the number of contributions from Scots (in the inclusive, Alasdair Gray sense of nationality).

Photographic ‘essays’ have become a strong feature of the Review. In the Polish issue, there were three of these: stark images from Wojciech Wilczyk’s ‘Post-Industrial series, revealing the sculptural beauty of abandoned factories and mines; Ella Chmielewska’s studies of retro neon signs in Warsaw; and, in contrast to these disappearing icons of the past, Desiree Elfstrom’s sequence on Polish shops in Edinburgh, reflecting the vigour of this burgeoning community.

Every issue of the Review has its own dynamic. For Caribbean Logic we turned our eyes west. Carla Sassi, as well as providing an overview of the Caribbean-Scottish relationship, the subject of her research fellowship at Stirling University, put us in touch with other Caribbean writers and scholars. Fortuitously, Jamaican writer Kei Miller had just joined the Creative Writing department at Glasgow University, and he contributed a fascinating ‘rosary of stories’, from ‘a plague of baby crabs’, ‘a haunted house in Guyana’, ‘a woman who was killed twice’ and ‘a tree in Jamaica that bore as its fruit, prophesies’.

As with any magazine, much of what happens - and much that is important - is below the surface and doesn’t actually appear in the published pages. Ongoing relationships and exchanges are being created. For example, following the Calcutta Connects issue, Sria Chatterjee came to Scotland to be an intern with the Review and she is now one of our reviewers alongside Bernard Crick, Jennie Calder, Willy Maley, Tessa Ransford, Joseph Farrell, Sybil Oldfield, Laura Marcus, Hannah Adcock, Valentina Bold, Anna Crowe, Andy Gloege, Stephen Lackaye, among others.

When Edinburgh Review was founded in 1802 it did what it says on the tin: review. Such purism was soon broached as discursive essays also claimed space. The magazine has gone through various incarnations and following the devolution debates of the 1970s has explored the nature of Scottish identity within an internationalist framework, although from very distinct viewpoints under editors such as Peter Kravitz, Allan Massie and Murdo Macdonald.

In the 1980s Alasdair Gray illustrated the Review’s motto: ‘to gather all the rays of culture into one’ and the Review remains true to this vision. Like all periodicals, its flavour is best sampled over a period of time. You can subscribe online at http://www.edinburgh-review.com/ . New subscribers are invited to take out a free subscription for a friend (please email your friend’s name and address to edinburgh.review@ed.ac.uk ); or you can send a cheque made out to ‘Edinburgh Review’ to Edinburgh Review, 22a Buccleuch Place, Edinburgh EH8 9LN. Individual back issues are available at £6.00 each. For an institutional subscription (£34/$54/€54), please email edinburgh.review@ed.ac.uk or make arrangements through a subscriptions agency.

Edinburgh Review Issue 121

Cover of Edinburgh Review issue 121

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