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Arts / Plenty of endorsements for local authors

Donald S Murray. Photo: Shetland News

SANDWICK-based writer and poet Donald S Murray said he was “chuffed” after learning that one of his plays is set to become a standard school text for both English Higher and National 5.

First published in 2014, Sequamur – Latin for ‘let us follow’ – is the motto of the Nicolson Institute in Stornoway, which is central to the story.

The play centres on the speech the school’s rector William Gibson made when unveiling the plaque for the 148 former pupils who were killed in World War One.

In the play, Gibson, an enlightened figure for his time, expressed his doubts about his own actions when encouraging his pupils to sign up for the war.

Murray said the play had been used in class by English teachers in Lanarkshire for some years and has now been recommended as a school text across Scotland.

Living in Shetland but mainly writing about his native Lewis, Murray described it as an “encouraging sign” that more Scottish text is being added to the national curriculum.

The author is also one of two writers with Shetland links in a list of ten Scottish poets that feature in the autumn edition of the leading American literary magazine Poetry East. The other is Christine De Luca.

“A number of Christine’s poems are inspired by Shetland, including In Your Face and Off the Wall. Discontinuity is a dialect poem,” he said.

“Mine are all part of Weaving Songs (Acair) and inspired by Harris Tweed. My own father was a weaver.”

Meanwhile, John Goodlad’s latest book The Salt Roads received a “somewhat unexpected endorsement” from Scottish author Alexander McCall Smith in the New Statesman’s review of best books of 2023.

McCall Smith listed The Salt Roads as one of his two favourite reads of the year, saying of the book that “you feel the wind, taste the salt: a quiet triumph”.

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