Paperboats Zine

The urge to explore and celebrate all the kinds of lives of Planet Earth is stronger than ever, but the environmental and ecological crisis demands we also lift our eyes, and our voices, to species extinction and habitat loss, to what is happening to the forests and hills, the rivers and seas, our streets and gardens. The writer’s instinct to pay attention has never been more vital. Literature can help us to see the natural world – and our place in it – differently.

November 2023


Chris Powici and Kathleen Jamie

Issue Two: Introduction

The poems and essays in Issue Two of Paperboats show why we need to keep speaking about how beautiful, necessary, how lump-in-the-throat astonishing the lives on this planet can be, and how vulnerable they are – including human lives – to climate change and other perils. But there is hope on offer as well, in our capacity to re-imagine our place on earth, and in the too often-overlooked truth that we are neighbours not just to one another, but to the other lives with whom we share the earth. In their different ways, the writers throw these questions into the finest relief, with passion and compassion, with quiet (and unquiet) rage and humour, and with imagination and the keenest eye (and ear) for the world about them.

This is urgent writing for an urgent time. From 9.30am, on the morning of 23rd November we’ll be gathering outside the Scottish Parliament Building to make our politicians feel this urgency. We’ll have plenty of words to say, and indeed, plenty of paper boats to float, carrying messages of change and hope. If you can make it, join us.

– Kathleen Jamie & Chris Powici

Imagine a world without ice

  Imagine endless blue, imagine an absence dumb with extinction – polar bear,  penguin, walrus, whale –    unfrozen oceans where once you could walk

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Dinosaur Valley

Sic a drouth, watters recede tae kythe fitdunts lang hidden,  merks left bi the clauts  o muckle craiturs plowterin  in a shallae sea, een tae 

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Sly Bold Reynardine

It was four o’clock in the late summer morning, still full dark now that the nights were stretching again but greying a little towards dawn.

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Royal Funeral, 2022

I want a protocol for the end of Eurasian Starlings – clipped tones, pronouncements and on the grouse moors well-cured skins should hang at half

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Fieldfares at rest

Hurtled from high Blamanen by Bergen to this resting-field at my door,  where they catch breath for the next flight.   I see them not

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The Black Burn

The Black Burn’s origins were dark and mysterious. It emerged ten feet broad and several inches deep from between two hedges of scruffy hawthorn near

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Revisiting the Forest Walk

Years since we walked this way. We’ve forgotten the landmarks; loggers have cleared much of the woodland.  Bald slopes are littered with tree-trash.   We

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I dreamt a wood

in which I was lost, carrying a colourless cloud of grief  in a close half-dark. Roots grasped at me; moss underfoot was radioactive green.    

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Each autumn our small suburban garden is filled with sycamore seeds. They helicopter down from a mature tree on the green space backing the row of

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Limits of Language

The coca-cola water of this river  pours and pools in sudden calm  between the rocky arms of land,  and here an otter coils,   coils,

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We heard them long before we saw  the squabblers hove into view one night,    white bellied geese, lit from below, and flying  tired –

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August 2023



In early 2023, an informal gathering of nature writers with some loose connection to Stirling University, took place. We talked of the ways in which

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Loch Striven

This is what the world was like.   The Atlantic narrowed to a slither of sea between long, gorse-yellowed hills. A gannet flew close to

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The Forth Whales

It’s a sky-blue afternoon, with combed out clouds and an onshore breeze. From your bench high on grassy bluff, the view is of twin coastlines

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Solan Goose Summer

  Troup Head – Scotland’s only mainland gannet colony: a pungent aroma of guano fills the air as I walk closer to life on the

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We publish essays, short fiction and poetry that reflect our commitment, and which focus on Scotland as home ground – writing that shows honesty, care, curiosity and skill. Submissions in English, Scots or Scottish Gaelic, are welcome from writers within and outwith Scotland and we particularly welcome submissions from under-represented groups.

Submissions for Issue Two have now closed. Find out more here.


The climate crisis is global. While our nature in Scotland is only beginning to suffer the impacts of an increasingly unstable climate, we recognise the majority world has been on the frontline of this crisis for more than thirty years. 

We welcome contributions on the climate and ecological crisis from further afield in our Dear Scotland section of the zine. Please get in touch if you would like to share your stories

Message us at:

a wee note about payment

We would love to pay our writers – we really would, but we’d love to pay our admin staff too. As it is, paperboats has been put together using our own time and funds in solidarity with activists worldwide who dedicate their time and energies to the climate movement without recompense. That said, if anyone would like to contribute to paperboats, then that might change. However, our first priority for funding is to pay our Dear Scotland writers who stand on the frontline of the climate emergency, yet have done so little to cause it. Their stories need to be told.

If you are interested in making a financial contribution to paperboats, please say