climate | Scotland | action | writing

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.


Sunset over a sea scape. Islands in the distance.

Issue Three: A Turn of the Sun

Guest Editors: Chris Powici & Leonie Charlton

‘Patient, plodding, a green skin growing over whatever winter did to us, a return to the strange idea of continuous living despite the mess of us, the hurt, the empty.’ writes US Poet Laureate Ada Limón in her poem Instructions on Not Giving Up. Now, more than ever, at the end of this storm-and-war-wracked winter, we welcome the greening of the trees as a reminder to keep going, and not only to keep going but to attend to personal and planetary ecologies, to do whatever small acts can be done to make positive indentations on climate, biodiversity and relational collapse. Love, and not giving up, is what it takes to keep a body, a planet, going. The poems and essays in Issue Three of the Paperboats Zine include clear sighted, loving and courageous testimonies of what is happening – and of what is coming – to this planet, and its dazzling ecology of beings.

Paperboats on harbour steps

Issue Two: By Stone. By Wood. By Water

Guest Editors: Kathleen Jamie & Chris Powici

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. 

Sea waves crashing onto rocks

Issue One: This is What the World Was Like

Guest Editors: Elaine Morrison & Sandy Winterbottom

As nature writers, we are more comfortable in the wild, semi-feral, immersed in the rich diversity of life that has – incredibly – evolved on this planet. Where else in the entire universe might exist gannets or whales or echoes of wolves? It is a rare place indeed, and you will see from these vivid accounts, that this Earth is extraordinary. But you will sense the undertow of fear too. It is the opening line of Chris Powici’s lingering poem, Loch Striven, titling this issue, that is most haunting of all: ‘This is what the world was like.’ As you read these pieces, remember this phrase; it is time stamped like a watermark through its digital pages.


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.
Our submission window is now open until the 9th August, for Issue Four of the Zine edited by Leonie Charlton and Karen Lloyd.
We accept up to 1500 words of prose (short fiction or creative nonfiction) and/or up to 60 lines of poetry.
We look forward to reading your words. – Paperboats Editors

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 campaigning for climate justice.