KICKING OFF A VERY STRONG YEAR of new publications, on Tuesday 4th February, 2020 at Poetry Ireland we present the launch of no fewer than five new books:
Double Vision is the umbrella name for two new books by Paddy Bushe; Peripheral Vision is his latest in English, while Second Sight represents the poet’s own selection from three previous Irish language collections (published by Coiscéim), presented here in a dual-language format with accompanying translations by the poet himself. The books are issued as two standalone paperbacks or in a single hardback edition.
Indigo, Electric, Baby is the intriguingly titled, highly lyrical third collection from Patrick Kavanagh Award winner Enda Coyle-Greene.
The Humours of Nothingness, meanwhile, is the latest missive (or should that be missile?) from Cork’s uncrowned Poet Laureate Gerry Murphy, which will also receive a blessing in our southern capital that same week, on Thursday 6th February, at the ever-hospitable Waterstone’s bookshop.
And, finally, The Sundays of Eternity is Gerard Smyth’s tenth collection and, as one poem has it, plays a kind of ‘catch and throw’ with the past.
Later in the year we look forward to, among others, the second collection from Leeanne Quinn, the English language debut of Russian-born Polina Cosgrave (one of the contributors to 2019’s Writing Home anthology, the much-anticipated Selected Poems of Paula Meehan, and an anthology of 100 classical Japanese poems, translated by Nell Regan and James Hadley.
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Following an open call which drew hundreds of submissions, this major new anthology of ‘writing from Ireland’ reflects the changing nature of Irish society, with contributors hailing from all over the world. Selected by Chiamaka Enyi-Amadi and Pat Boran, with an introduction by Pat Boran, the book was launched on 15 October 2019 at Poetry Ireland.
Poets from the ‘new Irish communities’, the ‘hyphenated Irish’, the Irish of mixed cultural, linguistic or ethnic origins, are all represented … The book pays special attention to poems that record the changing nature of Irish society and explore some of the differences between, as well as the similarities among, those who now call Ireland home.
Identity, belonging, ownership, loss, culture and, of course, the complex subject of ‘home’ itself … These are just some of the broad subjects our contributors consider in an anthology that seeks to reassert the importance of poetry in the ongoing discussion about who we are and what we are capable of becoming.
We would like to thank all those who contribute to this important and timely new book, and also the many who submitted work but were not included, on this occasion.
THE FULL LIST OF POETS INCLUDED IN WRITING HOME IS AS FOLLOWS: Sana Al Buraiky, Ali Bracken Ziad, Lynn Caldwell, Polina Cosgrave, Jonathan C. Creasy, Curt Curtin, Chiamaka Enyi-Amadi, Agnieszka Filipek, Viviana Fiorentino, Eilish Fisher, Ewa Fornal, Nicola Geddes, Charleen Hurtubise, Chris Jones, Kayssie Kandiwa, Nithy Kasa, Benjamin Keatinge, Shannon Kuta Kelly, Sven Kretzschmar, Suzzanna Matthews, Jaki McCarrick, Raquel McKee , Victoria Melkovska, Rafael Mendes, Juliana Menezes, Shaiyon Merkel, Nita Mishra, Yameema Mitha, Bruno Morando, Elizabeth Murtough, Emma Must, Chandrika Narayanan-Mohan, Giuliano Nistri, Lianne O’Hara, Art Ó Súilleabháin, Viorel Ploesteanu, Theia Presadă, Michael Ray, Natasha Remoundou, Milena Rytelewska, Simone Sav, Eduard Schmidt-Zorner, Evgeny Shtorn, Dorina Sisu, Csilia Toldy, Eriko Tsugawa-Madden, Bogusia Wardein, Christian Wethered, Landa Wo and Nidhi Zak/Aria Eipe.
Poet Enda Wyley writes about her favourite book of poems
A Book of Luminous Things, Czeslaw Milosz’s anthology of international poetry, is one of my favourite books of poems. Inspiring in content, it succeeds as a collection of short poems personally chosen by Milosz, that range across time and continents, each introduced with a short, insightful comment by this master poet.
The book begins with a brilliant introduction. Milosz quotes Roethke, who spoke of ‘that dark world where gods have lost their way.’ This line sets Milosz off wondering if poetry can find the cures that science, theology and philosophy have ultimately failed to provide. Whether or not you agree with the view posed in this question, I have always found it uplifting that the poet’s conclusion is a resounding yes.
Since poetry deals with the singular, not the general, it cannot – if it is good poetry – look at things of this earth other than as colourful, variegated, and exciting, and so, it cannot reduce life, with all its pain, horror, suffering and ecstasy, to a unified tonality of boredom or complaint. By necessity poetry is therefore on the side of being and against nothingness.
This is a life-affirming book and appropriately starts with a section titled ‘Epiphany,’ which celebrates through poetry the privilege of the moment. There are the epiphanies of landscape which Czeslaw directs us to in the Japanese haiku – the opening samples both tiny flashes of brilliance.
Translation is important in this anthology and many of the poems chosen are translated jointly by Czeslaw Milosz and his friend and co-translator of his own poetry, the poet Robert Hass. Other translators include the poets Kenneth Rexroth and Jaan Kaplinski.
There is a refreshing sense of ‘now’ to these translations. Can anything peculiar happen when a man walks down a street and kicks a can? In their translation of Jean Follain’s poem ‘Music of Spheres,’ Hass and Milosz capture a moment which is simultaneously ordinary and profound.
Who would not want to wake to a poem such as this? There is nothing I love more than to open this anthology at random first thing in the morning and to begin my day by reading whatever poem the pages open on. I feel privileged to be connected on a daily basis with such fine poems – some by poets I had actually never heard of when I first encountered this anthology over two decades ago: Wislawa Szymborska, Jaan Kaplinski, Tomas Tranströmer, Jane Hirshfield, Anna Swir, W.S. Merwin, Zbigniew Herbert, Denise Levertov. I am indebted to Czeslaw Milosz for introducing these poets to me and have also always felt safe as a reader, guided by Milosz’s choice of their poems which he has sorted into sections with compelling titles such as ‘The Secret of a Thing,’ ‘People Among People’ and ‘Woman’s Skin.’
Enda Wyley on a favourite book, A Book of Luminous Things, edited by Czeslaw Milosz
Of these choices, Milosz writes that, ‘my anthology shows that I select mostly poems that express warm feelings.’ The word ‘mostly’ hits a chord for me, as there are poems in the book that have stayed with me precisely for their forbidding nature. ‘I Go Back to May 1937,’ is a poem by Sharon Olds which is cruel in its depiction of her parents standing in the late thirties ‘at the formal gates of their colleges.’ Olds wants to go up to them and warn them about the vile future that awaits them.
Instead, her parents become like paper dolls, which she wants to bang together and say to them, ‘Do what you are going to do, and I will tell you about it.’ Startling for her heinous portrayal of her parents’ life, Olds’s poem is far from ‘warm’ but nonetheless is powerful, driven as it is by passion and the bitter honesty of a daughter.
There’s a poem by Tadeusz Rozewicz too, which once encountered cannot be forgotten, filled as it is with a desperate nihilism (as a young man he fought as a soldier in a guerrilla unit against the Nazis) but one which is also driven by a deep empathy for the human condition.
But the majority of poems in this anthology are joyful, celebrating what Milosz calls ‘things-moments,’ which the poets capture, preserve and have made eternal.
It is to these moments that I turn to every morning. The sun’s up, coffee bubbles on the stove and on the kitchen table, my well-thumbed copy of A Book ofLuminous Things, opens to a new enchantment.
Enda Wyley is a poet and children’s author. She has published five books of poetry with Dedalus Press, the most recent of which is The Painter on his Bike (2019). Her favourite book, A Book of Luminous Things, edited by Czeslaw Milosz was first published in 1998 and may be difficult to find but is currently listed on Amazon here.
For those who may be interested, the following is the full text of our February 2019 response to the Irish Times’ invitation to comment on the MEAS report into Gender in Poetry Publishing in Ireland: 2008–2017.
We appreciate that the newspaper, because of limitations of space, etc, has to edit such responses in the article published today (17 August 2019), but we publish that response here in full in order to present a more complete picture of our current thinking and practice.
AT DEDALUS PRESS we welcome all contributions to the ongoing conversation about old habits, new energies, best practice and the natural expectations of writers and readers to see the world as they experience it reflected in the books that are published. The Gender in Poetry Publishing in Ireland peport is a welcome arrival into a conversation in which we have been actively present for many years.
Over the decade in question (which is slightly shorter than the period during which Raffaela Tranchino and I been at the helm), we have made considerable, principled and determined efforts to position Dedalus as a press that is equally open to female and male, and indeed to younger, mid-career and senior poets. While continuing to represent the poets already on our list, we take a pro-active role in attracting new talent, one of the results of which is, as it happens, a precisely 50/50 gender balance among debut poets over that same period.
When it comes to open submissions to the press, we advertise and operate a ‘blind’ reading policy, meaning we read the work without reference to a contributor’s biographical or bibliographical details (one of the many advantages of the digital-only submission system we employ for this very reason).
Some decades ago, the paucity of female poets being published by a number of presses in Ireland confirmed a real need for imprints dedicated to the work of female writers (one thinks of the trail blazed by the indefatigable Salmon Publishing, and of smaller concerns such as the now sadly defunct Summer Palace Press). In more recent times, the options have improved, not least with the advent of a new generation of can-do editor/publishers, unencumbered by the assumptions and habits of their predecessors. Dedalus Press under our management is actively, cheerfully and demonstrably committed to emerging and established women poets. We are also, and we believe this is not unrelated, actively examining options for reaching out to the community of Irish writers now beginning to emerge whose family antecedents are not of this country. Our name may have strong historical and mythic weight, but our eyes are very much to the future.
It should be noted that prudent signings by a better-resourced range of UK publishers over approximately the period in question has resulted in many notable Irish poets (most of them female, as it happens) having a publisher ‘off-island’ – a real loss to the Irish publishing scene, and one that almost certainly resulted from a lack of support to hospitable imprints here at home.
We do have a concern that a narrowly statistical survey of publishers’ outputs cannot adequately reflect the true nature, volume or range of work from which the published output is ultimately drawn; and we do question the value of assessing an anthology, for example, based on the gender of its editor/s over that of its contributing poets. Nevertheless we broadly welcome this report, and we look forward to seeing, in time, an updated version which will reflect the real and substantial changes and new energies that have come into Irish poetry publishing in recent years.