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Gender and Poetry Publishing in Ireland

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.

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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.

Pat Boran, Dedalus Press, 09 February 2019

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Two Exciting Debuts

AT DEDALUS PRESS, as well as publishing books by some of the best known names in Irish poetry, we’ve long dedicated ourselves to working with the rising generation of writers, many of whom are equally as comfortable on the stage as on the page.

We’re particularly pleased now to be issuing the debut collections of two of the most admired of the younger poets now publishing and performing across the country. Erin Fornoff and Elaine Cosgrove very much have their own distinctive voices, but what they share is a passion, an urgency and a belief in the power of the word, spoken and written, that promises much for their respective futures.


Small Town Synaesthesia

Erin Fornoff

At the station, slicks of oil tie-dye the puddles
in the concrete, below the pumps, as they tick over
the litres and gallons. They reflect the sun,
turn it wild, hold it in the cracked dips of the ground.

When he balances the till at the end of the shift
the numbers throb coloured across the spectrum;
they cast a lemon scent when the totals align.

The streetlight haze makes him taste salt.
Sneakers hum, make a pale green sound
as players fight for the rebound.

Colour: his secret language. Smell and taste and noise:
his tangled fluency. Can he grow to see his unruly filter
as a gift, beyond affliction? Turn his own faulty wiring
into some exalted circuitry?

The door chimes in the town’s one restaurant.
It blooms a purple sheen behind his eyes, and dims
as the noise fades. They know him when he walks in.

He’s been hanging out at this same gas station,
drinking this same beer, having this same chat,
since growing pains disheveled his sleep. He’s mastered
the edit of his own thoughts.

Small towns remake teenagers
into polished stones, tumbled by peer pressure,
grey as concrete. Every sound dances an acid trip
across his brain. He wonders what shapes
the train whistle makes when it blows
in other places. He is oil catching sunlight.

 

Sonnet

Elaine Cosgrove

What does the failed heart know anymore?
Does it know to live on until it dies;
to stop being a balled-up fury
of wringing hands that bathe in salt to wrinkles?
What does the breaker know of the lupine days
paid for on a three-bedroom at minus one,
minus you; Canary-coloured walls ear
the bounce-back of silence over dinner.
What does the connection do when it’s gone?
How do the lines fill up their hollow gaps
with new wires? Will the feedback from the
permanent interruptions make you turn off the sound?
    This from your breaker: learn to make
    a joy that’s all your own and make it very loud.

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Join the Dedalus Press Mailing List to avail of special offers and keep up with news of new publications.

Our programme for 2017 features an exciting range of new books by both well-known and up-and-coming writers, as well as one of our most ambitious anthology projects to date in the shape of The Deep Heart’s Core.

Thank you in anticipation for your support for small press publishing. Poetry Matters: Spread the Word.

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Doireann Ní Ghríofa Receives 2016 Rooney Prize

Congratulations to Doireann Ní Ghríofa who, on 02 Sept, in its 40th anniversary year, received the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature for her poetry.

 

Dedalus Press is proud to have published Doireann’s English-language debut, Clasp, described as follows by Nyla Matuk in Partisan Magazine’s Year in Books:

“a moving study of the fragility of our bonds: those between mother and child, and between ourselves and the animals, people, former selves, and places in our minds and midst. The poet’s empathic considerations are applied to history as well, which she concretizes to reveal moral transgressions in Ireland’s past… Clasp is remarkable for its detailed observational capacities of a concrete yet fraught quotidian life.”

More details of the award may be found here: https://www.rte.ie/culture/2016/0905/814341-rooney-prize/

And Doireann Ní Ghríofa is among the guests on The Poetry Programme on Saturday evening (10 September 2016) at 7.30 pm, RTÉ Radio 1, for a feature on the Prize, which also includes Dedalus poet Gerard Fanning. (See RTÉ website for links if the date has passed.)

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The Level Crossing, issue 1

The Level Crossing 1 - contentsWe’re finally there with issue 1 of  THE LEVEL CROSSING (see HERE).

THE LEVEL CROSSING is the new occasional journal of poetry and poetry-related prose from Dedalus Press. This first issue includes new work by poets from Ireland, the UK, the US, Australia, Canada, Poland and Korea, among others, poets already associated with the press as well as more than a dozen writers with no previous connection.

The issue features a report by Keith Payne on the new Galician poetry, Gerard Smyth on B.H. Fairchild, Vincent Woods’ writing on Macdara Woods’ new book, Music From The Big Tent, and Pat Boran on the attractions of haiku and landscape.

There are new poems by Catherine Ann Cullen, Doireann Ní Ghríofa, Jane Williams, Tom Matthews, Hanyong Jeong and James Silas Rogers, among others.

Gerry Murphy writes about being a poet / lifeguard, and Grace Wells considers the poem ‘Selkie Moment’ from her recent collection, Fur.

There’s a sample of contributions – by Karl Parkinson, Jennifer Matthews, Paul Perry and Jessica Traynor – from the forthcoming anthology The Deep Heart’s Core: Irish Poets Revisit Their ‘Touchstone’ Poems.

And we’re delighted to present our feature on ‘Poems of Place’, the poems being drawn from over 900 submissions received in a recent open call for submissions.

In putting together THE LEVEL CROSSING, we set ourselves the target of producing a magazine that, in content, feel and attitude, was positive, outward-looking and, not to overstate the case, didn’t look like it was produced in the 19th century. For a first issue, we’re happy and excited with the result but can see lots of ways we could further improve. With a bit of luck, we’ll get that chance: after all, the barriers come down, but then the barriers also go up again!

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