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The Arts as Anchor

Chandrika Narayanan-Mohan, one of the contributors to Writing Home: The ‘New Irish’ Poets, on home, belonging and the writing life - Writing Home

Chandrika Narayanan-Mohan, one of the contributors to Writing Home: The ‘New Irish’ Poets, considers home, belonging and the writing life

I had found an aerial shot of Dublin on Google, laid out like an intricate carpet, glowing under the rise of a morning sun; the Liffey a sapphire artery, trees and parks peeking out amongst the low buildings, lush and rain-fresh, and the stretch of sea a long sigh past the Poolbeg Towers, with Howth rising sleepily from the bay in the distance. I remember my chest loosening and the rush of relief that swept across my body. I remember thinking that I could fall in love with this city; it looked like somewhere that could be a home.

I had moved to Dublin in September 2012 after Theresa May’s immigration policies forced me out of the UK, the place I had called home for 7 years. I had to leave my friends, my partner, and the life that I had built; I moved to Dublin to start an MA at UCD where I was lucky enough to be accepted at such short notice. Before arriving, I looked up local events and began booking tickets and making plans so I could dive into a new life as soon as I arrived. I didn’t allow myself to grieve for the life I had lost – Dublin somehow felt right, and to cope, I let myself get swept up in it.

Within a week, I had gotten myself a gig as a contributing writer for LeCool Dublin, after religiously following their London edition for years. Every article of mine that they published helped validate me as someone who belonged here, who knew the scene, the streets, the performers, someone with a finger on the pulse. This was the person I had been before, and this was how I would fast-track a sense of belonging – nobody would guess that I was new here if I already had this under my belt. My knowledge of arts events in the city would be my weapon, my shield, and my armour against being the outsider that I knew I was. Writing about Dublin would make me a Dubliner, I had decided. I would write about the home I didn’t have yet, and pretend it was mine.

‘Home is wherever my underwear drawer is,’ I joked to my friends, knowing that there was no teenage bedroom to return to, or attic full of memories

Chandrika Narayanan-Mohan

As the daughter of a diplomat, home has always been a temporary concept for me. ‘Home is wherever my underwear drawer is,’ I joked to my friends, knowing that there was no teenage bedroom to return to, or attic full of memories. With all my childhood belongings in a storage unit in Blanchardstown, I knew home was a state of mind. It had to be, otherwise, people like me would be adrift forever.

So over the years, I used the arts as an anchor. I absorbed Irish history and culture through theatre, poetry, exhibitions, and cabaret. Buoyed by cultural events and supportive artistic communities, I put myself in front of a microphone for the first time in my life. I discovered I had the ability to tell stories off the cuff, and years later, I realised that I could also perform my poetry, as well as write it. I had written for as long as I can remember, but Dublin had lifted my abilities up to a new level. I lovingly mapped out the Northside in poem after poem, raising her up and praising her in all her sticky glory, in all her cigarette butts, and in the sweetest of mountain-glimpses.

I made Ireland permanent on paper, because I couldn’t make her permanent in my passport.

Living in my studio flat, in a building where white mould grew out of the walls and furred into the air, I claimed the city as my own through writing, gripping tightly to her, terrified of everything that could be taken away from me with the flick of an immigration official’s pen. After almost having to leave twice, rejected permits, unhappy jobs, damaging relationships, and all of my non-EU friends leaving one by one, I became severely depressed and suffered from horrific anxiety. And so, I clung onto Dublin as my friend, my family, and the love of my life instead. I wrote poems like ‘You City, You Boyfriend’. I made Ireland permanent on paper, because I couldn’t make her permanent in my passport.

That poem, and others, are now included in Writing Home: ‘The New Irish’ Poets, published by Dedalus Press, where 50 poets who have claimed Ireland as their home, have told their stories through poetry. It’s telling that out of my 5 poems chosen for the collection, one is about Brexit, two are about traveling across the Irish border, one is about the Irish coast, and one is a love letter to Dublin. These poems have grown from Irish soil and salt, from the blood meal of isolation from close friends and family, and a life in constant limbo. They have been honed by workshops, writing programmes, spoken word nights, and evenings shared with other poets and writers in their homes, or on their stages. They’ve been shaped by voices on both sides of the border, by those who have lived here all their lives, and those who like me, are far from the place where they were born.

These poems have grown from Irish soil and salt, from the blood meal of isolation from close friends and family, and a life in constant limbo.

But more than anything, my poems come from a constant urge to define and claim a home. My words strive to describe this life in Ireland in the manner of someone who belongs here, whilst knowing that otherness echoes around me, sits on the surface of my skin, and rings awkwardly through my mongrel accent. However, my intrinsic unbelonging is no longer something to defend myself against: I have instead turned it into a beating pulse; it is now the redness that flows through the veins of this life, and Ireland is the pen that has turned it into ink.

Chandrika Narayanan-Mohan is a Dublin-based arts manager and writer from India, who has also lived in North America, Sweden, Turkey, and the UK. She has been featured on The Moth and Mortified podcasts, with work aired on NPR and Irish radio, and regularly performs her poetry at literary and cabaret events in Dublin. In 2018 she was a participant in the Irish Writers Centre’s XBorders: Accord programme. She is among the 50 contributors to the Dedalus Press anthology, Writing Home: The ‘New Irish’ Poets (2019).

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Dedalus Press 2020 Vision

selection of books - Dedalus Press 2020 Vision

First a brief recap of the year just ended, then back to the future!

Before we consider the Dedalus Press 2020 vision, let’s take a brief look back at the year just ended.

Bogusia Wardein reading

2019: What A Year That Was

With new collections of poetry from Mary Noonan, Pat Boran, Catherine Phil MacCarthy and Patrick Deeley, Mikiro Sasaki, Enda Wyley and Ross Thompson, and our biggest project of the year, the publication of Writing Home: The ‘New Irish’ Poets, this year more than ever we feel we’ve helped redefine the meaning of the phrase ‘new writing from Ireland’.

Writing Home poets group photograph - Dedalus Press 2020 Vision

WRITING HOME feature in The Irish Times

Writing Home signatures

The Dedalus Press 2020 Vision

THE YEAR AHEAD is every bit as exciting and adventurous. With the first new books already set for publication in early February, our line up for 2020 includes new collections by Enda Coyle-Greene, Leeanne Quinn, Doireann Ní Ghriofa, Gerry Murphy and Gerard Smyth, the much-anticipated Selected Poems of Paula Meehan, the English language debut of Russian-born Polina Cosgrave (one of the contributors to Writing Home), an anthology of 100 classical Japanese poems translated into English by Nell Regan and James Hanley, and a two-volume publication from Paddy Bushe featuring a new collection in English and his selected poems in Irish, accompanied by the author’s own translations.

Patrick Deeley reading - Dedalus Press 2020 Vision

We’ve long been convinced that Ireland is ideally placed to act as a bridge between Europe and the New World, not only to promote our own writers to an international audience, but also to play a central role in the global poetry conversation. We look forward to further exploring these connections in the year (and decade!) ahead.

Enda Wyley and Ross Thompson - Dedalus Press

Become a Friend or Subscriber

BECOME A FRIEND OR SUBSCRIBER to the Dedalus Press and support us in our mission to Spread the Word.

Ranging from €100 to €300 annually, there are three basic levels of support, Paperback, Hardback and Friend, all of which see all new books (a minimum of 8 in the coming year, and where possible signed by the authors) dispatched to subscribers in the week of publication. Any additional, occasional or special publications during the year are also automatically included at no extra cost.

In recognition of their extra level of support, Friends also receive an exclusive Limited Edition publication, not otherwise for sale, comprising new work by poets associated with the press.

selection of books - Dedalus Press 2020 Vision
Mikiro Sasaki Reading

Subscriptions are for a period of one year (Subscribers can choose whether to begin with the next or the most recent Dedalus Press publications). And, in what we think should be standard practice in such matters, Subscriptions DO NOT automatically renew: instead we are more than happy to send a polite reminder to subscribers when their current subscription comes due for renewal.

For more details of the various options available, or to sign up for a Subscription for yourself, or indeed a gift Subscription for a friend or loved one, please see the full details on the Dedalus Press website here.

In any case, thank you for your interest and support during what has been one of our busiest years to date. We hope we can look forward to your continued support in the Dedalus Press 2020 vision in the year to come.

YOUTUBE VIDEO: A brief overview of the work of the Dedalus Press, featuring clips of readings by Enda Wyley, Rafael Mendes, Polina Cosgrave, John O’Donnell, Bogusia Wardein, Mikiro Sasaki, Chiamaka Enyi-Amadi, Theo Dorgan, Jessica Traynor, Evgeny Shtorn, John Kelly, Nidhi Zak and Macdara Woods.

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First New Poetry Books of 2020

4 new poetry books 2020

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.

To be kept informed of new poetry books, launch readings and other events throughout the year, please sign up to our Mailing List.

To subscribe to all new titles in either paperback or hardback editions, click HERE.

Poetry Matters: Spread the Word!

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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.

***

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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Dedalus Press Subscriptions Now Available

Support the Dedalus Press

Support the Dedalus Press and help us in our mission to publish the best new poetry from Ireland and the world. New subscribers, friends and patrons receive all new publications as they are issued. Where possible, books are signed by their authors, making a subscription the ideal gift option for poetry lovers everywhere.

Ranging from €100 to €300 annually, there are three categories of support, Subscriber (paperback or hardback), Friend, and Patron. All those who support the Dedalus Press receive all new books (a minimum of 8 each year,  where possible signed by the authors) in the week of publication. Any additional, occasional or special publications during the year are automatically included at no extra cost.

In recognition of their extra level of support, Friends and Patrons also receive an exclusive Limited Edition publication, not otherwise for sale, comprising new work by poets associated with the press.

Subscriptions are for a period of one year (Subscribers may choose whether to begin with the next or the most recent Dedalus Press publications). And, in what we think should be standard practice in such matters, Subscriptions DO NOT automatically renew: instead we are happy to send a polite reminder to subscribers when their current subscription comes due for renewal.

For more details of the various options available, or to sign up for a Subscription for yourself, or indeed a gift Subscription for a friend or loved one, please see the full details HERE.

Thank you for your interest. Please feel free to contact us if you should like any further information.

 

Full details and subscription form HERE

 

Support the Dedalus Press, and help us in our mission to publish the best new poetry from Ireland and the world.

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Two Exciting Debuts

2 covers - Dedalus Press, poetry from ireland and the world

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

Dedalus Press stamp - Dedalus Press, poetry from Ireland and the world

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

Doireann Ní Ghríofa by Pat Boran/ Dedalus Press, poetry from Ireland and the world

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 cover - Dedalus Press, poetry from ireland and the world

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!