Sunday, January 29, 2006

Death of Peter Kavanagh

Peter Kavanagh, brother of the poet Patrick, died yesterday in New York (see RTÉ TV news item here.

His death will no doubt revitalise the discussion and debate which surrounds not so much his relationship to his famous poet brother, but his relationship to so many others of Patrick’s living friends and admirers. And, of course, readers. How sad, in a world in which poets and poetry are so often marginalised or altogether excluded, that one of the great champions of any poet should have been so jealously possessive of that poet’s memory as, effectively, to erect a wall of worship around him.

NEW TITLES from the Dedalus Press

With the encouraging news of a modest but very welcome increase in financial support from The Arts Council, the Dedalus Press commences 2006 (as I commence this first blog entry) with news of no less than five new titles over the coming weeks.

With so much work to be done (Dedalus is effectively a one-person operation—editor, publisher, typesetter, photographer, administrator, cleaner, tech support, psychiatrist, occasional reader...), beginning a blog might seem like a less than worthwhile use of my time. But in fact that's exactly why it might just have some small value: for the truth is, the world of poetry and poetry publishing is, to a huge extent, made up of individuals, or in some cases two or maybe three people, all of them working away in a kind of microcosm of the publishing world. Financially speaking, at least. Where even a medium-scale non-poetry publisher would be likely to have annual turnover in the millions of Euros, many small poetry publishers throughout the country, and across the world, struggle to bring in even a fraction of the average industrial wage.

In every other way, however, the core work of making books and getting books to readers, in whatever numbers they exist, is more or less identical. And because the role of the publisher/editor/designer/webmaster is not one I have any training in (and therefore, perhaps, not enough fear or reverence of), and because the worth of any press is, in the end, down to the poems it publishes—the poems the poets write or fail to write—leaving aside the manuals and articles on html and colour separation, there's a lot of hoping and willing and voodoo required. And good luck, no doubt... Only time will tell.


February 8th sees the launch of new collections from Leland Bardwell (The Noise of Masonry Settling) and Desmond O'Grady (On My Way), with both poets reading from the books at the Damer Hall, St. Stephen's Green, Dublin 2, at 7.00 pm.

Still in February, the 23rd is the publication date from two eagerly-awaited new Peppercanisters from Thomas Kinsella (Marginal Economy and Readings in Poetry), each in a limited edition of 500. And in March (dates and venues to be posted), Dedalus will publish Fergus Allen's Gas Light & Coke and, the following week, Macdara Woods' Artichoke Wine.

With Dolores Stewart's Presence of Mind published at the beginning of January, and other new titles nearing production from Paul Perry and Mutsuo Takahashi, as well as a Russian anthology from Anatoly Kudryavitsky, to name but three, this is just the beginning of what looks like a busy year ahead.

So, do please consider adding your name to the Dedalus (strictly private and not shared with any other organisation) emailing list, to help me keep you updated on new titles as they appear, and to give me even just a couple of minutes more each evening with my kids. Who knew that poetry publishing, whatever pleasures and joys it might bring, could be so time-consuming?