Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Airborne: Poetry from Ireland anthology on iBooks

The new Dedalus Press anthology, Airborne: Poetry from Ireland, is now available for the iPad via Apple's iBooks.

Edited by Pat Boran and featuring over 150 pages of poetry from more than two dozen poets, together with a small selection of audio clips of  poets reading their work, Airborne is the first such anthology from an Irish poetry publisher and will be an ideal introduction to contemporary Irish poetry for the student and general reader alike.

Among the poets whose work features in Airborne are: Leland Bardwell, Paddy Bushe, Theo Dorgan, Paul Perry, Mary Noonan, Macdara Woods. For further information, visit the iBooks store.


IRISH POETRY HAS LONG OCCUPIED an enviable place on the international literary stage, with a reputation one might expect from a much larger country and, indeed, community of writers. The strength of the oral tradition here is said to part of the explanation, as is the inherently bilingual nature of the Irish psyche, in which two official languages, Irish (or Gaeilge) and English, interact and overlap, notwithstanding the disparity between the numbers using each on a daily basis. Whatever the reason, there is undoubtedly a strong oral dimension to Irish life and an admiration and respect for verbal dexterity in all its forms. Poetry, as is often remarked upon by visitors, appears in national newspapers, is given airtime on national radio and is very much part of the national conversation; our current President is a published poet, and the Republic's first President Douglas Hyde (1938-45), was a celebrated translator and scholar of Irish poetry. For many, in Ireland and farther afield, poetry is often seen as the national art form.
The present anthology draws on recent publications by more than two dozen poets associated with one of the country's most energetic and outward-looking imprints, the Dedalus Press. It is intended as a general introduction to contemporary poetry from Ireland. For students or regular readers of Irish poetry, it will be seen to contain both familiar and new names; for newcomers to the subject, it will provide what I hope is an approachable and accessible point of departure for further explorations. Suggestions for some further reading will be found in Section 3, as will links to the website of the publisher where you'll find details further links to organisations and agencies charged with the promotion of Irish poetry and writing in general. As the Dedalus Press is an English language publisher, links to presses whose speciality is the Irish language are also included.
Irish poetry is very much a living tradition. Visitors to Ireland may be interested to know that poetry readings and gatherings of all kinds and sizes take place throughout the country (not just in the main cities) more or less all year round, often as part of local literary programmes but also at multi-disciplinary arts festivals on a considerably larger scale. These public (and often free) events are a wonderful way to make first contact with contemporary Irish poetry, to encounter it as song and praise and communication in a way which is often difficult to appreciate if all of one's previous interactions were through textbooks.
To that end we've set up the AudioRoom podcast, available on iTunes, presenting readings and talks given at the launches of new Dedalus books, or, as we like to say, "opening the intimate room of poetry to everyone". Described in The Irish Times as "An invaluable new dimension on the Irish studies front", AudioRoom: New Writing from Ireland is another accessible way to get your bearings in the busy and diverse world of contemporary Irish poetry. (We've inserted a couple of small audio samples here and there through the text.)
Dedalus Press is one of a number of small presses in Ireland that, with the support of An Chomhairle Ealaíon / The Arts Council, publishes contemporary Irish poetry. At Dedalus we think of that mission as being equally about supporting writers as they continue to develop and about enabling new writers to reach an audience for the first time, about responding to readers already within reach and about reaching out to those all over the world who, as digital communications continues to change our lives, might well be in the seat next to us in the intimate room of poetry.
Though we've published all sorts of anthologies over the quarter century we've been working for Irish poets, Airborne: Poetry from Ireland is something of a new departure for us, an anthology with no direct counterpart in the physical world. In that sense, too, the work is airborne, ether-borne, one might say, finding its way through the world by an almost magical process, as all good poetry does. If you enjoy the work you find here, maybe you'd consider posting a response to it on your favourite social media account or blog. We are all, in one way or another, ambassadors for the things we like and believe important in the world. Hence our motto: Poetry Matters: Spread the Word.

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