I can’t keep up with all the fabulous journals, chapbooks and books I get sent/buy/swap. I want to blog about all of them but I’d be here night and day if I did. But I would like to give a swift mention to three that really impressed me lately:
Best Irish Poetry in English 2010, edited by Matthew Sweeney (Southword Editions)
This one is being launched this Wednesday night at 7.30pm in the Munster Literature Centre in Cork with mulled wine, candlelight and mince pies. Oh, how I wish I could be there. Matthew Sweeney is an excellent Irish poet with an eye for the quirky, the absurd and the moving. This is reflected in many of his choices in this handsome production which is an annual event from Southword Editions. He writes a cracking, honest editorial too.
Poets include Séamus Heaney, Leontia Flynn and Kerry Hardie. I even have a poem in there – so proud! Special price of €10 from the site with free P&P within Ireland.
Round the Clock – Christodoulos Makris (Wurm Press)
A poet from Cyprus based in Ireland, Christodoulos Makris writes witty, extraordinary work. This is a chapbook from Wurm Press, described in a review as ‘a controlled explosion of twelve poems that reveal inner prepossessions and fiery confrontations to self, and country. They are charged with desire and a powerful will...’
I was knocked out by the skill of this writer; he deserves to be taken up by one of our good/big poetry publishing houses. In the meantime you can buy this chapbook from his blog, yes but is it poetry?, or indeed exchange it for a book of your own if you are a writer.
Davy Byrnes Stories – as selected by Richard Ford (Stinging Fly Press)
This includes the five shortlisted and one winning story from the recent Davy Byrnes Short Story competition which was administered by The Stinging Fly. Claire Keegan was the eventual winner with her fine story ‘Foster’. It is vintage Claire: it's rural, and concerns a young girl and a background tragedy. It has beautiful detail and the sparse dialogue is pitch perfect.
All of the stories are good, of course - some I enjoyed more than others. Kathleen Murray’s ‘Storm Glass’ is beautifully layered and it plays with the notion of truth and memory and family secrets. It is gentle and gorgeously well written.
What is nice too is that each writer introduces their story with a short piece on its genesis. Fascinating.
Buy here for €10 which includes P&P.