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Omnium-gatherum

Here to remind you of Lilliput Press’s Archipelago: A Reader, edited by Nicholas Allen and Fiona Stafford, and launched in Convocation House, Divinity School, The Bodleian Library, Oxford, on 10 November, and by Zoom from the Dublin Literary Festival, the next day. Surely, the ideal Christmas present for all those of an archipelagic persuasion. Here’s what M. C. of the Times Literary Supplement  had to say about it: Deirdre Ni Chonghaile made a landmark/seamark contribution to Archipelago 12, ‘Greim an fhir bháite’ (The grip of the drowned man). It is included in Archipelago: A Reader. Now she has an important new book out from University of Wisconsin Press. This book is a must for all serious students, and amateurs like…

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Until Depth Do Us Part

The Harbour Light . . . . . . . . . . . .  lowered and lifted – a canary in a mine-shaft fluttering guttering but unquenched. Lead kindly as she wrangles and haggles for passage through wheeling collisions of light flashed at death’s threshold, hell’s mouth, heaven’s gaping gate, the narrow strait and close scrape, Davy’s Locker and lamp together, rocky seamark and landmark vying on a soul’s darkest before the dawn, gull and gale crying until depth do us part – glass-eyed cod, haddock, monk, on ice – the crew, lids propped, dying to turn in, to drown in sleep until they wake restless to put out again as much for the sake of it as for…

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After Tim Robinson’s Time in Space

i.m. Máiréad Andrew McNeillie and Tim Robinson at Roundstone, March 2001 After the obituaries, the éloges and sail-shaped remembrances. After the crowds have left on the boat and the pollution of their footfall dies away with the evening. After autumn’s equinox begins the purer dream of winter – that’s when to settle in to work and when I’ve thought of you most often, in the capital of monochrome, at Fearann an Choirce, in your storm-walled house with its empty window-frame, overlooking the west. And after all now, I find myself thinking of you all the time – bald, and silent as a Buddha as you’ve become, staring from a photo on my wall, from the night we first met, as…

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Number 13

Since Archipelago 12 sailed into the world, we’ve all been stood down, though the wheelhouse is still spinning in its wake and beside itself. I gave the Tannahill Lecture at Glasgow University in February: ‘Theatres in the Round’, about islands, from Inis Mór to Whalsay, and their lives, in print, in image, and in themselves. The lecture was subsequently edited into five parts and published in the culture pages of the Scottish daily the National – a fine institution, very much of the times, proud to be dismissed by the quisling Michael Gove as ‘The worst newspaper in the world.’ Meanwhile Brexit glooms over Scotland the latest cauchemar out of England. Send it home to think again: Enlightened Scotland must…

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Night-Snow

Night-Snow wee song for Sydney Graham The real poem never ends. The blizzard beneath its last footprint is where we search in its memory, the blizzard that is also night as fresh on your face as snow. Night-snow the ultimate a body must weather, body I say, but I mean soul out on the manhole sea where the littoral-minded sail beyond Cape Metaphor to be. And Sydney Coastguard keeps his watch ticking on course for Greenock, with Alfred Wallis at the wheel aboard the good wreck Alba. For who but a blind one can’t see Scotland from Cornwall? – every small hour of the year with the heart in the right direction and a glass to his eye.   In…

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Richard Murphy

Richard Murphy was not just a friend of Archipelago and of the Clutag Press. Through his first collection of poems Sailing to an Island (1963), he was a key figure in the history of the entire venture, a founding father in what we might call the archipelagic turn, taken so notably also by Norman Ackroyd and by Tim and Mairead Robinson. Andrew McNeillie’s An Aran Keening (2001), given him by Bernard and Heather O’Donoghue, was he wrote in June 2016 ‘the last prose work I have read from cover to cover with joy all the way’ and on its author’s birthday 12 August that year ‘What a good decision you made at the age of 22, it seems to me,…

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The Last Voyage

‘Winter Tide: The Last Voyage’  Andrew McNeillie © 2017 If you’ve ever wondered what all this is about, track down Jos Smith’s essay ‘Fugitive Allegiances. The Good Ship Archipelago and the Atlantic Edge’ in Coastal Works (OUP, 2017) edited by Nicholas Allen, Nick Groom, and Jos Smith himself. It gives the richest and most inspired and inspiring account of the project and its origins you could wish for. Rarely would that same good ship put in at Cill Rónáin, Inis Mór, in August, at the height of the tourist season. But it did this time. And it rained Biblically for three and a half days out of five, with one truly fair day in between, as just deserts for such…

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Haven

The picture here alludes to a poem by an Irish poet. A free copy of Richard Murphy’s In Search of Poetry to the first and only to the first person to identify the poem. Enter the name of the poet concerned in the subject line of your email to info@clutagpress.com – we’ll publish In Search of Poetry towards the end of April.   The photograph here, taken by John Sullivan, shows the editor of Archipelago on a recent revisit to Barcelona, outside the Basque Tapas Bar IRATI where the venture was first conceived and aired in a conversation with John, over ten years ago. Issue 11 of Archipelago is selling well. Issue 12 has been postponed to the end of…

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Geoffrey Hill (1932-2016)

Geoffrey Hill by Gail McNeillie Oil on Canvas, 2007, 50cm x 50cm Purchased by Emmanuel College, Cambridge   It was the poet and critic Peter McDonald who introduced us in the end and it began with a phone call. There was a question that Clutag Press might publish a pamphlet of Hill’s current work. Hill was interested I suppose for a number of reasons. He always liked to support a marginal venture. (I’ve been told he lived just long enough to cheer Iceland on in their European Cup victory over England – the English side an example of ‘plutocratic anarchy’ in action if ever there was one.) But why my venture? At hearing my name from Peter he asked, ‘Is that…

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Sailing to an Island

A week ago at the time of writing this, I had an email from Philip Marsden, one of our prized Archipelago contributors. He told me: ‘I leave for Dingle at dawn on Friday’. It was the stirring opening to a poem, for sure, the ring of Auden’s ‘Leave for Cape Wrath tonight’ about it, though none of the period desperation. By now he’ll have that first leg of his single-handed voyage from Falmouth to the Hebrides behind him. We hope to rendezvous up there somewhere weather and time permitting. But whether we can or cannot, he will have had the better part of it by many a sea-mile. I can only imagine what poignant and vigorous wonders there’ll be in his log. Just as I heard from…

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