Saturday, May 06, 2006

James Liddy

Honeysuckle, Honeyjuice: A Tribute to James Liddy (Arlen House, 2006, 144 pp., ISBN 1-903631-71-8) is now finally out. Edited by myself, it includes poems, prose articles, criticism, memoirs, etc. on the Irish poet James Liddy. Among those appearing are Thomas Kinsella, John Montague, Michael Hartnett, Cathal Ó Searcaigh, Dermot Bolger, Eamonn Wall, Mary O’Donoghue, Nuala Ní Chonchúir, George Stanley, Dan Tobin, Jim Chapson, Zack Pieper, Bob Watt, John Menesini, and a spectacular letter to Liddy from Charles Bukowski, among numerous other writers both famous and obscure. Having worked on this project for over two years now, I want to thank Arlen House publisher Alan Hayes for having the will to put the book out, as well as every individual contributor (the list is really too long to give here in full). The cover is by Irish painter Paul Funge, and the whole thing is a great production. Of course, I’m biased. That said, anyone with an interest in Liddy, Irish studies, or Irish poetry in general – or, for that matter, in poetry in general – ought to get it! There are very few books of this kind, with this range, on such a great writer. In Ireland, booksellers Books Upstairs (Dublin), Charlie Byrne’s (Galway) or Kenny’s will have copies. I imagine it will be available on Amazon sometime soon. The publisher unfortunately does not currently have a website, but can be contacted by email ( or regular post: Arlen House, P.O. Box 222, Galway, Ireland.

Coinciding with the release of this Tribute, Arlen House has also published Liddy’s new collection On the Raft with Fr. Roseliep (ISBN 1-903631-83-1). The 62-page volume is vintage Liddy. Lines like “You must go on this raft/ the way down the river/ your mother and priests/ drinking and talking on it,/ changing their clothes/ like you will from good to/ bad, the river decides” (“Enrafted in Wexford”), which in a way gets to the heart of it. Referencing such bizarrely diversiform writers as Dáibhí Ó Bruadair, Djuna Barnes, and Jack Spicer (not to mention Jack White of the White Stripes), Liddy graphs a liberated consciousness and also gives a political statement of his own: “Mars, have mercy, direct wars within” (“Let’s Invade Ourselves Not Iraq”). To all of this, a great big YES! Anything by Liddy is essential. And the cover art is by Pauline Bewick. (See above for suggestions on how to acquire On the Raft.)

(Clicking on either of the two cover images will give a bigger version, for your viewing pleasure...)

As an aside, my review of Liddy’s autobiography, The Doctor’s House (Salmon, 2004), can be found on the site of the Galway-based online literary journal, west47.

1 comment:

sufferwords said...

I wish I could write the mysterious word
the one with two sides
the one with the maker
I wish I could write the mysterious word