Sunday, December 09, 2007

Launch: Always Pushing The Pull Door

ALWAYS PUSHING THE PULL DOOR. Poems by Mark Whelan, illustrations by Thomas Delohery. Revival Press/A White House Poetry Book. ISBN 978-0-9554722-2-0 Pbck. €15.00 94pp.

This exciting and intriguing must-have publication from the ever-energetic Revival Press in Limerick rightly lauds the city’s favourite son. Richard Harris is presented here in a set of drawings by Co. Clare artist, Thomas Delohery, entitled ‘Poemtraits,’ as they are nicely accompanied by interpretations, if you like, from Cuisle festival organiser and Limerick poet, Mark Whelan. The poems and drawings first coincided at the Friar’s Gate Theatre exhibition in 2006, ‘Richard Harris: a Life,’ which subsequently toured a number of venues in the West. The second section of the book was written ‘in response to Yellow Shark, composed by Frank Zappa and performed by Ensemble Moderne, conducted by Frank Zappa.’ A working of some poems from this section waspresented by Jazz guitarist, Tom Harte, along with Mark Whelan, in the United Arts Club in Dublin, in association with Dublin poet, Kevin Byrne. So what you get here is not only a just paean to Harris but an acknowledgement of how poetry and music work together, collaborating and recontextualising one another. This in itself makes for considerable poetic innovation - and Irish contemporary poetry is not known for innovation, so it is refreshing to see it here. The illustrations and the poems to Harris work brilliantly; not for the first time, one wonders at how so many poets are drawn to work from visual images. This is an important book, and not just for lovers of the work and memory of Richard Harris; it is about collaboration between visual art and the written word, between the visually enacted and the verbally enacted and Harris would have known something about that as an actor. Good poetry and good art, conspiring to make a very good book. Congratulations, therefore, to poet, visual artist and publisher.(Fred Johnston: Western Writers' Centre)



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