THE WINDOWS authors and artists anthology, co-edited by Cavan based poets Heather Brett and Noel Monahan, has for the past quarter century been an important outlet for emerging artists, and writers who have yet to publish a first book.
Many now established writers, such as Galway’s Alan McMonagle, Mary Madec, and Lorna Shaughnessy, had early work published in its exquisitely presented pages. This year’s edition, Windows Publications Authors & Artists Introduction Series Celebrate 25 Years, includes striking artwork, by James Brady, Michelle Boyle, Marilyn Gaffney, and Elena Duff.
Terry Hyland’s post-apocalyptic story ‘The Deluge Departs’ is set in Ireland at the end of the great flood (the one which made Noah and his Ark famous ). It is an even unhappier place than post-financial crash Ireland: “The primordial Gods of Chaos and Wild Nature thrashed about in their wilderness…looked on this emerald island and felt only anger and envy.”
Not a good situation. No doubt, had he been around at the time, Eoghan Harris would have blamed it on the public sector trade unions and Fine Gael - or some prehistoric version thereof - would have spent the next thousand years blaming the difficult situation on the recklessness of the previous administration. Patrick Holloway’s short story ‘The Queen’s Nose’ has a kick to it: “The fat man had a wife, you reckon, a secretary or primary school teacher who once loved him and thought he’d protect her. She, like everyone else, couldn’t accept what it was he’d become, even though it was what he had always been.” Holloway is a writer I think we will be hearing more from.
The poetry selection is strong; no surprise given the editors themselves are poets. Theresa Kane’s and Jackie Gorman’s poems show a promising lyricism in the Heaney/Kavanagh line. Antoinette Rock’s ‘The Man who used to be a Priest’ is syllable perfect. Rock is a poet learning her craft, and learning it fast. Cavan based poet Patricia Doole’s first published poems find a home here.
Two poets soar about the pack here, though, one is Galway based Vinny Steed. His poems have a glittering sharpness which, at its best, calls the great Wallace Stevens to mind. Take these lines from his ‘Laodicea’ “I offer my umbrella up, a trident/Glistening in salute to mountain gods who wear bulky/Clouds like burkas in the afternoon’s waning sunlight.”
The other stand out is Sighle Meehan, a poet of rare exuberance and honesty. In the fabulously titled ‘On Being Tasked To Write The End Of The World’, she writes “How can I write of Armageddon when to the South/the Gamay grapes have ripened”. ‘What I Know Is’ mercilessly presents us with Meehan's now emptied nest: “That all the shoes and clothes are mine./That the pristine rooms are silent./That the unscuffed hall is still.”
If you are a beginner writer, buy this book and send the editors some of your own writing for consideration in next year’s edition.