with drawings
by Ruth Dupré

            Poems written during a stay in 2023 at the Heinrich Böll Cottage.
            Drawings by Ruth Dupré
            Laser printing on Verena bulky 90 gr.
            Hand bound
            15 x 20 cm
            48 pages
            150 numbered copies
            35 euros - 40 US $ - 32 GBP

            This short book of poems, all freshly written over two weeks in this summer just past,
            is the record of my extraordinary encounter with a place hitherto unknown to me except
            by hearsay: Achill Island.

            It is the record of my discovery of a place on the outer edge of things, a place smitten snd
            shaped by the ocean, a place of extraordinary comings and goings, a place of grief
            and exultation. In short, a hallowed corner.

            These poems would not have come about without the discovery, by my wife Ruth,
            of a piece of kelp on Golden Sands beach, which transformed itself, in hue and form,
            as it dried overnight on the kitchen table.

            She made drawings of that kelp, and her wonderful artworks - abstracted upliftings
            of such shapely, ocean-gifted organic forms - helped to release these poems into being.

        From the novelist and critic Paul Binding

        I have already - after several readings through - got the greatest pleasure and satisfaction from Achill Soundings - thank you so much! I love the union that the book makes - in individual poems but also taken as a whole - of discovery, temporary residence (with awareness of the daunting but benign presence of Heinrich!), of a remote place's knowable past, and beyond it its less knowable one, and then Nature, sometimes in revealing mood, sometimes not (Mt Slievemore displays both), and sometimes wilfully (as it seems) occluding itself from you/us: hence the mist which informs the whole sequence, and is so beautifully evoked. So does the presence of sheep inform the collection - I too live in sheep-country up here in Shropshire, and admire very much the way you've caught 'the ragged kings and queens of this island', with their 'burning yellow eyes' and their wisdom which is so different from ours as to constitute another way of being. I was moved by the various windows into the past lives of the Achill Islanders - and the way the famous film made there at once captured them and then, as famous artefacts tend to do, dismissed them.... At this moment I see 'The Meaning of the Stones of Dookinella' as the central poem of the volume, the most ruminative, the most expansive thematically, the most numinous in the lines following the sighting of the 'small cairn topped by an angel' with its evocation of 'The lost and the unwanted' - Increasingly, as I grew older, I suppose, I am aware of the vastness in time and space of both of these categories. In fact don't we all belong ultimately to them!? I also much liked and was intrigued by 'White Bechstein in Sea Mist' (Who were these Americans and their curiously biddable piano-tuner?) It was a brilliant touch - which you explain interestingly in Afterword - to begin with Kelp - which I've looked up and seems to defy biological classification, and therefore nicely introduces and then compounds the sense of mystery celebrated by the whole book. And of which Ruth has done such lovely studies. Altogether Achill Soundings is a joy to possess.

        From David Hornung, New York artist

        I just finished reading your new book, Achill Soundings. I feel as if I have actually been there, so fully drawn are your wonderful descriptions of the island's sights, sounds, tastes and smells. You make it all vivid.
        Living within these poems' rich account of your wanderings on the island, is also a trace of the mental twists and turns you experienced while finding your way through the new, unexpected direction the project took.

        "Because a lane such as this one
        Is never a straight one,
        Just as thinking is never straight either,
        The nature of thinking that is..."

        I love Ruth's drawings too, fresh and lively as they are. Her gathering of the kelp at the book's beginning and her careful returning of it to the sea near the end is a beautiful idea that embraces the length of the journey and links the drawings to the text.
        All in all, Achill Soundings is a lovely addition to the collection of your books that graces our shelves.

        From Alistair Davies, emeritus lecturer, School of English and American Studies, University of Sussex

        May I thank you for the lovely gift of these wonderful poems and Ruth's beautiful and delicate illustrations. These arrived this morning and I have been reading your poems ever since. I have a vivid sense of things seen and people encountered.You write with majestic fluency with the result that you provide not only a compelling evocation of place but also a narrative which captures the occasion of the writing. I think I would have been entirely frozen by the pressure to write - how fortunate that the kelp released you - but you rise so brilliantly to the occasion. How fortunate for your sponsors that they selected someone so fitting for the task. Congratulations to the fair armourer of old.

        From Irish poet John F. Deane

        The beautiful "Achill Soundings" sounded on the carpet as it came through the door this morning. It is quite special, we both love it, and you both, and Francis, have done a great job with it. The poems read in sequence so well, you catch Achill in its many moods and seasons, you do the sea proud, Ruth, and Michael, you do the island's entrails well. There are so many delicious lines: like the sheep \"swaying as well fleeced barrels" and your butter pats in the Bervie "the size and the shape of sheep droppings. . ." and so much more. The seaweed blades, particularly in colour, are wonderful, Ruth, and I remember, when I saw the dried one on the table, thinking that I must look at seaweeds once again. The whole, which I've read through twice now, is a unique little treasure and justifies the whole project of the cottage: congratulations, and thank you both!