“The Bare Hands Anthology – full of energy and beauty – stands out among literary journals, online and off. The excellent mix of writing and image is perfect; each work is definite in its space and time; holding the eye, enriching the mind.” – Jessie Lendennie, Editor of Salmon Poetry
Earlier this year, Kerrie O’Brien and I sat on a small red sofa in San Francisco and wondered if it was possible for our monthly online journal to become a real tactile thing that people could hold in their hands. Didn’t these things take heaps of money? Years of business experience? Don’t we live in a world where print is dying in front of us?
We decided that the answer to all of these things is absolutely yes, but we were going to do it anyway. We felt that the kind of work we had grown to love over our time editing Bare Hands deserved print. It deserved something tactile and real – an artefact.
We reached out to our literary community and invited them to buy the book in advance, via Fundit.ie. Somehow you all believed in us, and we sold enough books in advance to fund the rest of the run. When I say we are eternally grateful, I am not exaggerating. This thing, this amazing thing you can now hold in your hands would not be here without those people who believed in us from the start. It simply would not exist. If you have funded us and I have not personally hugged you and told you this earnestly, remind me to next time I see you. You’re wonderful – thank you for your belief in us, for your hope.
This book was brought into the world by the hands of many people. Each click to fund us by our community, each poem submitted, each edit made by our small, dedicated, and ridiculously sexy team of recruits, each photograph snapped came with love. This book was brought to you with more love than it is possible to articulate, a great deal of which was given by my co-editor, and my friend, Kerrie O’Brien. Without her courage, gift, hard work, and organization skills that are nothing short of miraculous, this would be nothing more than a vague memory of a half-hearted conversation on a sunny afternoon. It isn’t. It’s a real book, a real thing, full of gorgeous work that we selected because we believe it is important, and strong, and surprising. These poems have jewels in their bellies and fire in their eyes – we’ve felt their shock, we hope you feel it too. This could be the beginning of something great.
Bare Hands began as a small idea back in 2011 and I can’t believe how far it has come. I wanted to create a monthly online journal of poetry and photography to showcase contemporary work from around the world. I put a call out seeking work that was beautiful and different. The result was incredible and Bare Hands started to grow. I took on Sarah Griffin as co-editor and now we’ve reach the point where each issue gets over 1,000 hits. We are about to launch our first print anthology in Cork, Galway and Dublin which is slightly terrifying but very, very exciting.
The most incredible thing about this whole experience has been the overwhelming support from the literary community at home and abroad. There are so many exceptional print and online journals here – Peadar O’ Donoghue and the Poetry Bus, Jessica Maybury and ESC Zine, Ruth Hallinan and Poddle, Elizabeth Reapy and Wordlegs – and they have all been hugely encouraging. Absolutely none of this would have been possible without Fundit and I highly recommend using them for any creative project you want to start. They were really positive about the project from the very start, they helped us with all the promotion and gave us the confidence to do all of this.
Sarah emigrated to San Francisco in May and Bare Hands has been a brilliant way for us to keep in contact. So many friends have emigrated in the last few years and it’s so easy to lose touch with people. Despite the distance we’ve managed to keep the journal going from strength to strength and the anthology is proof of that. If it wasn’t for her energy and fearless spirit this book wouldn’t exist. I’m thrilled that she’s coming home for Christmas so we will both be at the Dublin launch on December 19th.
The hardest part of the whole process was selecting the work. After literally hundreds of emails, meetings, coffees and phone calls it’s finally done. We took on four extra editors and it took weeks to make the final selections and to make sure they all worked together. There were over six hundred submissions from around the world – poems about gender, race, sexuality, memory, bankers, murder, miscarriage, abortion, incest, cannibalism, stillness, burning, flashbacks, porn, regret, birds, eyes, moons, meat, dreams, whiskey, the sea. Poems about wanting, kissing, looking, first love, only love, no love, lost love. Poems about birth, growth, age, illness, death, heaven, hell, faith, truth, life. A whole poem devoted to tomatoes. Poems about nothing, about everything. Gorgeous poems, mad poems. The ones that made it into the anthology are the ones that spoke to us, the photographs that made us feel alive. I want to give HUGE thanks to Fundit and our wonderful funders for making it all possible. This book is proof that anything is possible. I hope it opens up the world for you and awakens your own creativity. To quote my dear friend Jack Harte –
Don’t be distracted by the streetlamps
Above them the stars
The Bare Hands Anthology Launches in:
CORK Friday 23rd November 8pm Long Valley Pub launched by Paul Casey
GALWAY Saturday 1st December 7pm Galway City Museum Kitchen Cafe launched by James Harrold
DUBLIN Wednesday 19th December 7pm Winding Stair Bookshop launched by Jack Harte
We’d love you to celebrate with us! To see our quite amazing trailer, and get a taste for the incredible Bare Hands Anthology, click here: http://vimeo.com/53289522
To purchase your copy, visit our website: barehandspoetry.tumblr.com