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The Moth Collection, ‘Little Editions’.

Writing.ie | Resources | Better Poetry Guides

Christine Murray

We all like small and neat things; conciseness is both attractive and necessary in a time of recession. The wonderful editors at Moth Magazine have tapped into this idea and into our poetic discourses providing for the discerning reader some little editions of poetry. The Moth Little Editions are 10cm high and 32 pages long.  They are beautifully presented and designed; they are also incredibly cheap at 4 Euros, which includes post and packaging. The Little Editions, likeFaber and Faber’s art and other special poetry collections, provide a thoughtful and welcome addition to the Irish poetic canon.

The first four poets featured in this set are two new writers, and two who are already familiar to Irish readers. The idea of providing accessible small editions to bring poetry to a wider audience is a wonderful way of celebrating National Poetry Day, which occurred on the 7th of October 2011, and the date that this collection was launched.

The first of the Moth Little Editions are by poets, Dermot Healy, Ciarán O’Rourke, Kate Dempsey and Ted McCarthy. What better way to celebrate what we all hope will be a regular print-run than to add in here for writing.ie readers a short poem by each writer, courtesy of the moth editors. The books are truly dinky, the four arrived in a standard envelope nestled together, it is true that good things often come in tiny packages. They are printed on beautiful paper with artwork by Vincent Sheridan. I hope that the idea continues, as we all like miniature books with their interesting histories and promise.

The Moth Collection, a  Quartet of Poets

Dermot Healey was born in Westmeath in 1947. His short stories are collected as Banished Misfortune (London, Allison & Busby, 1984). His novels are Fighting with Shadows (London, Allison & Busby 1984); The Goat’s Song (London, Collins Harvill, 1994); and Sudden Times (London, The Harvill Press, 1999). His autobiography is The Bend for Home (Harvill, 1996). His plays include The Long Swim (1988); Curtains (1990); and On Broken Wings (1992). He is a member of Aosdána, and lives in County Sligo. He has published a collection of short stories, four novels, a memoir, and four collections of poetry: The Ballyconnell Colours (1992), What the Hammer (1998), The Reed Bed (2001) and A Fool’s Errand (2010), which was shortlisted for the Irish Times Poetry Now Award.

Kate Dempsey’s poetry is widely published in Ireland and the UK including Poetry Ireland Review, The Shop, Orbis and Magma. She won The Plough Prize and has been shortlisted for the Hennessy Award for both poetry and fiction. She was selected to read for Poetry Ireland Introductions and Windows Publications Introductions, as well as at various arts and music festivals with the Poetry Divas.  She is grateful f or bursaries received from the Arts
Council, Dublin South County Council and Kildare County Council. Kate Dempsey contributes to Writing.ie and she writes her own blog at Emerging Writer.

Ted McCarthy is a native of Clones, Co. Monaghan. He was educated at University College Dublin. Ted McCarthy has been published in Ireland, Britain, Germany and the U.S. His first collection , November Wedding won a national award in Ireland, the Brendan Behan Award (1999).  Some of his work has appeared in the following publications: Able MuseBest of British Anthology (ed. Roddy Lumsden),Envoi, The Moth, Poetry Ireland Review, Tryst and Visions.

Ciarán O Rourke is twenty years old and lives in Dublin. His poems have appeared in a number of publications, including Poetry ReviewThe Irish TimesThe MothThe Stony Thursday BookThe ShopCrannógand The Spectator. In 2009 he was winner of the Lena Maguire/Cúirt New Irish Writing Award, and has been a prize-winner in the Boyle Art’s

A Quartet of Poems from the Moth Collection.


A poem by Dermot Healey.

A Ball Of Starlings.

As evening falls

over the bulrushes
parties of starlings

arrive in flurries
to join the other shape-makers

at the alt. The swarm blows
high, dives out of sight

in a beautiful aside,
till there’s scarce a trace

of a bird –
then a set of arched wings appears,

then another,
hundreds turn

as one.”

A poem by Kate Dempsey.


It’s What You Put Into It

For Grace 

On the last day of term

you brought home a present,

placed it under the tree,

a light, chest-shaped mystery

wrapped in potato stamped paper

intricate with angels and stars.
Christmas morning

you watched as we opened it,

cautious not to tear the covering.

Inside, a margarine tub, empty.

Do you like it? eyes huge.

It’s beautiful.

What is it, sweetheart?

A box full of love, you said.
You should know, O my darling girl,

it’s on the dresser still

and from time to time, we open it

A Poem by Ted McCarthy



“Asked what it is I’ll miss most, it is the days of early

rising, mist barely cleared, greyhounds

pacing in terraced garden pens,

counting morning in each nervy turn;
my waking mind shaking vestiges

of late-night British jazz like dewdrops into

the perfect void of silence disturbed –

my steps the drumbeat of moribund desire.

And when I felt the moment complete, its air

a static void waiting to be earthed

by a voice like Norma Winstone’s, wordless

and with a shocking power in the truth
of what it had left behind. All our dreams

now are but a pain on waking

and if we have bequeathed the best part of ourselves

there is always the itch of music on the underskin.”

A Poem by  Ciarán O Rourke.



for Gran and Grandad.

“The hours step away from you two now,

leave you as you are, with us, avid

and at ease, utterly given over to it all:
the anecdote half-remembered, laughter,

our clattering talk, bygones spun back out

from the loud foray,
as when, just wed and hungry for  world you packed up

and made for the West , rising daily there

with sixpenny bikes to reach the long grass, beaches,

split sky, seas that poets must have dreamed.
We lose ourselves in moments such as this,

words, old stories and new tales, overfilling

the deep cup of tomorrow with here and now,

with both of you lithe-voiced

and youthful still.”

Rebecca O Connor, editor of the Moth Magazine.

Rebecca O’Connor is a recipient of the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize, a New Writing Ventures Poetry Award and two Tyrone Guthrie Bursaries. Her chapbook Poems was published by the Wordsworth Trust, where she was a writer in residence in 2005. Most recently, her work has appeared in Poetry Ireland, The Spectator and The Stinging Fly.

Rebecca works as a commissioning editor for Telegram in London and designs and edits The Mothmagazine and the moth editions poetry series

The Moth was launched at the Flat Lake Festival in June 2010. This quarterly arts and literature magazine features poetry, short fiction, and pictures by established and up and coming writers and artists from Ireland and abroad. Each issue also features two interviews with such Irish luminaries as Anne Enright, Patrick McCabe, Leanne O’Sullivan and Michael Harding. The Moth appears in March. June, September and  December,  individual copies are €4 and an annual subscription costs €16, they can also be ordered online.

About the author

(c) Christine Murray November 2011.

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