“What’s in store for me in the direction, I don’t take?” – Jack Kerouac
One of my favorite Kerouac quotes next to “I have nothing to offer but my confusion.”
Which kinds of sums up this and sometimes existence itself altogether but that isn’t what this installment is all about…it’s about John Doyle’s long awaited poetry collection LEAVING HENDERSON COUNTY which happens to be the third release from Dumpster Fire Press.
LEAVING HENDERSON COUNTY is kind of a symbolic release for me. Almost parallel between my journey to forming my own press, so one can imagine reading Doyle’s work (and I hope John forgives me for referring to him by his last name, it seems a bit informal as a publisher to refer to an author by first name only). As one reads his poetry which could be the nectar of the gods, you become him and experience not only him but others through yourself like a bizarro mystical mirror of revelation and enlightenment.
We’re not only leaving Henderson county to find ourselves but we’re leaving who we thought we were, not entirely behind but it sure sets up a strong foundation for who we’d like to become while struggling with the successes and failures of that which aren’t really failures at all but essential transformations and I can’t do that justice, no something like justice comes near the piece of writing after I’ve spitfired my say which…
This third release was about making amends and doing the author right. The last of several works from when I was editor in chief for something that never fully materialized and no, I don’t finger point or lash out as I did what I was thought was right for my authors my brothers in word who trusted me with their work. Half a dozen artists entrusted me with their work to bring it out and I did. THE GRIND was the start, lingering and waiting to be unleashed, HONEYDEW: THE CORRECTED TEXT a series of unfortunate errors needing to be rectified and finally LEAVING HENDERSON COUNTY, much the same way THE GRIND was without a sense of guidance or collaboration between editor and press. It marks the end of a short era and the start of something new, where the obligation to put things right, I can finally breathe with a sigh of relief and continue on in the direction I never knew I could take in the first place.
So in LEAVING HENDERSON COUNTY, I’m not only able to leave said location but certain situations behind and craft an entirely different scenario that will be full of all sorts of mad errors and I hope all of the artists including John (sorry but fuck formality) will be willing to join us from time to time as a voice from the fire. It’s been a wild time and when in the wilderness you either let go full on feral or attempt to tame the nature which will lash out three times brutally back at you for trying to do so…building cities on wetlands anyone?
Wow… so enough scattered babbling , I’m trying to switch back come from being a nocturnal animal to regular dayshift drone , it happens with the frenetic scheduling I content with in my “real life” haha which is anything but…
John Doyle and LEAVING HENDERSON COUNTY, I let the poetry speak for itself…
Nursing Homes on Sunday Evenings
Nursing homes in the South of Dublin,
Cork, Limerick, the constellation of Orion…
Time like a drop of rain
on this umbrella, the songs of constellations yet to be named,
after Romans and Greeks who died, telling clergy
there were other Gods prowling infinite spheres.
Time is like a drop of rain, moistening a front door carpet;
And the smell,
rich, pungent, like the colour bronze.
So I bring you some grapes,
and you tell me of the latest gangland scumbag whacked,
4 minutes walk away –
away from the lawn-tennis Fridays
and the Gods prowling infinite spheres
and if my random selection of having too many damn good poems to choose from here is an opinion from someone who really matters…
In this age of insta-poetry and “rhymin’-all-the-timin’” spoken word it is a great pleasure to read a poet who understands that before there is art there must first be craft, John Doyle is one of those poets. His new book “Leaving Henderson County” glitters like well-polished crystal, each individual poem contributing to a fierce, beautiful and clever collection. The poems are by turn deeply personal, scathingly funny and at times achingly sad (there is a particularly lovely little poem “as Ghaelige” which made my heart glad!). They all carry that makers mark of familiarity, the common experience hiding quietly in the individual one, the sign of a truly fine poet writing truly fine poems.
He is a poet who loves language and language in its turn loves him, those many years of hard work mastering this tricky, slippery, nebulous, back breaking thing we call Poetry has now repaid him with poems that appear effortless and charmed but that speak to a writer operating at the top of his game. He writes in an often surreal style peppered with images that sear and arrest, he can be Beckett or Joyce as in “taking all the words out or putting all the words in” but he really is his own man and the quality of his style is his and his alone.
Don’t just take my word for it, get yourself a copy, find a quiet place and let this beautiful collection work its considerable magic.
Maith thú, a Sheáin.
Mick Corrigan, October 2020.
Much appreciation to John Doyle for entrusting me with his work, along with Roz Washington, Robert Ragan, James Maj, R. Keith and most especially the fates who drew us all together.
It’s been weird and when the going gets weird, the weird turn pro or something…I don’t know, ask Hunter S. Thompson…