Monday, 7 September 2009


It was great to see Gavin Selerie reading at Furzeacres on Dartmoor yesterday, hosted by Philip Kuhn and Rosie Musgrave. Gavin read from the second section of his book Le Fanu's Ghost, published by Five Seasons Press in 2006. The poems work over the connections between certain locations in Dublin (Phoenix Park, Chapelizod), their recreation in gothic fiction, the Sheridan / Le Fanu family, Wilde, Swift, Beckett, and especially Joyce's Work in Progress which became Finnegans Wake. These Irish literati, their houses and families, their interconnections, are a rich and luminous field for Selerie's obsessive writings and wonderfully inventive poems. The format at Furzeacres allows a writer to take the time to read from a longer work, and Gavin Selerie really benefitted from the opportunity to give us a sense of the expanded literary context of the poems, mapping in Le Fanu's The House by the Church-yard, The Cock and the Anchor, Joyce's letters and early venture as a Cinema manager, Work in Progress, Beckett's Waiting for Godot, Francis Bacon's London studio reconstructed in Dublin, the rivers of Dublin and much more. Le Fanu's Ghost is a compendium of literary allusion, an expanding map of Irish culture and its workings in English but also a masterpiece of writerly poetry made of literary sources. I've heard Gavin read from it three times now, quite different performances, and this last one the best and most assured.
     Just for the record, Five Seasons Press makes the finest books you could find, beautifully designed and printed, clear type, sympathetic setting, sewn bindings, unfussy but real quality manufacture on recycled paper. Their list includes poets such as Alan Halsey, Yannis Ritsos, Gary Snyder, and Gavin Selerie, enough said.