Archipelago A Reader: A Unique Literary Journey around the British and Irish Isles

This collection drawn from the pages of Archipelago, a literary periodical which ran to 12 editions between 2007 and 2019, gathers poetry, prose and visual art in clusters grouped around the Irish and British archipelago, with contributions from an array of significant artists including: Seamus Heaney, Sinéad Morrissey, Bernard O’Donoghue, Alice Oswald, Michael Longley, Tim Robinson, Robert Macfarlane, Moya Cannon, John Brannigan, Derek Mahon, Terry Eagleton, Norman Ackroyd, and founder and editor Andrew McNeillie.

Since the foundation of the magazine in 2007, Archipelago has brought together established and emerging artists in creative conversations that have transformed the study of islands, coasts and waterways. It journeys from the Shetlands to Cornwall, from the Aran Islands to the coast of Yorkshire, tracing the cultures of diverse zones through some of the best in contemporary writing about place and people, raising awareness of current issues, such as the environment, as well as encouraging reflection on nature. Readers old and new can sail these imaginary isles in the company of artists whose works point to the far shores of new understanding. McNeillie, a native of Old Colwyn, North Wales, spent time as a youth in the 1960s on Inishmore, the largest of the Aran Islands. The collection is laid out in five sections, covering Ireland, England, Scotland, Wales and Other Worlds. The editors tell us they have arranged “the collection in strands of association that trace imaginative journeys around the isles.” A really unique and original collection for lovers of art, literature and the raging wild.

Before established Clutag Press in 2000 that went on to publish Archipelago Andrew McNeillie worked as a news reporter in the mining valleys of West Glamorgan, to the north of Swansea, and then went on to read English as a mature student at Magdalen College, Oxford, 1971-3, where among his teachers was Bernard O’Donoghue. After that he worked as an editor and publisher, latterly at Oxford University Press where he ran the Literature list. His Striking a Match in a Storm: Collected Poems, is due to be published by Carcanet Press in March 2022.

Archipelago A Reader: edited by Nicholas Allen and Fiona Stafford, the Lilliput Press, Dublin. Available in all good bookstores and from the Lilliput Press website, price €25.