With all the other shenanigans going on at the moment, I'm still trying to catch up on recent news, here on the blog, including the publication of my poem, 'Aokigahara', in the Northern Ireland poetry & art journal, Abridged's Torquemada issue. The themed issue is the first of a trilogy, loosely based on Dante's Divine Comedy, focusing on:
...the confessional and faith; the lies we tell and the secrets we keep, the hypocrisy of love and hate and the pointedness and pointlessness of the penance we ascribe ourselves and others, the faith that keeps us going and makes others suffer.
The art chosen for the Torquemada issue is dark and evocative, as are the poems - I particularly love Aoife Mannix's 'Disappeared' and Benjamin Miller's Torgelow Iron Foundry series (2013), obscure figures who could be henchmen, working furnaces in the fiery depths of Hell.
Aokigahara is a forest in Japan, near Mount Fuji, the second most common suicide spot in the world, after the Golden Gate Bridge, and unusually dense, with a maze of exposed tree roots that make it dangerous to navigate. I first discovered Aokigahara through a series of ink drawings by a Japanese artist and, intrigued by the name, decided to dig a little deeper. In Japanese legend, during times of famine, the sick and elderly were brought to the forest and left to die; their spirits are now said to haunt the woods.
Abridged is a really beautiful, high-quality journal, placing poetry, art and photography side by side - I'm delighted to be a contributor to this issue alongside poets like Gerard Dawe, Nuala Ni Chonchuir, Afric McGlinchey, Kate Dempsey, Dylan Brennan and more. The printed journal is limited edition, distributed for free at various art venues in Northern Ireland, and if you're in a position to pick one up, I highly recommend it. For everyone else, Abridged 0-37: Torquemada is available to view online.