At The Poetry as Commemoration Book Launch

by Sinéad Griffin

Designed and Printed by The Salvage Press

The night before rioters set Dublin alight
I’m at MOLI for the launch of Grief’s Broken Brow,
ache to stroke the finished book,
glide it from its slipcase, inhale the pulp
of fresh pages. But it’s guarded under glass,
under the elbows of poets whose work
breathed life into the archives last year
when conflict seemed more like history.

I content myself with a glass of white
view the book printer’s video on loop,
watch the compositor handpick a metal
alphabet, set it letter by raised-backwards letter.
From case to stick she makes lines
of type that slide into the bed of the Letterpress,
a jigsaw of pieces ready to be inked,
the slow skill of the printer’s craft.

Guardian of the books, my father worked
in the printing trade his whole life,
lately when I visit, he might slip
me a volume for safekeeping.
He taught me that Gutenberg was a goldsmith
first, the weight of paper and ink,
how binding gives spine to a book.
So, I always check the colophon

Who printed the proofs that were checked,
double-checked, free of mistakes.
While news reports aim to stifle the Dublin
violence, online rumour is a wildfire.
I’m reminded that we must pick our words,
take care who we let spell out the difference,
between ‘we’ and ‘they’.

Reproduced with kind permission of the author. This poem was composed in workshops led by Victoria Kennefick at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in November 2023.