Book launches celebrating the release of two marvellous collections by two hugely accomplished writers took place in recent times: Secret Poets, by Darren Dononhue was first launched in The Riverbank Arts Centre, Newbridge, Co Kildare on April 23rd. And the launch of Noble Rot by D.S. Maolalai, was celebrated on May 11th in the Irish Writers Centre, as well as the Dublin launch of Darren’s Secret Poets.
D.S. Maolalai was born in Dublin and has been writing poetry since he was a student of English Literature at Trinity College, Dublin. He spent several years travelling, living in Toronto and London and working various dispatch jobs, before returning to Dublin in late 2017.
His first collection, Love is Breaking Plates in the Garden was published in 2016 by Encircle Publications and described by Frank Montesonti as “done with such craft and immediacy that even the jaded are compelled to feel again the bewildering, blessed wind of youth’s finest mistakes”. D.S. Maolalai has been nominated for Best of the Net and twice nominated for The Pushcart Prize.
Darren Donohue is an award-winning poet and playwright whose work has been widely published and performed in Ireland and on the international stage. In 2020, he received the Dennis O’Driscoll Literary Award, 2020. He was writer-in-residence at Carlow College, St Patrick’s, 2019, and the Science Gallery, Trinity College, Dublin, 2020.
As a playwright, Darren has worked extensively with the Abbey Theatre and his plays are produced internationally with Irish Repertory Theatre (New York), the Keegan Theatre (Washington DC) Piccolo Teatro (Milan) & Bread and Roses Theatre (London).
His plays have won several awards including the Bread & Roses Playwriting Award and the Radius Playwriting Prize, in association with Finborough Theatre.
As well as being very special occasions for Darren and Diarmuid, these two events were significant as they were the first in-person book launches we have attended in more than two years, since the start of the Covid pandemic in March 2020.
During the period of lockdown, we had to improvise our approach to book launches for the the four books we published over that period by producing special launch videos for our YouTube channel. These combine the author’s reading with discussion about their new book and other, general literary topics. The format worked very well, so we decided to try out a similar approach for this dual Dublin launch of Noble Rot and Secret Poets.
The discussion between Diarmuid and Darren, chaired by Liz, explored aspects of their writing process, including the source of inspiration for their themes, their approach to form and their ideas about the place of poetry in contemporary society. Their reflections were interspersed by readings from their books.
Audience reaction to the readings and to the disucssion were very positive, with many people, over the glass of wine later, saying how thought-provoking the writers’ reflections had been. We hope to repeat the format in future book launches.
Congratulations, Diarmuid and Darren, on your wonderful books! And thanks to everyone who came along and helped us to celebrate.