Why did you decide to produce a journal?
I always like to be productive and initially, I came back to Ireland to set up a writers’ retreat. Then Covid happened and when my collection came out I started the podcast instead. Remember, at that time, people couldn’t read in public, we couldn’t hold events so the podcast was the perfect way to allow people to navigate Covid, you maintained your social distancing but still shared you work and people could listen in from home.
When the Lockdowns and Covid restrictions eased and people could meet up again, I knew that some of the people who’d been on the podcast would like to get their work put on the printed page. I know how exciting it is to have a poem in a journal, I wanted to offer that feeling to others.
How did you produce the journal?
It was almost exactly the same process as the podcast. I didn’t know how to do anything so I just figured it out as I ran, applied for funding, looked around for subeditors, a different one for each issue and again, I started with the idea that I wanted to build a platform where I would bring as many people along with me as possible. The name of the retreat was to be Storm Shelter, today I am building the shelter, just without the actual retreat. And then, once I worked out how it could be produced and found a very supportive printer, Walsh Colour Print in Co. Kerry, it all just fell into place.
In terms of the nuts and bolts of the journal, there’s a submission process. All submissions are read blind, so again, no looking at any track records, just the work speaking for itself. I make a longlist, send that to the subeditor and then we go through the poems again separately, highlighting what we love, like or maybe need to lose – and then we work together, going through our shortlists, making the selection from there. Finally, I try to find themes, connections, red threads running through all the selected pieces and work on the layout, the look and the overall tone of the issue.
Why did you include art as well?
Often for me, art is a starting point for my writing. Many writers are also visual artists and I wanted to bring everything together, poetry, prose and visual art, from painting to collage to photography. I think if you’re artistic you probably work in more than one area and it makes sense to me to have a journal reflecting that approach.
When will the second issue be available?
Issue 2 will have three launches; a live launch in Dublin at Swords Castle, 18th Feb, an international Zoom launch, 22nd Feb and a special episode of the podcast featuring readers from the journal, 25th Feb. This will become an audio companion to the journal.
Pre-sales are now open over at www.eatthestorms.com and the journal will be available shortly at Books Upstairs and The Winding Stair in Dublin, Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop in Galway, Dingle Bookshop in Co. Kerry, Books at One in Co. Mayo and The Secret Bookshelf in Carrigfergus, Co. Antrin.
See more of the work of Damien B Donnelly – eatthestorms.com