Just before Christmas, my partner and I went to Dublin. Rummaging in their equivalent of Smiths, we found The Ulysses Guide: Tours Through Joyce's Dublin by Robert Nicholson. Brandishing it with what I thought was just the right amount of wild-eyed enthusiasm, she bought it for me and the next morning we, as they say, sallied forth. It's difficult to communicate what an enormous pleasure this was, although I do have to say shame on you Dublin for somehow managing to remove the house that used to be 7 Eccles Street. Sadly Joyce's "onehandled adulterer" is gone too, his statue blown up in the 1960s, but there was still an awful lot of pointing and shouting going on. Sweny's! Trinity College! Tommy Moore's rogueish finger! We ended up on Grafton Street, where I did possibly the geekiest thing I've ever done: I lifted my finger up and blotted out the sun in the same place, and at almost exactly the same time, as Bloom does in the book.
It was, almost, like being in the novel. It was, I said, like being in one of those pop-up books I used to read when I was a child. But it was a difficult thing to quantify: did the buildings reify the book or was it the other way round? Was it Ulysses or Dublin that seemed to come alive? Both, I think, and I also think that this is how art should always feel: insistently present. It should feel like something that you live in, or that lives with you; that hangs on your shoulder, whispering into your ear. Our contributors would seem to understand this very well. In this issue, we have a pleasing amount of poems and articles and pieces of music and works of art that seem fully conversant with the fact that, if you want to leave a trace in people's minds, you have to make sure that what you're doing lives; that it knows exactly what it is, and why it's there, and that it can, in some indefinable way, stand up on its own two feet. Take a bow Nick Coleman, Aidan Semmens, Steve Shepherd, Jo Shapcott, Will Eaves, Louise Peterkin, José-Flore Tappy, John Taylor, Zoe Green, Stuart McPherson, Rebecca Johnson-Bista, Aidan Dun, Sam Fendrich, Rob A. Mackenzie, Maggie Mackay, Jane Lovell, Dorothy Lune, Alberto Oliveira, Sue Finch, Daragh Byrne, Hannah Linden, Peter Moore and Noah Rasheta. We think every one of them has produced something worthy of your attention.