The first issue of The Cormorant was launched in July 2018, an initiative of Tread Softly Festival, powerfully evoking a sense of place with writers connected to Sligo, including the Booker longlisted Kevin Barry along with Molly McCloskey, Tess Gallagher and many others. There were over 300 submissions for the 3rd issue in July 2019, 31 published. The publication accepts prose under 300 words or poetry under 50 lines.
In Issue 3, there is thematic coherence, explorations of grief and loss and regret. Sometimes a vast freight of emotion is carried beneath the gentlest images; a child playing hopscotch, off-white strings on a pair of togs, balled socks tucked in a drawer like eggs.
There is work deeply connected to Sligo, the theft of the bronze man at Drumcliffe, a poem in memory of Dermot Healy. Yet somehow these pieces seem to fit with poems and stories grounded in farther places. You’ll be taken to Yorkuta, a former Gulag, where the inmates stayed after they were freed to paint sunny murals on the concrete walls that had once confined them. To a Vietnam under US bombardment while an American flag is placed on the moon. To a river in South Carolina with its cargo of smoke and skeletons. The sense of place that was so apparent in the first issue is here, too.
All three issues have featured stunning covers. In issue 3, a photograph of horse riders on Culleenamore strand was taken by Sligo musician and photographer Eddie Lee, from way up Knocknarea. The photograph, like much of the work in The Cormorant, captures something about looking, and what it is like to look from here.
Editors Louise Kennedy, Una Mannion and Eoin McNamee discussed the success of the publication and the significance of funding from Creative Ireland. ‘We have been lucky to have work of this calibre submitted; we’ve published 72 writers, many from Sligo and many publishing for the first time, thanks to funding from Sligo County Council’s Creative Ireland programme, giving a platform to Sligo writers and a space on the page next to authors of international renown.’
Issue 4 will be produced before the end of 2019, with continued funding from Creative Ireland (Sligo).