Rún

Rune comes from the Gothic word ‘runa’, meaning ‘secret’. In Old English it came to mean secret writing, and in Old Irish, spelled rún, it meant by extension a secret or treasured love.  It has also been borrowed into Finnish where ‘runo’ means ‘poem’. The poets Robert Graves and Valentin Iremonger in a correspondence in 1944 described poetry as ‘a shared secret’.

Rune Press Ltd was first incorporated as Rún Press in 2013 in Cork, Ireland, then transferred and incorporated as Rune Press in London, England. It publishes substantial collections of poems, and books about poetry, by poets whose work is already known through previous publications. Its imprint, Parmenides Books  publishes ‘crossover’ books between literature and neuroscience.

The RUNE POCKET POEMS series was launched in June 2014 in Dublin and London with The Poems of ValentinIremonger and The Poems of Martin Seymour-Smith – see an article from The Irish Times here.

Rune Pocket Poems bring the German ‘Taschenbuch’* tradition into the English speaking world, with quality hardbacks and softbacks which are small enough to be genuine pocket books.

Whether 100 or up to 500 pages long, they really do fit in the pocket of an overcoat, a jacket or a handbag. They are 9 by 15 cm–only twice the size of an I-Phone. They also look elegant on a shelf.

They won’t fall to bits. Their small size makes them economical in price for books of this quality–yet their typeface is easy to read. They are made to be enduring books for enduring poems.

*In Germany there is a very long tradition of small books, going back centuries, and a collection of Goethe’s poems in 1798 was referred to as a ‘Taschenbuch’, i.e.‘pocket book’. The famous Insel Verlag Taschenbuch series began in 1912, and other publishers continue the tradition. German pocket books are distinct from Anglo-American and French by being smaller: usually 3 ¾ by 6 inches / 9 by 15 cm. A typical Anglo-American paperback size is 15 by 20 cm, and the French ‘Livres de Poche’ series are usually 11 by 16.5 cm.

The Hugger Mugger – Seán Haldane

Seán Haldane, born in 1943, is the author of six collections of poems, two historical crime novels, and four books on psychology and neuroscience. He lives in England and Canada.

I like Seán’s poems: clean, accurate and no nonsense…. They make sense, which is rare these days.’
Robert Graves (1968)

‘Imaginative and always intelligent… impressive and moving.’
Martin Seymour-Smith (1986)

‘He can be sure of his place among the English poets.’
Robert Nye (1993)

‘The poems display… a consistent voice, which mark them out as written by Seán Haldane and no other.’
David Cameron (2009)

‘Not unlike walking very close to a waterfall. Things sparkle and flash on all sides.’

Helena Nelson (2010)

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The Bright Tethers and Korean Letters – David Cameron

These two collections illustrate why David Cameron received the 2014 Hennessy Literary Award for Poetry. As Seamus Heaney observed, Cameron’s poetry provides ‘an answer to Frost’s wish for poems about subjects common in experience but rare in books.’

The first collection, The Bright Tethers, was chosen as a Book of the Year (2016) in the press by the poet Ron Butlin, who called Cameron ‘one of the most insightful and thought-provoking poets around’.

The Bright Tethers contains almost three decades’ worth of poetry. There are poems on the themes of childhood, loss, outsiderness and love. There is also a number of poems written for Cameron’s three young children – one of these, ‘Night Singing’, features in an English curriculum textbook in Ireland.

The 2020 collection, Korean Letters gathers together the poems written in the four years since The Bright Tethers. The words of its title poem were culled from fragments of letters written by Cameron’s late father, George, while on National Service in Korea.

The book includes ‘In a Darker Vein’, a cycle of poems set to music by the Toronto-based composer, David Jaeger, and also ‘In the Epileptic Colony’, a long poem recording the intensity of Cameron’s former experiences as a careworker in a residential ‘hospital school’.

Both of these books confirm the poet and reviewer D.A. Prince’s judgement of Cameron’s achievement: ‘Thoughtful, tentative, musical, human in scale, these are poems which deserve to last.’

The Poems of Martin Seymour-Smith

Martin Seymour-Smith (1928-1998) was the polymathic author of the colossal Guide to Modern World Literature (1973, 1985), many other reference books, and definitive biographies of Thomas Hardy and of his friend Robert Graves. His commitment to making known the writing of others has obscured the fact of his own dedication to poetry, and the existence of some 150 of his poems (until now only in separate volumes) in which his own emotional and intellectual conflicts are fought through in the context of his century. Writer, soldier, bantam-weight boxer, encyclopaedist, father, friend, tormented and ecstatic lover – Seymour-Smith’s voice as a poet is one of the most distinctive of his time. His earliest poem, written when he was a boy, ends prophetically:

And all around him, while he spoke, there beat
The endless drummers of subtracting night.

In his life he insisted on maintaining his integrity in an age of declining standards. Few poems of this age are simultaneously as intelligent and passionate as these.

The Poems of Valentin Iremonger

Valentin Iremonger (1918–1991) is the quiet man of 20th century Irish poetry in English. As he wrote to Robert Graves in 1944, ‘If, as you say, poetry is a sharing of secrets, today these secrets are proscribed and it is not by shouting and tearing one’s hair or by roaring through a microphone they will be shared.’

As a diplomat living with his family abroad (First Secretary in the UK, Ambassador in Sweden, India, and Luxembourg), he was in no position to promote his poems, but nor was it his temperament to do so.

The poet (in Irish) Máire mhac an tSaoi wrote after his death: ‘Valentin Iremonger, both as a poet and as a human being, radiated integrity.’ His poems are, to use a phrase Iremonger applied in a review, from ‘the only place where poetry can be found – in the everyday life of the people around…’ And as Seán O’Faoláin wrote, ‘one rarely hears a modern idiom, a modern speech. (I find it in the tense poetry of W.R. Rodgers and in the hesitating rhythm of Valentin Iremonger)’. Iremonger’s poems are the epitome of ‘feeling thought’ – the rhythm, whether hesitant or driving, carrying them often in unusually long but lucid sentences.

This collection is as close to complete as we have found possible: it includes all poems from his published volumes, with some published only in periodicals, and a few unpublished. It also includes passages of poetry from his radio play Wrap up my Green Jacket.