Eddies’ Own Aquarius is a special issue of the legendary poetry magazine put together by Constance Short and Tony Carroll for Eddie Linden’s 70th birthday. It features contributions from a host of English, Irish, Scottish, Welsh and Americanpoets including Dannie Abse, Sebastian Barker, Seamus Heaney, Leland Bardwell, Dermot Healy, Alan Brownjohn, Robert Creeley, Anthony Cronin, the late Michael Donaghy ( who threw a party for Linden’s 60th birthday and whose idea this tribute was), Paul Durcan, Elaine Feinstein, Pearse Hutchinson, Joy Hendry, Alan Jenkins and John Montague. Handsomely produced, it also contains photographs and paintings, essays about Eddie Linden, and some of his own poetry, including his well known ‘City of Razors’ :
Cobbled streets, littered with broken milk bottles,
reeking chimneys and dirty tenement buildings,
walls scrawled with FUCK THE POPE and blue-lettered
words GOD BLESS THE RANGERS.
Old woman at the corner, arms folded, babe in pram,
a drunk man’s voice from the other pavement,
And out come the Catholics from evening confessional;
A woman roars from an upper window
‘They’re at it again, Maggie!
Five stitches in our Tommie’s face, Lizzie!
Eddie’s in The Royal wi’ a sword in his stomach
and the razor’s floating in the River Clyde.’
There is roaring in Hope Street,
They’re killing in the Carlton,
There’s an ambulance in Bridgeton,
And a laddie in the Royal.
Sydney Bernard Smyth remembers Linden reading this in the bar of Murray’s hotel on Inishbofin at the Arts Festival in 1971:
‘The attendance was riveted. They understood immediately what this anguish was about. City of Razors made a startling impact.’
Sean Hutton’s essay, ‘In praise of Eddie Linden’ is a good introduction to the man and his work. The first issue of Aquarius came out in 1969 and it became an annual publication, with many special issues devoted to Irish, Scottish, Welsh, Australian and Canadian poetry, or to individual poets (Hugh McDiarmid, John Heath-Stubbs, George Barker and W.S. Graham. And there’s a slew of reminiscences about the man, his magazine and the Soho arts world that no longer exists. All in all, a worthwhile tribute and a great introduction to a fine literary magazine for those who might have missed it first time round.
Eddie’s Own Aquarius. Compiled and edited by Constance Short and Tony Carroll. Published by Cahermee Publications. €25. Book orders: constanceshort at eircom net.
ISBN -10: 0-9551584-0-0
ISBN -13: 978-0-9551584-0-7.