Poet John Wakeman told The Irish Times that he thought “it would be exciting to start a poetry magazine out of the wilds of West Cork in Ireland.” Within a few years THE SHOp became one of Ireland’s most highly-regarded poetry magazines, not only for its contents but for its looks. “Unquestionably the most beautiful poetry magazine now in existence,” Bernard O’Donoghue said. Seamus Heaney described himself as a “confirmed SHOp-lifter.”
The title was inspired by W.B. Yeats’ “foul rag and bone shop of the heart.” The idiosyncratic lower-case ‘p’ was a whim of the early magazine designer, Joakim Saflund. Over the period between 1999 and 2014, THE SHOp published the work of internationally recognised poets such as Seamus Heaney, Paul Muldoon, Medbh McGuckian, Brendan Kennelly, Paula Meehan, Theo Dorgan, John F. Deane, Derek Mahon and John Montague. Significantly, it also provided a welcome and much needed space for emerging talents. Gradually, international poets began to contribute work. Each issue contained at least one poem in Irish, by poets such as Gabriel Rosenstock and Michael Davitt, with a translation.
Hilary Wakeman, with the help of her co-editor, the poet Hilary Elfick, has identified 285 poems from the 840 poets published in THE SHOp during those 15 years. The result is this collection of some of the finest Irish and international poetry ever assembled in one volume.