This is one of those great bedside 'dipping into' books. A collection of poetry, prose, short story and memoir, it had its origins in a campaign to raise awareness of the work Shine (www.shineonline.ie) does to support people affected by mental health. It is not an anthology of writing about mental health, but a collection 'related to the aim of the book but refusing to present the subject of mental ill health as separate from the many issues that matter to us in society.' Because that's the point isn't it- it isn't separate, but is very much part of societies issues and one we are all very much aware of.
Invited contributors gave their work free of charge, supporting the concept. Miriam O'Callaghan's foreword reminds us of the value of creative writing as a diversion from the stresses of everyday life, whether we write ourselves or read others work, and I truly believe in this as being therapeutic.
With over ninety contributors, including Harry Clifton, Michael D. Higgins, Dermot Bolger, Thomas Kinsella, Judith Mok, Macdara Woods and Nessa O'Mahony amongst others, Pat Boran as editor has gathered together a fine crew of Ireland's top poets and writers to contribute to the project.
As Pat Boran points out, committing a traumatic experience to words is unlikely to free us of it or heal us, but it may be useful in helping us to find a new perspective. And this is what I feel this collection offers- a new perspective on many issues we face or our close acquaintances face in life; loneliness, despair, exposure of the self and in this way we can read and reflect on the vagaries and mysteries of humanity in all its forms, behaviours and moods.
Shine On is published by Dedalus Press