THE SHOp seeks to put good Irish poetry before its foreign readers, good foreign poetry before its Irish readers. The title of the magazine is a reference to the last line of W.B. Yeats’ poem ‘The Circus Animals’ Desertion.’ He says, in effect, that true poetry must begin ‘in the foul rag-and-bone shop of the heart.’
Now that my ladder’s gone
I must lie down where all the ladders start.
In the foul rag-and-bone shop of the heart.
Each issue of THE SHOp contains work by established poets, both Irish and foreign, and also poems by talented newcomers, some of them never previously published. The magazine will consider poems in any form, on any subject, though not if they reflect racial or gender bias. THE SHOp has pioneered the practice of grouping together poems on similar themes. A group of half a dozen poems on the subject of love, say, or death, demonstrates the variety of human response to universal experiences, and also the variety of formal methods available to poets.
THE SHOp also publishes occasional essays. Each issue contains one or more poems in Gaelic, with English translations. THE SHOp’s Irish language adviser is Gabriel Rosenstock, distinguished poet, translator and haikuist, the author of more than a hundred books. As a student at UCC in the 1970’s, he was prominent in the Innti group, which revolutionized Irish language poetry.
The editors believe that good visual presentation is essential to the appreciation and even the understanding of poetry. THE SHOP has been praised as much for its look and ‘feel’ as for its content. Among the artists who have supplied cover images or black-and-white illustrations are Paula Rego, Ana Maria Pacheco, Janet Mullarney, Hammond Journeaux, Brian Lalor, Frank Russell, William Blake, Theo Wakeman, Jeanette McCulloch, Luis Fanti, Giorgio De Chirico, and Pat Connor.