Dublin writer and city poet laureate James Morehead has published his newest collection of poems, entitled "The Plague Doctor".
The new book, which Morehead celebrated with a launch event last weekend at The Frame Company and Art Gallery in Dublin, draws from eerie and chilling inspirations -- something different from what Morehead has written in the past.
The poet spoke to the Weekly about his reflections on the book and what he hopes readers will take away from it.
"My first two books leaned heavily into memoir poems; they were influenced by my own personal experiences," said Morehead, who was selected as the Dublin poet laureate in June 2021 and has since been reaffirmed to serve for a second term.
"I wrote the poem 'The Plague Doctor' a couple years ago after looking at a photograph of a friend wearing an elaborate Halloween costume. I just looked at the photo, and as poets tend to do, I wrote that poem," he said. "It was a little creepy, a little eerie and I liked the feeling of it. It was different from the style of poetry that I have written previously so that was exciting."
"Then I went down a conscious path of looking for more eerie and creepy themes. A lot of that was influenced by art and photography, not by my own personal experience," he added.
His first two collections, "Canvas: Poems" and "Portraits of Red and Gray: Memoir Poems", had been written and compiled over a number of years.
For the latest release, Morehead worked in a shorter time span to shape his poems cohesively after the first spark of inspiration.
"The first two books, which I'm very proud of, are collected poems I've written over quite a long time. I found a way to stitch them together so that they had a specific coherence," he said.
This time around Morehead focused on being more imaginative and vivid with his writing.
"For another poem in the book, I had an idea of an art gallery. As you go into each part of the gallery, the sculptures start to melt off the paintings, the books evolve into words and letters. Then the actual person viewing the gallery dissolves into the floor," he explained. "There's this entire world."
While poetry collections can usually be read out of order, the best way to read "The Plague Doctor" is in chronological order, according to Morehead.
"Typically, the nature of poetry is such that you can read poems individually and truly stand on their own. I think 'The Plague Doctor' is best to read from start to finish," he said.
The book has received acclaim from fellow literary artists, including Tina Cane, poet laureate of Rhode Island. Cane shared reflections about Morehead in a statement.
"James Morehead's poetry pulses with vibrant detail," Cane said. "In this new collection Morehead has created a vivid document that captures what it means to be perpetually inspired by the world in all its facets."
Overall Morehead hopes readers will feel greatly impacted by the mood and scenery laid out for them in the book.
"I hope there are elements of the book, a phrase or a line that sticks with readers and rattles their mind. I hope it makes them think about the time we have on Earth and how fleeting it is and how temporary our time is here," he said. "My intention (when you read it) is that you walk away with these vivid images that just linger."
Morehead plans to attend an upcoming Bay Area book festival in Berkeley to promote his work, as well as with several other Tri-Valley authors.
"It's an opportunity for me to meet some people in person and for people to get signed books," he said of the event. "But it's more of a chance for me to share it and interact with the community."
"The Plague Doctor" features ink art by Natalia Andrus as well as Morehead's own original photographs.
More information about James Morehead and "The Plague Doctor" can be found at viewlesswings.com/james-morehead.
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