Dublin, RHA Gallagher Gallery and New Island Books 1997
Cover Painting by Gene Lambert
This book has a troubled history. Gene Lambert, who had heard me read from ‘Pity for the Wicked’ at the Dun Laoghaire poetry festival, suggested including in the book the section referring to the murder of Margaret Wright. I agreed and wrote a poem, ‘The Childhood of Margaret Wright’, tying it to the cover painting, which also appears on the back of ‘Pity for the Wicked’. There were other poems relating to the theme, and the introduction, which I wrote, explained the connections.
The then Director of the RHA Gallagher Gallery, Ciaran MacGonigal, was enthusiastic about the collaboration and, at my suggestion, arranged a co-publishing deal with New Island Books. However, shortly before the book was to go to press, Ciaran announced that he had got legal advice that the Margaret Wright extract was libellous of the people involved in her murder. I agreed reluctantly to remove the extract, the other poems and to rewrite the introduction – some, not all, of the details are set out in an appendix to ‘Pity for the Wicked’. As far as Playtime was concerned, the result was that the book was not distributed to bookshops or reviewed in the newspapers.