When Jim Daly died in 2009, Waterford and Waterford Arts lost a champion and an activist and his many friends wanted a creative and more tangible record of his importance and wide contribution to an emerging theatrical and literary scene. So Waterford Youth Arts and Red Kettle with the editing skills of Robert Browne, Mark Roper and Jim Nolan came together to produce and publish the prose, poetry and plays of Jim Daly Collected Works.
A beautiful publication, with white cover, a dark Ben Hennessy illustration, a red spine and a very theatrical pose of Jim with pipe and bandolero.
Jim was a neighbour of mine and we shared many conversations about poetry and theatre. Sometimes he would chide me for my opinions and suggest I should be more supportive.
I last met him during the touring Gate production of Waiting for Godot in Garter Lane – a handshake and a hug.
The poems chosen by Mark Roper show a fine concern for language and narrative. Introduction to Poetry tells of the love and dedication, Jim brought to his many writing workshops:
I ask them to take a poem
And hold it up to the light
Like a colour slide.
An exploratory opening but he ends the poem by saying that his students want to tie the poem to a chair, torture a confession out of it by beating it with a hose to find out what it really means. Paul Muldoon wouldn’t have said it any better.
His name checking of Doc Dalton, Shammy Power and Ginger Long is On Different Roads brings a tear to my memory of shared dreams and wild enthusiasms.
The prose work is a mix of programme notes and occasional pieces but the wide ranging That Saturday is ne plus ultra. Many will enjoy the passage as Gaeilge about whether it is Cnoc Sion or Croc Sion in the excellent Reflections on Stout, School and Small Bald Hurlers.
Of the plays written mostly for Youth Arts productions To Leap from Paradise still has the power to sting my memory. In the opening lines a young boy and girl talk about why a funeral stops at Nanny and Granddad’s house and how can nanny see the place for the last time if she is dead. John says to Rosie –Why don’t you ask me easy questions? So Rosie asks “Does Nanny know that she’s dead?”
I wonder, does Jim Daly know he is dead? And hope in some spiritual way that he doesn’t and that this book will keep him alive. This book will be Jim’s Leap from paradise.
Jim Daly Collected Works will be launched Friday 20th August at Greyfriars Gallery at 7pm.