Saturday, November 28, 2009

Roden Noel Ganymede & Bacchus

Roden Noel was a prolific but minor poet of the late nineteenth century who gets an honorable mention in histories of gay literature for his occasional homoerotic poem. My friends at the Old Stile Press have printed two of these, The Waternymph and Boy and Comrade, My Comrade (now out of print). It was the first of these which introduced me to the press when R bought me a copy he had found in a secondhand bookshop for Christmas some years ago. To say Noel's style is idiosyncratic is probably understating things and this is certainly why he remains somewhat overlooked (unjustly IMHO).

Later on I found a copy of Noel's Collected Poems with the family armorial bookplate inside and I slowly supped my way through it and identified two other poems with a strong homoerotic tone. I have had the text of these edited and introduced for what seems like an age. Years ago I gained permission to include Noel's 'Case history' from Havelock Ellis's Sexual Inversion as an appendix. And way back then I also had a good friend create a number of illustrations to go with the poems. All that has been done and sitting in a drawer for aeons. I'm not quite sure why except that every time I tried to design a format to publish it all in, it was never quite right.

Finally, it's almost ready to go. I decided to create it in the same format as my recent Six Poems by Jocelyn Brooke (also pictured above). The copy above is the proof copy and there is just a little tweaking to do but this also marks the first title I will have created with some element of printing, in the form of printing the illustrations directly from the artist's blocks.

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