Sarah Lundberg: writer, historian, animal rights activist, humanitarian, feminist, vegetarian, environmentalist, archivist, publisher, animal rescuer, talker extraordinaire – was my spouse for twenty years, my friend for twenty four years and my lover for twenty two years.
Sarah Sunflower Lundberg (born Brenda – she changed her name) was known primarily as the founder of the small press Seven Towers, as well as being the agent for many poets and writers and singers, including myself. She published writers such as Ross Hattaway, Noel O Briain, Eamonn Lynskey, Raven, Quincy R Lehr, Estate of Ray Pospisil, Eamon Carr, John Liam Shea, republished John D. Sheridan’s Paradise Alley, as well as literally hundreds of other writers, artists, graphic designers, cartoonists. She also agented other books, for instance Steve Conway’s excellent memoir of his time on radio Caroline Shiprocked. So many writers got their very first real publication with a real press thanks to her. Books suffused her life. I met her when she was working in Dublin public library and we talked books from there on. She went to extreme lengths to promote the writers she believed in. I remember her walking up to Bob Dylan’s representation at a concert and giving them a copy of one of my novels and extracting a promise from them that Bob actually get the book. It was an extraordinary moment I will never forget.
Sarah also promoted the arts fearlessly and with great energy. She ran hundreds of readings, open mics, occasional festivals, liaised with other presses to ensure their authors got a fair reading of their work, happily collaborated with other presses, and set up a transatlantic open mic between New York and Dublin, which was the very first of its kind. The Last Wednesday open Mic, which migrated from one location after another was to the best of my knowledge the longest running open mic in Ireland, was a hugely popular event and attracted poets and writers from all corners of the Earth. I recall one hilarious night when a New York rapper turned up very stoned just as the event was going to close and recited a very fine poem about the birth of his daughter. I recall too the look of fear in his eyes as he stood alone in the center of that little stage downstairs in the Box in the Twisted Pepper, Abbey Street and the crowd respectfully silently attentively listened to him and he knew here were a group of serious writers who really would pay attention to his every word. He needn’t have worried. The poem was very moving and very good.
In later years Sarah’s Interests moved into local history and historical research (we always shared a passion for history and our home was filled with history books). Around the time of her death she was involved in a large project which she sadly never finished. She was an excellent writer of prose. Her style was crystal clear, unadorned, and leaned towards the gentle understatement of fact rather than any ostentatious dramatic effect. She was interviewed occasionally on local and national radio stations on historical subjects that she was researching and one of the more telling aspects of her interviews was her adherence to fact, her awareness of the human element in any story, and her humour in seeing the contradictory and ironic aspects of human actions and motivations. She never wasted time on padding her conversations with empty chatter and though she could talk endlessly, she usually had something to say. I always had a hard time convincing her she had done well in such interviews, because she was always so nervous giving them. She had a prodigious memory, an intimidating recall of fact, and a grasp of language’s many subtleties that made arguing with her something of an act of futility. Despite her many many gifts, Sarah was a shy self deprecating individual, an introvert who loved the world of books and ideas more than any kind of public arena. She hated cameras, loathed publicity, and could be seen at events with her head down and her knees crossed, wearing a jumper and jeans, possibly knitting something, and listening silently to whoever was performing their work. Though she may have given the impression she was somewhat distracted, she never missed a thing about what was going on at any event. She was simply one of the cleverest people I ever knew.
In losing Sarah we have lost a great figure in the Irish Arts scene, a departure largely unacknowledged by Government bodies or official arts organizations in Ireland, despite the outpouring of shock and grief at her death by the artistic community. One can only imagine what other great things might have come from Sarah had she remained with us, both in her own writing and in her contribution to the careers of other artists and writers.
Sarah tragically ended her own life on 25th July 2014 in the early afternoon. Sarah and I separated around August- early September 2013 and I had no contact whatever with her since that time, except for Marriage Mediation, which we never completed. For anyone who has been through it, Mediation mainly involved with money and property matters and little else. She did not return my calls or messages to my great distress. This tragically was not the first, or indeed the second time Sarah had made an attempt on her own life, as she carried the effects of being raped with her throughout her life. Countless friends and loved ones and admirers reached out to her and cared for her and loved her and supported her, but the devastating effects of all that she had suffered became too much.
Though our marriage had ended, our love never did and never will. Though she had gone through so much, she achieved so very much. She will be missed, terribly, by friends and loved ones. One could never forget Sarah Sunflower Lundberg. We shall not see her like again.
Ah Sun-flower! weary of time,
Who countest the steps of the Sun:
Seeking after that sweet golden clime
Where the travellers journey is done.
Where the Youth pined away with desire,
And the pale Virgin shrouded in snow:
Arise from their graves and aspire,
Where my Sun-flower wishes to go.
by William Blake