A Poet's Rising live event April 05 2016
at the Irish Writers Centre, 31 March 2016
‘When I think of all the false beginnings…
The man was a pair of hands,
the woman another pair, to be had more cheaply,
the wind blew, the children were thirsty – ’
Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin’s poem ‘For James Connolly’ was the first to be recited to a spellbound audience at the Irish Writers Centre in Parnell Square, Dublin, last Thursday night.
I found these opening lines deeply moving – they brought me right back to when I was ten or eleven and read my first adult biography. It was a portrait of James Connolly, one that concentrated on the family man, the deeply compassionate human being whose sense of fairness and decency was outraged by the appalling poverty in which the ‘common man’ – and woman and child – were living.
I thought that Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin’s lines captured that sense perfectly – the sense of a man tired of waiting for ‘the voices to shout Enough’.
‘For James Connolly’ is one of six poems commissioned by the Irish Writers Centre and supported by the Arts Council as part of the national commemoration of 1916.
The six poets concerned are Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Paul Muldoon, Jessica Traynor, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Theo Dorgan and Thomas McCarthy.
Each poet focused on a key historical figure and a particular location associated with the Easter Rising. Paul Muldoon ‘ventriloquised’ Patrick Pearse. Jessica Traynor chose Dr Kathleen Lynn, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill the O Rathaille, and Theo Dorgan paid tribute to Elizabeth O’Farrell.
Thomas McCarthy inhabited the Garden of Remembrance, where he reflected upon ‘the two states we’re in/A state of mystical borders and broken spears/Left by a silent procession of things left unsaid.’
All of the poets were then filmed in their chosen locations and the film will soon be an app, freely available for download at the end of April.
Conor Kostick has written the historical links between each of the poems on the app, and the glimpses that the audience got of the final version were enticing.
As the poets are filmed reading their work, they are accompanied by the fiddle playing of the incomparable Colm Mac Con Iomaire. Colm composed a haunting score in response to the poets’ commissioned work. We, the audience on Thursday night, were privileged to be in attendance as he played ‘Solasta’ for us.
It was illuminating to focus on the humanitarian motivations shared by so many of those involved in Easter 1916.
In Jessica Traynor’s ‘A Demonstration’, she explores the work of Dr Kathleen Lynn:
‘Haunted by skulls
that boast through the thin skin of children
Who ghost the alleyways, dying
young in silent demonstration
I raise my own demonstration
against my limits as woman and doctor.’
And finally, among all the many riches of the evening, I took away with me the closing words of Thomas McCarthy from his beautiful ‘Garden of Remembrance’. Words of reconciliation, of understanding, of all the things we share in our common humanity:
‘we have a duty to make a firm nest –
Not an ill-advised pageant or a national barricade.
When the midday sun breaks through, my eyes rest
On harp and acorn, on trumpet and bronze hands,
On things a family without our history understands.’
This was a memorable evening on so many levels.
Congratulations to the Arts Council, to the Irish Writers Centre – particularly to Pádraig Burke, the Development Officer there – to Colm Mac Con Iomaire, to Conor Kostick and, of course, to all the poets involved.
I made my way home through the Dublin evening afterwards feeling uplifted, grateful, almost optimistic.
Special Discounted Rate on Selected Courses February 10 2016 1 Comment
If you've missed out on joining a Spring 2016 course, it's not too late to sign up and the course will be discounted accordingly. Offer available for a limited time only.
Although the courses in question have already begun, the course facilitators are confident that those joining in late will be able to catch up on any class work missed. The courses being offered at discounted rates are as follows:
- Historical Fiction with Conor Kostick (Thursday 11th | 6.30pm)
- Essay and Memoir with Henry McDonald (Tuesday 16th | 6.30pm)
- Finding Your Form with Nessa O'Mahony (Tuesday 16th | 11am)
This is a great opportunity to catch-up without breaking the bank. Those interested should contact the Centre on 01-8721302 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
The discount rates are based on how many sessions have been missed. Students will be unable to join courses after the third session.
Meet our autumn 2015 facilitators: 1. Conor Kostick August 25 2015
We caught up with novelist Conor Kostick as he prepares to begin teaching his Finish your Novel course here at the Irish Writers Centre. Over tea and biscuits in the Centre's library, Conor discussed his summer reading, his favourite childhood book and his preference for print over ebooks.
Irish Writers Centre: What have you been reading over the summer?
Conor Kostick: I've been reading David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. I can hardly put it down — best three euro I've ever spent! Everyone says Dickens is a great novelist, but when I read him 20 or 30 years ago I couldn't really see it. He is very different to Austen and Tolstoy in his willingness to push the form and structure of the novel.
IWC: What do you need most in order to be able to write?
CK: Time is the most important thing for me. Writing is not a gift, it’s a craft. The more you read and write the stronger your technical skills become.
IWC: For your own reading, do you prefer e-books or traditional print books?
CK: I prefer print. I do have a Kindle, but I find it a little bit harder to sink into the world of the book when reading from the screen.
IWC: What was your favourite book as a child?
CK: A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin.
Conor Kostick is the author of a number of successful books. In 2009, Conor was presented with a Special Merit Award by the Reading Association of Ireland; in 2010 he was the Farmleigh Writer-in-Residence. Conor was president of the Irish jury for the EU Prize for Literature, 2015.
Book here for Finish Your Novel with Conor Kostick >>>.
Conor is also available for One-to-One Mentoring
Expect to e-meet lots more of our facilitators over the coming weeks.
Announcing EU Prize for Literature 2015 Shortlist March 05 2015
The Irish Writers Centre is delighted to be the first to announce that the following titles have been shortlisted for the EU Prize for Literature 2015, a prize for emerging talents in the field of contemporary fiction (alphabetical order):
- Mary Costello, Academy Street (Cannongate Books, 2014)
- Donal Ryan, The Spinning Heart (Doubleday Ireland, 2012; originally published by Lilliput Press)
- Deirdre Sullivan, Primperfect (Little Island, 2014)
Ireland is one of twelve countries who will provide a national winner of the EU Prize for Literature in 2015. See the EU Prize for Literature website for more.