Listowel Writers' Week Fringe

Blogging Listowel's Literary Scene
Subscribe

RECAP of Listowel Writers’ Week 2009

June 03, 2010 By: Laura Category: 2009, creative writing, events, historical, journalism, memoir, novels, painters & paintings, participants, photographs, poem, poems, poet, poetry, poets, Reflections, short story, songwriting, Speaker, storytelling, theatrical plays

RECAP of Listowel Writers’ Week 2009

“Poet’s Life” by Laura Jean Zito (Photos and text) laurajeanzito@gmail.com

“Where’s your husband?” yelled the man exiting the theatre, St. John’s Church, in the main square in Listowel, Ireland.

“Do I care, if Gabriel Byrne’s about?” retorted a woman as I passed her.

Gabriel Byrne himself had expressed surprise as to just what an object of female adoration he was regarded here in Listowel, where he opened the 39th Annual Writers Week Wednesday, May 27th, 2009. Inside the theatre he had been reciting a poem he penned for the “Sunday Miscellany” program that is aired on RTE radio every Sunday morning. His oratory the night before for the opening night ceremonies made less reference to writing and more to film, as he recounted an amusing anecdote about a cab driver in Dublin who, upon recognizing him, pitched his own script about a cocaine dealer that he insisted Gabriel would be perfect for, along with fellow “gang” members Pierce Brosnan, Liam Neeson, Colin Farrell. “And what about Stephen Rea?” he asked. You can see this speech on You Tube.

Gabriel talked about how the only reference to 39 that came to mind was the film and recent play from John Buchan’s novel, “The 39 Steps,” about the archetypal “man who knew too much” that had launched Hitchcock’s career in 1935 and spawned several remakes, including a 2008 BBC television production.

Gabriel delighted the crowd by reminding them of the warm welcome he never forgot when he had first come to Listowel many years ago, cast as the lead in “Dev,” by GP Gallivan and directed by Peter Sheridan of the Projects Theatre in Dublin. Later I heard Gabriel elaborate on an RTE radio interview that his love affair with Listowel was deepened by an actual “romantic liaison,” as he put it, set in the town here. He went on to say how honored he felt to be asked to return to open the world-renowned literary festival on this eve when the winners of so many important literary competitions would be announced.

In his Intro, Michael Lynch had already pointed out that 2009 marked the 100th anniversary of the birth of Bryan MacMahon, Writers’ Week founder, along with John B. Keane. John B’s play

“Sive” was enjoying via the Listowel Players the 50th anniversary of its first staging in 1959, a year before it won the All Ireland finals. 2009 also marks the 30th anniversary of the last taping of an episode of the Reardons, in which Gabriel Byrne got his start as a sheep farmer before appearing on Bracken, and the morrow would bring with it the performance of “Sive” in St. John’s Theatre on the seventh anniversary to the day of John B.’s death.

Another writer died this year, beloved by many, David Marcus, an Irish Jewish writer and editor of fiction and poetry who hailed from Cork. The ee cummings poem he loved the most that Niall MacMonagle read at his funeral, “what if a much of a which of a wind” was shared with the audience by Colm Toibin, President of the Festival.

The Euro 15,000.00 Kerry Group Irish Fiction Award was taken by Joseph O’Neill for “Netherland,” a book that Barak Obama himself was quoted in the NY Times to have said was, “wonderful,” (without specifically pinpointing what appealed to him.) Seamus Heaney’s wife even made a copy of “Netherland,” her 09 anniversary gift to her husband, adding to its aura.

Thursday morning O’Neill read from his tome, followed by others.

David Park, although a Protestant from Belfast, by developing the Sinn Fein character in his novel, “The Truth Commissioner”, noted that he developed sympathies he didn’t know he had. To paraphrase, he said something like ‘Truth is relative to whoever is considering it.’ When you seek out truth some of it is probably going to be damaging to one’s own political point of view. When his teenage daughter asked him “Are the troubles coming back in?” he said “No,” as the groundswell against the atrocities had grown so big that it was hard to conceive such a notion. He failed to mention the most recent atrocities, those of the night previous, in which an innocent Catholic man was beaten to death by eight Protestants, who then targeted the dead man’s son.

The themes of love and death seemed to carry all through the festival, right up to the reading of Colm Toibin from his recent novel, “Brooklyn.” He drew inspiration for the novel’s main character, a female emigrant to Brooklyn from Wexford in the fifties, from a woman who came to visit at his house after his father died when Colm was 12. She spoke about her one daughter who had also died, and another who had emigrated to Brooklyn, a word that then took on mythical proportion.

After was heard a witty interview by Billy Keane of George Kimball,


American sports writer for the Boston Herald, who now writes the “America At Large” column for the Irish Times. He read excerpts from his best-seller 2008 boxing classic, “Four Kings: Leonard, Hagler, Hearns, Duran and the Last Great Era of Boxing.”

Rebecca Miller, the daughter of playwright Arthur Miller and photographer Inge Morath, read from her first novel, “The Private Lives of Pippa Lee,” published in 2008, currently being filmed. She won the Grand Jury Prize at Sundance for a screenplay adaptation of her own short story collection “Personal Velocity.” She also directed Daniel Day Lewis, her husband, in her film “The Ballad of Jack & Rose.” The film is screened in the Festival’s film club in its nightly screenings at the Classic Cinema.

“All About Eve” was performed by the Classic Revival Theatre fromDublin in a remake of Joseph L. Mankiewicz’s classic directed by Pegeen Coleman.

After a spectacular recitation of Herman Melville’s “Moby Dick” byConor Lovett of the Gare St. Lazare Players, I was filled with admiration for the actor’s talent at interpreting the text as well as expressing it. This performance is not to be missed.

Other theatre pieces in the nightly lineup of plays included a treatise on incest that is bounding continents, “On Raftery’s Hill” written byMarina Carr and performed by the Allen Little Theatre from County Kildare.

Also noteworthy, I found Ballinrobe’s Benny McDonnell’s

“Bondi Beach Boy Blue,” about attaining goals in the sports world, and other worlds, as two hurling teens hurl themselves Australia to represent Kilkenny.

After a wonderful art exhibition opening reception at the St. John’sTheatre of splendidly painted landscapes by ,

Joanna Keane O’Flynn, the daughter of Ireland’s most celebrated playwright,

John B. Keane, introduced John Montague, who announced it was his birthday. The audience received the presents of many of his poems read aloud by himself, and then his books readily signed thereafter.

Dermot Bolger, famous for his plays, poetry volumes and nine novels, as well as his associations with Trinity College and the Abbey Theatre, rounded things out on Sunday, the final day of the Festival.

The last word was had by Carol Drinkwater, known as Helen Herriot in the BBC’s “All Creatures Great and Small.” She wrote a best-selling award-winning children’s novel, “The Haunted School.” She is filming a documentary series around the Mediterranean Basin with UNESCO about the history and culture of the Olive Tree, based on her series of memoirs.

Most everyone could be found after at the “Healing Party” in John B’s Pub, anannual tradition to top off the oratory on the last day of Writers’ Week. The last

night was filled till the wee hours with memorable melodies, several by James Sheehan of the Dubliners,

sung and strummed by the Listowel Arms Hotel stayers and savourers of every last crumb of culture of the 2009 festival.

Certainly this all bodes well for the life of the Listowel Writers’ Week and for the celebrations of its 2010 40th Annual.

All inquiries can be directed to info@writersweek.ie or by calling 011 353 68 21074

“Poet’s Life” Copyright 2009 Laura Jean Zito All Rights Reserved For use of any photos and/or text contact laurajeanzito@gmail.com


Sheila O’Flanigan back in Listowel in 2010

February 03, 2010 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: 2010, creative writing, tutors, workshop

Sheila O’Flanigan will be running a workshop this year…

Emerging Writer publicises Competitions

February 03, 2010 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: 2010, blogs, competition

New blogpost from Emerging Writer.

Time to get ready to enter your writing for Listowel Writers’ Week competitions…

Joy of Writing too…

Publicity for LWW2010 Competitions

January 27, 2010 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: 2010, competition, connections

Good to see the word getting out on the internet.

Here’s Arts Grant Finder “blog” spreading Listowel’s writing competitions on 26 January.

Seems to be a useful place to look for stories about the arts round the world. I even spotted a feature on El Bulli closing for 2012 & 2013. Perhaps El Bulli will close up and never be again, and I won’t ever get there…

If I ever meet a spammer in person I’ll …

June 18, 2009 By: Patrick Stack Category: blogs, poetry, Reflections

… kick their teeth in, and that is a promise. I don’t mind the odd comment spam in Cryllic from some Russian with nothing better to do, but when we get flooded by rubbish from that bastion of rabid capitalism, the, in this case, not-so-good old U S of A, trying to sell everything from cheap insurance (automobile and home) to pharmaceuticals (a minority of which claim to increase the girth of one’s manhood) to College degrees, my normal sanguinity in the face of computer problems goes to white hot, and I have this overweening urge to shove their spam up their virtual rear ends which of course I never get to do as they remain untraceable apart from an IP address.

Now I know, as ever blogger does, that one of the downsides of blogging is that it brings with it the unwanted attentions of the bottom-feeding spammer scum (those self-styled “bulk marketing consultants“) which rarely amounts to no more than a passing, if daily, annoyance.
However, it does become a major problem when the number of spam posts dramatically increases making it nigh-on-impossible for the blog admin. (the person who oversees the proper running of the blog) to stem the tide of filth.

Some years back I suffered one such attack on my first blog and was forced to close the blog down while I searched for a solution. Not being sufficiently skilled at php coding at the time I could not implement any of the solutions I found on the web, nor could I afford to pay somebody else to do it for me. I kept a record of the IP addresses of the offending posts over a few days. The vast majority of the relevant IPs originated in China. So I banned entire ranges of IP addresses associated with China by adding them to a .htaccess file on the server. A bit extreme I know, but it worked!

Why am I telling you all of this? Firstly I’m writing it as an extension to Paul O’Mahony’s contention, in his Literary Festival in Digital Age post, that we writers ignore the tools brought to us courtesy of the Web Revolution at our peril. Secondly, because I love Web technology every bit as much as I love writing. For me the two are inextricably intertwined. There is a web site devoted to poetry written in or using the Perl programming language – Perl Monks. There has even been a Perl Poetry Contest. According to its inventor, Larry Wall, Perl stands for either Practical Abstraction and Report Language or Pathologically Eclectic Rubbish Lister depending on his mood at any particular time!

Any good programmer, mathematician, musician, or indeed scientist will be familiar with the idea that a solution, formula, function, theorem, piece or proof must have beauty if it is to be considered great. The concept of coding as poetry has always appealed to me, ever since I first came across it in Larry Wall’s classic Learning Perl or it may have been Programming Perl. What matter which?

[to be continued]

Thinking back over the experience of Writers’ Week : Mark Twain came to my side

June 12, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: connections, historical, Reflections

We should be careful to get out of an experience all the wisdom that is in
it — not like the cat that sits on a hot stove lid. She will never sit
down on a hot lid again — and that is well; but also she will never sit
down on a cold one anymore.

*** Mark Twain (1835 – 1910) American Author ***

For more information on this quotation and the author:
http://www.gurteen.com/gurteen/gurteen.nsf/id/X0013E7D2/

Author & Brenda Woulfe in Woulfe’s Bookshop

June 10, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: competition, creative writing, organisers, photographs

Before leaving Listowel Writers’ Week, I had to visit Woulfe’s Bookshop. It’s where I bought my first Moleskine notebook.

I found these two together, an author doing business with a proprietor:

dsc03341
The question is : who is he?

The first person to send in the correct answer in a comment wins a signed copy of the book… The author and the bookseller are not eligible to enter.

Hyperlinks… Hyperwords…

June 07, 2009 By: Paul O'Mahony Category: blogs, connections

I spend quite a lot of time adding hyperlinks to posts.

Hopefully, this practice enriches the piece.

Does adding hyperlinks transform the piece?

Several times I’ve added a note to a post to say that hyperlinks were added by me, rather than the author. Adding hyperlinks isn’t a routine matter; it involves selecting a hyperlink from among many possibilities. You could argue it interferes with the author’s intention.

On balance I favour the view that it adds more value than it destroys. So I’m going to stop putting in notes to say I’ve done it.

Hyperwords:

Without “Hyperwords” I’d be lost: it would be too clumsy to contemplate adding hyperlinks. Hyperwords is one of the best inventions I know for the internet writer.

Unfortunately, I think it’s only available to you if you use Firefox.

Colm Toibin reads from “Brooklyn”

May 29, 2009 By: Patrick Stack Category: events, novels

queue_for_colm_toibinDespite getting to St. John’s Theatre with more than 10 minutes to spare, the room is already nearly full, with a dearth of free adjoining seats which means that I’m forced to reneigue on my promise to Rosaleen Glennon that I’d hold a seat for her. I’m safely ensconced at the back and have the laptop open and booted up. There is an announcement from one of the committee that the reading will transfer to the Listowel Arms Hotel due to the huge queue outside the door. As usual, a large swathe of the crowd, contrary to “orders”, gets up and makes for the exits as if to escape a particularly nasty stink. The man seated next to me remarks that it’s typical. Twenty minutes later we are all seated comfortably in the large conference room in the Arms Hotel.
Joanna Keane starts the proceedings by delivering a well put together introduction and a short bio of Colm Tóibín which includes a cryptic (at least to me) reference to “Paradise“. As Colm approaches the podium to start, he and Joanna embrace.
Colm begins by informing us that “Brooklyn” originated as a short story. He talks at length about where the story came from.
He taught Jane Austen (not literally of course!) – she doesn’t use flashbacks which are a “form of laziness“. He remarks that a large number of Irish short stories deal with returned immigrants. He mentions a story called Nightfall by Daniel Corkery, one by Benedict Kiely and another by Brian MacMahon.

The holding of a dance can have an electrifying effect on a group of people“.

The novel started with five sentences. Seasickness played an important part, as did a shared toilet which idea he gleaned from an experience he had with his wife on a trip up the red sea. He reads from the point where Eilish is back in her cabin after the dinner on the boat to America. There follows a very vivid description of bladder and bowel movements under duress, completed by a graphic description of vomiting that has a large number of the audience laughing, and the rest caught in that uncomfortable tornness between wanting to laugh, feeling embarrassed and memories of private humiliation that are too close for comfort.
He struggles to get Miss MacAdam’s slightly northern accent.
He mentions that the best early recordings of traditional Irish music were made in New York.
The last section he reads is from the dance at Christmas.
Colm reads beautifully: his voice conveys all the tenderness, pathos, pain and conflict of the character he is describing .

There follows a Question and Answer session which unearths some nuggets:
There is “something in your system that guides the narrative” at crucial points in the novel writing process.
The Wexford coast appears with its place names in all Colm’s books, because it must. “You write out of your spirit, you DNA in terms of subject and style“; “You write from the self
you try and have the feelings, you try and render them while you’re working
It’s finding things in memory … memory is no good to you: you need to imagine it ….

He has just described the process of writing poetry I remark.
What is the link between memory and imagination I ask myself.

My workshop experience at Writers’ Week 2008

May 28, 2009 By: Patrick Stack Category: historical, participants, tutors, workshop

Having attended Carlo Gébler’s Writing a Novel workshop at last year’s Writers’ Week, I was hopeful that I would actually make some progress with my nascent novel-to-be. That, of course, depended on my making time in my busy schedule for writing. Inevitably this did not come to pass: as is almost invariably the case my priorities, like water, followed the path of least resistance, and the novel writing was de-prioritised out of existence.
The workshop itself, I found to be very useful, as it got me to focus on the why. Motivation is the key to everything. Each act carried out by each character in the novel must be believable, otherwise that character will not be believable. Even if the reader does not know or understand the motivation behind the action of a character, the author must know it, otherwise the character ceases to be believable. In essence that is what I gleaned from the workshop.
I enjoyed hearing the other participants read from their works in progress, as much as I enjoyed reading from my own. The range in tone and genre was breathtaking, the skill of the individual writers undoubted.
I felt that Carlo facilitated the workshop with real skill, facilitating a space for each participant to voice hir (his/her) thoughts, emotions and reactions. It was for me a very fruitful experience. Now, all I have to do is re-prioritise my novel writing to the point where I actually get something written – easier said than done!


Creative Commons License
This work by various authors is licensed under a Creative Commons License.