The Prophets are Weeping
President Michael D Higgins has released a new poem tackling extremism and displacement inspired by the flight of people in Northern Iraq and Syria. The poem was completed before the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris last month but the theme is very poignant. This is the first piece of poetry published by President Higgins since he was elected into office in 2011.
At the abuse
Of their words,
Scattered to sow an evil seed.
Rumour has it that,
The Prophets are weeping,
At their texts distorted,
The death and destruction,
Imposed in their name.
The sun burns down,
On the children who are crying,
On the long journeys repeated,
Their questions not answered.
Mothers and Fathers hide their faces,
Unable to explain,
Why they must endlessly,
No end in sight,
Move for shelter,
for food, for safety, for hope.
The Prophets are weeping,
For the words that have been stolen,
From texts that once offered,
To reveal in ancient times,
A shared space,
Of love and care,
Above all for the stranger.
Bicycle Powered Library
Street Books is a library that transports itself around the city of Portland, Oregon. It has all the traits of a static library, but in this case, patrons take a book and bring it back whenever they can. They are also invited to have their picture taken with their book, and they can share stories of their own which are posted on the Street Books Website.
This initiative is growing and on the 13th of February, Street Books will host an event with Sisters of the Road Café, which provides food and other opportunities for the homeless.
Valentine’s Day for Book Lovers
I’ll allow one Valentines post to sneak in here. This is for book lovers who also love hilarious jokes. Herman Melville could do with a few pointers though.
Edna O’Brien to attend Limerick Literary Festival
Edna O’Brien, author of The Country Girls, will attend the Limerick Literary Festival this year. The festival has been held annually since 1984 in honour of writer Kate O’Brien who passed away that year.
Harper Lee ‘Extremely Hurt’ by public outcry
I feel really bad for even insinuating last week that Harper Lee might have lacked the capacity to sign off on the release of her long lost book Go Set a Watchman. Lee’s lawyer Tonja Carter has announced that Lee is ‘extremely hurt’ by claims that she may have been pressured into releasing her sequel to ‘To Kill a Mockingbird’. Shame on me. Anyway, read this article from The New Yorker which sheds insightful light on the picture, describing the public outcry as coming only from a place of respect and protective feelings towards the author.
Feminist Writer dies at 78
Assia Djebar, the feminist writer who portrayed the lives of Muslim women, has died at 78. The Algerian-born writer was the fifth woman to be elected to the Académie Française and was also an award-winning playwright and filmmaker.
Potential Poetry Slam
Five young Irish poets could potentially travel to the Brave New Voices poetry competition in Atlanta, Georgia this summer thanks to their mentor and fellow poet Stephen Murray. Murray hopes that, with the help of a Fundit campaign, these talented young people will compete in this prestigious international event. Murray came up with the idea for this campaign while running poetry workshops in schools across Ireland. The competition was set up in 1998 by the San Franciscan non-profit organisation Youth Speaks, and the Brave New Voices event is open to emerging performance poets from the ages of 13 to 19.
Follow the millions of dollars
Native American tribe Oneida Nation are set to open a Wizard of Oz themed casino, fittingly called Yellow Brick Road. The Casino will open in the small village of Chittenango, which is Oneida reservation land, in upstate New York. The theme seems reasonable given Chittenango is the birthplace of author of the Wizard of Oz L. Frank Baum. However, some have opposed this decision based on hateful remarks written by Baum in the 1890s in reference to the Native American community, originally published in the Aberdeen Saturday Pioneer:
‘Having wronged [Native Americans] for centuries we had better, in order to protect our civilization, follow it up by one more wrong and wipe these untamed and untameable creatures from the face of the earth.’
Oneida Nation spokesperson Ray Halbritter referred to the formal apology made in 2006 by descendants of Baum and said:
‘I think it’s a wonderful message – that we’re able to overcome by repentance and by forgiveness.’
At $200,000,000 I just hope the people who live there actually like gambling.
Dead Man Walking
Dead Man Walking by Roddy Doyle is the latest addition to the Open Door Series, an adult literacy collection which was launched in the 1990s by New Island books to promote accessible reading for the adult population.
Folio Prize Shortlist
The Folio Prize shortlist has been announced. Judge and chairman of the Prize, William Fiennes, has said that the diversity and richness of the eight writers has shown that literary fiction is still alive. Fiennes commented on how writers were ‘reaching out for new ways of telling stories.’ That’s what we like to hear.