Poetry Day Ireland
Poetry Day Ireland has arrived, with a full programme of events taking place across the country. Some that stand out for me are the launch of Poems That Make Grown Men Cry, an anthology compiled by one hundred notable men from fields such as literature, film, science and theatre who have selected poems that brought them to tears. Poetry 4 U is taking place in locations around Dublin today. There is an interactive poetry map of the city breezing through which you can read though the Twitter newsfeed all day. Calls for poetry have been sent out all week. You may well be standing right on top of a poem so hop over to Twitter to see what you come across. The winner of the Youth Reach poetry competition will also be announced today, so keep your ears peeled. Take a look at some of the other wonderful events happening nationwide.
New Versions of Finnegans Wake
Finnegans Wake, much like Marmite, is either greatly adored or just seen as utterly confusing. The book, first published on May 4th 1939, has bemused and fascinated readers in equal measure for decades. The ambivalence around the text’s reception might be because the story was written ahead of its time. Billy Mills, in the Guardian, discusses some innovative adaptations of the book, which went out of copyright in 2012. New editions of the book, including ones from Wordsworth Classics and The Folio society, have recently been published, and it has also been adapted for the stage and transformed into a walking tour in our own Phoenix Park. Some other creative ways to unwrap this complex story have been shared online via the Twitter account @finnegansreader (sister of @Ulyssesreader), which is dedicated to tweeting the entire text to its 1,700 followers. A final, beautiful effort is from the Waywords and Meansigns, a musical group who have put together a collaborative musical version of the text. Bravo all of you modern, digitally savvy Joyce fans.
The Library as a Third Space
The library, once a place of solace and silence, is now being transformed into a social space. Known as The Third Space, as distinct from work and home, it is a place to meet, discuss, listen to music, even to eat a sandwich – or at least, this is the case in France. In fairness, if you had daily access to a French baguette you would probably bring it into the library with you, too. This article gives an insight into the transformation of the library space and the learning experience. One example given is the new media libraries in Mont Mesly in the working class district of Créteil, in the south-eastern suburbs of Paris. The whole building is see-through, to create light and space, and it is free to all. It also has a digital piano for those who remember their headphones. The library organises workshops in reading, computing, basket-making and lino-cutting; they also host readings and concerts. But there are employment and literacy support groups too, in partnership with local associations. Social, community-based learning is the name of the game here, which is one of my top five favourite things ever. Are non-silent libraries a slightly controversial concept, perhaps? Let us know what you think.
E-Books for Low Level Income Children
Last week, President Obama announced an initiative to present e-books to low-income students. The plan is to inject $250 million into putting books into the hands of the children who need them most. There is one glaring problem, however. According the Census Bureau, referenced in this feature from NPR, 40 percent of households earning less than $25,000 a year didn’t have a computer, and fewer than half had a registered internet subscription. Oh good. What a practical initiative.
Apparently the solution is to get broadband into just about every public school and library by 2018. Let’s see how that goes, shall we?
Brandford Boase Award 2015
The shortlist for the Branford Boase Award 2015 has been selected. The BBA was set up to acknowledge the great work of debut writers and their editors, and is presented each year to the most promising book for seven year olds onwards. The Guardian has compiled the shortlist here with a summary of each nominee.
Same-Sex Relationships in Literature
Irish Writer Colm Toibín will host a talk in Trinity College on May 14th at 6.30pm entitled The Embrace of Love: Being Gay in Ireland Now. This will be followed by a panel discussion featuring academics who will discuss the role of same-sex relationships in literature. The event is free but those who would like to attend are required to register here.
Words of Encouragement
The Words Ireland partnership has just been launched. This is a great collaboration between Children’s Books Ireland, Ireland Literature Exchange, the Irish Writers’ Centre, Munster Literature Centre, Poetry Ireland, Publishing Ireland and The Stinging Fly. The aim is to compile resources and expertise across the seven organisations to provide writers and artists with the tools and resources to aid them in their professional development. I’m a big fan of collaborations like this; it’s the perfect opportunity to develop the reach of these great organisations and to help them to learn and develop while also helping struggling new writers. Keep an eye on their new initiatives by signing up here.
Writers Stand Down and Stand by Charlie Hebdo
Writers Neil Gaiman, Alison Bechdel and our friend from last week’s Lit Review, Art Spiegelman have defended the PEN American Centre’s decision to honour the French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo with this year’s ‘Freedom of Expression Courage award’. They have stepped in to host the PEN Gala in New York, replacing writers Peter Carey and Michael Ondaatje after they withdrew in protest over the award.
Carey and Ondaadtje subsequently signed a letter, along with 204 other writers, which states that by selecting Charlie Hebdo, PEN is ‘valorising selectively offensive material: material that intensifies the anti-Islamic, anti-Maghreb, anti-Arab sentiments already prevalent in the western world.’
French-Congolese novelist Alain Mabanckou, who will present the award to the only surviving member of the Charlie Hebdo team, has said: ‘I’m a big reader of Charlie Hebdo, because I know that it’s not a racist magazine. I decided to do it in memory of all journalists and cartoonists who die because they have the courage to pursue their work. Finally, I decided to do it because among the members of Charlie Hebdo who were massacred in January 2015 was a friend of mine, the economist and journalist Bernard Maris, who was an extraordinary man.’
Gaiman also commented on his decision, saying: ‘I was honoured to be invited to host a table. The Charlie Hebdo cartoonists are getting an award for courage: they continued putting out their magazine after the offices were firebombed, and the survivors have continued following the murders.’ PEN has confirmed it will be increasing security for this event.