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And … we’re back!

January 30, 2015

Over a month, it’s been.

That may be a long time to be silent in blog-land but sometimes one has to be silent, as much as is possible in this busy, mad world. Life gets in the way – with its sadness, delights and – well – living.  So, I’ve been laying low for a few weeks.

A friend and I had a conversation recently: she was feeling guilty because she hadn’t blogged for a while. Life got in the way for her too. We really shouldn’t feel bad if we put down the ‘cyber pen’ for an interval.

Now, you lot! My little rant over – there’s all sorts of goings on in the Irish literary world these days …

A while back, some genius decided that Ireland should have a laureate for fiction. The tone used for that word ‘genius’ depends on whether you’re a cynic, a begrudger, a begrudging cynic, a cynical begrudger, OR a don’t-really-mind-and-wouldn’t-it-be-lovely-for-an-Irish-writer-to-have-a-decent-income-for-3-years- and- be-able-to-write-and-lecture-to-students-and-give-a-posh-lecture-once-in-a-blue-moon sort of person.

I fall into the latter category.

I can’t believe it’s been eight years, but there you go. In 2007 I was at the Ballyvaughan Book Club meeting, championing The Gathering by Anne Enright – in the face of tough criticism. It also happened to be Booker Prize Night. She’d better win, I muttered. It’s a feckin’ brilliant book.

Well, she won. And the following day a member of the book club dropped in to give me a signed copy of the book. Wahoo!!

c. Karen McDonnell

c. Karen McDonnell

Yesterday, Anne Enright was named Ireland’s first Laureate for Fiction. The international judging panel was chaired by poet Paul Muldoon who commented: “Incisive, insightful, intellectually rapacious, and emotionally rapt, Anne Enright has for almost 25 years helped the Irish make sense of their lives, from the nursery to the national debt. Through her varied and far-reaching fiction, she has also helped the rest of the world make sense of Irish life. In addition to being a consummate artist, Enright will bring a clear and radiant energy to her role.”

Anne Enright & Sinéad Morrissey  Listowel Writers' Festival

Anne Enright & Sinéad Morrissey Listowel Writers’ Festival

Enright’s next novel The Green Road will be published in May of this year. And, for any of you around Galway this weekend – she will be reading in Charlie Byrne’s glorious bookshop on Sunday, 1 February. A great way to celebrate the first day of (Irish) Spring.

No better woman.

Comhgháirdeas mór lei.

 

A poem for Ireland

 

I put up a link to A Poem for Ireland a while ago. It’s the first time this media experiment has been conducted in Ireland, and it’s been happening over the last 24 hours. Last night, RTE1 screened A Rebel Act – a documentary about poetry and poets in Ireland from the 7th century onwards. Today, on RTE Radio One, John Murray spoke to three of the judges, Anne Doyle, songwriter Damien Dempsey and John Fitzgerald of University College Cork. Anne Doyle said that people may not be surprised by the poets chosen, but the choice of poem may be surprising. (My nomination was Sinéad Morrissey’s 1801. You can hear her read it here.)

The first five of the ten shortlisted poems were revealed, with excerpts read by people in Galway. The first five are: Easter 1916 by W B Yeats, A Christmas Childhood by Patrick Kavanagh, Fill Arís, le Seán Ó Ríordáin, Quarantine by Eavan Boland and, from 1978, Making Love Outside Áras an Uachtaráin by Paul Durcan.

The full list will be announced tonight on The Works on RTE1 TV. So, tune in to see what the final list is.  If you are outside Ireland you can check it all out on the RTE Player at http://www.rte.ie

You have until 8 March to cast your vote.

Off yez go, now.

 

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