Pursued by a Bear »

  • Le weekend

    May 29, 2009 @ 12:59 pm | by Fiona McCann

    Plenty of artses on this weekend. Off to Listowel myself (recommendations welcome), but those of you sticking around Dublin might fancy a trip down to the Cobalt Cafe on North Great George’s Street for Nighthawks, where the winner of this year’s Cuirt Poetry Slam Stephen James Smith will be reading/performing alongside Kila’s Ronan O’Snodaigh, Colm Keegan, who was shortlisted for a Hennessy X.O. New Irish Writing Award this year, and The Ambience Affair among others. And if you’ve gone off to see the boats in Galway, you may spare a moment for some visual arts on the Volvo Ocean Race Art Trail. I declare, there’s a sniff of summer in the air . . .

  • Alice’s wonderland

    May 27, 2009 @ 2:23 pm | by Fiona McCann

    Alice Munro, the Canadian short story writer, has won the  Man Booker International prize for her contribution to fiction on the world stage, and with it a cool £60,000, to be presented at Trinity College, Dublin on June 25th. For more on the prize and what it means, click here. For Eileen Battersby’s appraisal of Munro’s contribution to literature, click here. For a sample of the work that has garnered her the accolade, read The Bear Came Over the Mountain here.

    And for Munro’s endearing explanation for her own success, watch this:

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  • Oxford poets scandal

    May 26, 2009 @ 12:08 pm | by Fiona McCann

    Oxford poets scandal: three words that don’t often come together, but there you have it, ladies and gents. The latest shocker from the world of wordsmiths concerns the recently appointed Oxford Professor of Poetry, Ruth Padel (Charles Darwin’s great-great-granddaughter, interviewed here by Arminta Wallace), who has resigned the position after only nine days on the job.


  • The art of . . . blogging

    May 25, 2009 @ 1:35 pm | by Fiona McCann

    Blogging. It’s arts and culture, innit? I’ve seen the prettiest pictures on blogs, and am lately finding the most wonderful words. Turns out that when it comes to culture, the internet’s holding its own, and bloggers are an excellent way in to all things arty. Take George Szirtes on Picasso, frinstance, an artful post bolstered by a comment thread of poets. Or Annie Rhiannon’s compelling road-trip photographs, or this little dandy with the stated aim of shedding “some light on many of the small influences that have converged to make this massive project (Spike Jonze’s feature film rendition of Maurice Sendak’s classic story Where The Wild Things Are) a reality”. And then there are moments of poetry that almost stop you in your click on clicking and give you something the internet rarely does, pause. Any recommendations for other online arts and culture?

  • To buy or not to buy

    May 22, 2009 @ 10:31 am | by Fiona McCann

    There was a hard drive incident that I’m having trouble even typing about, and all (what, all?) my music is gone. In my frenzy to replenish, I am in search of some newbies and, as ever, recommendations. Albums I am considering include Tori Amos’s Abnormally Attracted to Sin, Bat For Lashes’ Two Suns, Camera Obscura’s My Maudlin Career, St Vincent’s Actor or My Latest Novel’s Death and Entrances. Or anything else that’s good and worth a listen, for that matter, with country influences particularly welcome at this juncture. Your thoughts, dear readers?

  • Brooklyn musings

    May 20, 2009 @ 12:18 pm | by Fiona McCann

    Disclaimer: The following my ruin the ending for those of you who have not read Colm Tóibín’s latest, Brooklyn. So move along all folks to whom that applies – nothing to see here.

    As for the rest of you, there’s been plenty of talk about the merits or otherwise, but here’s what I want to know: should she have stayed or gone back? Discuss, using relevant quotation or reference.

  • IWC writing week

    May 19, 2009 @ 11:44 am | by Fiona McCann

    It’s Writing Week at the Irish Writers’ Centre, which according to the website is an opportunity for aspiring writers to  ”meet authors, discuss literary matters with leading industry professionals and meet the Centre’s Creative Writing facilitators and staff.” So what are y’all waiting for? Off you pop to Parnell Square – it’s already Tuesday, and there’s plenty still to catch, including mornings of writing and discussion of crime fiction with Sheila Barrett, a two-day creative writing workshop with Emer Martin, a self-publishing workshop with Roslyn Fuller, and plenty of other readings and seminars on all things writerly. Thursday’s timely talk on the Google book settlement with the Executive Director of the Irish Copyright and Licensing Agency, Samantha Holman is one for the google calendar. For more information click here.

  • Dictators and sonnets

    May 18, 2009 @ 11:11 am | by Fiona McCann

    Uruguayan writer Mario Benedetti died yesterday, news which fills me with the kind of dangerous nostalgia he wrote so much about. Benedetti, a writer I read when I lived in Buenos Aires at a time that is already retreating too quickly into my past, lived in exile from his beloved Montevideo for ten years during Uruguay’s military dictatorship.  Geografías, a story from the 1984 collection of the same name, was the one that stayed with me of Benedetti stories I read during the hot summer in my sweltering home on Mexico street. Rereading it now brings me back to that place in all its familiar detail, and I am heady with the heat of nostalgia. (more…)

  • You’re a vision

    May 15, 2009 @ 4:20 pm | by Fiona McCann

    He: Gah! Look at the time! We’ve got to turn it on!

    Me (watching him fumble with the radio dial): Turn what on? Is eight o’clock in the evening. Pat Kenny’s not on again until tomorrow.

     He (amazed at my igorance): The Eurovision! The semifinals!

    Note: He is American, yet knows more about the Eurovision than I do. He is even able to sing me bits of Et Cetera, describing it as a kind of “Avril Lavigne-y” riff on the Eurovision theme.* What he doesn’t know is that the Eurovision is broadcast on the telly, not the radio. Ha! There are some things you just have to be born here to know about, I remind him with some smugness.


  • Što ti je na umu?

    May 8, 2009 @ 7:03 pm | by Fiona McCann

    Very little, as I’m currently in Croatia. Blogging will resume in about a week. As you were, then.

  • Bono poetry

    May 6, 2009 @ 8:15 am | by Fiona McCann

    Tim Dowling’s line-by-line analysis of a poem about Elvis, written and performed by Bono. Elvis: American David is to be broadcast on BBC’s Radio 4 next week, apparently. To read it in full, click here. Just in case you haven’t bothered, here’s an extract:

    “elvis with God on his knees.

    elvis on three tvs.

    elvis here come the killer bees head full of honey, potato chips and cheese.”

    It’s probably one you have to hear performed.  Literary analyses welcome.

  • Mad Men

    May 5, 2009 @ 11:37 am | by Fiona McCann

    I’m always a bit reluctant to jump aboard a new TV series, partly because I hate being tied to the telly, and partly because the contrarian in me wants to find the good stuff by myself, without being dragged there by the hype and the hordes. So I missed Six Feet Under altogether, came late to Lost and was subsequently, well, lost, and arrived at The Sopranos so long after the fact that the water cooler conversations had already moved on to The Wire. With Mad Men, however, I got on board fairly lively, and I hated it. Initially at least. Too many obvious nods to How Things Have Changed since those heady days when bosses (always male) got to pinch their secertaries’ bottoms and kids ran around with plastic bags on their heads.


  • Carol Ann Duffy is new poet laureate

    May 1, 2009 @ 11:43 am | by Fiona McCann

    Carol Ann Duffy is the new poet laureate across the water, the first woman to occupy the post famously scorned by Wendy Cope earlier this year. Course the yearly stipend is not to be sniffed at -  £5,750  Sterling for a few verses on royal births and coronations, no small sum in these troubled times. Then there are the 600 bottles of sherry traditionally bestowed on the poet laureate, which Duffy has reportedy requested up front, after learning that her predecessor Andrew Motion (the first poet laureate to resign the post) had yet to receive his. The question is whether any writer should be beholden to the king or state, under obligation to trot out poems for occasions regardless of muse or inspiration, and presumably only those that toe the state line. (more…)

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