Loose Leaves

 

Merriman competition honours Maeve Binchy:The Halloween closing date is approaching for writers who want to enter the Merriman Short Story Competition, set up in memory of Maeve Binchy.

The competition is open to writers of fiction in Irish or English, born in or living on the island of Ireland, and offers a prize of €1,000 donated to Cumann Merriman by the writer before her death earlier this year. Stories must not exceed 2,500 words.

Apart from the cash prize, the winning story will be published in The Irish Times and read at the Ennis Book Club Festival next March. Full guidelines are at merriman.ie, clarelibrary.ieand ennisbookclubfestival.com.

Binchy (below) was a lifelong supporter of Cumann Merriman and a regular visitor to the Merriman Summer School. Speaking at this year’s school in Lisdoonvarna, Co Clare, Garry Hynes of Druid Theatre Company said that Binchy had given confidence to many aspiring writers and that the new competition marked her death very appropriately.

The judges of the stories, announced earlier this month, will be the writers Anne Enright, Éilis Ní Dhuibhne and Alan Titley.

UCD event celebrates Mary Lavin’s centenary

Another of Ireland’s leading female literary figures, Mary Lavin, would have been 100 this year and her alma mater, University College Dublin, will be celebrating the landmark on Tuesday with an event at Newman House, on St Stephen’s Green in Dublin.

The speakers at the centenary symposium, starting at 6.30pm, will be three writer-professors, Anne Fogarty, Thomas Kilroy and Frank McGuinness. Admission is free, but places must be reserved at ucd.ie/alumni/ events.

Further recognition of Lavin’s achievement is the recent republication of her debut collection of short stories, Tales from Bective Bridge, by the print-on-demand imprint Faber Finds. The new edition of the collection, which won the James Tait Black Memorial Prize when it was first published, in 1943, has an introduction by Evelyn Conlon and is dedicated to Lavin’s third daughter, the late Caroline Walsh, who was literary editor of The Irish Times until her death last year.

“First-time readers are in for a startling, sometimes almost Gothic treat,” Conlon concludes, “and old friends will welcome the chance to read this fine collection again.”

To buy a copy of the centennial volume, see faberfinds.co.uk.

Tom Swift’s plays find a permanent place in print

Carysfort Press is well known as a publisher of play texts, and its latest, Tom Swift: Collected Plays, is especially welcome, writes Cathy Dillon. Swift is the award-winning writer with, and cofounder of, the Kildare-based Performance Corporation, which specialises in site-specific works that are often presented in strange and wonderful ways.

The company’s productions are tailor-made for such locations as the sand dunes of Belmullet, Co Mayo (Across the Lough), the 9,000-seat stadium in Washington DC where The Beatles played their first American concert (Swampoodle), the medieval dungeons of Kilkenny (Dr Ledbetter’s Experiment) and a fishing village in Kenya (Paka).

“There’s something really special about making work that can only be performed in one particular place. The downside is that often the plays can never be repeated or restaged,” says Swift, who hopes the Carysfort book “will give readers a chance to restage these plays in the imagination at least”.

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