Loose Leaves

Sat, Mar 21, 2009, 00:00

Cúirt highlights: Galway’s Cúirt festival is one of the oldest and most anticipated on the literary calendar each year.

Regular attendees will concur with this year’s festival programme director Maureen Kennelly that the essence of Cúirt is about making connections between writers and readers, and “creating space for memorable encounters in a convivial atmosphere”.

Kennelly has added new attractions to broaden the blend of Galway’s annual literary shindig this April. As well as the usual choice of author readings and workshops, there is theatre and dance, music and film. Screenings of documentaries on John McGahern, Michael Hartnett, Frank O’Connor and Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill will take place over the course of the festival.

Writers taking part include Joseph O’Neill, Colm Tóibín, Nadeen Aslam, Blake Morrison, Louis De Bernierès, Tim Parks, Clare Keegan, Janice Galloway, and Joseph O’Connor who takes part in a conversation with film-maker Philip King. King will also put on his musical hat when he rejoins Sonny Condell to perform with Scullion, the group they co-founded thirty years ago.

The Word is Moving is the title of a new element of Cuirt – an evening of contemporary dance performed to the written and spoken word. There are several exhibitions associated with the literary arts, one of them, in the Galway City Museum, will mark the 80th anniversary of Faber and Faber and featuring some of the publisher’s distinctive cover designs. Framed manuscripts and limited editions will form an exhibition in Kenny’s bookshop on the Tuam road.

Two Irish writers who recently celebrated 80th birthdays feature also: novelist Aidan Higgins is taking part in a public interview with Neil Donnelly and playwright Brian Friel is being celebrated through readings of three of his plays, Molly Sweeney, Faith Healerand Dancing at Lughnasa.

Among the poets on the programme this year are Maura Dooley, Colette Bryce, Leontia Flynn, Patrick Deeley, Seán O’Brien, Carol Ann Duffy, and Micheál Ó Conghaile, the American poets Jane Hirchfield, whose most recent collection was nominated for the TS Eliot prize, and Philip Schultz whose collection, Failure, won the Pulitzer prize last year. Schultz is also the curator of this year’s Poems for Patience exhibition in Galway University Hospital.

Poetry award

There’s a Galway connection too to this year’s O’Shaughnessy Award for Poetry which is awarded by the Center for Irish Studies at the University of St Thomas in the US. Connemara-born Mary O’Malley has been announced as recipient of the 13th annual Lawrence O’Shaughnessy Award. O’Malley will participate in various events in the college when she receives the $5,000 (€3,660) award in St Paul next month.

The award was established in 1997 to honour Irish poets. Lawrence O’Shaughnessy taught English at St Thomas from 1948 to 1950, served on the university’s board of trustees and is the retired head of the IA O’Shaughnessy Foundation. O’Malley, who lives near the village of Moycullen, is currently writer-in-residence at the National University of Ireland, Galway. She has published six collections, including Selected Poems(2002) and A Perfect V(2006), from Carcanet Press.

Talking with Bolger

Poet, novelist and playwright Dermot Bolger will conduct four public conversations with writers in the library in Deansgrange, Co Dublin, over the coming months under the title Talking Books. The sessions are intended to provide an informal opportunity for readers, emerging writers and the public to ask “big and small questions”. They are being presented as part of the Place Identity Per Cent for Art Programme, in association with the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Library Service.

The first conversation is with Gerard Donovan, author of Schopenhauer’s Telescopeand Julius Winsome, in Deansgrage Library at 7pm on Thursday April 16th. The other three, in the same venue, are on Thursday May 14th, when Brian Keenan, author of An Evil Cradling, is the subject; followed by Deirdre Purcell on June 11th. The final conversation on Thursday July 9th brings authors Claire Kilroy and John Boyne together to discuss their work. Admission is free but tickets need to be reserved at 01-285 0860.