Loose Leaves


Griffin contender:Irish poet Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin has made the international shortlist for the Canada-based Griffin Poetry Prize with her collection, The Sun-fish, published by The Gallery Press. The other three poets on the shortlist are John Glenday, Louise Glück and Susan Wicks. All receive $10,000 (€7,500) to participate in a reading of their work in Toronto the night before the winner of the $65,000 (€49,000) overall prize is announced there on June 3rd.

The judges say the effect of Ní Chuilleanáin’s impressionistic style is like watching a photograph as it develops. “She is a truly imaginative poet, whose imagination is authoritative and transformative. She leads us into altered or emptied landscapes, such as that in The Polio Epidemic, when children were kept indoors, but the poet escapes on a bicycle: ‘I sliced through miles of air/ free as a plague angel descending/ On places buses went . . .’

She is, they add, a beguiling poet who opens doors on to multiple worlds. “These are potent poems, with dense, captivating sound and a certain magic that proves not only to be believable but necessary to our understanding of the world around us.”

Ní Chuilleanáin, born in Cork city in 1942, is a fellow and professor of English at Trinity College Dublin and is a founding member of the long-standing literary journal, Cyphers.

Three poets – Kate Hall, PK Page and Karen Solie – have been shortlisted for the separate Canadian prize category of the awards. Judges Anne Carson, Kathleen Jamie and Carl Phillips read almost 400 books of poetry from 12 countries during their deliberations.

Holding Cúirt

As the Cúirt International Festival of Literature approaches, with kick-off on April 20th, there are a few additions to the programme. Capitalising on the major celebration this year of the long relationship between Ireland and the New Yorker magazine (see Weekend, page 11), a panel discussion on Irish writers and the short story will take place on Wednesday, April 21st at 3pm in Galway’s Hotel Meyrick. Up for discussion will be what it is about Ireland that lends itself to the form.

Journalist and broadcaster Eleanor Wachtel, host of Canadian radio programme Writers Company, will chair the event. On the panel will be Roddy Doyle, Claire Keegan and Kevin Barry, all of whom have been published in the New Yorker. The discussion will be recorded for future broadcast on CBC radio. Admission is free, but tickets must be booked at tht.ie or 091-569777.

American poet Charles Simic has had to pull out of the festival due to ill-health, but Michael Longley will take his place on Saturday, April 24th, at 8.30pm in the Town Hall Theatre, alongside poet Robin Robertson, who edited the Festschrift for Longley’s 70th birthday last year. Another addition is Jennifer Johnston, who will join the winner of the US National Book Award, Colum McCann, in conversation on Friday, April 23rd, at 9pm, also at the Town Hall Theatre.

Galway classes

Spring creative writing classes are getting underway at Galway Technical Institute with husband-and-wife team Kevin Higgins and Susan Millar DuMars, organisers of the Galway-based Over the Edge reading series, which showcases new writers. Classes with Higgins, for beginners in poetry, stories or memoir, take place on Mondays from 7pm to 9.30pm, starting next Monday and running for eight weeks. Classes with Millar DuMars, for those who’ve participated in writing classes before or begun to have work published in magazines, take place on Tuesday evenings, also for eight weeks. Places on both courses cost €120. For details, telephone 091-581342, e-mail adultedinfo@cgvec.ie or see gti.ie.