Poetry Town initiative launched; Irish sports writers shortlisted

Saturday’s pages previewed; Polari, Caine and crime prizes; Aisling in NYC; IWC scheme

Towns  across Ireland are to be celebrated in new Poetry Ireland initiative. Pictured in Mountmellick, Co Laois, at the launch of Poetry Town, a new all-island poetry initiative from Poetry Ireland, are Michael and Kathleen O’Loughlin with their grandchildren, Billy  (11), Aidan  (10) and Conor Byrne (7). Photograph: Marc O’Sullivan

Towns across Ireland are to be celebrated in new Poetry Ireland initiative. Pictured in Mountmellick, Co Laois, at the launch of Poetry Town, a new all-island poetry initiative from Poetry Ireland, are Michael and Kathleen O’Loughlin with their grandchildren, Billy (11), Aidan (10) and Conor Byrne (7). Photograph: Marc O’Sullivan

 

In Saturday’s Irish Times, Bernard MacLaverty talks to me about Blank Pages, his first new short story collection in 15 years; and Trinity College’s Nicholas Grene, author of Farming in Modern Irish Literature (OUP), celebrates the subject in a rich essay. Reviews are Karlin Lillington on An Ugly Truth: Inside Facebook’s Battle for Domination by Sheera Frenkel and Cecilia Kang; Kathleen MacMahon on Men in My Situation by Per Petterson, translated by Ingvild Burkey; Eamon Sweeney on Monument Maker by David Keenan; Muiris Houston on Vaxxers by Sarah Gilbert and Catherine Green; Paschal Donohoe on Landslide by Michael Wolff; Barry Houlihan on The Pages by Hugo Hamilton; Sean Donlon on The Making of the Anglo-Irish Agreement of 1985, a memoir by Sir David Goodall Sarah Gilmartin on The Country of Others by Leïla Slimani, translated by Sam Taylor; and Seán Hewitt on the best new poetry.

This and next week’s Irish Times Eason offer
This and next week’s Irish Times Eason offer
The Irish Times Eason offer for August 14th and 21st
The Irish Times Eason offer for August 14th and 21st

Poetry will be the beating heart of community life in 20 Poetry Towns across the island of Ireland this September. The people and communities of each Poetry Town will celebrate poetry in their everyday lives and surroundings, create communal experiences, and celebrate the pride, strength and diversity of each town.

As part of the initiative, Poetry Ireland, together with its local authority partners, will appoint a Poet Laureate for each participating town. The chosen Poet Laureates, who will either be from the respective local area or have strong connections with it, will be commissioned to write a poem honouring and reflecting their Poetry Town and its people.

Poetry Town is an initiative of Poetry Ireland in partnership with Local Authority Arts Offices and is made possible with funding from the Arts Council of Ireland’s Open Call funding, and is also supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. More details at poetrytown.ie.

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The Polari Prizes, the UK’s only literary awards for LGBTQ+ literature, were dominated by six titles exploring “the meeting points of class, race and sexuality,” organisers said.

Douglas Stuart’s Booker-winning novel Shuggie Bain (Picador)has been shorltisted for the £1,000 Polari First Book Prize, along with Paul Mendez’s Rainbow Milk (Dialogue Books); Forced Out (Granta) by Kevin Maxwell; Mohsin Zaidi’s memoir, A Dutiful Boy (Square Peg),; Tomasz Jedrowski’s Soviet Union-set novel Swimming in the Dark (Bloomsbury); and Andreena Leeanne’s poetry collection Charred (Team Angelica).

The £2,000 Polari Prize shortlistfeatures Iranian author Golnoosh Nour’s collection The Ministry of Guidance and other stories (Muswell Press); Steven Appleby’s graphic novel Dragman (Vintage); poetry from Caroline Bird with The Air Year (Carcanet) and Rosie Garland’s What Girls Do In The Dark (Nine Arches Press); Neil Blackmore’s novel The Intoxicating Mr Lavelle (Windmill); and Diana Souhami’s study No Modernism Without Lesbians (Head of Zeus). The winners will be announced on October 30th.

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David Walsh has been shortlisted for the Clays Best Sports Writing Award, part of the Telegraph Sports Book Awards, for The Russian Affair (Simon & Schuster), along with Simon Cooper; Maria Konnikova; Ed Caesar; Ian Ridley; and Harry Pearson.

Champagne Football by Mark Tighe and Paul Rowan (Sandycove) has been shorltisted for CLOC Football Book of the Year, in association with the Football Writers’ Association. No Hiding by Rob Kearney (Reach Sport) and True Colours by Barry Geraghty (Headline) are up for Pinsent Masons International Autobiography of the Year. Kearney is also shortlisted for Arbuthnot Latham Rugby Book of the Year, in association with The Rugby Writers’ Club. Winners will all be announced on September 20th.

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The Irish Writers Centre has unveiled a new development opportunity for underrepresented writers in Ireland. The Mentor/Member Duo Programme will offer 10 selected writers the opportunity to receive one-to-one mentoring along with Irish Writers Centre Membership. This new rogramme comes as part of a series of 30th Anniversary initiatives, including Writing Course Bursaries, an increase of payments to writers, and the recent IWC Evolution Programme.

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Chris Whitaker’s We Begin at the End won Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2021 at the Crime Writing Festival in Harrogate last week.

A powerful story of crime, punishment, love and redemption set in coastal California, We Begin at The End is credited by Whitaker as saving his life after being brutally mugged and stabbed as a teenager.

An unprecedented decision was taken to recognise Irish author Brian McGilloway’s exceptional political thriller The Last Crossing as Highly Commended. McGilloway will also receive a handmade, engraved beer barrel provided by Theakston Old Peculier for his novel which explores The Troubles from the perspective of former operatives who like to think they have moved on.

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The Linen Hall Library in Belfast hosts three literary online Zoom events next month worth putting in your diary. Look! It’s a Woman Writer: Authors in conversation on Wednesday, August 11th at 7pm features Anne Devlin, Sophia Hillan and Medbh McGuckian in discussion with Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, author of the recently published Arlen House book of that name.

My Life in Loyalism: Billy Hutchinson in conversation with Dr Gareth Mulvenna takes place on Wednesday, August 18th at 7pm. From Tartan gang member to leading loyalist paramilitary, and from progressive Unionist politician to Belfast City Councillor, My Life in Loyalism is Hutchinson’s remarkable story as written by Mulvenna. Finally, tune in to The Cinematic Passion of Brian Moore with Brian Henry Martin and Dan Gordon on August 25th at 7pm. linenhall.com

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This year’s AKO Caine Prize winner is Meron Hadero. Her winning short story is The Street Sweep, published by US-based lit journal ZYZZYVA. She becomes the first Ethiopian writer to win the Caine Prize. Meron writes about the migrant experience and she studies displacement in her writing in a way that is especially striking now in the light of currents events in Ethiopia.

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New York Review of Books Classics has secured the rights to Paul Larkin’s translation of A Fortunate Man by Henrik Pontoppidan, so as to publish it again under its own imprint. NYRBCs will also publish his translation of Martin A Hansen’s The Liar next year.

The Steep Curve, Larkin’s second novel in his The Good Friday Sting hexalogy will also be published next year by Colmcille Press.

Emer McLysaght and Sarah Breen have revealed that the fourth (and penultimate) book in the much-loved Aisling series, Aisling and the City: If she can make it there, she’ll make it anywhere, will be published on October 8th. After a year-long break, following the unprecedented success of the previous three bestselling books in the series – which have sold over 300,000 copies and won two Irish Book Awards – fans of Aisling are in for a treat as our eponymous heroine heads stateside to continue her adventures in adulthood.

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