Word for Word: the literary month ahead

Holding Cúirt:  Canadian author Sheila Heti heads for Galway in April. Photograph:  Ulf Andersen/Getty Images

Holding Cúirt: Canadian author Sheila Heti heads for Galway in April. Photograph: Ulf Andersen/Getty Images


“After nourishment, shelter and companionship, stories are the things we need most in the world.” So runs the tagline (a quote from Philip Pullman) for this year’s Cúirt International Festival of Literature , which runs in Galway from April 23rd to 28th. The opening reading by the poetry giants Seamus Heaney and Michael Longley has, predictably, already sold out , but there are plenty of other stories in this year’s appealing programme, including international writers who are experimenting with the novel. Among these are the Canadian author Sheila Heti, whose How Should a Person Be? has caused a stir on both sides of the Atlantic; Ben Marcus, the American author of the intriguing The Flame Alphabet ; and the French writer Laurent Binet, whose debut, HHhH , won the Goncourt prize for a first novel.

Other writers expected include AM Homes, Mike McCormack, Edna O’Brien, Sharon Olds, Leanne O’Sullivan, Keith Ridgway and Ron Rash . And there are imaginative events such as the Kitchen Readings, in which the novelist, playwright, actor and Irish Times columnist Michael Harding will visit homes to read sections of his memoir, Staring at Lakes .

There’s also the community reading project, this year centred on Tuam, witty titled One Book One Tuam (the book is Faraway Home , by Marilyn Taylor), and, for children, the Cúirt Labs, with talks, seminars and activities. See cuirt.ie.

The Franco-Irish Literary Festival focuses on a different theme each year, which gives the event a spine, or in this case a heart, as the theme for 2013 is Love and Hurt/ L’amour, La Blessure/Gra agus Gortu. The festival runs in Dublin on April 19th and 20th at

the National Library and on April 21st at the Alliance Française. This year it is also celebrating the cultural links between European nations, so writers from Germany, Belgium, the Czech Republic and Romania will be taking part with French and Irish authors. The French guests include the b eat novelist Philippe Djian (whose 1985 novel, 37° 2 le matin , was made into the film Betty Blue ); the writer Bernard du Boucheron; and the journalist and novelist Kéthévane Davrichewy; the Irish contingent has, among others, Dermot Bolger, Christine Dwyer Hickey and David Park. See francoirishliteraryfestival.com.

Éigse Michael Hartnett Literary and Arts Festival honours the poet in his native Newcastle West, Co Limerick, from April 25th to 27th. Events include the launch by the poet Paula Meehan of I Live in Michael Hartnett , a collection by contemporary poets in celebration of Hartnett, and a lecture on word and pictures by the artist Robert Ballagh . See eigsemichaelhartnett.ie.

In Cork, the Ó Bhéal sessions for April include Barney Sheehan (1st), Jessie Lendennie (8th), an Only Other Poets’ Poetry Night (15th), Derry O’Sullivan (22nd) and Deirdre Hines (29th). The free sessions are held in the Long Valley bar, on Winthrop Street, on Monday s from 9pm. See obheal.ie.

Back in the capital, the Irish Writers’ Centre ’s series of lunchtime readings continues with the poet and editor of the Cork Literary Review , Eugene O’Connell (April 4th), Donal Ryan, author of the much-praised novel The Spinning Heart ( 12th), and the Cork poet Gerry Murphy (19th). All the readings are free and begin at 1.05pm.

Paula Meehan and Rita Ann Higgins will read at the Five Lamps Arts Festival at the Lab, on Foley Street, Dublin 1, on April 11th at 6.30pm. Admission is free. See fivelampsarts.ie .

Cathy Dillon is an Irish Times journalist.