Cúirting the literati
The 25th Cúirt International Festival of Literature takes place in Galway from April 20 to 25. Cúirt is Ireland’s largest annual literary festival. Each year it welcomes a mix of established international and Irish writers alongside emerging voices, and it has become a vital showcase for Irish literature internationally and international literature in Ireland.
The richly textured programme will feature a wide array of events in fiction, poetry, non-fiction, discussion, theatre, film and the visual arts, with leading writers from Ireland, England, Scotland, Guyana, Pakistan, US, Canada and Spain visiting Galway to read from their work.
This past year has been exceptional for Irish literature on the world stage, and to mark this, Colum McCann will give his first reading in Ireland since his US National Book Award win for his best-selling novel ‘Let the Great World Spin’. In what is a real coup for the festival, US best-selling writer Joyce Carol Oates will make a rare appearance in Ireland. Oates’s works include ‘Where Are You Going, Where Have You Been?’, ‘them’ and ‘Blonde’. Celebrated US-based short-story writer and poet James Lasdun – author of the It’s Beginning to Hurt, a collection of short stories containing the award-winning ‘An Anxious Man’ – will also attend.
The line-up of literary laudables will also include the UK’s number-one best-selling crime-writer Ian Rankin, who will discuss the presence of music in his writing in a special evening with musician and broadcaster Phillip King. The schools programme will include readings by Roddy Doyle, Claire Keegan and Cathy Cassidy.
Poetry lovers will also find their grey matter tickled by a wonderful array of voices, including Charles Simic, Naomi Shihab Nye, Dionne Brand, Gerard Smyth, John Burnside, Tom Mathews, Thomas Kilroy and Nuala Ní Domhnaill and Robin Roberston will read a selection of their works.
Several of the events being organised demonstrate the organisers’ flair for innovation and a will to move beyond the traditional ‘reading’ format. RTE Radio 1’s Drivetime will be present a special evening at Druid Lane Theatre featuring its acclaimed diarists (Joseph O’Connor, Olivia O’Leary and Fergus Finlay) performing some memorable diary pieces. Drivetime presenter Mary Wilson will broadcast live from Eyre Square, Galway, earlier that evening, on Friday, April 23. Sunday Miscellany will also record a programme from the festival.
Events under the banner ‘Spoken Word and Song’, will include singer-songwriter and ‘gifted interpreter of Americana’ Josh Ritter in conversation with Philip King about the power of the lyric. King will also interview musician and former Pulp member Richard Hawley. Talented UK duo Dan Le Sac vs Scroobius Pip will combine poetry, electro beats, and an amalgam of other genres ranging from punk to Motown.
The celebration of Irish words is represented by Irish-language publisher Cló Iar-Chonnachta, which is also celebrating 25 years in existence. Cló Iar-Chonnachta will present an exhibition, ‘Ceiliúradh CIC 1985/2010 – From Canvas to Cover’, which will feature original artworks that made it onto the covers of their books. The festival will also feature two emerging voices writing in the Irish language, Scott De Buitléir and Caitríona Ní Chléirchín.
A picture can say a thousand words, and so Cúirt embraces visual expression too. Accordingly, the festival will include an exhibition of paintings by Barrie Cooke and a showing of the documentary film Night Mail (1936).
The festival will also feature a wide range of launches (watch out for the launch of Julian Gough’s anthology ‘Free Sex Chocolate’), theatre events and discussions. The full guide to what’s on, when and where, is available at www.cuirt.ie.
Cúirt International Festival of Literature will run from April 20 to 25. The box office is open from Monday to Saturday, 10am to 7.30pm. Phone bookings can be made on 091 569777 or online at www.tht.ie.