Say hello to another two new bloggers

Blog PhotoWe are thrilled that G.J. Schear and Grainne Lynch have joined our merry little band of bloggers.

G.J. Schear’s first job was in Dublin’s Olympia Theatre selling ice cream. She also worked for the Dublin Theatre Festival and once, memorably, was chased around the office by the late and much-missed actor Donal Donnelly. Born in Dublin Ms Schear has at one time or another lived in London, Jerusalem, and the US before returning to Ireland in 2003. She currently lives in Kells.

First published at the age of 16 she has since had several short stories and non-fiction articles appear in print. Her short story writing credits include ‘Resurrection Charlie’ – Hayden’s Ferry Review, ‘home Truth’ – Broadkill Review and ‘Daffodils in an Irish Garden’ – River Poets Journal Anthology. In 2012 her first novel Shakespeare’s Tree was a winner at the Irish Writers’ Centre Novel Fair. She has just completed her second novel, a thriller called A Biased Judgement. You can find G.J. Schear online at her blog: http://rycardus.wordpress.com/ or on twitter.

Gráinne is an avid reader and an eternal student. She studied Computer Programming before doing a BA in Modern Drama Studies and went back to college again to do an MA in Drama and Theatre Studies in NUIG. She likes to tell people she has a Masters in reading plays and pretending to be a tree. Her favourite writers tend to be female – Caitlin Moran, Mary Welsey, Ali Smith, Marian Keyes, Kate Atkinson – but she also devours anything by Terry Prachett and still misses Douglas Adams. She blogs about theatre at gronya.com

If you are interested in contributing to our blog please email Ciaran at ciaran@dublinwritersfestival.com.

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Paula Meehan Lecture: “Imaginary bonnets with real bees in them”

(Annual lecture of the Ireland Professor of Poetry, Paula Meehan: 26th February 2014)

The luck of this, to have been in Theatre M (UCD) on a rainy Wednesday night to hear Paula Meehan speak, one of an intimate crowd of about 250 people – yes, it did feel intimate, because everyone seemed to know at least one other person there and to half-recognize several more. So many waves and smiles were exchanged as the theatre filled, it might as well have been a party.

It would be ridiculous to try and capture the essence of this extraordinary talk.  Paula Meehan herself said it was a series of meditations on and around poetry, but it was far more than that.  Ambitious in scope, it ranged across thousands of years, from prehistory through myth and folklore, the Brehon laws, actual history and the present to the edge of an environmentally uncertain future. Along the way she quoted an equally generous range of poets: Marianne Moore (from whose “Ars Poetica” the title of the lecture is derived) Theodore Roethke, Yeats, Carol Ann Duffy, Auden, Kate Newmann, Louis MacNeice, Euripides, Samuel Ferguson, William Blake, Gary Snyder.

Topics she covered included: mythology, geology, the environment, bees and their coded dance, 40 000 year-old cave paintings, amber, honey, language, the Brehon laws, the nature of poetry, personal history, grief, the joyous transgressions of schoolgirls, fossils, dolmens, the internet, Seamus Heaney, Doris Lessing (her Golden Notebook in particular – life-changing for so many young women) Beckett, Edmund Hillery, and did I mention Yeats? No wonder we were all stunned.

The lecture was a tour de force. It was magnificent. Paula got a standing ovation – not one of those half-hearted ones where the company’s family stand up self-consciously and after a while other people shuffle to their feet too:  people leapt from their seats to cheer. I think lusty is the right word, for the cheers that were in it.  There was joy in the air, an immediate buzz in the crowd as though the lecture’s bees had infiltrated the theatre. I had to leave; I just wanted to travel home alone in the dark and think.

Introducing the lecture, Frank McGuinness referred to Paula Meehan’s ‘oceanic imagination’. I wonder had he any notion of what she was going to say, because the evening certainly turned out to be an epic, oceanic experience: deep, stirring through darkness and light, sketching dreams and bursts of colour, intimations of life-forms we may never know or  fully understand but are free to wonder at, if we’re lucky enough to find true guides along the way.

A recording of the lecture will be made available on the Ireland Chair of Poetry website http://irelandchairofpoetry.org/

(Lia Mills)

Say hello to our newest contributor

Blog PhotoThe latest addition to our little family of bloggers is Lia Mills. Lia writes novels, short stories, essays, memoir and the odd blog. Her first novel, Another Alice (1996), was nominated for the Irish Times Irish fiction prize and her second novel Nothing Simple (2005) was shortlisted for the Irish Novel of the Year at the inaugural Irish Book Awards. Her 2007 book In Your Face, a memoir of her diagnosis of and treatment for oral cancer, was named as a favourite book of the year by several commentators. Her third novel is called Fallen and is due out this June from Penguin Ireland. You can find more about Lia on her website or check out her blog or follow her on Twitter.

If you are interested in contributing to our blog please email Ciaran at ciaran@dublinwritersfestival.com

One City One Mic – A-Musing at Accents Café

Taking a step away from the more established spoken word nights, this week I’m featuring a recent addition to Dublin’s roster – A-Musing. Curated by poet David Hynes, A-Musing is a night of poetry, comedy and music downstairs in Accents Café on Stephen Street Lower. The venue is lovely – all cosy chairs and soft lighting, and it’s nice to see an event outside the usual venue of pub or bar. It does cause some problems though – the event is unplugged, and at times the chatter from upstairs does intrude a little on the proceedings.

There’s a good mix of performers, people you mightn’t have seen elsewhere, and it gives the impression of a great place to start your career as a performer – the crowd were enthusiastic and welcoming, and dropping a message to the Facebook page will likely get you considered for a slot.

It’s a relatively new event, and I got the impression they haven’t quite gelled with the venue yet, but that comes with time and getting a crowd, and A-Musing is definitely worth a look on a Sunday evening, especially as there’s no cover charge. Another few months of pulling in a good crowd, and this event will be one to watch.

Let us introduce you…

Blog PhotoWe’re delighted to introduce you to Rioghnach Ní Ghrioghair who will be contributing to the DWF blog.  Rioghnach is a freelance TV writer and screenwriter, director and script editor living in Dublin. She’s written and directed several short films, has previously worked in Development for Blinder Films and occasionally contributes to RTE’s FAIR CITY. She’s a book, movie, TV and music fiend and can often be found on twitter, scoffing macarons or injuring herself running.

If you are interested in contributing to our blog please email Ciaran on ciaran@dublinwritersfestival.com.

ONE CITY, ONE MIC – MILK & COOKIES

Getting your foot in the door of performing in Dublin’s various nights of music, spoken word and poetry can be mildly daunting. Going to the events themselves is definitely a start, and most of the performers/organisers are usually very willing to pass on advice, but there are a select few nights that make it their business to encourage new performers, and by far the nicest is Milk & Cookies.

Milk & Cookies is a night of open-mic storytelling that runs on the second Tuesday of every month in various locations around the city. The entire night is designed to be welcoming – it’s free in, the venue is liberally strewn with duvets, blankets, cushions and enough fairy lights to illuminate a moderately-sized elven workshop. Free tea, coffee and various baked goods are also supplied – indeed, a crucial part of the proceeding is the M & C Bake-off. Guests are encouraged – it’s not mandatory – to bring confections of their own creation, and you can sign up your produce to go head-to-head with others, with a box of chocolates and certificate up for grabs.

It’s also a non-drinking, child-friendly (at least pre-watershed) environment, and occasionally the whole event will be aimed towards kids, which makes for a nice change from the usual, although there was an incident where one storyteller launched into a story about how they discovered Santa wasn’t real, failing to notice the three six-year olds sitting in front of them. Do a quick sweep of the room if you’re planning to orate something more X-rated.

M & C are very keen to bring in new storytellers – you get between seven and ten minutes, and the crowd are the nicest and most supportive I’ve ever experienced in Dublin, so I’d thoroughly recommend signing up at least once. They try and encourage storytelling, as opposed to a comedic set or poetry, so keep that in mind, but after that the definition gets pretty loose so almost any subject is up for grabs. The nights are themed, if you need inspiration, but these are usually guidelines only.

Milk & Cookies has been running for over four years now, making it one of the more established nights in Dublin, and they have an eclectic mix of featured acts on rotation. They’ve also branched into a summer festival and the occasional ‘After Dark’ event with musical acts where alcohol is permitted and the stories get a tad more loquacious.

As the event moves around, I’d recommend liking their Facebook page here and giving it a shot. Storytelling and sugar buzz – what’s not to like?

M&C runs on the second Tuesday of each month in various locales – doors at 6.30, show at 7

https://www.facebook.com/milkandcookiestories?fref=ts

Dave Rudden