If you are in Ireland and are ludicrously fortunate enough to have both
(a) something more than a passing interest in literature, and
(b) some time to spare
then the next few weeks promise to be hugely productive.
This weekend sees the Swift Satire Festival return to Trim, Co Meath for a sixth year, commemorating the time spent by Jonathan Swift in the town, his works and his enduring legacy three centuries on.
While a lot of the energy goes into some major comedy gigs – the festival will bring around 30 of the country’s favourite comedians and satirists to a big tent in the grounds of Trim Castle – there is plenty for the literature-lover too.
Most notable is a unique event, inspired by the year of the Gathering and some good old-fashioned ambition: The Great Gulliver Gathering, which will aim to bring 302 people together (one page apiece) for the largest ever simultaneous reading ever staged in Ireland.
There is also the “Swift in his Time” exhibition, which will feature objects and documents relating to the Dean’s time in Meath, while the concluding Sunday lunch features a performance of The Great Goat Bubble, written by Julian Gough and directed by Mikel Murfi. The Fishamble production was a success story at last year’s Galway Arts Festival and it marks an impressive lineup on the final day of the festival, which comes to a close with the inaugural Swift Lecture delivered by President Michael D. Higgins.
The 25th Ezra Pound International Conference starts next Tuesday, and there is lots about the American writer’s relationship with Ireland and Irish writers.
While I haven’t spent much time with Pound’s work, the draft programme for the conference, which is titled “Ezra Pound and Modernism”, is nevertheless startlingly promising, with speakers from Turin, Beijing, Pennsylvania, Tokyo, York, Gaziantep in Turkey and elsewhere, plenaries such as “Pound and the Irish Masters: Beckett and Yeats” and readings from poets Maurice Scully, Nerys Williams (excellent at Hay Festival Kells last weekend), Hugh McFadden and Fred Johnston.
And all that without mentioning that the welcoming address will be delivered by Seamus Heaney next Tuesday morning.
The other upcoming literature-leaning festival to catch the eye today is the annual Gerard Manley Hopkins festival, which will take place in Newbridge, Co Kildare from July 19-26.
There is a broken link to their programme at the moment but the summary of speakers gives a glimpse of what’s on offer:
James Mackey will deliver the Keynote Address Tuesday 23rd July at 12.00 am. Other lectures by Robert Smart and Richard Murphy from USA; Duc Dau – a Hopkins scholar from Australia; Thomas Berenato; Patrick Murray; William Adamson (Germany); leading Portuguese scholar, Amador Frias Martins; Kevin Mc Eneaney (USA); Francis Fennell; noted Hopkins scholar from Chicago, Michael Raiger; Courtney Dombroski … and others. Special events will include a talk by Graphologist Denis Sexton on Hopkins’s handwriting; and an illustrated talk on the landscape of Hopkins’s Ireland by naturalist Michael Jacob.
Update: In an earlier version of this blog it was incorrectly stated that Ezra Pound was English. I can only think that I got confused by currencies… (Thanks to Susan for pointing it out on Twitter)