With less than a month to go before our 45th festival lifts off in the beautiful heritage town of Listowel, Co. Kerry, it’s time to have a look at our ‘Editor’s Picks’ for 2016.
Festival Dates 1st – 5th June
As always, we have a superb and varied programme of events lined up including Creative Writing Workshops, Readings, Interviews, Forums, Book Launches, Theatre, Art Exhibitions, Poet’s Corner, Writers’ Salon, Walks and Bus Tours, not forgetting our thriving Children’s and Young Adult BookFests, which run in tandem with the main festival and cater for children and young people of all ages, details of which can be found here: Childrens and YABookFest
With such a full and varied programme it’s difficult to pick any ‘favourites’, however, I’ve picked out a small selection of events from each of the days to whet your appetites. Many of the events, such as the Morning Walks and the Literary Pub Trail are FREE of charge and contribute to making Listowel Writers’ Week the unique and much loved literary festival that it is. The late, great Bryan MacMahon was so right when he lovingly characterised the festival as “the centre of the imagination.”
Editor’s Picks Thursday 2nd June
Lunchtime Theatre: Everlasting Book Tour, 1pm at St John’s Theatre
Dubliner Ian MacPherson won the first London Time Out Comedy Award. He gave up an award-winning career in stand-up to become a full-time writer. This is the story of his journey from performer to author. His novels include Deep Probings, Posterity Now and The Autobiography of Ireland’s Greatest Living Genius. The Everlasting Book Tour premiered at the Assembly Rooms for the Edinburgh Festival 2015. Ian is currently writing a crime novel set on the mean streets of Clontarf. He lives in Glasgow’s West End with poet Magi Gibson, his many awards, and a suitcase full of memories.
‘One of the most creative and intelligent comedians I’ve ever seen’ – The Guardian
Short Stories: Caitriona Lally & William Wall, 4.45pm at The Listowel Arms Hotel Ballroom
Caitríona Lally studied English Literature in Trinity College Dublin. She has had a colourful employment history, working as an abstract writer, a copywriter, a home help in New York and an English teacher in Japan. She has travelled extensively around Europe, Asia, the Middle East, and South America. Caitríona’s unusual debut novel Eggshells was shortlisted for Newcomer of the Year in the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards in 2015.
William Wall is the author of four novels, two collections of short fiction and three volumes of poetry. His novel This Is The Country was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. His short fiction, as well as his poetry, has won many prizes including The Virginia Faulkner Award. His most recent publication is a collection of short stories, Hearing Voices/Seeing Things.
Literary Pub Trail departs 8pm from outside The Listowel Arms Hotel Ballroom. Free of Charge – just come along!
Join in the revelry and soak up the culture on the ever-popular Listowel Writers’ Week Pub Trail. The irrepressible Abbeyfeale Drama Group will enchant with top-notch entertainment as they lead you to and from many of the colourful, charming local hostelries which make Listowel so wonderful!
Poetry: Paul Muldoon, 8.30pm at The Listowel Arms Hotel Ballroom
Described by The Times Literary Supplement as “the most significant English-language poet born since the Second World War,” Paul Muldoon is an Irish poet and professor of poetry, as well as an editor, critic, and translator. In addition to the Pulitzer Prize, he has received numerous other awards including an American Academy of Arts and Letters award in literature, the T. S. Eliot Prize, the Irish Times Poetry Prize, the Griffin International Prize for Excellence in Poetry and the European Prize for Poetry. Paul Muldoon’s new collection of poems, One Thousand Things Worth Knowing was published last year and won the Pigott Poetry Prize at Listowel Writers’ Week.
Editor’s Picks Friday 3rd June
Morning Walk: ‘Listowel and its People’ Departs from Outside The Listowel Arms Hotel Ballroom at 11am Free of Charge – just come along!
From bell ringer to blacksmith, printer and publican, weaver to writer, you can traverse the streets and laneways of the town in the footsteps of past generations. Led by local historian Vincent Carmody, this hugely popular walk is a must-do for first-time visitors and returning patrons to Listowel Writers’ Week
Poetry: Gregory Pardlo & Moya Cannon in conversation with Niall MacMonagle, 2.15pm at The Listowel Arms Hotel Ballroom
American poet Gregory Pardlo‘s second collection? Digest won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry last year. His other honours include fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York Foundation for the Arts and his poems appear in many anthologies. Pardlo serves on the faculty of the M.F.A. programme in creative writing at Rutgers University-Camden. The Pulitzer judges cited Pardlo’s “clear-voiced poems that bring readers the news from 21st Century America, rich with thought, ideas and histories, public and private.”
Moya Cannon was born in Co Donegal but has spent most of her writing life in Galway. Keats Lives, published in 2015, is her fifth collection of poetry. A winner of the Brendan Behan Award and the Laurence O Shaughnessy Award, she has been Editor of Poetry Ireland Review and was the 2011 Heimbold Professor of Irish Studies at Villanova University. She is a member of Aosdána.
Niall MacMonagle is a teacher, critic and editor of The Windharp: Poems of Ireland Since 1916. He is a regular contributor to RTE Radio.
International: Savyon Liebrecht interviewed by Hilary Fannin, 3.00pm at the Seanchaí – Kerry Writers’ Museum
Born in Germany to Polish Holocaust survivors, Savyon Liebrecht’s family immigrated to Israel when she was a young child. She studied literature and philosophy at Tel-Aviv University and published her first collection of stories Apples from the Desert in 1986. Her most recent collection is Pearls in Daylight. Many of her short stories, novellas, novels and plays have been adapted for screen and have won numerous awards including the Amelia Rosselli Prize for Mail Order Women. Creating a vivid picture of contemporary Israel, Savyon’s stories depict the effect of the Holocaust on the families of survivors, the encounter between Israelis and Palestinians, and the conflict between religious and non-religious Jews.
International: Patrick deWitt & Anakana Schofield in conversation with Niall MacMonagle, 7.30pm at The Listowel Arms Hotel Ballroom
Patrick DeWitt was born on Vancouver Island, British Columbia and later lived in California and Washington. His writing has appeared in several US magazines and anthologies. His first novel, Ablutions, was published in 2009. His second novel, The Sisters Brothers, won the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize, the Governor General Literary Award and was shortlisted for the 2011 Man Booker Prize. His latest novel Undermajordomo Minor is a triumphant ink-black comedy of manners. It is an adventure story and a mystery but above all it is a love story. He lives in Portland, Oregon.
Anakana Schofield is an Irish-Canadian writer of fiction, essays, and literary criticism. Malarky, her debut novel, won the Amazon.ca First Novel Award in Canada and the US Debut-Litzer Prize for Fiction. Martin John, her critically acclaimed second novel, was shortlisted for the Giller Prize. She lives in Vancouver, Canada. Written with all the electrifying humour of her debut novel, and exhibiting a startling grasp of the loops and obsessions of a molester’s mind, Martin John is a testament to Schofield’s skill and audacity – and stands as a brilliant, Beckettian exploration of a man’s long slide into deviancy.
Editor’s Picks Saturday 4th June
Lecture: A C Grayling, 1pm at The Listowel Arms Hotel Ballroom
A C Grayling MA, DPhil FRSL, FRSA is Master of the New College of the Humanities. He has written and edited over 30 books on philosophy and other subjects; among his most recent are The Good Book, Ideas That Matter, Liberty in the Age of Terror and To Set Prometheus Free.
For several years he wrote the Last Word column for The Guardian newspaper and a column for the Times. He has served on the judging panel of the Man Booker and the Art Fund Prizes. He describes himself as a man of the left and is associated, in Britain, with the new Atheist Movement.
Literature: Joanne Harris in conversation with Martina Daly, 4.30pm at The Listowel Arms Hotel Ballroom
Joanne Harris is an Anglo-French author, whose books include 14 novels, two cookbooks and many short stories. Her work is extremely diverse, covering aspects of magic realism, suspense, historical fiction, mythology and fantasy. Her 1999 novel Chocolat was adapted to the screen, starring Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. Her latest book A Different Class was published in April. Her hobbies are listed in Who’s Who as ‘mooching, lounging, strutting, strumming, priest-baiting and quiet subversion’. She also spends too much time on Twitter; plays flute and bass guitar in a band; and works from a shed in her garden at her home in Yorkshire.
Lecture: Tom Holland, 6.00pm at St John’s Theatre
Tom Holland has published several popular works on classical and medieval history. His book Rubicon: The Triumph and Tragedy of the Roman Republic was shortlisted for the Samuel Johnson Prize. His other titles include Persian Fire and Millennium. The Shadow of the Sword covers the collapse of Roman and Persian power and the emergence of Islam. His newest title Dynasty: The Rise and Fall of The House of Caesar was published in 2015. He is the presenter of BBCs Radio 4 Making History series and has written and presented a number of TV documentaries on subjects ranging from religion to dinosaurs.
Literature: Louis de Berniéres in conversation with Martina Devlin, 7.30pm at The Listowel Arms Hotel Ballroom
Louis de Bernières was selected by Granta magazine as one of the 20 Best of Young British Novelists in 1993. Since then he has become well known internationally as a writer, with Captain Corelli’s Mandolin winning the Commonwealth Writers’ Prize for Best Novel in 1994. His other novels include, Birds Without Wings and A Partisan’s Daughter and most recently The Dust that Falls from Dreams which was published in 2015.
He has also written a collection of stories, Nothwithstanding and a collection of poetry Imagining Alexandria.
Martina Devlin is a bestselling author and award-winning journalist. She has had nine books published. Her latest book, About Sisterland, is set in the near future in a world ruled by women.
Editor’s Picks Sunday 5th June
Masterclass: Making A Book Trailer Martina Devlin & David Murphy, 11am at The Listowel Arms Hotel Feale Room
Why make a book trailer? How difficult is it? How much does it cost? Award-winning writer and journalist Martina Devlin and RTE’s Business Editor David Murphy are here to answer all your questions! In a two-hour masterclass, they demystify the book trailer world, explaining how to construct a plot, write a script, tie it to images, upload, release and finally use the finished mini-movie to promote a book. This promises to be an invaluable opportunity to access a creative and techie marketing tool to enable writers reach potential audiences in this Digital Age.
Memoir: Mary Kennedy, 2.30pm at The Listowel Arms Hotel Ballroom
Mary Kennedy has enjoyed a hugely successful broadcasting career in RTE since 1978. She became a newscaster in 1992 and in 1995 was invited to present the 40th Eurovision Song Contest. She co-hosted Open Housein addition to numerous other programmes on RTÉ Television including, Up for the Match, and The People of the Year Awards. She is currently co-presenting the very popular regional news programme, Nationwide, with Anne Cassin. Mary is the author of four books, Paper Tigers, a memoir, Lines I Love which was shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards in 2008, Lines for Living and most recently What Matters in 2015.
Literature: James Runcie in conversation with David Murphy, 4pm at St John’s Theatre
James Runcie is a writer, director and literary curator. He is the author of The Grantchester Mysteries, Visiting Professor at Bath Spa University, and a fiction reviewer for The Independent. The Grantchester Mysteries have been adapted to become the ITV/PBS Masterpiece series Grantchester starring James Norton, Robson Greene and Al Weaver. James Runcie was educated at Marlborough College, Cambridge University and Bristol Old Vic Theatre School, and lives in Edinburgh and London.
David Murphy is the Business Editor with RTE and co-author of the bestselling book Bankers.
You can download our full programme and book tickets here
Hope to see you in Listowel!