“Listowel Writers’ Week is the week of the literary festivals in Ireland – maybe even beyond.” Paul Muldoonnn
We’ve been blessed with exceptionally good weather for Listowel Writers’ Week this year, with clear blue skies and temperatures in the 70s.
Here’s a brief look at some of the events we’ve so far enjoyed.
On Thursday, Eggshells author Caitríona Lally and award-winning author William Wall discussed the art of storytelling.
Caitriona spoke of how she started writing her novel because she’d had no joy when submitting her short stories for publication. That’s until she spotted a Novel Fair Competition on the Irish Writers’ Centre website. She submitted 10,000 words of a novel and a synopsis, which she won, along with 11 others. Caitriona secured an agent and shortly afterwards Liberties Press came on board and published her debut novel Eggshells, about a woman who believes she’s a changeling.
William spoke about the reasons why writers actually write, and said that most writers were writers from a very early age, even if it took them a long time to get started. “I can go for long periods where I’m not thinking about writing and then I go through periods where almost everything I look at I think would be good material, seeing something or hearing a phrase. Where it actually comes from I don’t know, the difficulty is finding your own voice, but if I die and find there’s a god of inspiration I won’t be surprised.”
“A short story contains more than it says, and is full of hints of things that happened outside the story”. – William Wall
Later, in an interview with Niall McMonagle, A. L. Kennedy entertained the Listowel audience with her tart observations. What is a writing day for AL Kennedy? She can work anywhere “ideally in a nice study, but I’ve never had that! I do live somewhere quiet though, somewhere where I can put the music on and fill the air with some kind of pleasantness. In my natural state I write when it’s dark, when people aren’t going to phone me and I’m nearly asleep.”
And on setting the imagination free: “You can’t be afraid… because you’re dreaming.’
We were delighted to host a delegation of travel writers from Belgium, Spain, Germany, Australia,
Holland, South Africa, UK, USA, Canada, Denmark, Sweden and India. Sean Lyons told them all about the festival, and afterwards regaled them with some of his humorous lyrics. They will now go home and write about their experience of lovely Listowel and our great writers’ festival.
On Friday morning, much loved writer Maeve Binchy was honoured when a specially commissioned stone and bronze plaque was unveiled. The unveiling was in association with Ballybunion Tidy Towns and took place in the beautiful seaside town, where Maeve and her family holidayed for many years. Ballybunion is only a 15 minute drive from Listowel and its famous seaweed baths are a very popular attraction with our visiting authors and audiences over the years.
At the same time, back in Listowel, Gerbrand Bakker was taking a group to The Garden of Europe in Listowel’s Town Park where he talked about the link between nature and writing. There were a few stop off points along the way, where he read from his novel The Detour.
Later, a packed St John’s Theatre and Arts Centre heard Israeli writer Savyon Liebrecht interviewed by Hilary Fannin of The Irish Times. Savyon Liebrecht’s work has been described as similar to that of Nadine Gordimer, and offers a unique and honest account of contemporary life in Israel.
Poetry Without Pints, a mainstay of Listowel Writers’ Week was enjoyed in glorious sunshine by a large crowd who gathered in front of Listowel Castle. Some read and others lay on the grass and savoured the moments.
There will be much more savouring of moments before the week is out…