One of the joys of the New Year is undoubtedly the opening of a new diary – a whole 365 blank pages waiting to be filled with literary listings and books to be devoured (as well as a few of the more mundane necessities of life of course!)
First up this year is a series of exciting cultural events to mark the 150th anniversary of the birth of Nobel Prize-winning poet William Butler Yeats in 2015. Yeats2015 presents a local, national and international series of exhibitions, performances, festivals, concerts, reading, talks, screenings and educational events which will take place in London and throughout Ireland. We will of course be celebrating at Listowel Writers’ Week 2015 also. Details of how to get involved will be available throughout the year at yeats2015.com
Meanwhile, let’s take a look at what’s happening in January.
The winner of the TS Eliot poetry prize will be announced on January 12th. To mark the 50th anniversary of T S Eliot’s death on 4 January 2015, the
T S Eliot Estate has increased the value of the Prize named in his honour. From this year the winner will receive £20,000 and the ten shortlisted poets will each receive £1,500.
First Fortnight Festival aims to challenge mental health prejudice through the creative arts and events are taking place across Ireland throughout January. Upcoming events include:
Stories from the Front takes place on 14th January at Liberty Hall, Dublin and tells the personal stories of people who have experienced mental ill-health, their carers and mental health professionals. Taking the form of interactive theatre it encourages participation by audience members in a creative journey of hope and inspiration.
Conversation Salon takes place on 16th January at Maynooth Library and invites ‘the modern day punter’ into an 18th century café style philosophical salon for some Deep and Meaningful Conversation. Participants are encouraged to sit with strangers and raise questions dear to their heart, as well as selecting those on the menu to spark conversation. For more information click firstfortnight.ie
The five category winners of the 2014 Costa Book Awards were announced on Monday 5th January. Emma Healey scooped the First Novel Award for her debut Elizabeth is Missing, which tells the story of Maud, an octogenarian struggling to piece together the past in the face of progressive dementia. The Biography category was won by Cambridge historian Helen Macdonald for H is for Hawk, which tells of the author’s attempts to train a goshawk while grieving for her father.
The Children’s Literature award went to Kate Saunders for Five Children on the Western Front, her sequel to E Nesbit’s Five Children and It. The story is set nine years after Nesbit’s novel when the almost adult children are faced with the horrors of World War 1. The Poetry category was won by Welsh teacher Jonathan Edwards for his debut collection My Family and Other Superheroes. The winner of the overall 2014 Costa Book Award will be announced on January 27th.
Ali Smith’s ‘dazzling and inventive’ novel How to Be Both won Costa’s 2014 novel award. The book has already won the 2014 Goldsmiths Prize, was shortlisted for the Man Booker Prize and is tipped to take the £30,000 overall prize later this month.
Published this month is 10:04, a new novel by American poet, essayist, novelist and critic Ben Lerner, who has three poetry collections and a National
Book Award nomination to his name. 10:04 is a follow-up to his acclaimed Leaving the Atocha Station and deals with love and literature in a New York under threat – “when the difficulty of imagining a future is changing our relationship to both the present and the past.” His work has been described by Jonathan Franzen as “hilarious… crackingly intelligent… and original in every sentence.”
On the poetry front is Paul Muldoon’s One Thousand Things Worth Knowing and which opens with a long poem dedicated to the memory of his friend Seamus Heaney. This will be Muldoon’s twelfth collection.
Watch this space for more news from the literary front – coming soon.