The Gathering

We have a very exciting line-up of major forums and lectures to celebrate Listowel Writers’ Week’s The Gathering strand of events this year.  One of the major forums we’re hosting is – Across the Waves: The Experience of Migration in Contemporary Irish Writing with Harry Clifton, Catherine Dunne, Colum McCann, Colm Tóibín and facilitated by Professor Liam Kennedy, Director of the Clinton Institute for American Studies at UCD.

The Irish Famine is probably the most critical event in Irish history and we invite you to explore this dark period inclip_image001 Irish history in our forum – Mapping the Irish Famine with Thomas Keneally (Australian author of Schindler’s List), the editors of Atlas of the Great Irish Famine, and local Listowel historian and genealogist, Kay Caball.  Earlier in the day you are invited to join our fascinating Famine Trail of Listowel and hear of its many Famine connections.

Listowel Writers’ Week are also delighted to be hosting A Celebration of, and Tribute to, the Work of Irish Poet Máire Mhac an tSaoi, with poets Biddy Jenkinson (pen-name), Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin and facilitated by Louis DePaor, Director of the Centre for Irish Studies at NUI Galway.

We will also be taking a look into the captivating world of the twentieth century Irish-American Short Story and Poetry with Dr. Victoria Kennefick who is herself a poet and has lectured widely on the subject and Dr. Daniel Toibin, Interim Dean of the School of Arts at Emerson College, Boston.

More details to follow…

Con Houlihan Young Sports Journalist Award

Entries are continuing to come through the door for our Con Houlihan Young Sports Journalist Award.  Remember, all of you budding sports journalists out there, that the closing date has been extended to Friday 29th March 2013, so there’s still time for inspiration to strike over the coming weeks and to get those precious words down on paper and sent to us here at Listowel Writers’ Week, 24, The Square, Listowel, Co. Kerry.

The competition, in honour of the late sports journalist and Kerry legend, is open to writers aged 20 or younger.  Entries should be 500 words max and may be in the form of a report or feature piece on a sports topic or sports personality of your choice. ENTRY IS FREE.

Meet more of our Workshop Directors

There are still places available on our range of Literary Workshops. Please click Workshops for full details.  Remember, you can also book online now, or if you prefer, you can still phone the Listowel Writers’ Week office on 068 21074.

Singer/Songwriter Mickey MacConnell (below) has been writing songs all his life and artists such as Christy Moore, Laim Clancy, The Wolfe Tones, Mary Black and The James Last Orchestra have covered his compositions.  Mickey will be directing our Songwriting workshop.

Mickey-MacConnellQ.        Did you know from a young age that you would be a writer?

A.        I come from a musical family and I think it was automatically assumed that we would all be involved in playing or writing music.  It was no big deal, rather an automatic assumption that I and my brothers would continue the family tradition.

Q.       Who were your early influences?

A.        Early influences would have been my father and his friends.  Our house was a session house and my Father (Sandy) was a musician who encouraged his musical friends to visit on a weekly basis.  As a result we were constantly surrounded by musical influences.  Sandy was also a music collector and this widened the range of influences.

Q.      Describe your daily schedule.

A.        I play for at least half an hour every day.  If I’m working on a new song this can    increase substantially, depending on how well things are going.

Q.       Do you use computer or quill?

A.        Pen and paper and a musical instrument in the initial stages.  Then I use the computer and all the musical software in sight.  I need all the help I can get!

Q.        For you, what are the highlights/memorable experiences of Listowel Writers’ Week?

A.        There were many highlights and memorable experiences over the years.  But the overall joy of the week is sharing space and conversations with those wonderfully creative people who are annually attracted to Listowel.

Gabriel Fitzmaurice (below) is the author of more than forty books, including collections of poetry in English and Irish, as well as several collections of verse for children.  He has been described as ‘the Irish A.A. Milne’ by Declan Kiberd. Gabriel will be directing our Creative Writing Getting Started workshop.

Gabriel-FitzmauriceQ.      Did you know from a young age that you would be a writer?

A.     Yes, I’ve always wanted to be a writer.  From the time that I could recite a nursery rhyme, I’ve known that writing was the way for me. Even though creative writing wasn’t encouraged in primary or secondary schools when I was a student, I’ve always been at it, even if it was just privately giving out about the study we had to do. Of course, when I went to secondary school, I wrote the odd poem and song to impress potential girlfriends – without much success!

Q.     Who were your early influences?

A.     My mother, who was a terror for education was the first influence. She was very ambitious that her lazy, reasonably intelligent son would do well at school. On the other hand she bought me books, at first children’s stories, then novels, short stories, essays and poetry books. The next major influence was John Moriarty, (the philosopher) a family friend. I used to sit in awe as a child listening to John and my mother talking about Keats, Shakespeare, Milton and the rest of the literary pantheon. I wanted to be able to talk like that when I grew up. Later John would read my teenage efforts and gently point me in the right direction. Later still, he became one of my finest critics when I began to publish books. When I was a teenager, John B. Keane, Bryan MacMahon and Brendan Kennelly pointed the way for me; first, before I got to know them, as writers to emulate, then as friends and mentors.

Q.        Describe your daily schedule.

A.        I don’t have one. When I get the urge to write, (“inspiration” if you like) I will drop everything to set down a first draft. Then the hard work begins. I will revise and revise and revise until the finished work finds its way either into print or into the dustbin. This process can take days, weeks or even months. I write for adults and for children: when I write for children I enter a child’s mind, when I write for adults, I get to know my own mind.

Q.        Do you use computer or quill?

A.        Both. When I am composing I always use a pen and write longhand. (The only exception is when I am translating prose – a novel or memoir from the Irish – I translate straight on to a computer). As I said, otherwise I always use a pen. Then when the first draft is done I type it on to a computer. When I revise I revise using a pen on the typescript I have just done.

Q.        For you, what are the highlights/memorable experiences of Listowel Writers’ Week?

A.        As a young man, my most exhilarating experiences were meeting writers: the buzz of talking to someone who had published a book! Later I became chairperson of Listowel Writers’ Week and I was able to invite writers, artists, singers, musicians, theatre groups etc to Listowel. That was a huge privilege. Another memorable moment was when John B. Keane launched my first book, Rainsong, a book of poems, at Writers’ Week 1984.

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