Thursday 29 September 2016

Book Launch: The Unity Project by Brian Corvin. Thurs 6 October at Irish Writers' Centre

The Unity Project, the title of the recently published second volume of poetry and verse by artist and poet, Brian Corvin, will be formally launched at The Irish Writers' Centre on Thursday, 6 October starting 6:30pm.
The Unity Project by Brian Corvin
The Unity Project
by Brian Corvin

Brian’s first book, The Dream Journey, published in 2009, took him 50 years to write. This second volume has taken him just five years, which, he describes, as "progress of a kind". In The Unity Project, he sets out to complete the task that he set himself with his first outing.

The book takes its title from the long anchor poem contained within, itself inspired by the writings of Abdul Baha (1844-1921) who, over 150 years ago, put forward the view that 'the earth is but one country and mankind its citizens'. It was with the intention of exploring the ramifications of such ideas that set Brian Corvin on his own journey.
"I wrote the poem, The Unity Project, about the next step in our evolutionary development, to give voice to my beliefs and hopes for a better world," says Brian.

The conclusions that he has come to are set forward in the two volumes of poetry that have been published to date. They are also presented, in summary form, on a website that is being launched to coincide with the new publication. This, he hopes, offers a platform that can "develop and morph into a people’s power movement, which can and will work for real and fundamental change on three levels: the individual, the communal and the global."

The Unity Project by Brian Corvin is published by The Manuscript Publisher and available to buy online, in print and e-book editions. Further information is available from the websites of the author and the publisher.

Signed copies will also be available at the launch to take place at the Irish Writers' Centre on Parnell Square, Dublin on Thursday, 6 October starting 6.30pm. Make a note in your diary. Download your invitation here. For directions to the Irish Writers' Centre, see map.

Wednesday 28 September 2016

Wesport Arts Festival - 5 days of music, theatre, literature, visual art

Westport Arts Festival begins today (Wednesday, 28th September) and runs for five days, to Sunday, 2nd October, offering a strong and diverse selection of events to appeal to all ages and tastes.

As well as talks and literary readings, the festival programme of events is promising "top class music, theatre, visual art, comedy, film and craft from local, national and international artists". Full details are available from the festival website and can also be downloaded, in brochure form.

The festival also hosts an annual poetry competition. This year's competition offers its largest prize fund ever, with a first prize of €1000.

Monday 26 September 2016

SiarScéal Festival 2016 to Take Place in October

SiarScéal Festival 2016 is to take place over two days (7-8 October) in Roscommon Town. The late Hanna Greally, author of Bird's Nest Soup, will be honoured at this year's festival, which will also see the launch of a new anthology, Centenary in Reflection, produced by SiarScéal writers from Ireland and abroad.

The official launch of the two-day event will be presided over by Cllr Tony Ward, Cathaoirleach of Roscommon County Council. This will take place in the Fortfield Suite of the Abbey Hotel in Roscommon Town and will include readings from winners and participating schools in the Hanna Greally Literary Awards, which were adjudicated by Ann Joyce.

In the afternoon, Lunatic There I Go, a Floating World Theatre Company presentation, will offer a dramatic and spoken word interpretation of the world of Hanna Greally - a story that is guaranteed to spark an response in every audience.

The following day, Saturday 8 October, Roscommon County Library HQ provides the venue for the launch of Centenary in Reflection, an anthology of poetry, prose, short stories, charting and celebrating the events that have made up the last 100 years, following the journey of a nation re-birthed through rebellion.

Roscommon County Council Arts Officer, Mary Mullins and acting County Librarian, Mary Butler will formally launch the anthology. The evening will also see the presentation of the Ger Hanily Memorial Cup, an annual award for literary achievement that forms part of the festival. Recitals from guest authors - including Ann Joyce, Mary Branley, Mary Melvin Geoghegan, Mary Guckian, Kieran Furey - will round off the evening that will also feature an Open Mike session, for anyone else who would like to take part. Refereshments will also be provided.

Further information about SiarScéal, including the festival programme of events, is available from their website, where copies of Centenary in Reflection, along with other SiarScéal publications, are available to buy online, in print and e-book editions.

Wednesday 21 September 2016

H.G. Wells - born 150 years ago today (21 September 1866)

H.G. Wells by Beresford
George Charles Beresford
[Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
Herbert George (H.G.) Wells was born 150 years ago today, on 21 September 1866. A prolific author and writer across genres that include fiction and non-fiction, he applied his mind to just about every field of human enquiry. He was outspoken on many issues of the day and his views were eagerly listened to – by politicians and public alike.

He is recognised (along with Jules Verne) as one of the founders of science-fiction and his contributions to this genre are mostly responsible for making him a household name. War of the Worlds, The Invisible Man, The Island of Doctor Moreau are as much enjoyed today, in their original form, as they were upon publication, over 100 years ago. If that was not enough, they have been endlessly adapted for stage, screen, radio and other media. His near-namesake, Orson Welles, famously broadcast a radio adaptation of War of the World in October 1940, the response to which has become the stuff of legend.

A prolific writer throughout his adult life, Wells is, nevertheless, best and most fondly remembered for what would be considered his first work. Little more than a novella, The Time Machine was first published in 1895, although an early version of it appeared as a short story in 1888, under the title, The Chronic Argonauts. In it, Wells postulates the ultimate fate of humanity and the planet that it dwells upon, considering the ramifications of a society basing its orientation on blind obedience to, what some might consider to be the fate to which it is ordained. The views presented and conclusions drawn remain curiously fascinating today, even with the passage of time.
"Nature never appeals to intelligence until habit and instinct are useless. There is no intelligence where there is no change and no need of change." - from The Time Machine by H.G. Wells (1895)

His particular skill as a storyteller was to devise themes and then use them as a larger device, to convey a sense of morality, foreboding or harbinger of things to come. It is a format that many have followed but few have emulated. His science fiction (or scientific romances as he called them) are based on a true understanding of scientific principles – something that he possessed in abundance – but also, deeply rooted in real word concerns. His other novels, such as A History of Mr Polly and Kipps, reflect his preoccupation with social class and what he saw as the restrictive, detrimental and ultimately ruinous consequences for a society based on it.

Of course, Wells himself had humble beginnings. The fourth child of parents who worked as domestic servants for most of their lives, his early education was sporadic and based on whatever his parents could afford to pay for. He served an unhappy apprenticeship in this teenage years, working 13-hour days and sleeping in dormitories with other apprentices. All of this could not but have left a mark on his personality and temperament. His adult years and his literary efforts therefore, were devoted to finding cures for various social and other ills, as he encountered them. He was an advocate of World Government and devoted much time to investigating ways that it could be realised.

In a way, just as Wells' life straddles the 19th and 20th century, so too, his thinking and his ideas encapsulate the hopes, dreams and ambitions of the period in which he lived and worked. Much of what he anticipated has come to fruition, even if not entirely in the way that he might have conceived. Still, there is much else in his body of work that may indicate 'the shape of things to come', all making for an enduring enigma.

Tuesday 13 September 2016

Centenary of the Birth of Roald Dahl (1916-1990)

Roald Dahl (1982)
By Hans van Dijk / Anefo
(Derived from Nationaal Archief)
[CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons
Today marks the 100th anniversary of the birth of Roald Dahl, authors of novels, short stories, screenplays that have appealed to audiences worldwide and across generations.

Born in Wales, to Norwegian parents (he was named after the polar explorer, Roald Amundsen and not, as has been suggested, out of some kind of conceit not to be knows as 'Ronald'!), Dahl grew up in a household where Norwegian was the spoken language and English therefore, was effectively a second language for him.

He enjoyed/suffered the benefits of an English public school education, where he excelled at sports, being exceptionally tall (as an adult, he stood a towering 6" 6') and also honed a love of literature during these years. The stature that he would attain as a literary figure was only hinted at during his school years however. One of his English teachers observed in a school report, "I have never met anybody who so persistently writes words meaning the exact opposite of what is intended."

The Second World War would see him serve as a fighter pilot in the Royal Air Force (RAF). He married twice - to actress, Patricia Neal, with whom he had five children and later, to Felicity "Liccy" Crosland, who remained with him until his death in 1990.

Dahl's literary output adapted quite well to the media of TV and cinema and it is these adaptation that have probably had most to do with making him a household name. Even people who have barely so much as picked up a book are likely to be familiar with his work in some form. His short story collection, Tales of the Unexpected, published in 1979, was adapted to a successful TV series of the same name, which ran during the 1980s - with Dahl even presenting some of the early episodes.

It is as a writer of children's fiction (including works such as James and the Giant Peach, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, Matilda, The BFG) that Dahl most excelled, demonstrating a keen sense of childhood mischief. He is regarded by many as one of the greatest in this genre. His storytelling exhibits an "unsentimental, macabre, often darkly comic mood, featuring villainous adult enemies of the child characters. His books champion the kind-hearted, and feature an underlying warm sentiment." (Source: Wikipedia).

The centenary of Roald Dahl's birth comes a matter of weeks after the death of actor, Gene Wilder, who portrayed one of Dahl's most enduring characters in the eponymously titled, Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory (a 1971 film adaptation of Charlie and the Chocolate Factory). Dahl, however, was reportedly unhappy with the film adaptation of the script that he provided. This would lead him to 'disown' the film. Reasons suggested for this have been ascribed to a view that "it placed too much emphasis on Willy Wonka and not enough on Charlie" and also, the casting of Gene Wilder instead of Spike Milligan, who was Dahl's choice to take the role. (Source: BBC website - Willy Wonka's everlasting film plot).

It was Wilder, apparently, who came up with the idea for the titular character's dramatic entrance - pretending to be a frail old man, hobbling on a stick until making a forward somersault to the acclaim of worried but relieved onlookers. "I knew that from then on, the audience wouldn't know if I was lying or telling the truth," Wilder said many years later. There is proof, perhaps, in this anecdote, that while great minds don't always think alike, it is still no reason why can't entertain and each be masters of their respective trades.

Road Dahl was born on 13 September 1916. He died 23 November 1990 but his work truly lives on. Over 250 million copies of his books have sold worldwide.

Thursday 1 September 2016

Cape Clear Island International Storytelling Festival

The annual Cape Clear Island International Storytelling Festival takes place this weekend. It runs from Friday through Sunday (2-4 September). Ireland's southernmost inhabited island provides the location and the backdrop, consisting of stunning scenery, folklore and uniqueness of the island's flora and fauna.

The festival is now in its 22nd year, having run continuously since 1994. Accomplished storytellers from around the world are invited to participate. A programme of events is available to download from the festival website, along with other information, including how to get there.

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