Monday 27 March 2017

World Theatre Day – 27 March

Today (27 March) sees World Theatre Day being celebrated with events around the world, just as it has been every year, since its inception in 1962.

The focus of the celebration is the circulation of the World Theatre Day Message, through which, at the invitation of the International Theatre Institute (ITI), a figure of world stature shares his or her reflections on the theme of Theatre and a Culture of Peace. The first World Theatre Day Message was written by Jean Cocteau in 1962.
Each year an outstanding figure in theatre, or a person outstanding in heart and spirit from another field, is invited to share his or her reflections on theatre and international harmony. What is known as the International Message is translated into more than 50 languages, read for tens of thousands of spectators before performances in theatres throughout the world, and printed in hundreds of daily newspapers. Colleagues in the audio-visual field lend a fraternal hand, with more than a hundred radio and television stations transmitting the Message to listeners in all corners of the five continents.World Theatre Day

In 2017, French actress, Isabelle Huppert delivers the message. Her address is available to read from the official website of World Theatre Day, where it can also be downloaded in several international languages.

Tuesday 21 March 2017

World Poetry Day 2017

"Poetry is a window onto the breath-taking diversity of humanity." — Irina Bokova, UNESCO Director-General

21 March marks World Poetry Day, a UNESCO designated, internationally observed day of celebration for "one of humanity’s most treasured forms of cultural and linguistic expression and identity."
Poetry reaffirms our common humanity by revealing to us that individuals, everywhere in the world, share the same questions and feelings. Poetry is the mainstay of oral tradition and, over centuries, can communicate the innermost values of diverse cultures.
In celebrating World Poetry Day, March 21, UNESCO recognises the unique ability of poetry to capture the creative spirit of the human mind.
A decision to proclaim 21 March as World Poetry Day was adopted during UNESCO’s 30th session held in Paris in 1999.
One of the main objectives of the Day is to support linguistic diversity through poetic expression and to offer endangered languages the opportunity to be heard within their communities.
The observance of World Poetry Day is also meant to encourage a return to the oral tradition of poetry recitals, to promote the teaching of poetry, to restore a dialogue between poetry and the other arts such as theatre, dance, music and painting, and to support small publishers and create an attractive image of poetry in the media, so that the art of poetry will no longer be considered an outdated form of art, but one which enables society as a whole to regain and assert its identity.UNESCO

Nikoloz Baratashvili (1817-1845), Georgian poet
Nikoloz Baratashvili (1817-1845), Georgian Poet celebrated by UNESCO in 2017

Monday 20 March 2017

World Storytelling Day

World Storytelling Day logo
From the website of World Storytelling Day:
World Storytelling Day (March 20th) is a global celebration of the art of oral storytelling. It is celebrated every year on the spring equinox in the northern hemisphere, the first day of autumn equinox in the southern. On World Storytelling Day, as many people as possible tell and listen to stories in as many languages and at as many places as possible, during the same day and night. Participants tell each other about their events in order to share stories and inspiration, to learn from each other and create international contacts.
Getting ready for World Storytelling Day 2017? Tweet us what you are doing using the hashtag #WorldStory17.

World Storytelling Day has its roots in a national day for storytelling in Sweden, circa 1991-2. In 2009, there were World Storytelling Day events in Europe, Asia, Africa, North America, South America and Australia.

Each year, many of the individual storytelling events that take place around the globe are linked by a common theme. The theme for 2017 is Transformation.

Friday 17 March 2017

My Ireland by Stephen James Smith

My Ireland by Stephen James Smith is the title of a poem commissioned by the St. Patrick's Festival organisers – a response to the theme for the 2017 festival. It offers a personal view of how the author sees Ireland today and yet (judging by the way that it has resonated with a public audience that has been largely appreciative) it is, by no means, a lone or solitary voice.

Here it is then, in spoken form, with audio-visual accompaniment to add an extra layer to the poem's already powerful invocation:

Stephen is a Dublin-based poet and playwright, who (according to his official website) has been "central to the rise of the vibrant spoken word genre in Ireland today" although, he would say that, wouldn't he?

Tuesday 14 March 2017

Opportunities for Poets and the Practical Side of Being a Poet – from Poetry Ireland

Opportunities for Poets:
– Cúirt Bursary; Tyrone Guthrie Centre Bursary and Mind your own Business!, a seminar on the practical side of being a poet –

Poetry Ireland/Éigse Éireann logo
Poets in all stages of their careers can take advantage of opportunities presented by Poetry Ireland in March and April.

Poetry Ireland and Cúirt International Festival of Literature (23-30 April 2017) are delighted to offer an emerging younger poet the opportunity to visit the festival and to immerse themselves in the poetry programme. The Poetry Ireland and Cúirt Bursary includes tickets to all events and workshops, accommodation for 5 nights, travel costs to Galway and a per diem. Applications are invited from those aged 35 or under, who are based on the island of Ireland. The deadline is 31 March. More details can be found at the websites of Poetry Ireland or Cúirt International Festival of Literature.

Poetry Ireland and the Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig are offering two fully resourced Poet-in-Residence Bursaries (one week in duration) in 2017. This bursary is specifically designed to appeal to mid-career poets. While many schemes exist to support emerging writers, our intention is to focus on poets who have achieved a level of distinction in their field and who need time away from other demands, to focus on writing poems. Details on how to apply can be found at Poetry Ireland.
Poetry Day Irelnad 2017 logo

On Poetry Day Ireland (27 April 2017, 1-5.30pm), Poetry Ireland and Words Ireland are delighted to present Mind your own Business! - an afternoon focusing on the practical side of being a poet. 

Mind your own Business! will feature a masterclass on the process of publishing poetry with Don Paterson, the award-winning Scottish poet and poetry editor for Picador. Paul Perry, poet, author and artistic director of the Ennis Bookclub Festival, will lead a session on writing applications for grants, and poet, Jane Clarke and Poetry Ireland's Communications Manager, Muireann Sheahan, will present a session on marketing and self-promotion for poets. Participants will also have an opportunity to take part in Alexander Technique for Poets with Tomás Hardiman. Tickets to this event are free – thanks to the support of Words Ireland – but must be booked in advance at Poetry Ireland.

For more details on all of Poetry Ireland’s opportunities for poets, see their website or follow on:

Poetry Ireland gratefully acknowledges the support of its principal funders, The Arts Council / An Chomhairle Ealaíon and The Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

Monday 13 March 2017

Essex Book Festival - March/April programme

After a "fabulous launch and opening week", Essex Book Festival are gearing up for what they promise to be "an exciting second week" of the festival, which runs throughout March. Events in the programme yet to come can be viewed online from the festival website.

The festival was established in 1999, "to celebrate the book in all its forms with the widest possible audience in Essex. Since then it has grown into one of the leading festivals of its kind in the Eastern Region, inviting local writers and writers from all over the world to take part its activities. It also hosts a year round series of writing and reading programmes for all ages and abilities."

In April a Radical Writing Retreat will be hosted, in partnership with University of Essex and Radical Essex. Based at the Othona Community in Bradwell-on-Sea – one of the most remote and beautiful parts of Essex – the Essex Radical Writing Retreat will be a mix of inspirational and experimental workshops, readings, performances, walks and critiques, all designed to help push the boundaries of your writing.

Participating writers include landscape writer and social historian Ken Worpole (350 Miles: An Essex Journey; The New English Landscape), Essex-based novelist, Kate Worsley (She Rises), Award-winning poet and novelist, Philip Terry (Tapestry; Dante’s Inferno; Quennets), poet and folksinger, Dr Adrian May (Ballads of Bohemian Essex; Discovering England), and storyteller, Glenys Newton (Home Flown – The Laymamma’s Guide to an Empty Nest) winner of The Guardian's Moth Award for Live Storytelling in 2015.

The retreat is led by Dr James Canton (Out of Essex; Ancient Wonderings: Journeys into Prehistoric Britain) who teaches on the MA in Wild Writing at the University of Essex, and Ros Green, Director of Essex Book Festival.

The retreat runs from 5th to 7th April. For more information, including how to book your place, is available from the festival website.

Monday 6 March 2017

Read an Ebook Week on Smashwords

Read an e-Book Week 2017 promotional poster
The 9th annual Smashwords Read an Ebook Week is now underway and continues until midnight (Pacific Time) on Sunday, 11 March.

Read an Ebook Week is a global celebration of e-books. For one week only, readers can gain access to thousands of free or deeply discounted e-book titles by indie authors across all genres of literature, who have chosen to participate in the promotion.

Thousands of Smashwords authors and publishers are offering readers deep discounts on their e-book titles. For further information about how you can avail of the discounts on offer, visit the promotional catalogue on Smashwords. Browse by coupon discount and filter by category, bestseller status, word count and multiple other factors. When you find the title(s) that interests you, check to see if it is enrolled in the promotion then use the accompanying coupon code to avail of discounts from 25%-off, 50%-off, 75%-off and even for FREE.

The advantage to author (who, for the most part, are also independent publishers) is that they gain exposure for their work. For readers, the advantage is obvious but there are ways that you can show your appreciation to the authors, in addition to buying and reading their work:
When you discover a great deal, share it with your friends on social media. Be sure to tag the author (find their Twitter and Facebook addresses on their Smashwords author profile page) so they know you downloaded their book!

Smashwords is the world's largest distributor of independently published e-books. They make "it fast, free and easy for any author or publisher, anywhere in the world, to publish and distribute e-books to the major retailers and thousands of libraries."

Thursday 2 March 2017

World Book Day 2017 (Ireland and UK)

World Book Day 2017 logo
Today is World Book Day, or at least it is in some parts of the world – the Irish and UK parts of it to be precise! This year marks its 20th anniversary as an annual celebration.

Although UNESCO has designated 23 April as World Book and Copyright Day since 1995, Ireland and Great Britain celebrates it on a different day (2nd March), apparently. According to the organisers:
This date came about after serious thought and lengthy discussion to ensure that we were making the best decision for all participants and our supporters. We take into consideration religious holidays, school terms and potential conflict with other charitable activities.World Book Day official website
In any case, who needs an excuse for an celebration, especially when it is a celebration of something that excites the passions?
"The main aim of World Book Day in the UK and Ireland is to encourage children to explore the pleasures of books and reading by providing them with the opportunity to have a book of their own."
And if that were not enough, the event organisers tell us that
Thanks to the generosity of National Book Tokens Ltd, publishers and booksellers, we can send millions of book vouchers to children and young people (some 15 million, in fact: that’s one for nearly every child aged under eighteen in the country).
Of course, they don't specify which country but it sounds like a good initiative, in any case. In that spirit, we say, Happy World Book Day to book lovers and literary aficionados in Great Britain and Ireland - the rest of you will just have to wait until April!

For more information about activities and events planned around World Book Day, see the official website.

Wednesday 1 March 2017

16th Aldeburgh Literary Festival 2017

Aldeburgh Literary Festival 2017 takes place Thursday to Sunday, 2-5 March. Now in its 16th year, a series of events are lined up offering "a variety of talks, from the local to the global, the serious to the hilarious, the scientific to the philosophical." Events associated with the festival take place at the town's Jubilee Hall.

Aldeburgh is a coastal town in the English county of Suffolk, notable for having been the home of composer Benjamin Britten and the town also plays host to an annual Festival of Music and Arts, founded by Britten in 1948. The 2017 festival will take place from 9-25 June.

The literary festival, on the other hand, which is the initiative of the local Aldeburgh Bookshop, "fills the streets of Aldeburgh with visitors and conversation in a winter weekend." It describes itself as "a completely independent literary festival, receiving no grants or sponsorship."

Further information, including programme and schedule of events, is available from the website of The Aldeburgh Bookshop.

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