Friday 31 December 2021

Two New Books by Sebastian Kevany, Surfer and Field Epidemiologist

The Moon, the Fire, the Fever and the Jungle
– Two New Books by Sebastian Kevany, Surfer and Field Epidemiologist –

Front cover of Between the Moon and Fire: Life in Surfing Moments by Sebastian Kevany

If work, rest and play are to be considered the key ingredients of a healthy life that is balanced and fulfilled, then Sebastian Kevany has been there, seen that, done that and bought the t-shirt. His career as a field epidemiologist, combined with a passion for surfing, has brought him all over the world, to almost every continent and, not just off the beaten track but to places where there are no tracks at all. Stories from his life are eloquently described in two new books that are being published simultaneously.

In Between the Moon and the Fire: Life in Surfing Moments, he ponders the question of just why do surfers ride the waves anyway:

Surprisingly, it is not always just for the thrill, or the excitement: at a deeper level, surfing can imprint itself on consciousness, feeding the wave rider with intense images and sensations – thereby generating moments in memory that last a lifetime, via the ocean’s mirror.

Despite (or perhaps, due to) a hectic schedule of wave riding (with occasional full-moon parties), Sebastian also finds time for his work as a field epidemiologist, focusing on epidemic and infectious disease control.

Front cover of Fever in the Jungle: Inside the World of an Epidemic Troubleshooter by Sebastian Kevany

Fever in the Jungle: Inside the World of an Epidemic Troubleshooter is an insider’s account, taking us from rattling convoys and ramshackle malaria clinics in South Sudan, to air-conditioned meetings with government officials in Sierra Leone. His adventures and travails (born out of over 100 treatment, prevention and outbreak missions) offer a window into the often bizarre challenges, the occasionally chaotic and unpredictable yet, always fulfilling way of life.

Sebastian Kevany has worked in the Middle East, the South Pacific, Eastern Europe and Asia, focusing on epidemic and infectious disease control and response, monitoring and evaluation, health security, international relations, human rights, conflict resolution, diplomacy and international relations. In addition, he has surfed for more than twenty years in California, Ireland, Hawaii, South Africa, Indonesia, Tanzania, Australia, Portugal and Sierra Leone. He has contributed to The Surfer’s Journal and Zig Zag surfing magazine, and has also published academic articles. He lives in Ireland and the USA.

Between the Moon and the Fire and Fever in the Jungle are published by The Manuscript Publisher and available to buy online, in print and e-book editions (RRP €14.95 for the print edition plus P&P). Proceeds from sales of both books will benefit charities that include: Alone; Bureh Beach Surf Club; Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria; Surfrider Foundation.

Extracts from Between the Moon and the Fire: Life in Surfing Moments by Sebastian Kevany can be read at Surfer Today website.

Saturday 24 April 2021

Winner of John Pollard Foundation International Poetry Prize for 2021: poet, Diane Louie

Poet, Diane Louie wins 2021 John Pollard Foundation International Poetry Prize

Diane Louie, poet
Diane Louie, poet

It has been announced winner of the John Pollard Foundation International Poetry Prize for 2021 is Diane Louie, for her first book of poems, Fractal Shores.

Awarded annually to the author of an outstanding first poetry book collection in the English language and valued at €10,000, the prize is sponsored by the John Pollard Foundation and administered by the Trinity Oscar Wilde Centre in the School of English, Trinity College Dublin. The patron of the John Pollard Foundation is Stephen Vernon, who named the Foundation in memory of his grandfather, John Pollard.

In her first poetry book, a collection of prose poems, Diane thinks of the poems as little events. They are happening and happenings. They draw on experience, image, metaphor and all the properties of language, to create little worlds-in-motion: spinning while orbiting, actively shifting our point of view.

Award-winner Diane Louie says:

I am elated and profoundly honoured to be the recipient of the third annual John Pollard Foundation International Poetry Prize. Made possible by the generosity of Stephen Vernon, the Foundation's vision celebrates English literature's international vitality.
This past year, the global confinement has brought home how connected we are across cultures and political boundaries and, in our shared isolation, how deeply important literature is to our well-being. It has been such a long year for all of us. For me personally, the Foundation's recognition is a sweet reminder that even though we have been kept apart, a book – of poems! – can connect us.
The Foundation's confidence in my work means the world to me; this recognition will give my book independent wings and allow me to continue with the work I love. I look forward to sharing the vitality of our poetic endeavour as we go forward: even in a pandemic, poetry never needs a mask!

Members of the prize jury were: (Chairperson) Eoin Mc Namee, Director of the Oscar Wilde Centre, Trinity College Dublin; Alice Lyons, writer; Vona Groarke, poet; Professor Philip Coleman, School of English, Trinity College Dublin.

Eoin Mc Namee, from the selection committee, says:

The work in Diane Louie's Fractal Shores is vivid and cosmopolitan, an exquisite combination of intellectual fire and lyric craft, and we are delighted to see it emerge as the winner of the 2021 John Pollard Foundation International Poetry Prize.

The benefactor of the prize, Stephen Vernon, congratulated the winner on her achievement:

Once again, the selection committee has picked an outstanding debut collection of poems. Diane Louie is enormously talented, with a talent that is wholly her own and she is a most deserving winner of the 2021 John Pollard Foundation International Poetry Prize.

Diane Louise was born in Newfoundland and grew up in Connecticut. She earned degrees from Oberlin College and the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, for both fiction and poetry. Her work has appeared in Epoch, Arts & Letters, FIELD, TriQuarterly, Cloudbank and elsewhere. She lives in Paris, France, with her partner, a research scientist.

Previous Winner of the Foundation International Poetry Prize:

Wednesday 21 April 2021

Verona Pentony: a poet on a mission of peace

A Song for Forgiveness by Verona Pentony

– from the Reflections series, recently recorded in Nashville, Tennessee –

Verona Pentony is a poet with a purpose in life. Her mission is one of peace. Motivated, from an early age, by an ambition to meet people from all walks of life, her mission has taken her to many places and has achieved recognition and reciprocation in some far-flung quarters of the world.

White rose of peace
The White Rose of Peace theme has
featured in much of Verona Pentony's work,
including the Reflections series,
published between 2012 and 2014

A Song for Forgiveness (from her debut collection, Reflections from the Heart, part of the Reflections series – see below) has recently been recorded in Nashville, Tennessee by singer, Katy Lynn Johnson:

Take the train to Forgiveness County;
Everyone has a heartache to mend.
Learning the lessons all of us must one day see.
Making the enemy into your friend.

"All Missions begin as thoughts, embryos of an idea that grow into a visualised result," says Verona. For her, it began on 18 December 2003, when she received the guiding sign to promote World Peace and Forgiveness. Thus began her distribution of The White Rose of Peace Card during the Iraq War.

She was living in London at the time but upon return to Ireland, she began work on the Reflections series, resulting in two volumes of poetry – Reflections from the Heart, published in 2012, soon to be followed by Reflections of Time in 2014 – each incorporating the theme of The White Rose of Peace Card. Both titles have been through several reprints and are available to buy online, in print and e-book editions.

Verona's poetry conveys her passionately held ideals, rooted in Humanism, that promote healing through forgiveness as a pathway to reconciliation. An eloquent expression of this is felt in the poem, One Day

One day, our childhood instinct to reach out won't have been ripped way and replaced with fear.
One day, we will remember without pain and have no need to spread the blame.

The complete composition is published on Verona's website, where other important news and updates about her writing and other activities are posted periodically.

In addition to her writing, Verona Pentony has had a wide-ranging and diverse career in hospitality, hotel management, corporate social responsibility. She has performed her work at many literary festivals and gatherings across Ireland and further afield, making her well-known in poetry and literary circles.

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