Announcing Cúirt Festival Dates 2021

plus a new commission in partnership with the National Library of Ireland

Cúirt International Festival of Literature is excited to announce the dates for the 2021 edition of the festival, set to take place between Wednesday 21 and Sunday 25 April 2021.

The festival presented a host of successful online events in April 2020, adapting quickly to the restrictions put in place by the lockdown. It saw the festival reach a brand new audience with thousands of people tuning in from every continent. The live audiences totalled nearly 4,000 viewers during the week of the festival, and the events now have over 25,000 views online to date. The festival is excited to build on the momentum to present an exciting programme for 2021.

Speaking about the 2021 edition, Director of Cúirt Sasha de Buyl said:

“We were blown away by the warmth of the response from writers and audiences to the 2020 edition of the festival and were delighted to play our part in bringing books and words to readers during such a challenging year. Having said that, we couldn’t be more excited to bring Cúirt back to the streets and venues of Galway, a character that has been sorely missing from our story, in 2021.”

The 2021 programme will deliver a hybrid programme of events, mixing in-person events with an online programme. Cúirt Festival has already shown how it can adapt to deliver high-quality events to the public with restrictions in place. Organisers will be following government advice closely to deliver a festival that is safe and accessible for both the audience and participants. The full programme will be announced in early March 2021.

Cúirt is also very happy to announce a new commission in partnership with the National Library of Ireland.

In 2021, award-winning poet Seán Hewitt will be appointed as the first-ever poet in residence at the Irish Queer Archive in the National Library of Ireland. This project will shine a light on the rich histories of LGBTQ+ communities in Ireland and facilitate new work from an exciting voice in Irish writing. Ireland has undergone an immeasurable change in its attitudes to sexuality and gender and this is an opportunity to reflect back upon the history of our communities, while also supporting new work from Irish queer writers.

Seán says:

“The archive is not a silent place. It’s full of voices, all of them vital, which deserve to be heard, and to be attended to. It’s an honour for a poet to be given the opportunity to spend time amongst other voices, listening, and asking questions. The archive is not a silent place, but it is full of those who have been silenced. I hope to give them the space of a new form, a new cadence, to invite them to sing through me.”

The National Library of Ireland is the home of the Irish Queer Archive, comprising material relating to the National Gay Federation, the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network, Lesbians Organising Together, Out Magazine, Gay Games, Gay Health Action, Alternative Miss Ireland, the Women’s Education Resource and Research Centre, the Dublin Lesbian and Gay Film Festival and papers of Charles Kerrigan, 1974-2005. These papers and other related collections are important primary source materials for the research of LGBTI+ experience in Ireland.

Dr Sandra Collins, Director of the National Library of Ireland, said:

“Our vision at the National Library of Ireland is to share the story of Ireland with the world, and we are delighted that this Arts Council Commission Grant helps to advance that vision. The story of contemporary Ireland is complex; sometimes uplifting and often challenging. We house and share collections like the Irish Queer Archive so that the diversity of the Irish experience is recorded, remembered and valued, and we are excited to see the creative work that will emerge from this collaborative engagement with the archive.”

This project is supported by the Arts Council’s Commission Award. Sarah Bannan, Head of Literature, said of the project:

“The Arts Council’s Commission Award is designed to support artists to undertake work of excellence and ambition. We are delighted to see Cúirt commissioning Seán Hewitt to undertake this vital and exciting project in partnership with the National Library. Festivals serve such an integral role in connecting readers and writers, but they also play a valuable role in shaping artform development and supporting artists. Cúirt’s commitment to the voice of the artist is exemplary, and we are so excited to support this collaboration.”

The project will be launched at Cúirt in 2021, with an event featuring readings from Seán and other LGBTQ+ poets, as well as delving into the subject of why archival material is so important within minority communities.

Following April 2021, Seán will spend 3 months working in the archives, learning and drawing inspiration from these historical documents, and creating a series of poems in response to the materials there. The commission will support the creation of ten poems, which Seán will present in a performance event at Cúirt in 2022.