Cúirt International Festival of Literature has announced details of a diverse and eclectic programme, curated by its new Director, Dr. Emily Cullen. Leading Irish and international authors, an exploration of language across art forms and a strong commitment to Irish-language writing are at the heart of the 33rd Cúirt International Festival of Literature, which will take place in Galway this April 23 – 29.
This year’s Cúírt festival will see the voices of some of the most exciting authors, poets, performers and artists come alive at over 70 events, many of them free, across poetry, prose, music and the spoken word. The programme also includes theatre, talks, masterclasses, family events and exhibitions as well as its annual education programme for children and teenagers, Cúírt Labs.
Writers from America, Austria, Canada, Catalonia, the UK, France, Mexico and Norway will feature alongside the very best of Irish authors, including The Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year and author of the award-winning debut, Conversations with Friends, Sally Rooney; winner of the ‘Novel of the Year’ prize (for Midwinter Break) at the 2017 Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards, Bernard MacLaverty; renowned Mexican writer Juan Pablo Villalobos; leading Catalan writer, Eduard Márquez; Patrick McCabe whose new novel, Heartland, is due out in April; winner of the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry, Pakistani-born British poet and artist, Imtiaz Dharker and Irish writer, scholar and leading international authority on the literature of Ireland, Professor Declan Kiberd.
Programme Director for Cúirt, Dr. Emily Cullen, commented that:
“Cúirt provides a prestigious platform and convivial space for authors and readers, artists and performers to share ideas and a common love of literature. As Galway starts its build-up to European Capital of Culture 2020, we’re excited to bring together some of the finest Irish and international authors writing today. I’d like to thank our key funders, The Arts Council, Galway City Council and Fáilte Ireland for their continued support, as well as our business supporters and partners. We’re looking forward to welcoming our loyal Cúirt enthusiasts and we also extend a warm invitation to those who have yet to experience their first Cúirt Festival.”
Poetry lovers will welcome a strong line-up which includes Forward Prize Winner and poet, Sinead Morrissey, who will read with British poet, Daljit Nagra; winner of the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry, Pakistani-born British poet and artist Imtiaz Dharker, who will read with Pascale Petit. Other poetry contributors include Jane Clarke, Michael Coady, Eleanor Hook, Joseph Woods and Eva Bourke. The Salmon Book Launch will also feature Anne Casey, Paul Kingsnorth and Moya Roddy while Spotlight on New Voices will celebrate debut works of poetry. The Cúirt Poetry Mentorship programme, in memory of Anne Kennedy, will see renowned local poet Mary Madec mentor two young writers, who will read as part of the festival.
In an exciting new departure, the programme will explore language across art forms, namely music and visual art. Lyrics of our Lives looks at the creation of song lyrics as a writing practice and will feature The Stunning’s Steve Wall; Julie Feeney; Paul Linehan, lead singer and songwriter with The Frank & Walters; Brendan Murphy from The Four of Us and Sharon Vaughn, an undisputed legend in the world of songwriting, as they discuss the inspiration, anecdotes and the craft behind some of our favourite songs. Play It Again, a very unique event co-curated with Music For Galway, features The Guardian’s former editor-in-chief Alan Rusbridger, who joins virtuoso pianist Finghin Collins for a lively evening with the haunting piano of Chopin, interspersed with readings and lively conversation about music, reading, writing and politics. Meanwhile Danny Diamond’s fiddle will converse with the poetry of Tom French in What To Bring When We Leave.
Other notable events include World Perspectives, an informative and engaging look at the world through the lens of writers from Catalonia, Austria and France; Eduard Márquez, Norbert Gstrein and Hédi Kaddour; an examination of the short story with Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, Sean O’Reilly, Ger Reidy and Joanna Walsh and a celebration of the best in contemporary non-fiction with essayists Kevin Breathnach, Brian Dillon and Susan Tomaselli. Author of the award-winning Solar Bones, Mike McCormack, will lead a reading and discussion on the migration of Ireland’s young generation with Andrew Meehan and E.M Reapy, whose debut novel, Red Dirt won Newcomer of the Year at the 2016 Irish Book Awards and the 2017 Rooney Prize for Irish Literature. There are also contributions from Kelly Creighton, June Caldwell, Billy O’Callaghan, Kathleen Winter and Cork writer, Danny Denton, whose vibrant debut novel, The Earlie King & The Kid In Yellow is garnering widespread praise.
A commitment to the promotion of Irish-language writers is a significant feature of the festival, particularly in a city with a unique bilingual status. An Focal: Cuisle will celebrate the written and spoken word in poetry, music, song and craic with three of the finest contemporary Irish-language artists; Marcus MacConghail, Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh and Simon Ó Faoláin; author of Motherfoclóir: Dispatches From A Not-So Dead Language, Darach Ó Séaghdha, will lead a lively discussion about the work of Flann O’Brien, which will be recorded live for the Motherfoclóir podcast and Mick Óg McGee will present a reading and dramatic enactments from his newly published play, Aislingí Grádha Oídhche Lughnasa.
A series of special events in Irish entitled Cúirt Cois Fharraige, presented by Cúirt in association with Ealaín na Gaeltachta and Poetry Ireland Writers in Schools, will support contemporary writing by local Gaeltacht writers and foster writing skills in young Irish-language authors of the future. Events will include a poetry reading by Áine Durkin and Paddy Mhéme Ó Súilleabháin in Ros a Mhíl; a special reading with Jackie MacDonncha and Dara Ó Conaola on Inis Óirr, while distinguished Irish-language authors Darach Mac Con Iomaire, Réaltán Ní Leannáin and Jackie Mac Donncha will conduct a writer-in-school visit to secondary schools on Inis Mór, Inis Meáin and Inis Oírr.
Highlighting emerging talent in poetry and fiction, the Cúirt/Over the Edge New Writing Showcase returns and features readers and winners from the popular Over the Edge Literary Series in Galway. Winners of the 2018 Cúirt New Writing Prize, sponsored by Tigh Neachtain in memory of Lena McGuire, will join the showcase line-up and read from their winning entries. This year’s winners are Eoin Hegarty (Poetry) & Eimear O’Callaghan (Short Story). The youth strand of the prize, for ages 12‐17, was won by Hannah Riordan.
This year’s Spoken Word Platform will feature guest performer Felispeaks (aka Felicia Olusanya), a young Nigerian-Irish spoken word performance artist and writer who is fast becoming one of the most exciting and in demand poets in Ireland. This high-energy event will showcase both poetry and short fiction with performers having up to three minutes to present their piece to a panel of three judges. The top three participants will go on to perform at the Cúirt Showcase at Electric Picnic in September. The London Writers’ Eclective will feature an assortment of writers and performers from across London who charm, amuse & occasionally bewilder with their storytelling, comedy and dramatic air.Writing as a visual art is explored by guest artist, Sam Winston, in an exhibition of prints and works, which includes his award-winning project with Oliver Jeffers, A Child of Books. An illustration from the book is this year’s Cúirt programme cover. Winston will also give a talk about his collaboration with Jeffers; how they found new approaches to storytelling, why writing is a visual art and the joys and pitfalls of collaboration. Other exhibitions include Speaking Space from Red Bird Youth Collective, a visual art group for young people; Bosom Pals featuring eight women poets’ experiences of breast cancer with drawings by Ruth Cadden. Editor of the collection, Marie Cadden, died earlier this year and had hoped the book would raise awareness and put a human face on living with breast cancer. This exhibition, initiated by her, honours her life and work.Continuing the focus on supporting new writing, Poetry Ireland and Cúirt are delighted to offer the Poetry Ireland Access Cúirt Bursary, which will provide an emerging poet from a background that is currently statistically underrepresented in Irish poetry the opportunity to visit the festival and become immersed in the poetry programme. A new initiative, The Irish Writers Centre / Cúirt Young Writer Delegates Programme offers writers aged 18-26 an extraordinary opportunity to attend and contribute to Cúirt as inaugural Young Writer Delegates. The selected four young writers will be given festival passes and accommodation for four days of full literary immersion. Supported by an Irish Writers Centre facilitator and local writer mentor they will reflect on the festival and share their views via Cúirt and the IWC’s social media platforms.Workshops and masterclasses for writers will include a session on ‘Getting Published’ with Tramp Press, and a mentorship and writing event in association with Words Ireland for anybody who is curious about the mentorship process and supports available for writers. Presented by the Irish Writers Centre, and a must for the enterprising writer, is a professional development session focusing on the business aspect of writing. It will examine types of funding, opportunities and supports available to writers and will explore the practicalities of life within the literary industry.A series of educational workshops and talks for children and teenagers, the hugely popular Cúirt Labs, returns with an exciting programme featuring writers and artists including Caroline Busher, Siobhán Parkinson, Anna Carey and Sam Winston. A unique outreach project, supported by Creative Ireland, will see Paul Linehan, from The Frank and Walters lead a workshop on songwriting at St. Enda’s secondary school, with the goal of producing a song. Family events include Storytelling with Niall De Búrca, one of Ireland’s finest traditional storytellers, and Cúirt will also continue its successful partnership with Galway City and County Libraries, which will see writers reading at special events in Westside, Ballybane and Gort libraries.A varied theatre programme features Pan Pan Theatre’s The Importance of Nothing; Rabbit by Nina Raines, presented by students of Drama and Theatre Studies at NUI Galway in association with Galway Arts Centre and directed by Andrew Flynn, and Imagining Nora, presented by Tara Breathnach and Sarah O’Toole, which will celebrate Nora Barnacle’s influence on James Joyce.
The Cúirt festival will come to a close on Sunday April 29 with the annual Far From Literature we were Raised event, a night of spoken word, poetry and song in aid of Cancer Care West. Contributors include Alan McMonagle, Sarah Clancy, Elaine Feeney, Aindrais de Staic, Gerry Hanberry and Páraic Breathnach.