Wednesday 17 July 2019

Literary luminaries and fresh talent to shine at Cúirt festival

Irish author Louise O'Neill.
Irish author Louise O'Neill.
Dubliner Rob Doyle.

Edel Coffey

Cúirt celebrated its 30th anniversary in 2015 and the festival goes from strength to strength, expanding its line-up each year. While Tobias Wolff is the big draw for this year's festival, there are lots of up-and-coming writers as well as established names like John Banville.

The poetry corner is often where some of the most interesting conversations and readings happen, and it's also the area where you get the opportunity to hear readings by poets who don't tend to make appearances around this neck of the woods too often.

Two big-hitters in town to kick off the opening celebrations at Cúirt are American poet laureate, and pal of the late Seamus Heaney, Robert Pinsky, and former US poet laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner Natasha Trethewey on April 20 in the Town Hall Theatre at 8.30pm (tickets €15). Who knows when the opportunity to see these two will arise again so it's worth taking the catching them now.

Cúirt's schedule also offers an attractive mix of workshops for budding writers. Declan Meade, editor of The Stinging Fly, will host a workshop on editing fiction, which takes place from 10am - 12pm on April 21 (tickets cost €25).

Cúirt also showcases emerging talent and the Cúirt showcase will take place at 3pm on April 20 in the Town Hall Theatre. This is a free event and will feature readers and winners from the Over the Edge Literary Series in Galway and the 2015 Cúirt New Writing Prize. and is an opportunity to see possible stars of the future. Another free event that also showcases future literary stars is the launch of Granta Ireland on April 21 at 9.30pm in the Oyster Bar in the Meyrick Hotel.

One of the most attractive things about Cúirt is the variety of authors and the mix of both daytime and evening events. At 1pm on April 21, Sarah M Griffin, Thomas Morris and Rob Doyle, three of Ireland's most exciting young writers, will discuss the common thread that unites the characters in their respective books - alienation and a striving to elevate themselves out of their individual struggles.

Louise O'Neill's book Asking For It was one of the biggest Irish success of 2015, dealing with the modern issues of sex, voyeurism, social networking and consent among teenagers in Ireland. She will be in conversation with Rachel B Glaser at the Town Hall Theatre at 3pm on April 23 (tickets €10).

IMPAC prize-winning author Kevin Barry is something of a national treasure at this stage, with his inventive novels Beatlebone and City Of Bohane and his short story collections Dark Lies The Island and There Are Little Kingdoms. Canadian author Patrick de Witt's novel The Sisters Brothers was shortlisted for the 2011 Booker Prize and he is a regular at Cúirt by now. The two appear together this year on April 22 at 8.30pm in the Town Hall Theatre (tickets €15).

One that I am particularly looking forward to is poet Hollie McNish and author Simon Van Booy on April 21 at 6.30pm in the Town Hall Theatre (tickets €10). The pair will be talking about parenthood. McNish's latest book, Nobody Told Me, is a chronicle of her experience of pregnancy and motherhood, while Van Booy's book, Father's Day, looks at a father-daughter relationship.

On the closing day of Cúirt, festival director Dani Gill will chair a panel discussion with a host of women writers who contributed to the anthology The Long Gaze Back, including Belinda McKeon, who will also take part in an event with Jennifer Johnston on April 23 in the Town Hall Theatre at 4.30pm (tickets €10).

Cúirt runs from April 17-24;

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