Saturday 17 March 2018

10 highlights of the Dublin Writers Festival

Johnny Vegas will perform at the National Concert Hall this weekend.
Johnny Vegas will perform at the National Concert Hall this weekend.

Anita MacSorley

The who's who of the literary scene in both Ireland and abroad have descended on Dublin this week for the Dublin Writers Festival.

It is the 16th year of the much admired Dublin festival, and with 100 events over nine days, there's something for all ages and tastes.

The festival runs at venues around the city until Sunday, May 25th and we've put together a list of 10 highlights for the remainder of the festival.

1. John Carey

Date: Wed 21st May at 6pm    Venue: Smock Alley Theatre     Price: €12 / €10

Professor John Carey is a British literary critic whose passionate views have sometimes proved controversial. He comes to Dublin to talk about The Unexpected Professor - a warm and funny memoir of the events that formed him, such as an escape from the London blitz to an idyllic rural village, army service in Egypt, an open scholarship to Oxford and an academic career that saw him elected, age 40, to Oxford's oldest English Literature professorship. The event will be chaired by Selina Guinness.

2. Edmund White

Date: Wed 21st May at 8pm     Venue: Smock Alley Theatre     Price: €12 / €10

Edmund White is a novelist, as well as a writer of memoirs and an essayist on literary and social topics. Much of his writing is on the theme of same-sex love. He is celebrated as a prose writer of rare style and observational powers.

He comes to Dublin with Inside a Pearl, an account of his 16 years in Paris.

Together with Jean-Phlippe Imbert, his mischievous wit and scrupulous honesty promises an evening to remember.

3. Simon Armitage

Date: Thu 22nd May at 6pm     Venue: Smock Alley Theatre     Price: €12 / €10

Few poets can count a BAFTA, a CBE and an Ivor Novella among their awards, but Simon Armitage is one. His astonishingly varied body of work includes ten collections of poetry, two novels, a bestselling memoir, translations from the classics and plays for radio, TV and stage.

In 2011, he walked the 256-mile Pennie Way as a kind of modern troubadour, giving poetry readings in return for bed and board, a feat described in the bestseller Walking Home.

He comes to Dublin Writers Festival to talk about The Last Days of Troy, his new dramatisation of Homer’s Iliad, currently on stage at the Royal Exchange in London, and to read from a selection of his work over the last 25 years.

4. Faber Social: Words & music with Vic Albertine, Bob Stanley, DJ Jim Carroll & music by Idiot/Songs

Date: Thu 22nd May at 8pm     Venue: Button Factory     Price: €12 / €10

Following it's sold out Irish debut at last years festival, the Faber Socials brings its laid-back vibe to The Button Factory with another eclectic line-up of musicians, writers and DJ's.

The theme is 'Words and Music'. Words will be provided by Viv Albertine, legendary guitarist with punk band The Slit who chats to Sinéad Gleeson about the heady days of punk. The conversation continues with Bob Stanley, DJ, songwriter and keyboardist with St Etienne, who joins Jim Carroll to talk about Yeah Yeah Yeah, his acclaimed new biography of pop. Music comes from songwriters Pearse McGloughlin and Justin Grounds, whose acclaimed album Idiot/Songs mixes haunting vocals with electronic beats. Jim Carroll also DJ's through the evening.

5. Ciaran Berry & Tess Gallagher

Date: Fri 23rd May at 6pm     Venue: Smock Alley Theatre     Price: €10/€8

Ciaran Berry’s first collection, The Sphere of Birds, was one of the most praised debuts of recent years, winning numerous awards. His new collection, The Dead Zoo, which takes its name from the nickname for Dublin’s Natural History Museum, confirms his reputation as a leading Irish poet of his generation.

Tess Gallagher will discuss Midnight Lantern, a collection of poems from her forty-year career that has included several books of short stories, a dozen poetry collections and numerous awards.

6. Sebastian Barry, Anne Enright and Hugo Hamilton - Translating Ireland

Date: Fri 23rd May at 8pm     Venue: The Printworks (Dublin Castle)     Price: €12 / €10

‘Translating Ireland’ brings together three leading Irish novelists to share their experiences of being translated, read excerpts from their work, and to talk about the translations that have most inspired them.

In novels like A Long, Long Way, Sebastian Barry has shone a light into the dark corners of Irish life, focusing on the ordinary people whose lives are neglected, forgotten or written out of history.

Booker Prize-winner Anne Enright is celebrated for her capacity to explore serious issues with compassion and wry humour in works like The Forgotten Waltz.

Hugo Hamilton is the bestselling author of seven novels and two memoirs, including The Speckled People, a memoir of his German-Irish childhood that won a clutch of European awards.

7. Laura Bates, Jenny Dunne and Dearbhail McDonald - The Everyday Sexism Project

Date: Fri 23rd May at 8pm     Venue: Smock Alley Theatre     Price: €12 / €10

In a recent interview, Laura Bates said she didn't know what sexism meant. After enduring a spate of unrelated incidents, she began to ask friends and colleagues about their own experiences and a shocking fact emerged: every woman she spoke to had encountered sexism not at some point in the past.

She then set up the Everyday Sexism Project, a website dedicated to documenting people’s personal experiences of sexism.

Chaired by Sinéad Gleeson, a panel of leading journalists and campaigners will explore sexism in all its contemporary forms.

Joining Bates to discuss these issues are Dearbhail McDonald, Legal Editor at the Irish Independent, and Jenny Dunne, who runs the Irish branch of Hollaback, an international website dedicated to ending street harassment.

8. Poetry Workshop with Ciaran Berry

Date: Sat 24th May at 2.30pm    Venue: Irish Writers' Centre     Price: €25

After reading with Tess Gallagher on Friday, Ciaran Berry leads an advanced workshop for published and aspiring poets, exploring some key techniques in depth.

This workshop runs from 2.30 – 4.30pm.

9. Ned Boulting, Richard Moore & Tim Moore - Cycling Fever

Date: Sun May 25th at 4pm     Venue: Conference Hall (Dublin Castle)     Price: €12 / €10

With the visit of the Giro d'Italia a few weeks ago, cycling has never been more popular.

Dublin Writers Festival gathers three acclaimed writers and cycling fanatics to examine cycling's phenomenal rise. Why, despite the drug scandals that have threatened to discredit the sport, has cycling become so popular? Where does it go from here? And can anyone tackle the Tour de France?

10. Johnny Vegas in concert

Date: Sunday May 25th at 8pm     Venue: National Concert Hall     Price: Price: €20 / €18

In the closing event of the festival, Vegas talks to actress and author Pauline McLynn about his life, his career and his attempts to find a balance between his real self and the troubled personal that made him a star.

His autobiography, Becoming Johnny Vegas, describes the sometimes dark struggle between Michael (his real name), the shy boy who once trained for the priesthood, and ‘Johnny Vegas’, the anarchic alter ego who at times has threatened to destroy him. 

Dublin Writers Festival runs in various venues around the city until Sunday, May 25th. For ticket information and the full list of events, see


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