Tuesday 16 July 2019

Focus on Flannery O'Connor at Write by the Sea

Maria Pepper

The work of the acclaimed Wexford-American writer Flannery O'Connor will be featured at this year's Write By The Sea literary festival in Kilmore Quay.

Two of the biggest American champions of the deceased writer, Bill Dawers and Dr Amanda Konkle from the faculty of Georgia Southern University in Savannah, will contribute to the festival programme over the weekend of September 27 to 29.

O'Connor's great-grandfather Patrick O'Connor emigrated from his native County Wexford to Baltimore, Maryland, in 1851, and joined the growing Wexford diaspora in Savannah, Georgia. He became prominent in industrial manufacturing, and in the city's Irish-American cultural organisations.

Mary Flannery O'Connor was born in 1925 in Savannah to parents Edward and Regina, both of whom had Irish roots. An only child, she attended the prestigious University of Iowa Writer's Workshop where her skills as a writer earned her a publishing contract. She is still revered as a brilliant short story writer and essayist, and her two novels, 'Wise Blood' (1952) and 'The Violent Bear It Away' (1971), have been described as containing 'more poetry than a dozen poetry books. She died in 1964.

'Although Flannery wrote her novels in the Fifties, her themes of fanaticism and religious extremism are more prominent in the headlines than ever,' said festival chairperson Lucy Moore.

'She is arguably one of Wexford's most under-appreciated literary success stories at home, so I hope the contribution of our friends from Georgia will help draw more attention to this wonderful novelist and essayist.'

Bill Dawers is Chair of the Flannery O'Connor Childhood Home in Savannah's Historic District. In addition to attracting literary pilgrims from across the globe for tours, the house hosts events that deepen the public's understanding of the writer.

Dr Konkle is the author of the recently-published 'Some Kind of Mirror: Creating Marilyn Monroe'. Her academic articles have appeared in such journals as Feminist Encounters and the Quarterly Review of Film and Video.

Gorey Guardian