Friday, July 1, 2011

Trim Swift Festival: Poetry in the Street

I'm hoarse. This reading poetry on a soap box in the street is hard on the vocal cords. You have a choice, read quietly hoping that no-one will notice or give it all you've got so that the person at the cash machine half way down the street turns round to see what's up. I favour the latter - let it rip.

A good gang of readers entertained the indifferent and interested today on the streets of Trim with all kinds of poetry, Yeats to Wordsworth. Paddy Smith kicked off with This is Just to Say by William Carlos Williams chosen I think because of its brevity. Members of Trim Drama society took part in their wonderful costumes which got as much attention as the poetry. Picture above.

Then there was the marathon reading of Gulliver's Travels in a Suzuki Swift car in the main street of Trim. Noel French, president of the Chamber of Commerce, was the first reader. Picture below: Noel just about to enter the car.

By the end of the day the Travels had reached Brobdingnag. Paddy's list of 93 readers is full but listeners who pay two euro to sit in the car and listen are still welcome. Indeed if you are anxious to read come along and Paddy will probably squeeze you in. All proceeds to Aware.

I only got the chance to attend two talks in the Eighteenth Century Ireland Society Conference which is being held in conjunction with the festival. Both were about the development of the novel in eighteenth century Ireland.

Lucy Cogan talked about women novelists including Sarah Butler who wrote Irish Tales (1716) an historical fiction about Brian Boru which may be a Jacobite version of recent Irish history and Dorothea Du Bois who wrote Theodora (1770), a fictionalised autobiography, to put hers and her mother's side of a notorious scandal of the time.

Moyra Haslett talked about the rise of the Irish novel especially dealing with the works of Richard Head. She speculated about the influence of his work on Gulliver's Travels. An appreciative, knowledgeable audience including the ubiquitous Dr. James Ward.

It was obvious from questions and discussions that I was the only one in the room who never heard of any of these three. It was also obvious that there are lively academic debates about what constitutes a novel, what can claim to be the first Irish novel, is Gulliver's Travel a novel and is publishing by subscription real publishing. Great stuff. I immediately felt like going online and ordering some of the novels mentioned but . . . I have a book to finish.

Something else to add to the TO DO WHEN THE BOOK IS FINISHED list.
And there's more tomorrow! Check the website.


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