Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Irish Writers Exhibition

Irish Writers Exhibition by Ursula Burke, a multi-media artist based in Belfast, Northern Ireland, specialising in photography and sculpture, runs from 2 to 30 March 2012, in Johnston Central Library, Farnham Centre, Farnham Street, Cavan, curated by Karen Downey.

This project is a series of contemporary photographic portraits of Irish women writers. Writers photographed include Moya Cannon, Marina Carr, Anne Enright, Rita Anne Higgins, Jennifer Johnston, Paula Meehan, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, Medbh McGuckian, Sinéad Morrissey and Mary O’Donnell.

The commission aims to highlight and support increased national, and international recognition of women’s writing from Ireland in recent decades, and modestly proposes to render the face of Irish women’s writing more visible. The exhibition consists of twelve portraits. The portraits are also presented in the form of a poster entitled Irish Writers.

The poster (right) is from this webpage.

A recent exercise at our LitLab writers group was based on this poster and involved using it as a springboard for a piece of on-the-spot, unprepared writing. We did well, I think, with all sorts of reactions in prose and poetry. Very good first drafts - it will be interesting to see if anyone does more work and produces a finished piece.

I'm not sure about mine. It was designed as a visceral male reaction to being stared at by twelve insightful, knowing, sort-of-smiling, black-and-white, female writers.

Here's an extract from my unedited draft:

I have done nothing
I'm innocent as a naked new-born
These thoughts are not mine
I read them in an Ann Enright story
A Paula Meehan poem
A Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill translation.
I try to exorcise them
Every morning, every bed time
In vain.

This is not me
Just a made-up set-up
Jumped-up male stereotype
Wishing he was somewhere else.

I miss my father's overcoat.

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