On Saturday, 5 February 2016, I attended the Melbourne launch of Yeats 150, a book of essays and poems celebrating the 150th anniversary of the birth of the great Irish poet William Butler Yeats. The event was held at that renowned Melbourne literary venue Collected Works Bookshop and the book was launched by Hon Luke Donnellan M.P., a lover of Irish literature and friend of the editor Declan Foley. The launch speech paid homage to Declan’s efforts in promoting Yeats in Australia and overseas. In response, Declan gave a wide-ranging talk about Yeats and the various family members who influenced and supported the great poet in his endeavours, much of this knowledge previously being unknown to many in the audience.
Dedicated to Seamus Heaney, the book is divided into a number of sections including Academic Essays; The Plays; The Yeats family; Scholarly Essays; W B Yeats Poetry Prizes; and, appropriately, the town of ‘Sligo’ (influential for Yeats’s development), by Sligo natives and visitors to the International Yeats Summer School.
Contributors include former Yeats Summer School Directors Helen Vendler, Denis Donoghue, James Pethica and Ann Margaret Daniel, as well as Patrick J Keane, Deirdre Toomey, Yeats Annual editor Warwick Gould, publisher Colin Smythe, professor and director of Otago University, New Zealand, Peter Kuch, Tokyo professor Tomoko Iwatsubo, biographer Ann Saddlemyer, and critics Lucy McDiarmid and Martin Mansergh. I am thrilled to be included in such illustrious company with a personal essay about my own experiences at the Summer School in 2009.
For those Yeatsians amongst you, copies of the book can be obtained at Collected Works if you live in Melbourne or through Book Depository.
In even more exciting news, I have been accepted for another residency at Stiwdio Maelor in Wales. My residency will be split into two parts, the first from early September 2016 to early October and the second from early November to sometime in January 2017. During the intervening period, I intend to visit friends in Wales, Scotland, and England and conduct more research for my novel. I also plan to visit family in Washington, USA, on my return flight.
Last week I finished my second draft of the novel (which currently stands at 154k words), but the story and the writing still have a long way to go to match my vision for the book. Thus, the residency will be a chance for me to spend undistracted time on the project, with the aim of creating a completed draft that I can submit to publishers. As I did with my previous trip, I will blog about my experiences over there, specifically the three W’s: Writing the novel, Walking the landscape and practicing my Welsh language. (I know, I know, I still haven’t finished the last trip L I plan to do so as soon as possible.)
I am enormously grateful to my wife Jo for encouraging me to take this time off to write, research and visit friends and family. I couldn’t do this without her support. In all likelihood, the trip will be my last solo escapade in Britain. The next time I go it will be with Jo, so we can share the places we both love, both in the UK and over on the continent.
Some of you might remember that in 2015 The Morning Bell crew interviewed me about my last trip to Wales. Early this year they invited me back, this time to talk about how some literary writers are adopting genre conventions for their own use. We based much of the conversation on The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro. Also, during the podcast we discussed the latest Star Wars film, The Force Awakens. If you are interested in either of these topics, you can listen to the podcast here.
That’s it for now. As always, I hope you’re enjoying these posts and I welcome any comments.