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UL/Frank McCourt Summer School, New York, June 2017

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UNIVERSITY OF LIMERICK/FRANK MCCOURT CREATIVE WRITING SUMMER SCHOOL, 2017. GLUCKSMAN IRELAND HOUSE, NEW YORK UNIVERSITY, JUNE 22nd to 25thSPONSORED BY SHANNON AIRPORT

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Shannon Airport and the University of Limerick have teamed up to present the 2017 Frank McCourt Creative Writing Summer School at NYU’s beautiful Glucksman Ireland House, 22nd – 25th June. Study writing in a fun and relaxed atmosphere with bestselling authors Joseph O’Connor, Donal Ryan and Sarah Moore Fitzgerald, poet Mary O’Malley, UL professor Eoin Devereux and others. Speaking from New York about the Summer School, Loretta Glucksman said: “It’s our joy at Glucksman Ireland House to help link Frank’s two cities, Limerick and New York. He remains beloved in both.”

Welcoming the announcement of the 2017 programme, UL President, Professor Don Barry remarked: “The UL Frank McCourt Creative Writing Summer School in New York links two literary worlds – on the banks of the Shannon and the shores of the Hudson – that fired our much-missed Frank’s imagination. The very promising 2017 programme will draw on his unique legacy to inspire new generations of creative writers”.

UL Professor of Creative Writing, Joseph O’Connor, added: ‘The Summer School offers a taste of Creative Writing as we teach it at UL, with the emphasis on enjoyment, collegiality, mutual respect and love of words, in a community of writers working together. We hope the fine range of authors we’re offering this year will make it an experience to remember.”

Highlights will include readings by JOSEPH O’CONNOR, broadcaster, playwright and author of eight novels including the million-selling ‘Star of the Sea’. Booker Prize-longlisted DONAL RYAN, author of ‘The Spinning Heart’ (recently voted Irish Novel of the Decade) will reveal the secrets of writing captivating short stories. Acclaimed Young-Adult author and UL professor SARAH MOORE FITZGERALD will outline those essential motivational and time-management tools that all writers need.

Celebrated Irish poet, MARY O’MALLEY, will offer exciting sessions on ‘Poetry and the City’, focusing on the streetscape of the Lower Manhattan/Greenwich Village where the Summer School has its base, and the counterculture of downtown NYC provides a vivid context for PROF EOIN DEVEREUX’s talk on long-time New York resident David Bowie.

KERRY NEVILLE joins us as this year’s special guest. Teacher, Huffington Post contributor and award-winning short-story writer (‘Necessary Lies’), Kerry is a dazzlingly talented wordsmith whose take on the creative process in our contemporary era is fascinating. Writer in Residence for the Summer School, DARRAGH McKEON, author of acclaimed debut novel ‘All that is Solid Melts into Air’, will be on hand to offer advice, answer questions, give his insights over coffee, share perspectives and respond to students.

Our Guest of Honour, ELLEN FREY McCOURT, Frank’s wife, remarks: ‘Three cheers to Shannon Airport Authority for continuing their enlightened support for the ambitious UL/Frank McCourt Summer School in New York.  In one divine stroke they have enabled the two things Frank loved most—teaching and writing.  Thank you also to Joseph O’Connor and his UL colleagues for putting it all together with NYU (Frank’s Alma Mater) Glucksman Ireland House and the Irish Arts Center. Frank would feel triply blessed.”

The Summer School is open to application from everyone, whether resident in New York or willing to travel from Ireland. No previous writing experience is required, but willingness to prepare for the programme is a must. Price $300/$200student/unwaged.  Numbers are strictly limited, so book early to avoid disappointment, at http://frankmccourt.ulfoundation.com/

Details/informal enquiries: ULNY@ul.ie   Press Queries: joseph.oconnor@ul.ie or eoin.devereux@ul.ie

 

It’s almost here! The Ogham Stone 2016 is on its way…

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Launch of The Ogham Stone 2016 is only weeks away. We’ve had a sneak preview of the final draft and it looks incredible.

Expect amazing art, stunning stories, memorable memoirs and perfect poems, with contributions from Jenny Belton, Nickolas Butler, Elaine Gaston, Colum McCann, Paula Meehan, Joseph O’Connor, Mary O’Malley and Peter Robinson.

Details of when and where you can get your copy of The Ogham Stone 2016 coming very soon!

Colum McCann Update!

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Because of strong interest we have moved our guest speaker, Colum McCann, into a larger venue for the public interview at UL this coming Wednesday, 5th November, at 5 pm.

It will now be taking place in Lecture Theatre KBG 12 in the Kemmy Business School. We hope to start promptly at 5 pm. All are welcome. Come if you can. Bring a friend or colleague. A reception will follow the interview.

Hope to see you all there!

Truth, Fiction and my Grandmother’s Diary

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4892370217_0ee2dee629_zThe truth is a strange thing in fiction. We students of the MA in Creative Writing are becoming familiar with the idea that fiction needs to be more believable than reality – that grey, unfathomable world.

I imagine most writers see the fictional world as superior to the real one. We are closer to our characters than to the people we touch and see. Fiction’s truth comes from empathy; whereas reality’s truth comes from fact and we would much rather empathise than be knowledgeable.

And, of course, every act of writing is an act of fictionalizing – that passing through language into the world of subjectivity. And this is the main reason truth eludes not only fiction writers but everyone who speaks or even sees; all of us subjecting the world to interpretation: passing it through the medium of language and the soul.

But that does not mean we don’t owe a duty to the truth, or at least to the capital ‘t’ ‘Truth’ when we are writing fiction.

It is (actually) easy to dismiss reality when you hear about the man who woke up at his own funeral or when the woman next door has a baby without ever knowing she was pregnant or when you run into your first cousin walking down the street in Kolkatta. The joke: “you couldn’t write this stuff!” becomes mantra, because the reality is simply not that believable.

But the best writers haven’t lost sight of truth and are not afraid of it, no matter how ridiculous it is. They know how to tell all of it and tell it slant.

My grandmother always kept a Diary. Sometimes an entry would just be a word or two: “Mary’s debs” and other times there would be a full entry recounting a day trip to Dun Laoghaire, the first day of a new job, thoughts, feelings, hopes for the future and so on. It’s not always proper to read someone’s (secret! shh!) diary but I do remember sitting in my Grandmother’s living room once and she had her hands folded on her lap as my aunt read out an entry where her daughter moves to France. We were wide-eyed with intrigue; pleased to be included in this secret world. And my grandmother didn’t mind much, all those years later.

And the intrigue that most people have for these (secret! shh!) documents made me think about the truth and the ways in which we release our private little truths. Because I think diaries are important. I think they can help us unravel our confusion about the world. And I think people don’t keep diaries enough these days. We are consuming media at an extreme rate: we blog, we create profiles and persona and characters for ourselves. We instagram our photos and filter them and fictionalize our lives. But we are losing touch with the things that bring us close to who we are.

Writers who keep diaries know themselves. They write the truth about themselves in ugly ways. Anyone who’s ever written a diary entry will know how it feels to read back years later and cringe. But the cringe factor is invaluable when it comes to fiction. Writers who keep diaries write fiction which expresses an intangible truth; a cringey truth; a truth which makes readers say things like: “is this about you?” which, no matter how frustrating, is a huge compliment.

~Niamh Donnelly

Colum McCann Due to Visit UL

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81FuRfDpc+L._SL1500_Creative Writing at UL and Narrative 4 present

IMPAC AWARD-WINNING NOVELIST

COLUM McCANN

Author of Let the Great World Spin

INTRODUCING NARRATIVE 4 IRELAND

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

5pm – 6pm

Millstream Common Room, University of Limerick

with

JOSEPH O’CONNOR: UL Frank McCourt Chair in Creative Writing and Honorary Member, N4

Narrative 4 (N4) is a global organisation that fosters empathy by breaking down barriers and shattering stereotypes through the exchange of stories. Headed by the world’s most influential artists, educators, students and community advocates, N4 is committed to developing the next generation of empathetic leaders and citizens.

Originally founded by over 100 writers from around the world, including Michael Ondaatje, Gabriel Byrne, Ian McEwan, Sting, Chimamanda Adichie, Michael Cunningham and Edna O’Brien. The organisation is based on the simple idea that by knowing the story of another, we are able to better understand each other. When listening to stories, we suspend argument, engage our emotions, and, walking in the shoes of another, experience compassion.

N4 currently promotes stories as an agent of change and a framework for understanding by:

  • Creating a working arts leadership network by regularly convening a diverse group of authors and other advisors who are leaders in their field to exchange ideas
  • Offering N4 designed and supported accreditation workshops in order to effectively roll out the Narrative 4 model internationally
  • Presenting story-based art experiences direct to the public(during literary festivals, author events, writing workshops, songwriter performances, and more)
  • Partnering with N4 advisors, community leaders and humanistic organizations from around the world to create a “boomerang” effect, presenting their work to audiences everywhere, while extending the work of N4 to their communities

Please join us for a reception and public interview with Colum McCann at the Millstream Common Room, University of Limerick, Wednesday November 5th, 5 pm – 6 pm.  [rsvp to claire.ryan@ul.ie by Monday 3rd November]