Nominations have now closed for the Irish PEN Award. Thanks to all of you who took the time to nominate authors for the prestigious award to an author chosen by their peers, previous recipients of which include John B. Keane, Brian Friel, Edna O’Brien, William Trevor, John McGahern, Neil Jordan, Seamus Heaney, Jennifer Johnston, Maeve Binchy, Thomas Kilroy, Roddy Doyle and Brendan Kennelly. We are particularly gratified by the number of former recipients of the award who proposed nominations this year. The person chosen will be announced before Christmas and the award presented at the Irish PEN annual dinner early in 2011.
Speech by Chairperson Anne Le Marquand Hartigan at AGM Irish PEN 13th May 2010.
Good evening everyone, you are all very welcome. We have had a good year in Pen with many enjoyable and unique evenings with contributions from wonderful writers, but first, I must thank those who helped so much to make this possible. We are very fortunate to receive a small number of grants and are very grateful to the Arts Council who have given us a grant and will continue to do so this year which in the financial circumstance we are all the more grateful, although they have reduced the amount slightly. We thank Dublin City Arts for their continuing support which also means a lot to us. And may I thank the committee of the Arts Club here who allow us the use of this room and the bar, they are always helpful and we appreciate this comfortable and convenient venue. Our highlight of the year was of course the giving of the Irish Pen award for contribution to Irish Literature. This year the winner was the distinguished poet and lecturer Brendan Kennelly, and we presented this to him at our annual dinner. This was a sparkling evening. Brendan’s former TCD colleague Senator David Norris made the presentation for us with his usual brilliance, Brendan then most movingly showed his deep appreciation in receiving the award then gave us a magical recitation of poetry, interspersed with his great Kerry wit. All this happened despite the snow and cold in the hospitable Royal St George Yacht Club, and we thank them again for this wonderful facility. All of these things combined to make this a more than delightful evening. This leads me to mention that for the last two years we have not had a sponsor for our award, and we need one, Cross Pen generously supported this award for some years, this generosity we warmly appreciated. Now, however, we are looking for and needing a new sponsor, as our funds are small and limited, we would appeal to any member who might know a possible sponsor to let us know as we will be making an extra effort this year to find a new one. During the year we have had many distinguished and delightful writers reading from their work and discussing it, also panel discussions, and workshops dealing with all the various forms of writing from fiction,non fiction, humour, how to get published all beginning last May with Gerry Stembridge and Chris Binchy, in November we had a workshop on writing a successful novel with Patricia O’Reilly, also that month we had the pleasure and fun of having a conversation with Frank McGuinness who delighted us with his candour, his answers to questions were like his name frank and full of his unique creative energy. We also hosted Patricia Scanlon and Aidan Story, had a night for the Associate Members. We came towards the close of this year with the Great Debate, on the Arts and the Economy, the panellist included, Declan Kiberd, Arthur Lappin, Aidan Burke, Claire Doody, and Gerry Godley. It was a lively night with heated contributions from the floor. This just a taste of the many events that took place during the last year. Thank you so much to all these generous contributors. I would also add that we are in need of members subscriptions, we realise that hard times are upon us, but we do need your support to keep all these good functions going, thank you so much. Now I want to thank this wonderful committee, it is they who with great generosity do all the work, Dee Cunningham who acts as secretary taking all the minutes, Joe Armstrong who took great trouble setting up our web-site, Fr Tony Gaughan who is a long time member over the years and always helping on the committee, Catherine Daly who was such a dedicated Chairperson for the last few years. Caroline Brady thank you for all you have done, Fedelma Kelly who puts in such hard work and was such a help and support to me at the annual dinner, Mary Rose Callaghan who was there to help too, finally Marita Conlon-Mc Kenna, our present treasurer, who to our great regret is going off the committee this year. Marita is so knowable about PEN, has been Chairperson four times, and always full of energy and ideas. She sadly is retiring this year and personally I do not know what we will do without her, thank you Marita and all of the committee, you are all wonderful, generous and fun to be with. Thank you
Newsletter, Spring 2010
Irish PEN acknowledges the ongoing support of The Arts Council and Dublin City Council’s Arts Office.
OUT AND ABOUT IN 2010
When we emerged out of hibernation from the early January snow, it was great to have such a range of social events lined up.
January went out with a memorable bang, with the Annual Irish PEN dinner and presentation of The Irish PEN Award for Literature 2010 to Brendan Kennelly held on Friday 29that the Royal St George Yacht Club, Dun Laoghaire. The magical tone of the evening was set by the glorious full moon, which bathed the harbour and moored yachts in a glorious light, and ever the poet, Brendan Kennelly commented on the beauty of the setting, as he made his way out from Trinity to join us.
It wasn’t long before the room filled with well-wishers, colleagues and members, some of them old friends of Brendan’s. To those of us privileged to be there, the note of sincerity in all the accolades was set when our Chair, Anne Le Marquand Hartigan, introduced Brendan and his achievements to the gathering in warm and affectionate terms. Presenting the award, former TCD colleague and close friend, Senator David Norris was his usual effusive self and regaled us with tales of Brendan grading his essays, when the senator was an undergraduate and the poet his ‘prof’. In his usual extraordinary and humble way, Brendan Kennelly expressed his delight at being honoured by Irish PENand then to everyone’s delight recited several poems from memory, some by Patrick Kavanagh, followed by lines of his own. The hearty applause which ensued was prolonged and genuine and as several members commented, it was a ‘vintage’ evening, a privilege to share.
See Photos on www.irishpen.com.
In February,Our President, Brian Friel, saw his ‘Faith Healer’ back at the Gate and Edna O’Brien’s play ‘Haunted’ starring Brenda Blethyn, had a run at the Gaiety. Friel fans won’t have long to wait until that theatre lifts the curtain on ‘Philadelphia Here I come’, directed by Dominic Dromgoole, which will run from March 9th – April 10th.
Down the road at the National Library, Kildare Street, novelist and elegant octogenarian, Jennifer Johnston co-launched the exhibition of the original Lifelines’ letters, to mark the 25th anniversary of the project. The Library has purchased the collection and they make interesting reading.
FEBRUARY ASSOCIATE MEMBER’S EVENING
‘Finding a Home for your Writing’ – our Associate Member night this year was held on February 11th 2010 in the United Arts Club.
Our expert panel included, Eoghan Corry, editor of Travel Extra and travel correspondent to the Pat Kenny Radio show, Aine Toner, editor of Woman’s Way, and Sue Leonard, freelance journalist and author.
An informative and interesting evening, this helped members, in very practical terms with regards to how to submit articles to both Eoghan and Aine. From her experience as a journalist, Sue gave a realistic account from the other side of the submission process of how to find an idea, hone it, build business relationships and eventually get your pieces published. The wide-ranging experience of our panellists made the road home for your writing seem that little bit straighter.
Observant members will have noticed that our website, www.irishpen.com, has undergone something of a facelift. We are very keen to post information of interest to writers and members and keep it as live and up-to-date as possible. Log on to see news of recent events. Sincere thanks to Joe Armstrong for his work on the revamp. The really sharp among you will have also noticed a changed email address. The new address is: firstname.lastname@example.org. Over the coming months, we hope to use this address exclusively. For the purposes of database management, this is an impassioned plea to members to send us mail to our NEW address above, confirming their email, and postal addresses, marking the subject line ‘Full Member database’ or ‘Associate Member database’ as appropriate. In this way, we hope to be able to communicate more effectively with you all.
Please remember to renew your membership as we depend on the support of our members. Any outstanding memberships for 2010 may be paid by following the links on the website, www.irishpen.com.
Full Membership: €40.00 Associate Membership: €30 .00
There is a PayPal facility available.
CONGRATULATIONS to Leland Bardwell on being the first recipient of
‘The Dede Korkut Literary Award’, from Turkish PEN for her collection of short stories ‘Different Kinds of Love’, translated into Turkish.
Sarah Webb’s ‘The Loving Kind’has recently been published by Pan & MacMillan (see www.irishpen.com.) Marita Conlon-McKenna’s new book ‘Mother of the Bride’ about a big family Wedding was published on March 4th.
‘City Pick’ Oxygen Books will feature Dublinlater this month with an introduction to the fifty writers, who bring Dublin to life by Orna Ross.
Orna may also be found on The Creative Intelligence Blog.
Patricia O’Reilly’s latest novel ‘A Type of Beauty, the story of Kathleen Newton (1854-1882)’ will be launched at Listowel Writers’ Week, 2010.
About the complications of love, it is set in Victorian era London, Agra and Paris.
Shelley Goodman’s extensive work ‘Volf Roitman: The Wizard of Madi’, a long illustrated biography of her late husband, Roitman, a novelist, playwright, cineaste and master sculptor, will be published by Red Swan Press in the USA and in Italian, by the University of Florence.
Dublin Book Festival: Over 40 free events, 100 writers and three days of fun for all the family, Dublin City Hall, March 6th– 8th. www.dublinbookfestival.com.
Inkwell Workshop: Writing for Children Workshop, facilitated by best-selling
authors Sarah Webb and Oisin McGann, March 20th, Fitzpatrick’s Castle Hotel, Killiney, Co Dublin. 9 – 4.30pm, includes lunch, writers’ tips information pack. €175. For further information: Contact Vanessa O’Loughlin at email@example.com.
Words by Joe Armstrong, Photo by Caroline Brady
Brendan Kennelly is probably the best-loved figure in Irish public life, said Senator David Norris, speaking at the Irish PEN award ceremony on Friday 29th January 2010. He described Kennelly as one of the world’s greatest teachers. In a funny and entertaining speech that had the captive audience at the Royal St George Yacht Club laugh loud and often, he revered Kennelly for imagining himself in poetic form inside the mind of Cromwell, his nation’s bitterest enemy, and Judas. To the appreciation of those gathered, he quoted from one of Brendan’s acclaimed poems ‘I See You Dancing, Father’ which ends: ‘Whatever happens or cannot happen/In the time I have to spare/I see you dancing, father.’
He thanked Brendan on behalf of Irish PEN for all that he has done to enrich our lives. ‘You have been my teacher, my mentor, my advisor. It is a great privilege to be here presenting this award, in this most distinguished company of your peers, your fellow artists. It is appropriate that you should receive this. You are a brilliant poet.’
‘I can’t say how honoured I am. It’s an amazing award,’ said Brendan Kennelly of the Irish PEN accolade. He peppered his softly lilted twenty-minute speech with several recitations of poetry in English and Irish. He recited poems from memory, such as Kavanagh’s ‘The Dawning of the Day’ first in Irish and then in English. He recounted a tale of Kavanagh asking someone for a large whiskey and then a fiver. He then asked for another large whiskey and another fiver. He continued in this vein, requesting whiskey and fivers until eventually the other man said No and Kavanagh, twinkle in eye, called him stingy. All who heard Brendan speak and recite felt honoured to be there, privileged to share the moment. It was like what a sacrament is meant to be: a recreation anew of eternal truths of humanity. The priest: Kennelly. The liturgy: the poetry.
The Irish PEN Annual Dinner, and the presentation of the Irish PEN Award for Contribution to Literature to Brendan Kennelly, took place on Friday 29th January 2010 at The Royal St George Yacht Club, Dun Laoghaire, Co. Dublin. Senator David Norris made the presentation. For a brief report, see ‘I see you dancing, Brendan’ in the February 2010 Archives