A chance to support Dear Mr. Le Bon

Screen Shot 2015-04-23 at 19.23.06A friend of mine drew my attention to an interesting publishing project, which music fans may want to contribute to through crowd-funding.

Dear Mr. Le Bon is a proposed book made up of “letters to pop stars regarding their work from a retired member of the public with genuine replies from the artists themselves”. If this is something you’d like to read, you can support their efforts at the Kickstarter link here.

Derek Philpott and Wilf Turnbull, from Bournemouth in the UK, wrote to numerous musicians with friendly enquiries about their work.

The two lads had this to say: “Hello Everyone! We are both pensioners living in Bournemouth who write to popstars about their song lyrics, and they often reply. We also have animations on youtube which are very popular. It’s great to see popstars taking an interest in us ordinary members of the public! And, if you are in any doubt, please be reassured that all replies are totally genuine and are directly from the desks of the bona fide artistes themselves!”

There are a lot of artists involved, from Survivor to Slade, Edwyn Collins to Kaiser Chiefs.

The artists and the media have positive things to say about it, such as:

“It was most enjoyable to be involved in a letter that did not involve one of my ex wives’ solicitors” – Rick Wakeman

”Somewhere between Henry Root and John Shuttleworth – what a hoot!” Julie Burchill

”Now we have Wilf and Derek, two Bournemouth OAPS who write to pop stars old and new, taking them to task for their absurd lyrics. Follow their adventures” Bruce Dessau, Evening Standard

”Good luck, the both of you x” David Quantick

”Thanks for the brilliant work and for allowing me fence with such a formidable comic swordsman. Count me in for whatever helps the Grand Cause!!” Dave Was, Was Not Was

I love the feel of your jibe…Whatever you do will be creative and great. Hope I can help”..Chris Difford, Squeeze

This project will only be funded if at least £16,000 is pledged by Sunday, 3 May. Good luck to the chaps!

Cuisle Poetry Fest this week, Oct 15-19

Screen Shot 2014-10-14 at 19.12.58Beginning this Wednesday and continuing until Sunday is one of my favourite annual celebrations—the Cuisle Limerick City International Poetry Festival.

I really enjoy hearing good poetry read aloud. Reading poetry by yourself is one thing but listening to a poet reading their own deeply personal work adds another dimension to it and brings it to life. I’ve had the pleasure to be at excellent readings by Theo Dorgan, Paul Durcan and Jackie Wills as well as a particularly memorable event down at the Dance Limerick venue in St John’s Square with Donald Hall, Robert Hass and Penelope Shuttle.

Donald Hall, a one-time Poet Laureate of the United States, reading at Cuisle 2009.

Donald Hall, a one-time Poet Laureate of the United States, reading at Cuisle 2009.

This year Cuisle—which is organised by a dedicated volunteer committee—is celebrating its 20th anniversary with a special five day run, October 15 to 19.

The line-up of poets and speakers features “some of Ireland’s best-loved and most celebrated poets will join guests from sister festivals across Europe”. The list includes: Caleb Brennan, Paddy Bushe, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Tim Cunningham, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Veronika Dintinjana (Slovenia), Gerry Dukes, Tom French, Barry McGovern, Geraldine Mitchell, Conor O’Callaghan, Edward O’Dwyer, Iztok Osojnik (Slovenia), Sam Riviere, Shedman (John Davies from the UK), Bridget Wallace and Macdara Woods.

The festival includes writing workshops, an open mic night, special tributes to Samuel Beckett, and the launch of the annual Stony Thursday Book (this year edited by Peter Sirr). Tim Cunningham will also launch his new poetry volume. There is a substantial education programme, including readings and workshops for schools.

A composed Penelope Shuttle reading at Cuisle 2009.

A composed Penelope Shuttle reading at Cuisle 2009.

A special series of ‘Poetry in Public Places’ events honours Limerick City of Culture 2014. A Door Into The Dark features a dozen artists from Limerick Printmakers have responded to the work of poets who have read at the Cuisle Festival over the past 20 years. Lightboxes, theatrical sets, and text printed onto porcelain are only some of the methods used in this unique collaboration. Look for these along Patrick Street.

Ghost Sonata is a specially created work by Mark Whelan consisting of one long poem written on the windows of Roches Street. Read it together or read it in pieces. Each fragment resonates with its specific location, creating a special experience for each reader.

Poems on the Air is a collaboration with RTÉ Lyric FM, where recordings of poems by Cuisle Festival favourites will be played in various retail spaces throughout October.

Shedman will bring his famous travelling shed to Limerick. In his own words: “My shed is very accessible. Anyone can come in to tell me their shed stories, to bring anecdotes and poems, pictures and photos, recollections and fantasies.”

An animated Robert Hass reading at Cuisle 2009.

An animated Robert Hass reading at Cuisle 2009.

The poetry of Samuel Beckett is a special feature of Saturday’s programme. At 4pm, there will be a performance of Roundelay—a staged reading by the Fourfront Poets and at 7pm Gerry Dukes will deliver a talk on Beckett, followed by noted actor Barry McGovern performing Beckett’s poetry for stage. Gerry Dukes was a lecturer when I was a student in Mary I and he’s not just knowledgeable but quite entertaining as a speaker.

There are lunchtime readings on Thursday and Friday at 1pm (Sunday at 3pm) in the beautiful Captain’s Room at the Hunt Museum. Evening readings will take place at 69 O’Connell Street (former Belltable) on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday at 7pm.

All events are ticketed, on the door, at €5. For the complete schedule and more information, including bios and photos, see www.cuisle.org.

Events for young talkers and readers at Bualadh Bos

Screen Shot 2014-09-15 at 19.23.44It’s October and the leaves aren’t just falling but being blown off the trees. Running all this month, the inaugural Bualadh Bos Children’s Festival—organised by the Lime Tree Theatre—is getting into the swing of things.

There are lots of events, particularly theatre (read more here and here about the full programme) but also stimulating events that are designed to further engage little ones.

I’ve taken part and written about it for grown-ups but now Salon Du Chat is holding a children’s event for kids in fourth, fifth and sixth class this Saturday (Oct 11) from noon-1pm.

Salon du chat“In a world where children are told to be quiet and listen, Salon du Chat creates a place where children have their say.”

“The children are welcomed not into a theatre but into a cafe, for this event the gallery space at 69 O’Connell street is set up like a cafe.  They take a seat and are given a drink, a cookie, and a menu. But instead of ordering food they order conversation. Then for the next 30 minutes or so they chat their way through a meal that is all about talk. Salon du Chat creates an informal space for children to talk and listen to each other in a gently directed and unthreatening way. Sitting in small groups of 3–5 the children will have the chance to voice their opinion on topics that matter to them.”

It’s an interesting premise so if you have a chatterbox that age, or even a shy one who has a lot to say but needs an opportunity to express it, it might be a good way to pass an hour. The cost is €3 and includes a cookie and a drink. See www.salonduchat.ie for more deets.

I was a big reader (and writer) when I was a kid and Bualadh Bos has lots to offer in that area with author readings and workshops later in the month. All but one event (which happens to be sold-out) take place at 69 O’Connell Street (former Belltable).

On October 29, Sarah Moore Fitzgerald will give a workshop for over 12s called ‘Getting Started with your Writing’. From Dublin but living in Limerick, as a young child and in early adulthood, Sarah wrote fiction “constantly, furtively and under cover of darkness. Eventually, she came out as an author with the completion of her first novel, for yoReading-quotes-2ung adults Back to Blackbrick. Her second novel The Apple Tart of Hope was published in June 2014”. This workshop is open to all aspiring writers particularly useful for those writing for children and young adults.

On October 30, Andy Stanton eight to ten year olds are invited to a workshop withAndy Stanton, who is “the award-winning author of the Mr Gum series for a hilarious mixture of storytelling, mad jokes and true-life tales about being a writer. His mad wit is reminiscent of Roald Dahl and Monty Python and his crazy events are loved by children all over the world. Get ready to laugh your socks off—this is an event not to be missed!”

Also on October 30, ‘The Ideas Shop: Where Do You Get Your Ideas?’ for the over nines will take place with authors, Sarah Webb and Oisin McGann.

“The Ideas Shop is a very special interactive show presented by Oisin McGann and Sarah Webb, ideal for young readers and young writers. If you want to encourage your children or teenagers to think creatively, then this is the show for you!”

The first question writers are always asked is ‘Where do you get your ideas?’ Well, where do writers get their ideas? What inspires them to write in the first place? How do they create characters so real they practically leap off the page? Are any of their characters based on real people? How can young writers follow in their footsteps? And how does a book live on beyond the writer? During the show, the clever folk from The Ideas Shop will share all their writing secrets.”

Oisin McGann lives in Ireland and works full time as an author and illustrator. He has written and illustrated numerous books for young children, including the Mad Grandad series, The Forbidden Files series, and two short retellings of Irish legends, The Goblin of Tara and The Evil Eye. He has also produced seven Young Adult novels; The Gods And Their Machines, The Harvest Tide Project, Under Fragile Stone, Small-Minded Giants, Ancient Appetites and Strangled Silence, as well as his most recent novel, Merciless Reason.

Sarah Webb is the author of the Ask Amy Green series for readers of 10+. Her latest book is Ask Amy Green: Wedding Belles. Her books have been published in many different countries including the US, Poland, Italy and Indonesia. Ask Amy Green: Bridesmaid Blitz was shortlisted for the Irish Book Awards and Sarah is currently working on a new series for children called The Songbird Café Girls.

halloween-300x300As the spookiest time of the year approaches, Celine Kiernan will give a workshop for the over 12s on Halloween, Oct 31, called ‘Fantasy, Horror and the Supernatural: Why do we still love them?’

“For most of us today a flick of a switch can banish the darkness, and a quick internet search can reveal the science behind ‘supernatural’ phenomena. So why do we still tell ghost stories? Why do readers still hunger for monsters and aliens, when many of us no longer believe in god? Celine Kiernan explores her ongoing love affair with the fantasy genre, and tries to explain what she is looking for in her exploration of the supernatural.”

Celine Kiernan is an award-winning author of dark, complex fantasy novels for young adults. Her books, The Moorehawke Trilogy and Into the Grey have between them won: the 2009 RAI Best Book Award; been included in the White Raven Collection; short listed for the 2009 Irish Book Awards; won the 2012 CBI Book of the Year (formerly The Bisto award) and the 2012 CBI Children’s Choice Award; won the 2013 RAI Book of the Year, and been shortlisted for the Sakura Medal (English High) 2014.

Also on Halloween, author Darren Shan, “will be reading out some of the especially grisly passages from his books and answering questions from fans. All ages are welcome, but the content is most appropriate for teenagers upwards. Under 13’s should only come if they are VERY brave!”

Darren Shan was born in London but has spent most of his life in Limerick. His books, some of which include Cirque Du Freak, The Demonata and Zom-B have sold over 25 million copies across the world, in more than 30 languages.

Events involving the incredibly popular author, Judi Curtin, as well as as the puppet and book-making workshop have already sold out so get booking…no pun intended!

See the full programme at www.limetreetheatre.ie.

Bualadh Bos has other exciting events and I’ll do my best to post about others soon.

Browsing book covers and other procrastination activities

jwatersI went to a very interesting talk about book covers at the Ennis Bookclub Festival recently…yes, I am officially a massive nerd. I’ve previously written about my reading addiction and how much I love the library, so this revelation ain’t shockin’ anyone.

Moving swiftly on, the presentation, ‘Judging a book by its cover’ by John McMonagle was entertaining, as well as informative. As a graphic designer, he had some dos and don’ts of book cover design and took listeners through some of his favourites and what he felt were bad examples. Did you know a red cover apparently makes a book more saleable?

coverHe showed a lot of covers and spoke on them but chose this one for Stoner (see right) as his favourite.

John also mentioned a few websites/artists, which are worth a look. Firstly, Book Cover Archive has some a great stuff on it. It will really make you appreciate the art that is so commonplace and all around- on coffee tables, propping up furniture, teetering in dangerously leaning piles etc.

Cover Spy is a blog/website where book lovers report what covers they see readers perusing on public transport in the US and describe the people too. It’s seriously voyeuristic. I’d love to see an Irish version.

Nina Katchadourian is an artist and one of her projects is ‘Sorted Books’ where she finds books in a certain place etc and makes short poems out of arranging the spines in a certain way. The results are very clever (below).

A-Day-at-the-Beach

515j1-87XGL._SX300_Another artist who uses books as inspiration is Jane Mount who makes paintings/illustrations out of imagined bookshelves. She illustrated a book, My Ideal Bookshelf, featuring bookshelves of great thinkers and artists etc.  Some people say you are what you read. I have a big shelf just for my Stephen King volumes so answers on a postcard on what that says about me.

bemboszoo4John mentioned a few famous designers including Roberto de Vicq de Cumptich and he also uses typefaces to illustrate work, which is quite cool and very effective (see right).

I gather the festival was a success and when I grow up, I want to be in a book club.

All this book talk made something random pop into my head—‘The Boobs Song’ by Priscilla Ahn. It involves a hilarious anecdote about snooping on someone’s bookshelves…and kazoo solos. I mean what more could you want?!

PS: For all book/writing/poetry/theatre fans out there, the Cúirt International Literature Festival is on in Galway from April 8-13. I’ve been before (mostly for the theatre aspect) and it’s a bit of craic.

Work progressing on Kate O’Brien house

KOB house watchRenovations are progressing at the childhood home of famous Limerick writer, Kate O’Brien, with some more visible changes over the last fortnight.

Since I live nearby and pass regularly, I hated seeing Boru House go from a regal landmark to a house in a poorer and poorer state of disrepair.

 

Vandalism and minor fires made things worse and it seemed as if it would go to rack and ruin. I wrote about it several times in posts, here and here.

KOB house-bestIt was bought in January 2012 and soon after, the most obvious exterior revamp was the railings and gates being painted a dark blue—covering up the bright red. I also saw some work being carried out on the cornice on the imposing bay window. The newest additions are windows on the upper floors, which make a super change from the ugly hoarding. There is also work being done on the striking exterior stone masonry features and pillars.

KOB House-newIt was revealed in May in The Limerick Leader that the buyer was Ballysimon born businessman, David Maxwell Fitzgerald. Originally put on the market for €350,000 five years ago, he seemingly paid €80,000 for it.

Anyone anxious about the fate of Boru House surely breathed a sigh of relief when it emerged Mr Maxwell Fitzgerald is a former chairman of the local branch of heritage body, An Taisce and a long time member of the Georgian Society.

He said there is no rush to find the house’s purpose, “it will have a reason to be and we are engaging with some very interesting people on this”. He added that thankfully, the house was structurally sound and the roof was in a very good condition.

New insulation, replacing windows and doors and repairing damage is also on the renovation programme. I spotted some beautiful fireplaces through the windows and I have it on good authority that there are some great period features in the house. The 3,000 square feet includes seven bedrooms and four extra rooms in the attic.

It would make a lovely addition to the cultural offering here as perhaps a literary museum, library or writing centre. But whatever the purpose, I hope it will be used and/or lived in…did I mention I’m available as a house-sitter?! Annnnnyway, I look forward to seeing the activity continue and will apply my uncanny skills as a spy/stalker to keep readers updated.