Cork International Short Story Festival

Folks, I am obviously terrible at this being up-to-date thing, but I thought I’d still say a few words on here about the Cork International Short Story Festival that took place in September, between the 12th and the 15th.

I was lucky enough to be invited to read from The Proverb Zoo. The event was in Cork’s central library, which meant a lot to me, in that the place is a little the ground zero of my writing career*. I used to live across the river from the library, and I spent a good few hours in its warm, well-lit interior. And it’s at the festival that I first heard people talk about writing, and in particular about short stories. I attended it a good few years, volunteered for it once. So, yeah, it meant a lot to participate as a writer.

There were loads of great short story writers. Highlights for me were Welsh writer Carys Davies (who writes some pretty striking historical stories), and Ben Marcus (US). I read his The Age of Wire and String a few years ago, a crazy little collection that reads like an encyclopedia of a world both familiar and a little (a lot) off. At the festival he read a brilliant story from his brand-new book Notes from the fog.

Events I regret missing were Irish writer Mia Gallagher and Helen Oyeyemi (UK), whose works are well worth checking out.

All in all, a brilliant festival to attend for short story lovers who are not to far from Cork, or can make their way there somehow.

 

*

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Free online fiction writing course from the University of Iowa

How Writers Write Fiction 2015's Logo

How Writers Write Fiction, a free online course hosted by the University of Iowa, will be on from September 24th to November 24th:

“How Writers Write Fiction 2015 will be taught in English as follows: each week, instructors Merrill and Flournoy will post a new video class. In this video class, they will introduce two or three short video lectures given by successful authors of fiction. Featured authors will include Venise Berry, Edward Carey, Horacio Castellanos Moya, Bernice Chauly, Susan Taylor Chehak, Boris Fishman, Angela Flournoy, Paul Harding, Boaz Gaon, Andrew Sean Greer, Naomi Jackson, Leslie Jamison, Mamle Kabu, Jonathan Lethem, Margot Livesy, Stephen Lovely, Peter Orner, and Douglas Trevor, among others. Each week, the video class will be followed by a set of fiction-writing assignments based on the topics these authors presented in their lectures. These assignments will invite you to write fiction, post your work to the MOOC website, and engage in community feedback with your fellow writers. Supplementary readings will also be posted for your exploration.”

I did the Poetry one last year (or rather I tried to – I didn’t catch all the video, didn’t do all the assignements) and it was quite interesting. I’ll try to do this one seriously this year!

The return of the Penny Dreadful

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After a great launch in Cork last Friday, the Penny Dreadful will be in Dublin on Friday 25th. I’ll be reading along with  Eilean Ni Chuilleanain, Eimear Ryan and Alan Titley among others. Put on your most dashing suit and come along! It’ll be in the Twisted Pepper (54 Middle Abbey Street) and will start at 8 – sharp! More details here.

Post-festival blues…

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The Cork International Short Story festival ended this Sunday. I was delighted to be a volunteer during the week-end, and got to meet great folks, and hear a lot of writers read and discuss their work. There were people whose work I knew, like Kevin Barry (if, you haven’t seen him read, wow : he brings such life and fun to his readings). There were writers I’d never read as well, but that I’ll definitely get into now. Lydia Davis and Nathan Englander come to mind in that category. Englander was here to receive the Frank O’Connor Award for his collection What we talk about when we talk about Anne Frank. I think everybody was blown away by his reading of the title story and the discussion afterwards. Man, the guy can talk (in a good way!).

Now it’s all over until next year, and it’s back to the day job, and I’m left a bit blue from the dullness after the excitement, but thankfully motivated too from hearing all these great writers. Pen, here I come!

Cork International Short Story Festival

Cork is more than ever the center of the world this week with the return of the Short Story Festival. There’ ll be great writers (John Banville and Kevin Barry are two I can think of), workshops on everything from writing short stories (taught by Nuala Ní Chonchúir and Éilís Ní Dhuibhne) and flash fiction (Tania Hershman) to turning a story into a song (with Cork’s own John Spillane). There will be as well the presentation of The Seán Ó Faoláin Prize and The Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award.

Among other things, I will be looking forward to the Short Story Showcase, which will gather organisations and magazines committed to promoting the short story in Ireland, and the discussion titled “Is flash fiction a true literary art form or just something for chancers?”

Get more info here, about the programme, prices of events (there’s loads of free ones too!) and workshops (never too late to sign up…)

See you there!