Friday, November 30, 2012

The Cork International Short Story Festival

 by Cecily Lynch      © 2012 

In the august surroundings of Triskel Christchurch, participants in the International Short Story Competition gathered to read their stories aloud to us, denizens of Cork. The audience varied from the teenage student to the portly professor in his eighties. The authors came from far-flung places such as Shri Lanka, New Zealand, Manitoba, Israel. They mounted to the stage, the lights dimmed, the mic was adjusted and it was take-off time into the unknown.

It was a magic carpet, bearing me to exotic places and emotionals depths. The authors read of strange lands, where whales basked, where special people rode the whales and so became leaders of their tribe. They read of love, loss and suffering, the basic motifs of humankind: fathers and sons, conflict and reconciliation, rebellion and freedom, and the approach of death.

The stage was like a United Nations conference:

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Importance of Being Joyce

 by Musetta Joyce   © 2012

I was living for nearly a decade in Sicily when I decided to try and get a job teaching at Messina University. Back then I had no idea of the extent of corruption in the institution. That knowledge was to come gradually, and the reason I did manage to get a job at all might never have happened if my mother had married somebody else.
    It was with the innocence of ignorance that I approached with awe the impressively ancient arched entrance of the university quad and asked a security officer where I could find the English Language department. He told me that a professor of English was just passing by.
I stepped in front of the tall thin man and introduced myself. (Married women don't change their original surnames in Italy.) If I had suddenly acquired a halo he could hardly have been more impressed.
'Your name is – Joyce? Are you by any chance a relation of the great writer?'

Monday, November 26, 2012

Seeking Wellbeing

 by E. Alana James, © 2012 
The Nature of Reality, and the Power of Pets

How do we go through life? Happy, eager, full of zest? Or perhaps stressed, challenged, or even, depressed? To what extent are these feelings within our control and, to the extent they are, at least partially, something we can change, how do we do it? What is the nature of our personal realities and what do we need to do to seek wellbeing?

Scenario: I'm typing away at my computer, in a mad rush because of a deadline. The next thing I notice (it's hard not to notice) is this huge black furry head with a ball in its mouth pushing my hands off the keyboard. Better yet, my dog Peter may have, instead of his ball, his rather ragged stuffed elephant. How can I resist?

"OK, OK just a throw or two!" Then of course, we must have the obligatory neck rub, which inevitably leads to his collapse on the floor to expose his tummy for a good rub there as well. Five minutes later he leaves me alone and goes back to his cushion in my office.

But wait? What has happened? I have a huge grin on my face as I get back to work. What has changed?