Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Report on Bantry Literary Festival 2013

by Cecily Lynch

Bantry was resplendent in tropical sunshine.  People  rejoiced in the sizzling heat, went boating and swimming, entered the forests to cool down.   The literary festival was enhanced by this Mediterranean  atmosphere.

We sank gratefully into the library for the talks and into the cool and darkened hotel conference room for the evening lectures. 

Mervyn Bragg's talk was very touching and humane.  He read from his latest book, Grace and Molly.  I admired his frankness and pride in his roots in  a working town in northern England.

I particularly admired the Bantry Writing Circle's  readings, which were of a professional standard and their play which was most entertaining and comic, catching as it did the humour of the West Cork people who consider food and hospitality as the most important element in  dealing with any  crisis, be it cancer, imprisonment or death.

CNFWG presentation at Bantry Library.   Photo © Marie Guillot

The Cork Non-fiction Writers' presentation was a great success.  Victor explained very well what happens in our circle, ably helped by Marie.  Most members at the workshop had a chance to speak and give their opinions, showing participation in the discussion.  Interest was expressed by people attending the workshop  in setting up their own writing circle in their local libraries, thereby showing that the presentation was a success.

The morning talks in Bantry House were delightful. The sun beamed  as the pretty lady who sailed all the oceans in the world to highlight the spoilage of the seas by pollution, spoke about the narrow escapes she had  as her yacht was caught in storms.

Readings in the library were outstanding, especially those of Claire Kilroy who caught the dialogue of country dwellers perfectly and with trenchant humour.

The final offering was the 'Literary Tea', where Rumor Godden's eldest daughter spoke movingly about her mother's life in India after her husband left her to bring up two children on her own.  The British colonial period in India was evoked very lovingly and touchingly.

The 'Reality Show' of critiques of pieces of writing done by three working editors of publishing houses, pulled no punches.  If they thought something would not sell, they dismissed it.  Literary merit did not count. But that is reality -  real life publishing indeed, and  not for the squeamish.

'Open mike', held late at night, produced astonishingly original work.

After this feast of literary delights, I made my way to the beautiful, remote and spectacular Beara peninsula  to mull over and read  the new material. The dolphins frolicked off-shore, perhaps enjoying their own kind of  festival.

Cecily Lynch, 

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