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UBC Reports | Vol. 47 | No. 16 | October 18, 2001

Eight Irish bards featured in week-long mini-festival

by Michelle Cook staff writer

"Irish writers learn your trade," urged William Butler Yeats.

For a week this month, the UBC community will have the opportunity to meet some of Yeats' compatriots who have taken the great Irish poet's advice to heart.

Eight eminent contemporary Irish writers, scholars and literary critics will read from their work and discuss their writing as "writers in residence" on campus from Oct. 22-27.

The group, which includes Ulster poets Michael Longley, Gerald Dawe, Paul Muldoon and Ciaran Carson, novelist Dermot Healy, critics Robert Welch and Edna Longley and playwright Thomas Kilroy, belong to a generation of writers who came to literary maturity in the 1960s and '70s.

Muldoon is currently the Oxford Professor of Poetry at Princeton University, considered the top position of its kind in the world.

"These are writers who have learned their trade, but are still writing, publishing and achieving their laurels," says English Prof. John Wilson Foster, who organized the Irish group's visit to UBC.

"Their visit will be an opportunity to hear their poems spoken. We've also invited writers to talk about their work in a cultural context, including the climate of civil unrest in Northern Ireland and the literary creativity it has produced."

Foster, who is the 2001 Peter Wall Institute Distinguished Scholar in Residence, had the idea of bringing Irish writers to campus when friend and poet Michael Longley recited a poem at Foster's Vancouver wedding which kept the guests spellbound.

English Dept. head Prof. Sherrill Grace says UBC's international reputation in Irish literature and studies makes it a natural destination for some of today's most acclaimed Irish writers.

"We're always interested in bringing writers to campus," says Grace. "Students don't always realize its timeliness, but it's important for young people to see that literature is a living thing in the world, that it's not dead.

"When they meet living writers from their own country and others, they are exposed to what's happening in the world -- history, politics, racism, tolerance -- the basic issues that are an important part of the learning process."

Event sponsors include Green College, the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies, Dal Grauer Lectures, and the British Consul.

More information

Call Foster at 604-822-0203, the Peter Wall Institute for Advanced Studies at 604-822-4539 or visit www.pwias.ubc.ca.


Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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