A lovely new anthology was launched in the Cervantes Institute in Dublin on Wednesday.To The Winds Our Sails: Irish Writers Translate Galician Poets, edited by Mary O’Donnell and Manuela Palacios, (Salmonpoetry) offers introductions to the work of 10 Galician poets – all women – and the twelve Irish poets who have translated their work into English and Irish.
In her introduction, Mary O’Donnell writes about the extent to which Irish poets have become ‘accustomed to being the focus of literary research and scholarship from abroad’. When she went to Galicia in 2006, to give a lecture on Irish women writers, she became curious about the ‘dearth of information and interest in Ireland regarding Galician poets.’ This anthology is the wonderfully constructive outcome of that curiosity, a collaboration between Mary O’Donnell, the Galician academic Manuela Palacios, and the inimitable Jessie Lendennie at Salmon – not to mention the poets involved, both Galician and Irish.
Speaking at the launch of To The Winds Our Sails, Michael Cronin carried Mary’s observation a little further, remarking on a narcissistic trend in Irish literature, whereby we accept international interest in Irish literature as our due, but do not reciprocate that interest to anything like the same degree. He also remarked on how any debate on the EU focuses on financial, economic and political dimensions but rarely includes the literary, and never extends to an exploration of how European literatures might influence us, as opposed to the other way around.Of course individual writers engage with international literature, but in a broader cultural sense, I think this observation is depressingly close to the truth – apart from the odd festival here and there – and is certainly worth thinking about. I’d love to be wrong, so if anyone reading this feels motivated to correct me, go ahead, be my guest. With examples, please.
In other news: the Dublin Writers’ Festival begins on Tuesday, 1st June and runs until Sunday 6th. The conversation between Tom Murphy and Conor McPherson (in the Abbey @ 4 pm on 6th) has been billed as a memorial event for Eithne McGuinness, who died after a short illness last December. Eithne, a playwright, actor and short fiction writer, worked on the festival for several years.
Some events have already booked out, so what are you waiting for? For more info, go to:http://www.dublinwritersfestival.com/