Yearly Archives: 2020

A Book of the Year – A City Burning

I’m delighted that two authors in The Lonely Crowd’s Books of the Year feature Part One chose ‘A City Burning’ as a highlight of 2020 – Jane Fraser and Kate Hamer

and that Jon Gower selected it too in his Books of the Year for Nation Cymru.

Books of the Year 2020: Part One

NATION CYMRU

Wales’ Books of the Year, 2020 – what have our contributors been reading?

Writing Today in Ulster Scots

My blog for The Irish Literary Society: irishlitsoc.org

Why is it so hard to find writing in Ulster Scots among contemporary publications? Has it gone for good or is it poised to make a come-back?

Up to the mid-twentieth century it was commonplace to find Ulster Scots poetry and prose in literary magazines or in newspapers but now it is exceptional. Although there is a body of Ulster Scots work appearing in specialist sources this work often deals with the past. In contemporary creative writing, Ulster Scots is all but invisible. A language without a lively, multi-genre, modern literary and cultural presence is one that is struggling. The degree to which Ulster Scots achieves such a presence is a litmus test of feasibility and relevance, even of its existence as a spoken medium.

In the last census in 2011, there was, for the first time, a question about capacity in Ulster Scots. Based on the census returns, the Ulster-Scots Agency states “there are approximately 140,000 people who have indicated some ability in Ulster-Scots.” However, the number claiming a capacity to speak, read, write and understand Ulster Scots is only 0.9 per cent of the population of Northern Ireland. The spoken language is under pressure and the gap between the spoken and the written word has been allowed to widen.

Ulster Scots is the speech that developed (or whose development intensified) as a result of the in-migrations of Lowland Scots to Ulster from the early seventeenth century…

Read the full piece here: https://irishlitsoc.org/writing-today-in-ulster-scots/

About: The Irish Literary Society

The Irish Literary Society was established in London in 1892, succeeding the Southwark Irish Literary Club. Among its founders were W. B. Yeats, T. W. Rolleston, Francis Fahy and Douglas Hyde and other leaders of the Irish literary revival. The Society was formally founded with Sir Charles Gavan Duffy as President, at the Caledonian Hotel, The Strand, 12 May 1892. Evelyn Gleeson was its first secretary.

Stopford Brooke gave the inaugural lecture to the society on “The Need and Use of Getting Irish Literature into the English Tongue” (Bloomsbury House, 11 March 1893 – its delivery delayed to allow for the start of the National Literary Society in Ireland). Although the business of the ILS has always been conducted in English the Society was influential in nurturing the revival of the Irish language by programming language classes even before the Gaelic League was formed in 1893. 

Next event 8 December, 7pm

7th Annual Yeats Lecture – 8 December 2020

 


Profile in The Irish Examiner of ‘A City Burning’

A very positive verdict in The Irish Examiner from  Sue Leonard

Short, sharp and sometimes shocking, these wonderful stories truly pack a punch.

Sue’s long-running weekly profile Beginner’s Pluck offers a snapshot of a new writer and their debut work.

There’s a strong theme of witness in these 26 stories, which are set in Wales, Northern Ireland, and Italy. The characters face different challenges, from a failed marriage to eulogising a hated terrorist, but each of them is at a moment of change, needing to reassess their beliefs, or image of themselves. 

In an enjoyable interview with Sue she asked what I would be ‘in another life’. To my own surprise I said I would like to be an expert ballroom dancer. That will surprise those who know me but it’s true! I don’t watch Strictly but, yes, sweeping rhythmically around a floor is the life I haven’t had… yet.

Review of ‘A City Burning’ by Prof Diana Wallace

Prof Diana Wallace researches women’s writing, with special interests in historical fiction; Welsh writing in English and Modernism and the Gothic.  She is co-director of the Centre for Gender Studies in Wales and Leader of the English Research Unit at the University of South Wales. Her review appears on the website of the Centre for the Study of Media and Culutre in Small Nations at the University of South Wales.

Centre for the Study of Media and Culture in Small Naitons

How can writers respond to sudden, even exponential, change? It can take a decade, as it did after the first world war or 9/11, for novels and memoirs to catch up as writers process traumatic events. And readers, time-pressed and battered by 24-hour news, may turn to genre fiction for the comfort of familiar plot lines and predictable endings.  The short story, on the other hand, can turn on a sixpence to give us a snapshot of our crises in real time. Compressed, intense, often challenging, some of the most powerful examples of the form have come from writers on the so-called margins: women, immigrants, people from ‘small nations’ such as Wales and Ireland.

Angela Graham’s assured and compelling debut collection, A City Burning, ranges across Wales, Northern Ireland and Italy. It offers 26 brief stories, most no more than a few pages (one a mere page and a quarter), which turn their forensic flashlight on a moment of change when a character has to make a choice. Continue reading Review of ‘A City Burning’ by Prof Diana Wallace

Introducing Angeline King at ‘Dusty Bluebells’ Launch

I was so pleased to be introducing Angeline King at the launch at Ulster University on 6th November of her novel, ‘Dusty Bluebells’. This is an important book in the history of writing in Ulster Scots – about which we heard more from the experts.

I met Angeline early in 2018 when I was looking for writers working in Ulster Scots while  I was researching for a novel I’ve since written about issues to do with language in Northern Ireland.

I was quickly impressed by Angeline’s particular type of intelligence. In our conversation she mentioned coming up against an obstacle of one kind or another in her creative life, as everyone does, but I noticed that, each time, she had analysed the situation and gone away to learn more about the elements involved and then returned, better equipped to tackle the issue. I noted that she regarded learning a foreign language in order to dissolve a barrier as something that was perfectly feasible. It just required application. She has a BA in French and History and an MA in Business and Applied Languages – French and Spanish –and she has also learned Dutch. Continue reading Introducing Angeline King at ‘Dusty Bluebells’ Launch