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Silver Branch Poet for January 2021

I’m delighted to have some of my work featured as Black Bough Poetry’s Poet of the Month in the Silver Branch Series.

The series is curated by Matthew M.C. Smith, poet, and editor of Black Bough Poetry, a project which promotes imagist micro-poetry.

Silver Branch showcases the work of a poet whose poems have appeared in a Black Bough Poetry publication. In my case:

Moon, Landing – Black Bough – Issue 2 (Apollo 11 edition)

Thaw & Quite All Right, Thank YouDeep Time (volume2)

Freedom  in the imminent Freedom / Rapture issue

Alongside these are 5 other poems. Plus a pair of poems – Triptych and Three Stones – inspired by images: respectively, a painting by Matthias Grünewald and three photographs by the writer and photographer, Phil Cope.

The photograph that heads this post is Winter Branch © Phil Cope. The magical Silver Branch of Celtic story ensures entry to the Otherworld. It’s something both natural and wrought, like a poem.

 

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 Nations

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

On ‘Your Place And Mine’, BBC Radio Ulster

It was lovely to have this [click here to listen Interview with Anne Marie McAleese ] on Your Place And Mine BBC Radio Ulster 7th November. This long-running and much-lauded series focuses on place. We talked about the role of place in my short story collection A City Burning.

I read an extract from the story Coasteering in which a middle-aged woman and her Ulster Scots-speaking coasteering instructor venture far out along the coast at twilight:

‘Dinnae ower-think it!’ Alec urged, and then repeated himself….

I loosened the cuffs of the waterproof jacket that added a layer to the battered old wetsuit he’d provided. Seawater gushed out past my wrists. I poised myself, leapt − an un-timeable gap − and was smothered in crashing bubbles and noise and resistance, then broke upwards into air and the push and pull of the sea. This was what I’d wanted, to be out beyond the little beaches and rock-strewn shores; to be out of my depth but safe; to be gripped by the sea’s power but not at its mercy. I respect the sea. I fear it…. Continue reading On ‘Your Place And Mine’, BBC Radio Ulster

Interview with Seren Books on ‘A City Burning’

As her debut short story collection A City Burning, is published, we interview Angela Graham to find out more about the book and what inspires her.

In the twenty-six stories in A City Burning, set in Wales, Northern Ireland and Italy, children and adults face, in the flames of personal tragedy, moments of potential transformation. On the threshold of their futures each must make a choice: how to live in this new ‘now’. With a virtuoso control of tone, by turns elegiac, comic, lyrical, philosophical, A City Burning examines power of all types. The result is a deeply human book full of hauntingly memorable characters and narratives.

What is the meaning behind the title A City Burning?

In the opening story, ‘The Road’a young girl witnesses her city blazing. She understands that this is a sign of the collapse of the status quo, of all the usual certainties. She is confronted with the need to react to this new situation. What values should guide her in this choice? I realised that this story encapsulates the theme of many stories in the collection – witnessing major change and having to work out a response. It seemed a fitting title for the book.

Belfast on a November evening

Continue reading Interview with Seren Books on ‘A City Burning’