‘Outside and In’ : Three women at the Cúirt literary Festival 2010 .
In truth my visit to the Cúirt festival this year was brief; but I managed to attend the Town Hall Theatre to hear Joyce Carol Oates, Marina Carr (The Gallery Press 40th celebration) and on to Nuala Ní Chonchúir‘s launch of ‘You’ at the Dáil Bar , opposite Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop.
Nuala’s launch epitomised the way Cúirt used be, a pub corner had been requisitioned, a tab run up and Charlie Byrne’s staff brought in boxes of the novel, which the author signed for everyone present (more of that anon).
Joyce Carol Oates read from a New Yorker story called Spiderboy, whilst regaling the audience with tales of worried students who had thought her visit to Galway in the midst of the Volcanic ash crisis comprised a journey into the vortex riven with personal danger and who sought assurances that she would return to teach. She read a long tale about a young boy who had unwittingly procured victims for his senator father. ‘There are places where people just vanish’ , was the response when asked of the father where those boys duct-taped shoes or filthy shirts had gone, after the lost boys had been plied with beer or brought to over 18 clubs. The da had found a way to rid himself of what he considered to be human detritus. It was truly an artful and troubling tale.
Unfortunately Ms Oates did not speak afterward but welcomed meeting and signing in the lobby. Outside , an accident occurred and I watched as a man was intubated at the Franciscan Church, his wife making a wordless tableau of grief; and the hospital but yards away.
A brief interval later; and there ushered in the Luminaries of The Gallery Press, Tom Kilroy, Peter Fallon, Tom French and Marina Carr did brief readings from their plays, poems and works in Progress. Marina terrified me with an image that will stay with me, as a woman lay in her dying, a weird taloned scarecrow emerged from the wardrobe to take account of the Seeker, it drew blood from two wells in the woman’s body to fulfill her obligations to write the life and death of the woman. A midwife scene of such darkness and droll humour that It stays with me indelibly; and advised the Elizabeth Siddall Portrait that graces this page, by Leonard Baskin.
The stage of the Town hall Theatre felt populated with carnival grotesques as Marina’s deep voice rang through the silence of bluish, indigo and the myth took shape under her restrained body-language.
I waited for Kilroy’s Cromwellian work in progress before taking my leave to go to the Dáil Bar where a very warm and friendly gathering of people had arrived to celebrate Nuala’s Ní Chonchúir’s launch of ‘You’.
My inscribed copy formed a gift, so I shall just add a brief description of the wonderful reception, family welcome and lovely kids who played round as Nuala read strongly from her book. Little Juno played with my tickets and programme as soft rain began to fall outside, inside an ambient group enjoyed and bought many copies of the book.
Spiderboy, by Joyce Carol Oates
‘Woman and Scarecrow , Marina Carr.