A new chapter for Cork's Bradshaw Literary Festival

The Bradshaw Literary Festival runs in Cork over the next two days, until Nov 22.

It begins with the launch of Eurochild, the anthology of art and poetry by European children. This year’s edition of Eurochild is edited by writer-in-residence at Tigh Filí, Kathy Darcy, and former librarian, Eoin Hurley.

The venue for the festival is St Luke’s Church. Bradshaw Books, the publishing arm of Tigh Filí, is awaiting permission to move into the church, from its current home, Civic Trust House. A right-of-way dispute has delayed the move, but permission has been granted to Tigh Filí to hold events in the upper part of the church.

The main event of the festival is the launch by poet, Matthew Geden, of the 15th volume of the Cork Literary Review, edited by Eugene O’Connell. The book was published in May, but “issues with the printers meant that we only received the books in September,” says Bernie Greenan, publishing assistant and events curator with Bradshaw Books.

“The book is doing OK. We’re hoping that the launch will ignite some curiosity in it and that sales will increase,” Greenan says. The hardback is a labour of love.

“We’re in a non-profit organisation. Poetry is very difficult to sell. The Cork Literary Review does better than most books of its kind, because it includes articles and interviews, as well as poetry. This year’s edition has a ‘gathering’ theme, with contributions from writers connected to Ireland living abroad. There’s an interview with Thomas Kenneally (the Australian author of Schindler’s List, who has Irish ancestry). There’s a piece by writer, Caitlin Doyle. She’s American and writes about growing up in America, but with a strong connection to Irish literature, as her father was Irish.”

There will be readings from William Wall, Mary Noonan, Gerry Murphy and Sandra Ann Winters, who are among the contributors to the review. The festival also includes the announcement of the winner of the review’s manuscript competition for 2013. Last year’s winner, Annette Skade, will reveal the successful poet. The prize is the publication of the winner’s poetry in book-form, as well as a launch and inclusion in next year’s review.

Skade’s collection of poetry, Thimblerig, will be launched at St Luke’s. “It’s a great prize, because it gives writers access to a wider audience.” Joe Woods (former director of Poetry Ireland) has judged the competition, for which entrants submit eight to twelve poems.

Also at the festival, Chuck Kruger’s latest poetry collection, Puffs and Gusts, will be launched. There will be tribute to the late musician and writer, Tomás Ó Canainn.

Bradshaw Books survives through funding from the Arts Council, Cork City Council, and the Department of Arts. “We also apply to various other sources to get different types of funding. This year, we did a poetry tour around France and Germany, which was funded by Culture Ireland. But it is difficult. Most of our staff work for free. A couple of them are on community employment schemes. I was on a Job Bridge internship and, when that was over, I decided to stay on, working for nothing. There are four volunteer staff and various other people come in on a voluntary basis, when needed.”

Greenan, an unpublished writer, values the experience she is gaining at Bradshaw Books. She thinks the literary scene in Cork “is very lively. But I have one issue with it. Various organisations involved in literature need to have a stronger online presence, which might spur interest among people who wouldn’t normally be interested in literature and going to book launches.”

— Colette Sheridan


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