Thursday, September 15, 2011

Cork International Short Story Festival Day 1

So, I'm here in Cork, again, at the Cork International Short Story festival (formerly the Frank O'Connor International Short story Festival) and I am just so happy to be here! To be amongst like-minded short story folk, listening to amazing writers read their stories and talk about stories - til Sunday night - is just, for me, sublime.

The festival kicked off with the wondrous Helen Dunmore, here she is. (I forgot to take my proper camera, tomorrow's pics will be better, I promise!)

She read a story from her collection Ice Cream,  called The Polish Teacher's Tie, which I had only read a few weeks ago. It was lovely hearing her read it. Just lovely. And she talked about what it was like to win prizes... and not to win prizes! We had a very nice chat afterwards - she is dashing back to Bristol tomorrow, which is a shame, but  - SPOILER ALERT - she is going to be the guest on the Arvon Foundation short story course I am co-tutoring with Adam Marek in Nov 2012, so I just wanted to introduce myself, say hi. I tried not to gush too much! She and I expressed our dismay at the BBC Afternoon Reading cuts  (check out Wrath of God's latest blog post for more on that).

I was thrilled to finally meet my online friend and fabulous writer Ethel Rohan, who is reading at the festival on Friday - originally Irish, she now lives in San Francisco. We have published each other - I chose one of her stories when I edited Southword and she asked me to contribute when she was guest editor at Necessary Fiction, so it is just great to finally meet her and once again have that wonderful experience when an online acquaintance is just as great - if not more so - in person!

And then... the final readings of the evening, by Orfhlaith Foyle and Peter Murphy, Irish writers who knocked me - and the rest of the audience, I think - sideways with their astonishing prose. I felt flattened, in the best way, by their dark and powerful stories. Just astonishing. Seek them out! (You can read an interview with Orfhlaith on Nuala Ní Chonchúir''s blog here.)

Then we, as tradition dictates, retired to the local tapas bar to unwind. I am still wound though! Too much stimulation. Okay, must muster my strength for tomorrow. Check out the Cork International Short Story festival website to see what's in store...


mel u said...

I was happy to be one of the first book bloggers to post on Orfhlaith Foyle's new collection of short stories, Somewhere in Minnesota. I was overwhelmed by the power and beauty of her stories.

Tania Hershman said...

Hi Mel, well, the two excerpts she read last night were truly stunning and now I have a signed copy of the book! Can't wait to read it... Thanks for stopping by.

Anonymous said...

What a blissful day... thinking of you all :)

anilbalan said...

Will definitely check this out next time!