Listowel Writer’s Week, Blogging & Paul O’Mahony

First things first, everyone should read Paul O’Mahony’s description of recent events at the Listowel Writer’s Week over at the excellent blog of the festival which he runs in conjunction with Patrick Stack: Listowel Writers’ Week Fringe

The core of his narrative is this section:

I was on my way out of the Michael Hartnett memorial event at about 2.15pm on Sunday when a cross woman came up to me. She demanded ”Have you recorded that session?”

“Yes”, I replied gently – but my heart was starting to beat strongly as I experienced the woman’s anger, the rage on her face.

“Who gave you permission?”

“No one.”

“You are a disgrace. You had no right to do that” – the woman was very agitated and I was nervous.

She reached over and gripped my arm. “How dare you.” Her grip felt fierce. This was in front of at least twenty people including Christopher Reid & Anthony Cronin. I had never met the woman before.

“I’m from the Writers’ Week Committee for 23 years. You are a disgrace. You are not welcome in Writers’ Week.” I felt in a difficult situation: she would not let go of my arm.

Paul is calling for an apology and an assurance that non-one else will be treated in such a fashion again;

I do want an apology. I feel I’m entitled to a public apology from the whole Committee of Writers’ Week – because I want to be assured that the official view and style is completely different from what I was subjected to. I ask the Chairperson of Listowel Writers’ Week Michael Lynch to make this clear in public not for my benefit but for the sake of others in future.

Just to be clear, if Paul didn’t have permission to record the event then his actions, however well intended, were wrong. Both the poets and the owner of the property have the right to prevent him recording. He ought to have sought express permission.

But the reaction to his recording was hugely disproportionate. A quiet request to erase the file or to secure retrospective permission would have been more appropriate.

Paul has never and will never seek to profit from it, his goal is simply to share the experience and help promote the festival online. His fringe blog has been one of the few ways people could track what is a publicly funded festival on a daily basis without attending (something not everyone can do). It is manifestly A VERY GOOD THING for the festival, the poets, the writers, the attendees, those who couldn’t attend and the wider arts community in Ireland and online.

In an age where the greatest danger to artists is not piracy but obscurity, bloggers like Paul should be encouraged by festivals and supported by writers.

I’ll be sending an e-mail to the committee to that effect later today.
Eoin

Defying Empire: Trading with the Enemy on Colonial New York

Eoin Purcell

Great books deserve better reviewers than I
So I was recently sent a review copy of Thomas M. Truxes’, Defying Empire: Trading with the Enemy in Colonial New York which was published by Yale University Press in 2008. Needless to say I completely failed in my mission to read the book and write a review in any kind of decent timeframe.

But I did read it and it is wonderful. The book covers a fascinating period in Colonial history when the British Empire was fighting a war with the French Empire and American merchants were intent to benefit from the trading opportunities despite the heavy presence of British soldiers and the fact that in name at least they were engaged in treason.

A book that creates and sustains a brilliant portrait of 18th Century New York and brings to life the intriguing political and mercantile world of that city under British rule. Well worth reading, 7 out of 10.
For some more detailed review on the book, try here, here, here or here.
I also decided to try something I have been toying with for a while, a video review. It is my my first such effort and is decidedly patchy, but here, in honour of along delayed review it is.

I hope someone enjoyed that!
Eoin