In Saturday’s Irish Times, leading writers and critics choose their best books of 2021. Reviewers are Marian Lyons on Imagining Ireland’s Pasts: Early Modern Ireland Through the Centuries by Nicholas Canny; Tom Hennigan on Elle Hardy’s Beyond Belief; Declan Burke and Declan Hughes on Best Crime of 2021; Helen Cullen on Laura Barnett’s Gifts; Donald Clarke on Will by Will Smith; Claire Hennessy on Wish You Were Here by Jodi Picoult; Paschal Donohoe on Time for Socialism: Dispatches from a World on Fire, 2016-2021 by Thomas Piketty; Sarah Gilmartin on The Love Makers by Aifric Campbell.
Rachel’s Holiday by Marian Keyes is this week’s Irish Times Eason deal. You can pick up the re-released classic for just € 4.99, a savings of € 5, when you buy The Irish Times at any branch this weekend.
Les Cigales d’Arne Weingart won the 2021 Moth Nature Writing Prize.
“Choosing a winner for the Moth Nature Writing Prize has been extremely difficult,” said this year’s judge, Helen Macdonald, herself one of the foremost nature writers.
Macdonald’s task was to choose an unpublished text that best combines exceptional literary merit with an exploration of the writer’s relationship with the natural world.
“The quality of the appetizers was very high. So many things I read moved me deeply, so many were both technically exceptional and lyrically beautiful. But this particular poem grabbed my heart and it won’t let go: it’s as brilliant, precise and perfect as the shell of an imago cicada, and its last verses brought tears to my eyes.
“For centuries, cicadas have been viewed as emblems of recklessness and immortality,” Macdonald said. “Where they occur, their weird and periodic mass emergencies mark the passage of time in our own lives. This poem is clever, surprising, quietly devastating; he talks about how we project our own lives into the lives of the creatures around us and how we see our own lives reflected on us from the natural world. Strange and rich and poignant, he walks with death, love and wonder. I am honored to have read it and delighted to present it with the award.
Weingart lives in Chicago with his family, where he runs a graphic design business. His poetry has been published widely in the United States and he won the Robert Frost Foundation Poetry Prize in 2019. His collections include Levitation for Agnositcs, winner of the New American Press Poetry Prize, and Unpractical Thinking, winner of the Red Mountain Press Poetry Prize. Weingart receives € 1,000 and a week at the Cercle de Misse, a retreat for writers and artists from the Loire Valley.
“I don’t see myself as a poet of nature,” says Weingart. “Any poem (and to make the obvious point, any work of art) aims to clarify something about how to be in the world. This is a problem designed only for human consciousness and clearly not for what we are used to seeing as nature. But we are in it and of it, conscious of it or not. We are both landscape and binoculars, spectator and watched. I try to write from this moving, unstable, vernacular happy medium, where the real and the figurative collide. It’s exciting to find an audience for this particular point of view, let alone win an award, have a nice handful of cash and a week in France. I am eternally grateful, however much of eternity I have left in me.
Cicadas appears in the winter issue of The Moth, alongside this year’s Moth Art Prize winner. The Moth’s Will Govan will interview Helen Macdonald at a boutique festival at Hilton Park in Co Monaghan, one of only four accredited wildlife estates in Ireland, on Sunday, December 5 at 3 p.m. Limited tickets are available here. theothmagazine.com
By Arne Weingart
Noon at the end of August and the cicadas are all singing
‘Louie Louie’ at the top of his lungs. They know it’s cold
and what it really means, like all seventeen year olds
you have already known or been. They also know, deep exoskeleton,
they have a maximum of six weeks to lose their insectival virginity and die.
How would you act if you had spent your first and your last
seventeen years buried in the mud? Looey Looayyyy,
Oh baby. Meanwhile, human adolescents continue to confront
the appearance of life forms newly emerged from the earth,
lively and slightly shiny, oddly dressed and doesn’t care anymore
to communicate in a language that we thought we had in common.
Some will mate successfully, others will die in blazing car crashes
graduation week, jumped on exotic intoxicants and endless potential.
It’s as seasonal as the flu. Most, however, will live to be thirty-four
and fifty-one and even sixty-eight before turning back, reluctantly,
towards the crust. I remember those desperate nights, don’t I? –
when we were neither tired nor resigned and full of crazy hope
for nothing we could have named but would gladly die for.
There will be a party at the Royal Irish Academy next Wednesday, December 8 at 7 p.m. to celebrate the life and works of Jane, Lady Wilde known as Speranza, Irish revolutionary poet, talented translator, proto-feminist and very attentive critic and essayist. . December 2021 marks the bicentenary of his birth.
His great-grandson, Merlin Holland, will be in conversation about his legacy with Wildean specialist Dr Noreen Doody in a online event broadcast live of the academy. There will be an informal gathering at 11 a.m. that day at the Wilde family’s grave in the Mount Jerome cemetery to lay flowers in his memory.
The Linen Hall Library announced the winners of the Linen Hall Ulster-Scots Writing Competition at a special ceremony marking Ulster-Scots Week. The competition was sponsored by the Ulster-Scots Agency.
The first prize in the prose category went to Alan Millar for Sam an Jeck speel Parnassus tae see Rabbie Burns; the second prize went to Angeline King for Lang Toon Hotel. In the poetry category, the winners announced were: Angela Graham in first place for A Heerd tha Sodjer on tha Radio; and Gray Morgan in second place for The Confession. The winners received a check for £ 500 and the runners-up received a check for £ 250.
The competition was launched earlier this year to help people better understand the Ulster-Scots language, the role it plays in the lives of its speakers, and the place it holds within our community within the meaning large.
Entangled Life: How Fungi Make Our Worlds, Change Our Minds and Shape Our Futures by biologist and writer Merlin Sheldrake won the Royal Society’s annual science book award.
2021 Jury Chairman Prof Luke O’Neill FRS, Professor of Biochemistry at Trinity College Dublin, Ireland, said: “Entangled Life is a fantastic tale of the mushroom world, which to the uninitiated may seem not very promising as a subject, but one that Merlin Sheldrake brings to life in the most striking way. We’re learning all kinds of interesting things about fungi, from how they helped plants colonize the earth (which means without them we wouldn’t be here) to how they form huge networks allowing trees to communicate (in the form of the “Wood Wide Web”), to the stories of mushroom lovers, how mushrooms could help save the planet by digesting plastic, and even how they can manipulate our minds. It is scientific writing at its best, which once again underlines how so important the scientific method is in our effort to understand the world around us. Tangled Life is an important, scientifically rigorous and above all entertaining read.
The Irish Writers Center celebrated its 30th anniversary with the launch of a new website and video that reflects the organization’s contribution to the Irish writing landscape over the past three decades, featuring IWC Ambassadors Anne Enright, John Banville and Ciara Ní. É, with board member and writer Chandrika Narayanan-Mohan and director Valerie Bistany.
The full video is available to view here. Enright notes that “writer’s ambition runs in generations and groups and tribes”, advising that those “seeking their tribe” should seek the Irish Writers Center, and observing that the strong tradition of Irish writing operated by “mysterious interconnections”.
Bernardine Evaristo became the first writer of color and only the second woman to be named president of the Royal Society of Literature, succeeding Marina Warner.
Evaristo, who won the Booker Prize for Girl, Woman, Other, said: “I am deeply honored to assume the role of the new President of the Royal Society of Literature. Although founded 200 years ago, the company boldly embraces the 21st century as a great champion of the possibilities of a more egalitarian culture for literature. Storytelling is ingrained in our DNA as human beings – it is sewn into the story arc of our lives, it is in our relationships, desires and conflicts, and it is the lens through which we explore ourselves. and understand ourselves and the world we live in. .
“Literature is not a luxury, but essential to our civilization. So I am so proud to be the figurehead of such an august and strong literary organization which is so actively and urgently committed to including the widest range of outstanding writers from all demographics and geographies of Grande. -Brittany, and to reach marginalized communities. through literary projects, including introducing school children to some of Britain’s greatest writers, who visit, teach and discuss their work with them. I look forward to the next four years as a leading figure in such a wonderfully impressive organization. “
Waterstones named The Lyrics: 1956 to the Present by Paul McCartney, as Waterstones book of the year 2021. Over a period of five years, McCartney worked with Irish Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Paul Muldoon to edit their conversations on his songs in accompanying commentary.
“The lyrics are incredibly beautiful and a masterpiece of book design, a true joy for bibliophiles,” said James Daunt, CEO of Waterstones. “Paul McCartney has shaped, through the explorations of his songs with the poet Paul Muldoon, a fascinating glimpse into his life and his creative genius. “
Muldoon said: “Working with Sir Paul on this project has been a blast from start to finish. Glad to think readers can have fun now. I myself am happy to see that the more serious side of the business – rightly acknowledging Paul McCartney as a literary figure – is itself recognized. “
Julia and the Shark by Kiran Millwood Hargrave and Tom de Freston has been selected as the Children’s Gift of the Year 2021 by Waterstones.