Culture Club: Longley Clan Celebrate All Aspects of Irish Writing
NORTH Down's Aspects Celebration of Irish Writing is in one way the curiosity on this island's literary landscape. Almost all other such events promote themselves to an academic and literary touristy audience through the device of calling themselves summer schools, The John Hewitt or the William Carleton summer schools for instance, to name just two of the three dozen which operate under this banner.
But Aspects, now in its 10th and successful year, remains, not an autumn school, nor a festival, but a celebration. So what are the redoubtable Kenneth Irvine and his team celebrating this year?
Top of the bill is no doubt poet Michael Longley (pictured in unchacteristically forbidding mode in the catalogue) whose mantelpieces in the Osborne Gardens house must be weighted down by now with literary awards, amongst them (for The Weather In Japan) the Hawthornden Prize, the TS Eliot Prize, the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry and last but not least his Belfast Arts Award for Literature. In addition, Aspects will show an exhibition of the works of artist Sarah Longley, Michael and Edna's daughter, whose brilliant charcoal drawings were a sensation during her first exhibition at Queen's University.
Indeed there's an added dimension to the presence of Longley pere, for on Thursday 27th, he is teamed with traditional musicians; the husband and wife team of Len Graham and Padraigin Ni Uallachain, Belfast novelist Glenn Patterson (Fat Lad, The International) took part in the first ever Aspects. Now a lecturer in the Creative Writing Department at Queen's, he makes a welcome return, launching the first night with Carlo Gebler, son of Ernest Gebler and Edna O'Brien. …