Dystopian times breathe new life into the monsters we create

The comics were an instant success across the French speaking world, and widely translated. yet somehow they are there.” The use of place names in the poems – Sheffrey Wood, Cong, Rossanrubble – brings a particular Irish flavour to their cadence, but Ron Rosenstock captures equally barren sites in Iceland and Maine that draw a similar attention to the “flotsam & jetsam of past lives”. The ‘Doctor’ of the title, “the universal weaver”, wants to give birth to new life but refuses to credit his creation as a living thing. When it originally appeared in 1966, in a limited edition of 15 copies, Speeches for Doctor Frankenstein was a celebration of the printed book as artefact. The books have long been coveted items among collectors, achieving a mythic status despite the fact that the poems were made available in pedestrian format in Atwood’s 1968 collection, The Animals in that Country. ADVERTISEMENT The juxtaposition of image and text reinforces the essence of Doctor Frankenstein’s true discovery: that monsters are, as Atwood explains in a short introduction, “what we make of them, they mean what we say they mean”. Flashes of skull and teeth The stark imagery of the poem, which begins in Doctor Frankenstein’s clinical laboratory and ends in the Arctic landscape of ice and snow, contrasts with Pachter’s amoebic images and colour schemes, which have a bloody, foetal aspect to them. Rosenstock’s images are drawn from a portfolio of empty landscapes: the rush of water upon a ring of stones, an uprooted tree, the finger of a ruined castle pointing to the sky. In the wake of the recent American elections, dystopian fiction has seen a surge in popularity, in particular classic titles of the genre,such as Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World, George Orwell’s 1984, and Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, whose vision of a world in which abortion is illegal had uncanny resonance with many of the debates that have dominated the early weeks of Trump’s presidential term. Having spent my teenage years, reading and rereading the crisis faced by Atwood’s Handmaids and her Unwomen, this month I turned to her poetry for consolation, in particular Speeches for Doctor Frankenstein ($9.99), a collaboration with illustrator Charles Pachter. The portrayal of Russian Bolsheviks may still be politically sensitive, but Donald Trump might want to consider having a look at Tintin’s findings as he continues to court favour with Russia. Originally drawn …

Harold Evans on Donald Trump and the free press

“It’s a blind man going along trying to feel his way, because he’s got fake news, he’s got Zuckerberg and he’s got Rupert Murdoch. In the face of aggressive legal tactics by Distillers, the company that owned the drug, and indifference from politicians and the rest of the media, Evans exposed the truth about thalidomide’s origins and forced the company to properly compensate its victims. My suggestion is that Mr Zuckerberg should make a bequest of exactly half of his fortune and it should go to various organisations so we can disseminate news without having to rely on Facebook and fake news, because there’s no monitoring system there,” he says. It might happen if he wins a second term because he might go a little bit wilder,” he says. Well f**k you, look what you’ve got now: you’ve got fake news. “There used to be a lot of left-wing exultation that we don’t have gatekeepers any more. In his 2009 memoir My Paper Chase, he sounded optimistic about the future of news in the digital age, as news organisations exploited new distribution systems to reach readers. “The reason we need reporters is that there’s a more likely chance of a good reporter finding the truth than a commission of inquiry.” Forced out Evans moved to the US in the early 1980s, after he was forced out of the editorship of the Times by Rupert Murdoch, becoming part of New York’s most celebrated media couple with his wife Tina Brown. “Facebook has taken the revenues, making tons and tons of money, at the same time depriving the press of its traditional source of revenue from advertising. You can’t be an investigative reporter unless you begin with a recognition of ignorance instead of a recognition of arrogance. So the traditional press, with editors and scrutiny – check that fact and if you get a name wrong you’re in trouble – that’s something important and valuable.” ADVERTISEMENT Online subscriptions Evans draws some comfort from the surge in online subscriptions to serious newspapers such as the New York Times and the Washington Post following Trump’s election. During the late 1960s and early 1970s Evans and his team uncovered the truth about thalidomide, a drug prescribed to pregnant women in the early 1960s, which caused children to be born with malformed or missing limbs. Why Writing Well Matters coming out in May. It’s not going …

Best new Irish writers: Hennessy Literary Awards shortlists, 2017

And tonight Galway University alumni will gather to present their award for outstanding contribution to literature to McCormack, a longstanding teacher of fiction at the college and now director of its BA in creative writing programme. Her poetry has been published in Crannóg and her fiction has appeared in various anthologies. “I wrote about many of the most pressing topics of the day, including Why I Hate Cliff Richard (sorry Cliff) and Why Kylie and Jason Exist. For me stories usually start out as a clear voice. After being dropped by the crisis-ridden Irish Press, in 1988, it was revamped under my editorship at the Sunday Tribune. It’s not unusual for writers to find publishers almost as soon as their first work appears in New Irish Writing. Caravaggio’s painting The Taking of Christ fed into this mood of a dark fate, and along with it came the idea of betrayal.” Rachel Donohue was shortlisted for the Hennessy First Fiction Award in 2013 and the Hennessy Emerging Fiction Award in 2014 THE JUDGES Mike McCormack Mike McCormack has been on a rollercoaster of acclaim since his virtuoso third novel, Solar Bones, the story of a dead man returning to rural Mayo on All Souls Day, was published last year by a small independent Dublin publisher Tramp Press. One of them, Pat McCart who edited the Derry Journal, offered her a fortnightly column at the age of 12. He was awarded the Keats-Shelley Poetry Prize in 2015 Una Mannion Crouched Burial “The summer I was 15 a child’s body was found in our field in Culleenamore, in Co Sligo, where there is an extensive oyster midden along the bay. Let’s begin with Sebastian Barry – a penniless 23-year-old Sebastian Barry, that is, in a tiny room in Paris in 1979, writing and rewriting a story he had no idea was any good and somehow finding enough courage to send it to David Marcus at New Irish Writing. Her short fiction has been published in the Incubator and will appear in the Stinging Fly later this year Paul Duffy When the World Was Soft “This story is rooted in the concept of dying abroad. She was named Young Journalist of the Year in 2004 and at 29 won the Betty Trask Award with her first novel, Scissors Paper Stone. I bought Doc Marten boots with purple laces with my first cheque. A measure …

From the archive: Not a bridge too far for intrepid reporter

“It’s going to be called…” But at this point, Fleming continues, “a loud female voice breaks in: ‘Omar, Omar! But isn’t that Omar Sharif? If The Irish Times’s Lionel Fleming – who had covered the Spanish Civil War, reported from Ghana and worked for the BBC – was miffed to find himself despatched to the Burlo to churn out a couple of hundred words on this bizarre event, he didn’t show it. One of those international experts was Omar Sharif, star of Lawrence of Arabia, Dr Zhivago and Funny Girl, and also one of the world’s highest-ranked contract bridge players. ADVERTISEMENT Come over here a minute, Omar! “Now, Mr Sharif, when are you going to act in another film?” he asks. Instead he produced a mischievous gem of a piece, casting himself in the role of intrepid reporter attempting to conduct an interview in the face of PR chaos. ‘I doubt if the game of bridge has ever before been given so much attention in Dublin,” begins the article which accompanied this photograph. “Oh, quite soon, some time during the spring, I should think,” is the star’s reply. Dr CC Wei’s Precision Club had arrived in Ireland for a two-day series of matches at the Burlington Hotel which would pitch its international experts against Ireland’s top bridge players. Nor did anyone seem to think it strange that a man renowned for his on-screen elegance would wear quite such an unfortunate shirt/tie/suit combo. You may be thinking: bridge? It appeared on the front page of The Irish Times in February 1973, and it was written by one Lionel Fleming. Bridge was indeed the main topic at hand. And what does the lady in the riding-hat have to do with it? But the photo captures the impromptu mayhem of a time when PR events were much less stage-managed than they are now. They want another picture.’ “ The story doesn’t explain why Mrs Deirdre Sheehan, of Newry, Co Down, is in full showjumping fig.

Derry and ‘We Shall Overcome’: ‘We plagiarised an entire movement’

“That piece of audio contains all the noise and atmosphere of the day. “I was listening to it on my phone, and the idea of the sound viewed as a waveform came to me.” The finished artwork, which has been named after the song, is a reproduction of the digital pattern created by the song, cut into a series of weathering-steel panels and displayed along the side of the building. Morris wanted it to echo the wooden fence that once stood where the artwork stands today, as well as a rubble barricade that blocked Rossville Street, nearby; he also intended it to evoke the barbed wire, burnt vehicles and broken paving slabs of urban conflict. ‘I remember, at the age of about five, standing in the Diamond in Derry and hearing people singing We Shall Overcome. It was a defining moment in Irish history – and it is this moment that has provided the inspiration for a new artwork outside the Museum of Free Derry, which tells the story of the civil rights movement and Bloody Sunday. “It came from a recording of the crowd singing We Shall Overcome on Bloody Sunday,” says Locky Morris, its creator. It was sung in a very gentle but very determined way, and, even as a child, I remember the hairs standing up on the back of my neck.” At the time Tony Doherty, a writer, had no idea of the song’s meaning – or of its new significance as part of the growing campaign for civil rights in Northern Ireland. Within hours 13 marchers had been shot dead, and the body of one of the victims, 17-year-old Hugh Gilmour, lay covered with the bloodstained banner of Derry Civil Rights Association. As people took to the streets in 1968, they carried the song and its message of defiance with them. In those few moments in time there was a seismic shift in the whole history of this city.” It became the anthem of the civil-rights movement, and four years later, on January 30th, 1972, it was We Shall Overcome that echoed through the Bogside as anti-internment marchers protested against the soldiers who had blocked their path. ADVERTISEMENT For Morris the artwork’s multiple meanings are all drawn from the 21-second recording. Inside the Museum of Free Derry That year we had people in Derry from the ANC and a number of veterans from the black-liberation …

Poetry: O Halloran’s Fort

ADVERTISEMENT That morning we woke at dawn, with no delay, each to a station. When noise went up along the road we knew the party was approaching down the slope, a procession, bailiffs on horses, soldiers and policemen, a great crowd of onlookers, dog roses in bloom and wild woodbine, foxgloves shedding their tresses. The path was clear from the beginning.           “The place drifts away,           like a wounded ship           and my face is suspended in darkness.”                                   Mohammed Ahmed Bennis We disappeared into the house – built with our own wit, two-storeys backed to the hill, cradled in ash trees, the holding handed down for centuries – deep inside: stone walls, tongue-and-groove floors, and slated roof. All June we were its eyes and ears – drew water from the pump in gallons, filled pots and churns, came and went by a plank, through an upstairs window, new door, for walking into summer, hay saved in the meadow, bog irises in bloom amid rushes, groves of whitethorn and willow. Her collections include The Invisible Threshold (2012), Suntrap (2007), the blue globe (1998) and This Hour of the Tide (1994). Windows and doors were battened tight with logs, the eastern gable with clay, our peaceful fort, ready for storm. Her next collection will be Daughters of the House. An hour we held fast, against them. No living here, for many of us. In the silence after, I listened to swallows nested in the eaves, time to take with me, moorhens in the callow, flocks of starling making a breeze at dusk in the air above our heads. Catherine Phil MacCarthy received the O’Shaughnessy Award for Irish Poetry in 2014. From Migrant Shores: Irish, Moroccan and Galician Poetry, edited by Manuela Palacios (Salmon, 2017). As time wore on, loud cheers from those who climbed the ditch and stood on boundary fences grew deafening.

In a Word . . . Fiction

But of course, if you did, Sean Spicer would tell the dishonest media that the sea retreated before you as it did before Moses. Command that it be a leap year to mark that momentous moment. I know. Almost. Fiction, meaning “something invented” from Old French ficcion, itself from the Latin fictio, from fingere, meaning “to shape”. Of course you love women. “Misos” means “hatred” and “gyne” means “woman’ in that ancient classical tongue. You’d never be so foolish as old King Canute? You may even get there yet. Is it, secretly in your case, the sincerest form of flattery towards your Muslim counterparts? Misogyny is from ancient Greek. It’s a language, now extinct except for textbooks and fossils like myself who were taught it in school and forget it now. I promise. ADVERTISEMENT How about an executive order this weekend to mark that, commanding that the first 28 days of March this year, next year, and in 2019, fall on the same days as February? To date. Make an exception for 2020, when your first term ends. Now, even in these Trump times, it reads: “Time and tide wait for no one.” No sexism there. Time and tide wait for no man, the saying goes. It’d be as silly as O’Bama. You’d be on safer ground with time, I suggest. No. Imagine that! Then the world will witness how even time itself bows before you. Yep, it seems you are a hater of women. Still, it would be better to keep cameras away. So they say. Won’t tell anyone. No misogyny there, Donald, ya hear! It’s not a sexual technique. Didn’t mean to bring that up. Sorry. It doesn’t refer to an Irish girl. You’ve had three wives. And, lo, it will be the case. inaword@irishtimes.com Not anymore. For example, and between us, each date in this month of March 2017 will fall on exactly the same day it fell last month, your first full month in office. Is it imitation? It’s why you’ve had just one wife short of the four allowed by Islam. You’d never go down to the sea with a gun in your hand and warn the incoming tide to advance no further? It’s not Ms O’Gyny (whoever heard such a name?), but I’m not surprised you asked. The sea can be unruly even before great powers. And, no.