The acclaimed Armagh-based John O’Connor Writing School and Literary Arts Festival enters its third year with a packed three-day programme featuring international class poets and song writers, prose, stage and screen writers and how-to-write experts, including Martin Lynch, for drama and poetry lovers. There is even a session by leading PR man Joris Minne for those in small businesses, art groups and charities who want to learn how PR works and how to write press releases.
An additional dimension to the Writing School which runs from November 1 to 4 and is funded by the Arts Council for Northern Ireland and Armagh Banbridge and Craigavon Council, is a parallel Arts Festival of staged drama, lectures, talks, and music.
Roger McGough, the “patron saint of poetry” and Robert McCrum, associate editor of The Observer and legendary literary critic are joined by a cast including celebrated Indian author Namita Gokhale who founded the Jaipur International Festival in India.
William Crawley who presents BBC Northern Ireland’s Talk Back will be in conversation with literary figures and a much-anticipated visit by deputy director of the British Museum and former Faber & Faber publisher Joanna Mackle who was responsible for the writers such as Kazuo Ishiguro, Harold Pinter and Seamus Heaney puts her on stage in an interview with Robert McCrum.
Robert said of the John O’Connor Writing School that he had never seen such depth of intellect, humour, enthusiasm and organisational ability displayed by a festival in its early years.
Dr Damian Smyth, Head of Literature, Arts Council of Northern Ireland says he is impressed by the success of the school.
“Public funding has helped attract exceptional writing talent from home and abroad to form a festival parallel to the great work of the writing school. John O’Connor’s writing deserves to be celebrated. In its time, it demonstrated how vibrant and creative a place Armagh was and the festival in his name strengthens that legacy today. The Arts Council is delighted to support the programme through its National Lottery funding because it helps build and sustain another asset for culture generally and for Armagh City especially.”
Mayor Councillor Julie Flaherty of Armagh Banbridge Craigavon Council says: “We are honoured that the City of Armagh can pay tribute to the talent of John O’Connor by offering a diverse and unique mix of courses, talks and projects to encourage the next generation of writers.”
School and festival director Cathy McCullough says the three-day event is innovative and exciting and promises to deliver real skills to enrolled students, and a Literary Arts Festival programme that is sure to appeal to all tastes.
“We are delighted with the strength and calibre of the participating writers and in particular we want to warmly welcome Namita Gokhale whose work on the Jaipur Festival is an inspiration,” says Ms McCullough.
“There is a sense of practical application being taught at the school and while there are those who might consider enrolling just to enjoy the high-quality company and erudition of the tutors, there will be inevitable benefits for those who are more focused on becoming writers themselves.”
The writing school will be hosted in various historic locations around Armagh including libraries, hotels, bars and restaurants.
A full programme and more information on the John O’Connor Writing School and Literary Arts Festival 2018 is available on www.thejohnoconnorwritingschool.com.