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HoCoPoLitSo’s guest for its 40th annual Irish Evening on February 9, 2018 is the award-winning novelist and short story writer Mike McCormack, whose latest novel is a tour-de-force in a single sentence. McCormack’s reading will be followed by new and traditional Irish music by Narrowbacks featuring Jesse and Terence Winch, with stepdancers from the Culkin School. Irish coffee, Guinness and other beverages and snacks will be offered for sale beginning at 7 p.m. and during intermission.
Mike McCormack’s most recent novel, Solar Bones, won the 2016 Goldsmith’s prize, given to fiction with “qualities of creative daring,” and was longlisted for the 2017 Man Booker Prize. The book, which takes place in the mind of a middle-aged Irish civil engineer, has little punctuation and no chapter breaks, and Goldsmith’s chair of judges Blake Morrison said of the book, “its subject may be an ordinary working life but it is itself an extraordinary work.”
The Guardian subtitled their review “an extraordinary hymn to small-town Ireland.” The Times U.K. named Solar Bones one of the best fiction books of 2017 and noted that the novel, “follows meandering memories of his wife, his adult children and his work; these simple materials make for a beautiful and strangely compulsive read.” The Wall Street Journal also listed it as one of the best new books of 2017. Former Irish Evening guest novelist Colum McCann wrote, “With stylistic gusto, and in rare, spare, precise and poetic prose, Mike McCormack gets to the music of what is happening all around us.”
In 1996, McCormack won the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature for his first collection of short stories, Getting It in the Head. His novel Notes from a Coma was shortlisted for the Irish Book of the Year Award in 2006; in 2010, John Waters of The Irish Times described it as “the greatest Irish novel of the decade just ended.” Val Nolan noted in an article in Ariel (April 2012) “McCormack’s fiction is cerebral and often surreal, depicting a west of Ireland that moves beyond narrow, realistic interpretations and into spaces that exist outside of government and history.” McCormack has also published the novel Crowe’s Requiem (2012) and a short story collection, Forensic Songs (2012).
McCormack joins the long list of illustrious Irish authors HoCoPoLitSo has brought to Howard County audiences, including Frank McCourt, Colm Tóibín, Anne Enright, Colum McCann, and Emma Donoghue. For 40 years, HoCoPoLitSo’s Irish Evening has celebrated the substantial impact of Irish-born writers on the world of contemporary literature. The evening program begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Smith Theatre of the Horowitz Center for Visual and Performing Arts on the campus of Howard Community College. General admission tickets are $35 each; available on-line at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/3099986 or by sending a check and self-addressed envelope to HoCoPoLitSo, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, Horowitz Center 200, Columbia, MD 21044. Each ticket purchased by January 15, 2018, includes a complimentary adult drink.
HoCoPoLitSo works to cultivate appreciation for contemporary poetry and literature and celebrate culturally diverse literary heritages. The society sponsors literary readings and writers-in-residence outreach programs, produces The Writing Life (a thirty-minute writer-to-writer talk show), and partners with the public schools and cultural organizations to support the arts in Howard County, Maryland. For more information, visit www.hocopolitso.org.
Click here to download a pdf of this press release.
Wrap-up your holiday shopping at smile.amazon.com/ch/52-1146948 and Amazon donates to Howard County Poetry & Literary Society.
HoCoPoLitSo’s guest for its 37th Annual Irish Evening is the international best-selling and award-winning author Emma Donoghue. She will read from her work starting at 7:30 p.m., February 6, 2015, at the Smith Theatre, Horowitz Center for Visual and Performing Arts on the campus of Howard Community College.
General admission tickets are $35.00 each and are available on-line at irishevening.eventbrite.com or by sending a check payable and mailed to HoCoPoLitSo, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, Horowitz Center 200, Columbia, MD 21044.
Donoghue, called “one of popular fiction’s most talented practitioners” by Kirkus Reviews, and a writer with “ingenuity” by the New York Times, will read from Room and her other novels. Donoghue’s reading will be followed by Narrowbacks in a concert of traditional Irish music with stepdancers from the Culkin School.
Donoghue has published eight novels and several pieces for radio, stage, and screen productions. Collectively, her works have won the Lambda Literary Award, the Stonewall Book Award for Literature, the Ferro-Grumley Award for Lesbian Fiction, and the Rogers Writers’ Trust Fiction Prize. A film adaption of Donoghue’s heavily praised 2010 novel Room is currently in production, with director Lenny Abrahamson and Brie Larson set to star. Donoghue has also been in close running for the Giller Prize, the Man Booker Prize, the Governor General’s Award, and the Orange Prize.
The Narrowbacks features Terence Winch on button accordion, Jesse Winch on bodhran and guitar, former Irish Tradition member Brendan Mulvihill on fiddle, Linda Hickman on flute and whistle, and Eileen (Korn) Estes on lead vocal and piano, who is the daughter of original Celtic Thunder lead vocalist Nita (Conley) Korn. Band members play a full range of traditional Irish reels, jigs, hornpipes, polkas, slides and slow airs. They will also sing a variety of songs, including original compositions.
To be displayed during the event is Denny Lynch’s photographic exhibition, ‘The Carrolls of Offaly and Maryland, A Photographic Essay,’ a series of photographs that came about from Lynch’s fourteen-year study of the history of the Carrolls. Lynch has said of the exhibit, “This exploration gave me the opportunity to photograph beautiful landscapes, castles, towns, and monuments associated with this family on both sides of the Atlantic.”
Donoghue follows other great Irish authors who have come to Howard County, including Frank McCourt, Eavan Boland, Hugo Hamilton, Paula Meehan, Colm Tóibín, Anne Enright, and Colum McCann, to name a few. For years, HoCoPoLitSo’s Irish Evening has recognized and celebrated the enormous impact of Irish-born writers on the world of contemporary literature.
With the winter that has been upon us, a warm, spirited evening is what we seem to need and you’ll have just that this year on March 14th, HoCoPoLitSo’s 36th Annual Irish Evening.
You who love literature, music, and art are invited to hear the beautiful cadences of not only one but two wonderful Irish poets Paula Meehan (Ireland’s Professor of Poetry) and Theo Dorgan (O’Shaughnessy Prize, BBC Radio) as they read their work and pay tribute to the late great Seamus Heaney, followed by the incomparable Irish music of Narrowbacks, featuring All-Ireland fiddle great Brendan Mulvihill, and fabulous stepdancing by members of the Culkin School. Did I mention the profusion of Irish coffees, signature drink “Jameson Ginger,” and scones?
HoCoPoLitSo relies on proceeds from this annual fundraiser to create live literary programs throughout the year, so in buying tickets, you are not only giving yourself the gift of a fun and elevating evening but investing in the 2014 arts and culture calendar of Howard County.
Friday, March 14, 2014, 7:30 PM
HoCoPoLitSo’s 35th Irish Evening started the night before, on Feb. 28, when National Book Award-winning novelist Colum McCann drove down from New York to hang out late with Gov. Martin O’Malley and the musical Winch brothers.
It just got better from there — prose that edged us to the rims of our seats, Irish sing-a-longs with O’Malley as song-leader, midnight evocations of Irish revolutionary leader Michael Collins, a lot of Guinness, and perhaps a trace of miracle.
When McCann and Terence Winch sat down around 3:30 in the afternoon – after a little nip to get them in the mood – to record an edition of the writer-to-writer talk show, The Writing Life, McCann rubbed his hands together and said, “Let’s have some fun here today.”
Winch and McCann spoke for half an hour about McCann’s books, especially Let the Great World Spin, a 2005 National Book Award-winning novel about New York City in the 1970s, with a prostitute, a monk, a mother who loses her son to Vietnam’s destruction and a man who walks on a wire between the Twin Towers. At Winch’s request, McCann read a section from that book that he had never read aloud before, a section about a group of mothers from across the city who have lost their sons in the war:
Writing, he said, is a form of adventure, for both the writer and the reader. Fiction is an exploration of the world from inside another’s skin, a constant discovery that keeps us alive, he explained.
“Without the stories,” McCann said, “we’re just dead meat.”
That evening, after Irish Ambassador Michael Collins called McCann’s writing “undeniably and indisputably Irish,” McCann took the stage and thanked the audience, and especially O’Malley, for coming.
“I have great hope for this country because we have somebody like Gov. O’Malley,” McCann said, citing his stance on gun control. “And he can sing too. I can’t. I do, but I can’t.”
McCann read stories from his books, ranging from Newfoundland to Ireland, to Park Avenue and the Bronx and back again. McCann read from Let the Great World Spin, about the prostitute Tillie and her tricks and the Park Avenue matron bidding farewell to her doomed son in his too-short Army trousers.
Then, for the first time in public, McCann read from his new novel, TransAtlantic, set to be published in June by Random House. A multi-layered novel with three main plots, TransAtlantic follows co-pilots on the first flight across the Atlantic, in an open-cockpit modified bomber, landing in Ireland in 1919, as well as travels along on the 1845 trip to Ireland that Frederick Douglass took as a slave, hoping to convince the Irish to fight slavery, and about the efforts of Sen. George Mitchell to forge a peace in Ireland in the 1990s.
What emerged from McCann’s reading was a yearning for the sort of grace and hope that I haven’t felt in an auditorium in years. McCann spoke about finding “the miracle of the actual” in the world, and writing it. During some readings, there are moments when an audience waits, their collective breath held, all focused on the words. The author speaks those words and a tiny miracle of harmony bubbles up.
“I try to write toward grace,” McCann said, and talked about the ideas of redemption and recovery in a world of pain.
McCann revealed that the high school seniors of Newtown, Connecticut, have read Let the Great World Spin this winter, as a way to cope with the grief of the mass shootings at their town’s elementary school last year. This spring, he’ll be speaking with them about his book, about “grace and recovery and beauty in the face of enormous tragedy. It’s one of the best moments of my writing life.”
After the reading, the Narrowbacks, with Jesse and Terence Winch, as well as Eileen Korn Estes, Linda Hickman and Brendan Mulvihill, played and talked, until Terence called O’Malley up on stage. Dominick Murray, who played at Irish Evening for decades, but has recently become the state’s Business and Economic Development secretary, joined in on his guitar.
O’Malley grabbed a guitar and sat down to explain that he tried to protest the Winch brothers’ entreaties.
“Terry, no one wants to listen to a guy in a tie,” O’Malley told him.
“So take off your tie,” Winch replied.
He did. Then O’Malley played and sang, and lead the crowd in a sing-along to the classic Irish tune, “Jug of Punch.”
The party kept going in the gallery next door (as painter Trudy Babchak’s flamboyant women stared us down from their frames) with past HoCoPoLitSo guest and novelist Alice McDermott, along with HoCoPoLitSo’s managing director, Pam Simonson, board members and guests, band members and Estes’ blissfully sleeping baby. McCann and O’Malley invoked Michael Collins’ brave sacrifice for peace as they sipped their beers around midnight.
“Jay-sus,” McCann could occasionally be heard to mutter, as Estes’ voice drifted over the crowd and the Jameson’s whiskey flowed. What a night.
Susan Thornton Hobby
Recording secretary and consultant
It’s time for Irish Evening! We’re told that writers in Ireland know when HoCoPoLitSo calls, you go. And they come from wherever they are to share with Howard County their work. Our Irish Evening is that special. This Friday it’s happening again and you, yourself, will want to be there.
Let The Great World Spin author Colum McCann is returning as our guest for the 35th Annual Irish Evening at 7:30 pm, March 1, 2013 at the Smith Theater, Horowitz Center for Visual and Performing Arts on the campus of Howard Community College. It will be his third Irish Evening, though the second in which he has been featured. You see, one year he came to the evening just because he wanted to take in the occasion for himself and see Colm Toibin.
McCann, a winner of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the most lucrative literary award in the world, has published 5 novels and numerous short stories and articles. In 2003 McCann was named Esquire Magazine’s “Best and Brightest” young novelist. He has also been awarded a Pushcart Prize, the Rooney Prize, the Irish Novel of the Year Award and the 2002 Ireland Fund of Monaco Princess Grace Memorial Literary Award. He was recently inducted into the Hennessy Hall of Fame.
McCann’s reading will be followed by the Narrowbacks, Eileen Korn, Jesse Winch, Terence Winch, Linda Hickman, and Brendan Mulvihill on fiddle in a concert of traditional Irish music with stepdancers from the Culkin School.
If the writers themselves are so motivated, how about you? Tickets — there are still a number available at the time of this posting — can be purchased online here. Yes, there will be Guinness.
Curious but not convinced? Here are a few resources on Colum McCann to whet your appetite further:
- “What’s a Dublin lad trying to do writing a New York novel like this?” Theo Dorgan asks.
- Lifting a pint with Colum McCann:
- In conversation with Roddy Doyle. The conversation starts about nine and a half minutes in, after Doyle reads.
On a tight budget? You have no idea.
Here’s how Frank McCourt’s family’s budget – funded by the Irish dole — is tallied by his mother.
“Nineteen shillings for the six of us? That’s less than four dollars in American money and how are we supposed to live on that? What are we to do when we have to pay rent in a fortnight? If the rent for this room is five shillings a week we’ll have fourteen shillings for food and clothes and coal to boil the water for tea.”
That’s from McCourt’s Angela’s Ashes, his amazing memoir of a miserable Irish Catholic childhood, from which he read at HoCoPoLitSo’s 2009 Irish Evening of Music and Poetry.
Which is all to say that the Irish have a history of thrifty.
My great-grandmother, who grew up in the Irish and African-American section of Georgetown when it was more the country than the city, could put a meal on the kitchen table for her five children and hungry husband for an amazingly small amount of money. That meal, of course, required hours of her bent-back labor in a small patch of garden, sweating over Ball jars of stewed tomatoes in August and kneading bread until her forearms were as cut as Jillian Michaels’ (almost).
Those around here who want to hear a good Irish story don’t need to sweat or scrape to save a little bit. On Feb. 1, the price of an Irish Evening of Music and Poetry ticket goes from $30 to $35. A small rise, grant you, but a rise nonetheless that my great-grandmother would cluck over, and one that could feed all those little McCourts for a week.
Buy a ticket today and make Frank proud. Save five bucks and here’s what you receive on March 1: Colum McCann, that swashbuckling former reporter who spins yarns that win National Book Awards and lift readers high over Manhattan (Let the Great World Spin) and lower them deep into the tunnels under New York (This Side of Brightness). At the Irish Evening, McCann will read from his work, Narrowbacks will play their sprite Irish tunes, stepdancers from the Culkin School will fling their feet higher than their heads. Bartenders are cooking up a signature Irish drink to go with the Irish coffee and Guinness. Win raffle baskets of Irish books and music and food. Bid on signed Seamus Heaney broadsides and custom-made jewelery. Go on, have a scone.
For tickets, go to http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/287811 or call 443-518-4568.
Susan Thornton Hobby
The international award winning author Colum McCann is HoCoPoLitSo’s guest for its 35th Annual Irish Evening at 7:30 pm, March 1, 2013 at the Smith Theater, Horowitz Center for Visual and Performing Arts on the campus of Howard Community College.
General Admission Tickets are available at http://www.brownpapertickets.com/event/287811 or by sending a check payable and mailed to HoCoPoLitSo, 10901 Little Patuxent Parkway, DH 239, Columbia, MD 21044. Tickets purchased before Feb. 1, 2013 are $30 each, $35 if purchased after Feb. 2.
So Many Stories to Be Told: An Evening with Colum McCann will highlight this major voice in today’s literary landscape’s with a discussion of his National Book Award winning novel Let the Great World Spin and his upcoming novel, Transatlantic, due out in late 2013.
McCann’s reading will be followed by Narrowbacks, Eileen Korn, Jesse Winch, Terence Winch, Linda Hickman, and Brendan Mulvihill on fiddle in a concert of traditional Irish music with stepdancers from the Culkin School.
McCann, a two-time winner of the International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award, the most lucrative literary award in the world, has published 5 novels and numerous short stories and articles. In 2003 McCann was named Esquire Magazine’s “Best and Brightest” young novelist. He has also been awarded a Pushcart Prize, the Rooney Prize, the Irish Novel of the Year Award and the 2002 Ireland Fund of Monaco Princess Grace Memorial Literary Award. He was recently inducted into the Hennessy Hall of Fame.
McCann follows other great Irish authors who have come to Howard County including Frank McCourt, Eavan Boland, Hugo Hamilton, Colm Tóibín, Paul Durcan and Paula Meehan to name a few. For years, HoCoPoLitSo’s Irish Evening has recognized and celebrated the enormous impact of Irish-born writers on the world of contemporary literature.
Join Hugo Hamilton and the Narrowbacks at HoCoPoLitSo’s 34th Annual Irish Evening, February 17, 2012.
Dublin born novelist Hugo Hamilton will read from his work. The central character in two of his Ireland-based novels, Pat Coyne, is considered one of the most original figures in contemporary Irish literature. In 1992 Hamilton won the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature for The Speckled People as a ‘book for our times and perhaps for all time’. It won the prestigious Prix Femina Etranger in France, and appeared on The New York Times notable books list.
Reading will be followed by a concert of traditional Irish music performed by the Narrowbacks – Terry Winch, Jesse Winch, Brendan Mulvihill, Linda Hickman and Eileen (Korn) Estes – and traditional step dancing with performers from the Caulkin School of Traditional Irish Dance. Music from harpist Jared Denhard will open the evening.
The event will be held at Howard Community College’s Smith Theatre in the Horowitz Performing Arts Center. Note change of venue.
Tickets are now available online here.