BY AISLING MEATH
A WEST Cork writer and musician was write on track when he decided to set up a Literary Society in Beara.
The brainchild of Geoff Ward, he exlained: ‘With so many other clubs and societies in the county and especially with so many poets and writers living in West Cork as well as various writing groups and book clubs, you could say I saw a gap in the local cultural scene which I thought needed to be filled.’
The group, who were set up in early 2016, run frequent themed poetry readings and discussions.
‘We hold events to mark occasions like the solstice, Halloween and Valentine’s Day followed by a Q+A and some lively discussion. James Joyce, Dylan Thomas, Bram Stoker and Shakespeare have been among our subjects.’
The WCLS has generated interest among many local literary enthusiasts who regularly attend. ‘Meetings are held monthly on the third Thursday in a room generously provided free of charge by Adrienne and Nicki McCarthy’ said Geoff.
The meeting point in McCarthy’s bar is quite appropriate considering it featured on the front cover of the late Pete McCarthy’s book of the same name.
Paddy O’ Conor retired Deputy Principal of Beara Community School said he was delighted to be a member of the group. ‘I feel that it has added another dimension to our lives here in Beara. It’s great to have the opportunity to hear the views of various people on literature, writers and writing. I would encourage anyone who may have an interest to come along to our meetings’
Ellen Gowan agreed: ‘I really enjoy our WCLS meetings. We recently discovered that a handful of us are interested in writing short stories -that’s the bit I love.’
The group also welcomes anyone who would like to do a reading of their own work.
Their April meeting coincided with National Poetry day and the the WCLS chose as their theme ‘Surprised by Joy’ posing the question ‘What piece of poetry has surprised or uplifted you, made your spine tingle, given you an unexpected shot of optimism or a joyful emotional charge?’
Castleltownbere branch librarian Dorothy Brophy said: ‘Listening to talks about various writers is very stimulating. I hadn’t read the essayist William Hazlitt since my schooldays - he led an interesting life, he even lived for a time in Bandon,’ she explained.
‘I also loved the Patrick Kavanagh talk given by Paddy O’Conor. As a librarian I’m usually the one making the recommendations - so it’s great to be a punter,’ she said
Paddy O’Connor added: ‘Kavanagh’s words have the ability to express the joy in life. Canal Bank Walk points out the wonder of the natural world.’ He is also a Frank O’ Connor enthusiast and presented a talk about his life and work to the group.
John Goode, of The Mill House Gallery said there was always a broad range of topics discussed: ‘The meeting on Mary Shelly’s ‘Frankenstein’ was a wonderful journey celebrating the 200th anniversary of a novel written by a 20 year old, to the development of the camp classic films that most of us conjure up when picturing Frankenstein. The WCLS was a great find!’ he said
Subjects are selected that are of interest to everyone and Bob Dylan and his 2016 Nobel Prize for literature has been on the agenda. Geoff Ward is of the opinion that Dylan has changed our idea of what poetry can be and how it should work.
Bob Dylan cited the influence of Moby Dick by Herman Melville among others in his delayed acceptance speech for the prize, which he recorded with a soft jazz piano accompaniment.
He said that if a song moves you that’s all that’s important and went on to say that songs are meant to be sung and not read on a page – just like a Shakespeare play should be acted.
‘My conviction is that a balance needs to be restored in poetry and literature at large- yet, to me – Dylan had always had this essential balance. I see Dylan to his everlasting credit, as continuing a great 600 year English language literary tradition which has been let go by writers and poets since the mid- 20 th century,’ said Geoff.
For more see their Facebook Page: West Cork Literary Society