Nuala Ní Chonchúir’s Speech from Cúirt

Cúirt was fantastic, great fun, great festival and great readings from our anthology. Everyone is now looking forward to the launch of the print edition on the 17th May in Trinity College Dublin. The wonderful Nuala Ní Chonchúir launched our ebook last Saturday and has kindly provided us with a transcript of her speech from the night, included below for your entertainment:

A Thoroughly Good Blue

It’s always great to see writers at the start of their journey, though there are some in this anthology who appear to be well on their way. A Thoroughly Good Blue is an exuberant and diverse collection of fiction and poetry from the students on the M. Phil. in Creative Writing at Trinity’s Oscar Wilde Centre. It is a multicultural collection, which adds to its rich tone; here are writers who are from, or who have lived in, Ontario, Hong Kong, Missouri, Mayo, The Netherlands, Meath, Colorado and New Mexico. They bring with them to their work all of the exotic words and occurrences of these places. From the spareness of Melony Bethala’s ‘Boat Ride on Lake Pontchartrain’, to the rich prose and slowly delivered beauties of Sara Mullen’s ‘On the Hill of Speculation’, A Thoroughly Good Blue is an impressive gathering of finger-on-the-pulse work.

Humour is provided by John Dodge in ‘Mile High Circus’ with Pickles the clown and a crazy but ultimately kind Mayor. Yaseena McKendry does mystery well in the opening to the novel ‘Winter Trees’; there is a menacing, melancholic atmosphere in this piece – we are at a funeral in chapter one. Liz McManus’s masterful novel extract ‘The Disappeared’ is marked out by assured writing, delight in the natural world, great dialogue, and a beautifully described swan.

A story of a life squandered, by Vanessa Baker ,sees a 12 year old girl brought to her first gig by her brother; this sets the girl up for life as a groupie and, ultimately, regret.

Zach Hively dazzles the reader with a menacing story set in Germany. A little boy falls in love with a woman and wants to rescue her, whether she needs rescuing or not. His mission brings him into a dark, dusty and creepy hostel that is peopled with mutant toys. The language is exuberant – there are lots of lively images such as the clubfooted pigeon whose foot looks like melted plastic, and an old man with ‘wet tissue paper hair’.

I’m a writer who delights in language, I love a good stylist, and I found plenty of that in this book. In Hsiang-En’s poem ‘Monday Morning Tram’ we find ‘like sculpture in an art exhibition, the passengers all look the same’, and in the poem ‘Tsingtao Brothers’, beer ‘softly sputters to kiss the nose / When held close to parched lips.’ Here is a poet who revels in delicate language and apt visuals. Much like fiction writer Malu Bremer in ‘After the Tone’, where a mother loses her unborn baby while saving her daughter from drowning in an ice-hole. The mother goes slowly mad, which makes the daughter leave. The language is stunning in this piece. We have ‘a smile thin as a paper cut’; ‘a necktie the colour of old sweat’; and ‘marzipan light’ that ‘hangs low over the town’ where icicles ‘weep themselves smaller’.

In this anthology there are talking wolves, corruption in a third world country, unreliable narrators who want to be ill, and young girls facing their mortality. We have mythology in the form of a modern day Cú Chulainn in ‘Mrs Culann’s Dog’. As well as in ‘Lament’ by Eimear Ryan, where a group of teenagers entertain themselves by pretending to be banshees by night, keening outside people’s homes. Eerily, the victims often soon die. The narrator lives with her feisty but ailing granny. Granny likes to tell it like it is: ‘Put [the egg] in water,’ she says. ‘If it floats, it’s fucked. Like a goldfish.’ This story is interwoven with the legend of Diarmuid and Gráinne – Gráinne was doomed to roam as a shapeshifter, keening her lost love. The banshee game turns sour, however, when the ringleader decides the narrator’s granny is next on the list.

Poet  Eamonn Lynskey looks at life’s big questions: religion and how the earth was made. His poem ‘Early Christian Chronicle’ is a list poem of prayers, Popes and presences. As a teenager the narrator ‘felt the axe descend / and split in two the breastplate of my faith’.

All I can give you is a flavour of what is in this anthology. What you really need to do is buy it, as an e-book or in hard copy, and enjoy it for yourself.

I wish all the writers within the pages of A Thoroughly Good Blue the very best of luck with completing the M. Phil. in Creative Writing at Trinity and with their writing careers. May your ink always flow.

Nuala Ní Chonchúir, Cúirt, April 2012

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