Long trips to home in Mayo and the New Yorker podcast

I am originally from a small village in the West of Ireland. It takes us about 5-6 hours to get from my home in Carlow to my Mum’s house! so, Simon and I listen to New Yorker Fiction and Poetry Podcasts as there are hundreds of them available for free.


A well-known author reads a short story from another well-known author previously published in the New Yorker Magazine. For book lovers, each podcast is an hour of bliss. The New Yorker Fiction editor, Deborah Treisman is the Editor of the New Yorker Fiction magazine and is a brilliant interviewer. She always comes across as really serious and sometimes as if she doesn’t understand the short stories that are being read out! Obviously, being who she is, this is her way of getting to the nub of the story and pulling some good stuff out of the writer she is interviewing.

On the way down, we listened to David Means’ short story, the Spot being read by Jonathan Franzen. It is a most excellent story and we enjoyed the poetic rhythm and messed up characters and general naughtiness. On the way back, we listened to short story-hero of mine, Kevin Barry read Brian Friel’s, Saucer of Larks. Kevin is always very entertaining and his readings of stories are the best. He had Deborah giggling and laughing away.

You can hear Kevin read here at http://www.newyorker.com/podcast/fiction/kevin-barry-reads-brian-friel

and Jonathan read David Mean at http://www.newyorker.com/podcast/fiction/jonathan-franzen-reads-david-means

I use a free app called Podcast addict which downloads all the NY Fiction and poetry podcasts for me and has them ready for long, long, long roadtrips. Enjoy.

Edna O’ Brien-The Widow-New Yorker Podcast

Long journey back from my home place in Mayo to Carlow today. So, Simon and I listened to a few podcasts from the New Yorker Fiction and Poetry podcasts. The poet John Ashbery was read by Meaghan O’ Rourke. Short stories were Edna O’Brien’s The Widow and Carver’s The Chef’s House.

New Yorker Fiction and Poetry podcasts are available free to download every month on iTunes or on android via an app called podcast addict.

Here’s the Edna link where Andrew O’ Hagan reads “The Widow” short story with analysis afterwards. http://www.newyorker.com/podcast/fiction/andrew-ohagan-reads-edna-obrien

A poem for Ireland on RTE

The shortlist for A Poem for Ireland has been revealed, interesting and as predicted poets to be found. The website has a list of the poems along with a little, Leaving Cert type analysis with audio and videos with brilliant archived materials with poet’s bio. This is a great initiative, it might just reinvigorate some people into reading poetry again but it definitely shows off the amazing genius of poets that we have in Ireland. Whatever slant you take it from, you will get something from it.


On Television, RTÉ Television’s flagship arts show The Works (Fridays, 8.30, RTÉ One) will feature mini-documentaries on two of the poems each week. And each week, you’ll be able to listen to ordinary people from offices and workplaces across Ireland reacting to each of the 10 poems on RTÉ Radio One’s The John Murray Show (weekdays, 9a.m., RTÉ Radio One)

The website says the public have 6 weeks to decide on their fave, they don’t give a date but I’ve worked that out to be around the first week of March.

I am going to be looking at each poem briefly along with some other bloggers and we will pick our favourite.

Walt Whitman, poetry and the new iPad advertisement

I don’t know how I haven’t caught this till now! A poetic, beautiful, moving and artistic advertisement from Apple speaking about the merits of poetry, life and creation.
I love the excerpt they have used from Dead’s Poet Society, the film but original credit to the the Walt Whitman poem “O me O life”. It makes me quiver just listening to these lines. There is so much potential in us that is more than the ins and outs of a life just being lived in. The last lines “What will your verse be?” is an invitation to all.
A great article on the advertisement is here http://business.time.com/2014/01/13/apples-latest-ad-is-probably-going-to-give-you-chills/
and the Poetry Foundation who originally drew my attention back again to the poem and the film. Robin Williams was hired to redo this speech from the film and it fits so well. Here is a link to an audio of the poem and a discussion on the Poetry Foundation’s website. If you haven’t checked it out, you really have to though I’m assuming you have! They give a beautiful analysis of poems, poets and appropriate themes.

iPad app for Joyce’s short story “The Dead”

Here is something really cool and hip for you Apple and James Joyce fans! It’s an iPad app for the short story, The Dead, Joyce’s most famous short story from his collection, Dubliners. The Dead, the final story of the collection will be 100 years old this year and now we have an app to celebrate it.

The Dead is a story where not much happens, as all good short stories and it demonstrates Joyce’s genius in inventing what he dubbed “the epiphany”. An epiphany in a short story can be a small shift, change in the characters or events that almost provides the reader and the narrator with a freeze frame.

It’s about two sisters, Kate and Julia Morkan who are holding a big Christmas party, back in the day. It’s January 6th, the feast of the Epiphany and the official last night of Christmas. They have many guests but we focus in on Gabriel and Greta Conroy. Greta hears a song at the party called The Lass of Aughrim and she starts to think back to her past and a certain young man who sang that song to her one wintry night. It ends with Gabriel, her husband making an awful discovery or having an epiphany on the Feast of the Epiphany(see what he did there) about his marriage and his life. Big questions and big issues.

UCD thought up the idea and Athena Media and Vermillion Design constructed the app. I worked with Lisa from Athena Design when I was involved with An Opera for Carlow project a few years back so I’m very excited to hear of this connection, they are innovative and lovely people to work with.

The app gives us the audio and the text, music and photos from the time and a couple of podcast commentaries. It is available to download completely free from iTunes and you really have no excuse.

What do you mean you don’t own an iPad? Tut, tut.

Mel Ulm and the Jamie O’ Connell interview

I haven’t written about Jamie O’ Connell for a bit now. But, thankfully, Mel Ulm has given us a proper fix of the Jamie in a hugely detailed interview with the author on Mel’s Reading Lives blog.

Mel Ulm knows his stuff. He knows Irish and he knows the short story. I imagine that he spends every second reading new and old Irish literature. I really enjoy his blog and am really enjoying the Q and A for Irish writers he has running for the last while.

Jamie O’ Connell was interviewed last week and it is really is a fab read. Jamie is honest and generous in his answers to very fascinating questions and the whole thing turns very academic but not overly off-putting!

So, Mel Ulm is everywhere but Jamie seems to be back on the scene a bit more recently. Jamie is launching our group anthology in June in Carlow. He is also working on new stuff all of the time and I just cannot wait to read any of his new stuff as his last short story collection was out just a year ago so we need some new work from this man.

Also, I hear talk that he was on Sunday Miscellany last Sunday and is going to be featured regularly on RTE Radio 1 on the Sunday Miscellany program. The latest one from yesterday doesn’t seem to be available just yet but I will post when it is. 9 in the morning was just too early for a Sunday wake up call.

Have a read of the interview here, lots of great nuggets on the writer’s life and ethos.


Short story masterclasses from Joseph O’Connor and Sarah Hall on Thresholds

Thresholds calls itself the home of the international short story forum and that’s exactly what it is. This website is obsessed with the short story form and they have some very nifty resources there. One of the best would be the podcasts they have from Joseph O’Connor and Sarah Hall. Each podcast lasts for nearly 40 minutes covering a master class from a master in short story writing. Nice to download and listen to on your way into work or just walking.

You can find the podcasts here http://blogs.chi.ac.uk/shortstoryforum/?page_id=13319