Saturday, November 25, 2006

Libraries in the sand Manuscripts Are The Subject of Intensive Study

Researchers in Timbuktu are fighting to preserve tens of thousands of ancient texts which they say prove Africa had a written history at least as old as the European Renaissance. Private and public libraries in the fabled Saharan town in Mali have already collected 150,000 brittle manuscripts, some of them from the 13th century, and local historians believe many more lie buried under the sand.

The texts were concealed under mud homes and in desert caves by proud Malian families whose successive generations feared they would be stolen by Moroccan invaders, European explorers and then French colonialists. Written in ornate calligraphy, some were used to teach astrology or mathematics, while others tell tales of social and business life in Timbuktu during its "Golden Age," when it was a seat of learning in the 16th century. "These manuscripts are about all the fields of human knowledge: law, the sciences, medicine," said Galla Dicko, director of the Ahmed Baba Institute, a library housing 25,000 of the texts. "Here is a political tract," he said, pointing to a script in a glass cabinet, somewhat dog-eared and chewed by termites. "A letter on good governance, a warning to intellectuals not to be corrupted by the power of politicians."

Bookshelves on the wall behind him contain a volume on mathematics and a guide to Andalusian music as well as love stories and correspondence between traders plying the trans-Saharan caravan routes. Timbuktu's leading families have only recently started to give up what they see as ancestral heirlooms. They are being persuaded by local officials that the manuscripts should be part of the community's shared culture. "It is through these writings that we can really know our place in history," said Abdramane Ben Essayouti, Imam of Timbuktu's oldest mosque, Djingarei-ber, built from mud bricks and wood in 1325.

Experts believe the 150,000 texts collected so far are just a fraction of what lies hidden under centuries of dust behind the ornate wooden doors of Timbuktu's mud-brick homes.

Saturday, November 18, 2006

Over the Edge - Galway City Library

The Over The Edge Open Reading Series, an evening of featured poets plus an open mic session, takes place once a month on a Thursday in Galway City Library (Hynes Buildings, Augustine Street) from 6.30-8.oopm. The next next reading will take place on 23 November.

The featured readers are Adrian White, Joan McBreen & Fiona Claire. As usual there will be an open mic when the featured readers have finished. This is open to anyone who has a poem or story to share. New readers are especially welcome. The MC for the evening will be Susan Millar DuMars.

Adrian White moved from Manchester to Galway in 1990. He has worked as abookseller, a barman, a painter and decorator, a removal man and a car park attendant. His first novel, An Accident Waiting to Happen, was published in 2004and his second, Where the Rain Gets In, came out in March 2006. Both are published by Penguin Books. Man Dog Bitch is the title of his third book.

Joan McBreen is from Sligo and now lives in Tuam. She edited The White Page - Twentieth Century Irish Women Poets (Salmon Publishing). Joan has published three collections of poetry; the most recent Winter in The Eye - New and Selected Poems, was published by Salmon in 2003. In 2004 she launched a CD, The Long Light on the Land - Selected Poems by Joan McBreen with Traditional Airs and Classical Music.

Fiona Claire is an actress and writer who lived for many years in Los Angeles, but recently moved to County Galway. She has worked in numerous television shows, including Third Rock From The Sun, Star Trek Voyager, and King of Queens, and in films such as L.A. Confidential, and Contact. She has written a collection of fables for adults, one novel and is working on a second.

Over The Edge is now also offering a manuscript appraisal service to new writers. Fiction and non-Fiction will be assessed by Susan Miller DuMars, while poetry will be critiqued by Kevin Higgins. For information about readings and script appraisal, tel. 087 6431748 or e-mail

Thursday, November 16, 2006

T S Eliot Poetry Prize 2006

The Poetry Book Society has announced the Shortlist for the T S Eliot Prize 2006, to be awarded to the writer of the best new collection of poetry published in 2006. Now in its fourteenth year, the T S Eliot Prize is 'poetry's most coveted award'

  • Simon Armitage, Tyrannosaurus Rex versus the Corduroy Kid, Faber
  • Paul Farley, Tramp in Flames, Picador
  • Seamus Heaney, District and Circle , Faber
  • W N Herbert, Bad Shaman Blues, Bloodaxe
  • Jane Hirshfield, After, Bloodaxe
  • Tim Liardet, The Blood Choir, Seren
  • Paul Muldoon, Horse Latitudes, Faber
  • Robin Robertson, Swithering, Picador
  • Penelope Shuttle, Redgrove's Wife, Bloodaxe
  • Hugo Williams, Dear Room, Faber

Judges Sean O'Brien (Chair), Sophie Hannah and Gwenyth Lewis chose the following ten collections: The judges will make their final decision on Monday 15 January 2007, when the prize of £10,000 will be presented by Mrs Valerie Eliot.

The T S Eliot Prize is sponsored by the broadcaster and supported by the T S Eliot Foundation.

Friday, November 10, 2006

2007 IMPAC Literary Award - Longlist

The International IMPAC Dublin Literary Award is open to works of fiction written in, or translated into English and published within a specified period of time.

The nomination process for the Award is unique as nominations are made by selected libraries in capital and major cities throughout the world. Participating libraries can nominate up to three books each year for the Award: the books must meet the criteria for eligibility which are distributed to libraries each year.

The longlist includes 138 novels which have been nominated for the 2007 award, with 28 of them works in translation.

There were nominations from 169 libraries around the world.

The Irish nominations, including Galway Public Libraries, are here

The short list will be announced on April 4th 2007 and the winner on June 14th 2007

Saturday, November 04, 2006

The Ireland Life-Writing Archive

Many Irish people - and people connected with Ireland - have written (or are writing) about their lives. This is Irish 'Life-Writing'.
UCD is launching the Ireland Life-Writing Archive which will collect as much of this material as possible. It doesn't matter when or why you wrote about your life - we would like to include your writing in this archive. Material may be of any length, and in any written form - in English, Irish, or any other language.

The archive will include:

Life Stories/ Autobiographies
Personal memoirs
Travel writing
Biographical Fictions

Anything written about life in Ireland will be of interest in the future. The Ireland Life-Writing Archive invites anyone who has written (or who has access to) reminiscences or life-accounts to join us in our project of preserving and archiving this valuable material. The texts you send us will be catalogued and preserved in UCD for the use of scholars and researchers; some material (only with your permission) may be published on the UCD website.
For further details, contact Dr Eibhlín Evans, The Ireland Life-Writing Project, School of English and Drama, USD Belfield, Dublin 4; tel. 01 7168530, e-mail, or go to the website and follow the links.