Saturday, May 26, 2007

Bulgarian Ambassador visits Ballinasloe Library

On Thursday May 17th the Ambassador of Bulgaria, Her Excellency Mrs. Bisserka Benisheva, visited Ballinasloe Branch Library for the official opening of an exhibition entitled "The Cyrillic Alphabet: The New Alphabet of the European Union."
The opening reception was hosted by the Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria. Also present from the Embassy was Third Secretary, Mr. Petar Semerdzhiev.

The Ambassador was welcomed to the Ballinasloe Library by Mr. Noel Treacy, TD, Minister of State, with Special Responsibility for European Affairs.

At some point of time, more than 11 centuries ago, Constantine Cyril, the Philosopher, came to Pope Adrian 11 to defend the right to existence of the alphabet he had created---it's sanctity and spiritual meaning, it's validity alongside the Hebrew, the Greek and the Latin alphabet.

Through the exhibition, one discovers not just the way and manner in which the Old Bulgarian alphabets were built, but also the beauty and meaning of a descriptive graphic and poetic symbolism, whereby space, the stars, the rise of the sun, the sea and the land were the foundations for its being brought down to earth for the needs of the enduring human communication.
In the course of his address, Minister Treacy said that "the entry of Bulgaria into the EU means that Cyrillic has now become the third Alphabet in use, in the EU and will contribute another rich and ancient strand to the cultural life of the Union." And he continued: "we are also proud of Ireland’s long association with the Basilica of San Clemente in Rome, where the sacred remains of Saint Cyril are buried. For over three Centuries, the Basilica has been in the care of the Irish Dominicans."

At the opening reception, a poem entitled The Whole World, written by the Bulgarian poet Anton Baev was wonderfully read by Ballinasloe teacher John Boland. This beautiful poem describes a man who is coming back from the market, with the poet asking: "what is he carrying in his bag?" Oranges from Piraeus, it seems, lemons from Egypt, a bottle of tequila from midnight Mexico, a packet of sugar from Brazil.... And the poet concludes: "A shopping bag is enough to hold half the world in it," and he asks: "And what would you need for the whole world?" And the poet’s response is: "a kiss on the threshold when you arrive."

There is something in this poem which connects with "our enduring need for communication." There is also something of what the Spanish writer Adela Cortina describes as a "profound sense of compassion." She points out that it is important to educate citizens in all these dimensions of the heart, especially in the dimension of justice — because otherwise the game is lost before we start. This is an area of education where the public library, through a carefully selected book collection, has a vital role to play.

The heart (cordis in Latin), is the centre, the key to something: to people, for example. Traditionally, it is the home of affection, but also of intelligence, spirit, talent, and even the stomach. Because you have to have stomach, a great deal of it, to fight for justice, and to aspire to happiness, which are the two great goals of ethics. It is important to educate citizens in all these dimensions of the heart. So said Adela Cortina writing this very week in the Spanish newspaper El Pais.

Copies of Adela Cortina’s essay are available at Galway City Library and at Ballinasloe Public Library.
The exhibition and visit by the Bulgarian ambassador was made possible by the Europe Direct Information Centres.

Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Readers may be interested in the following books which have been added to stock at Galway City Library

The Novellas of Hortense Calisher, by Hortense Calisher
Includes The Railway Police, a dazzling story, told in her own wry first-person voice, of a social worker's frustrated progression through a series of admiring men attracted by the colourful wigs she wears, then repelled by the fact of her baldness. One day, upon seeing an obviously homeless man ejected from a train, she throws away her piles of fake hair, gives all her money to her indigent clients and goes forth to sleep in the streets, embracing the anonymity of those who have been discarded, as she now discards herself.

Last Evenings on Earth, by Roberto Bolano
"The melancholy folklore of exile," as Bolano once put it, pervades these fourteen haunting stories. His narrators are usually writers living on the margins and grappling with private (and often unlucky) quests. Set in the Chilean exile diaspora of Latin American and Europe, and peopled by Bolano’s beloved "failed generation," these stories are unimaginably gripping.

Here Is Where We Meet, by John Berger
One hot afternoon in Lisbon, our narrator, John, finds his mother, who had died fifteen years earlier, seated on a park bench. "The dead don't stay where they are buried," she tells him. And so begins a remarkable odyssey, told in simple yet gorgeous prose and with the openness to personal and political currents that has always marked John Berger's work. With its clarity and beautifully proportioned contours of fictive memory, this book makes the perfect site to encounter Berger for the first or 50th time.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

John Boyne has won the CBI Bisto Book of the Year 06/07 for his book The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas.

The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas is John's first book written for children and tells the story of a nine year old boy struggling to understand what is happening around him in Auschwitz during World War II. The novel has been shortlisted for many literary awards including the British Books Awards.

The Eilis Dillon Award went to Siobhan Dowd, for her first novel of A Swift Pure Cry.

An eagerly anticipated event on the Irish literary calendar, the CBI Bisto Book of the Year Awards are presented annually in recognition of excellence in writing and or illustration of books for young people. The awards are administered by CBI, the national organisation for children's books and sponsored by Bisto (Premier Foods Ireland). Over the last three years the total prize fund for the awards has more than doubled, with a current total prize fund of euro 19,000 as compared to euro7,000 in 2005.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Last Over The Edge: Open Reading’ before the summer break

The final‘Over The Edge: Open Reading’ before the summer break will take place on Thursday, May 31st, 6.30-8pm in Galway City Library.

This month’s Featured Readers are Maria McManus, Paddy Henry & Fergal McNally.

Maria McManus is a poet and playwright from Strangford near Belfast. Her collection ‘Reading the Dog’ was published in 2006 by Lagan Press and was runner for this year’s Strong Award. In 2005 she was awarded the Bedell Scholarship of Literature by the Aspen Writers Foundation, Colorado. Her plays include His n‘Hers, The Black Out Show and Nowhere Harder. She is currently writer-on-attachment to Tinderbox Theatre Company.

Paddy Henry writes both fiction and non-fiction. He retired to Galway in 1998 having been a soft drinks manufacture in Charlestown, Co. Mayo. He continues his life long interest in drama through his involvement with Knocknacarra Amateur Theatre Society. He is a member of the Knocknaccarra Active Retirement Writers Group facilitated by Susan Millar DuMars.

Fergal McNally moved to Galway in 2003 to study Arts. He is currently enrolled on the M.A. in Writing program at N.U.I.G. He has had poetry published in Ropes magazine and Writers Seeking Lovers, a collection put out by the M.A. in writing poetry workshop. His one act play Spilt Milk won best production at this year’s Muscailt arts festival.

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 always especially welcome. The MC for the evening will be Susan Millar DuMars. For further details contact 087-6431748.

The first Over The Edge: Open Reading after the Summer break will take place at Galway City Library on Thursday, August 30th.

Saturday, May 12, 2007

An imaginative and beautifully illustrated book for children

Wolves by Emily Gravett, which won the 2006 Kate Greenaway Medal, is an imaginative, cleverly illustrated and delightful picture book for 5 to 8 year olds.
It follows a rabbit who goes to his local "burrowing" library to check out a book on wolves. As he immerses himself in the book, he fails to notice that the characters have actually come alive.

Kirkus Reviews commented "that like many postmodern picture books, the mixed-media illustrations call attention to the book itself, and establish a relationship between the deadpan text and the endearingly expressive rabbit."

Emily Gravett was born in 1972 in Brighton. She left school with few qualifications and spent 8 years living on the road before settling back in Brighton and getting a place on the BA Illustration course at Brighton University.

The following is an extract of an interview with Emily Gravett from the PanMacmillan website:

Why do you think picture storybooks have such an important place in young learners' lives?

The time that parents spend cuddled up looking at, and discussing picture books with their child can foster a warm association with books that spills over into their adult lives, but picture books are not just about producing fluent readers. Picture books teach children visual literacy, the relationship between word and image, about emotion, the physical world, and the world of the imagination. They are about getting lost in the moment. They can be exciting, or challenging, sad, or soothing, but all at the child’s pace. They can be picked up, put down, carried around and re-read hundreds of times. There’s no other medium like them. They enrich children’s lives.

There are copies of the book in our Branch Library System. Teachers may wish to note that there are 8 copies of the book in the School Library Network.

Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Poetry Reading at Inishbofin Library

As part of the Inishbofin Arts Festival award winning poet Yvonne Cullen will read from her own work and from the work of other poets in the local library at 5.30pm on Saturday May 12th 2007.

Yvonne Cullen's first short collection of poems, Invitation to the Air, won the American Ireland Fund Award at Listowel Writers' Week in 1997. Yvonne has won numerous other awards for her work. She has also won praise from the National Awards Council for her Writers' Workshop facilitation skills, and has been a regular Poetry Workshop leader for a number of years now. Born in Dublin, Yvonne Cullen trained as a barrister before giving up Law to become a full time writer and musician.

In order to provide opportunities for participation, after the reading there will be an Open Mic event. At this any visiting poets, aspiring poets, writers, and other performers are welcome to join us to share their work or art.

Wednesday, May 02, 2007

Day of Bulgarian Enlightenment and Culture being celebrated in Ballinasloe Library

An exhibition entitled "The Cyrillic Alphabet: The New Alphabet of the European Union" will go on display in Ballinasloe Library for a two week period commencing Thursday May 10th.

The exhibition will be officially opened at 7.00pm on May 10th. The opening, which is being hosted by the European Direct Information Centre and the Embassy of the Republic of Bulgaria will mark the Day of Bulgarian Enlightenment and Culture.

The opening reception will include readings of Bulgarian poetry in English translation, and a performance of Irish Traditional Music.