Busier than Cape Canaveral.

It looks like bookshops and cultural centres here in Northern Ireland have and will be busier than usual recently and it's not just because they're selling lots of local books, it's because the books they're selling have and will be launched recently. I am amazed that there are so many book launches by local authors and sadly I can't be at all the launches.

The poet David Agnew has two videos recorded at the launch of "Belfast via Bedlam" the first here and second can be found here. David’s writing is based on his own experience of the journey of recovery, now extending over more than twenty-one years. It is also informed by his long experience of working with the mentally ill, including those suffering from addiction problems.He firmly believes that, in recovery, we all travel a similar road, no matter where we begin.Following on from his previous books - Walking into Eternity and First I Dreamt the Journey - David, in this book, further explores the paths, pitfalls and signposts on the journey.The book is available from his website.

Guildhall Press, one of the mainstays of Derry’s cultural scene, is hosting a literary bash in Derry city centre on Thursday May 27 as part of its thirtieth birthday celebrations. The lunchtime show will take place at the Culture Centre on Waterloo Place, to mark the publishing house’s long-standing support for Derry’s City of Culture 2013 bid.

At 1.30pm, novelist Garbhan Downey will preside at the Derry launch of his new best-seller The American Envoy, after which author Jenni Doherty will host a ‘micro-writing’ workshop from 3.00pm to 5.00pm. Downey will also sign copies of his book, which will be on sale on the day along with several other Guildhall Press titles.
Downey’s new novel made its debut at the Dublin Book Festival earlier this year and has already received strong reviews in the Irish media. It was April ‘Book of the Month’ in the Ulster Tatler: “An expertly crafted novel which strikes the perfect balance between intellect, action and humour. Downey’s star can only continue to rise in the literary world.”
Books Ireland (April 2010), meanwhile, praised Downey’s ‘funny and cynical’ picture of local and international politics: “Downey must have been a good journalist, since a lot of the fictional scandals that have appeared in his novels have been mirrored in real-life events.”
Jenni Doherty will continue the literary event by hosting a creative-writing workshop, based on the micro-writing format used in her highly successful publication Wonderful World of Worders.
For this genre, participants are invited to interpret a theme and express themselves using specific titles relating to the city, its people and culture, to create original 60 or 100 word micro-stories. The idea is to produce as many positive, imaginative and stimulating pieces of work that celebrate and commemorate our city of culture in all disciplines. This one-day workshop is open to all ages with places limited to 15 participants on the day. A selection of the completed material will be collated and later made available in a colourful poster format for public display in the Culture offices.
In the thirty years since its inception, Guildhall Press has become widely recognised as the most innovative publishing house in Ireland, thanks to its groundbreaking work on eBooks and web design. Last month, the Sunday Times noted that the company was the first Irish publishing house to release a paperback novel and eBook-version for digital devices simultaneously. Downey’s The American Envoy can claim the honour for this landmark publication.
Guildhall Press manager Paul Hippsley commented: “Guildhall Press are proud to celebrate our role in assisting, developing and showcasing fiction and local history writers over many years. We are also pleased to join with our other cultural partners across all the art forms from the region to demonstrate in such a public and positive way our support for the 2013 City of Culture bid.I just might pop along to the City of Culture offices in Waterloo Place in L/Derry,tomorrow at1.30pm
Back down to Belfast and Miriam Gamble's first collection, The Squirrels Are Dead is being launched at No Alibis  on Thursday, 03 June 2010 @ 6.30pm.
Miriam Gamble was born in Brussels in 1980 and grew up in Belfast. She studied at Oxford and at Queen’s University Belfast, where she completed a PhD in contemporary British and Irish poetry. She won an Eric Gregory Award in 2007, and her pamphlet, This Man's Town, was published by tall-lighthouse in 2007. A selection of her poems appears in the Bloodaxe anthology Voice Recognition: 21 poets for the 21st century (2009).Miriam lives and works in Belfast. She writes poems, reviews and critical essays and is a part-time tutor in creative writing at Queen’s University.The blurb for the book reads...

Miriam Gamble’s poetry is cleverly self-conscious about the doubleness of language: as resistant, resisting medium, and as the lightly worn currency of the everyday. Remarkable for its imaginings of both the animal world and the human, her first full-length collection The Squirrels Are Dead encompasses an urgent sense of social engagement as well as a profound sense of mystery, in which language is journeyed through as an almost-familiar landscape.

Gamble is a mistress-manipulator of tradition – with sonnet, villanelle and sestina some of the forms on display – who forces new rhythms into tried and tested forms, yet is ever vigilant to the fact that poets do not replace, they update, and that tradition comes to fresh life in the retelling. The Squirrels Are Dead is a striking and assured debut from a distinctive new talent in Irish poetry.

'Among her positive qualities I would single out abundant vocabulary, ambitious syntax, humour (not all that common), a sense of rhythm, an ability to write memorable lines, and an original slant on the world. She looks like the real thing all right' – Michael Longley

'Alert to the possibilities of alien consciousness and aware, simultaneously, of our human presumption, the poems...explore, dissect, muse on, re-imagine and punctuate "the disparities of life as we know it" with fleet intelligence and consummate skill' - Sinead Morrisey
Another launch coming up on the 17th of June is for the book "Sons of Ulster: Masculinities in the Contemporary Northern Irish Novel" by Caroline Magennis, Post-Doctoral Research Fellow, Institute of Irish Studies (QUB).I'll no doubt mention more about this book later.

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