Author Nuala O’Connor takes a Joyride to Jupiter
June 22, 2017
Nuala O’Connor, one of Ireland’s greatest short story writers, returns to the form with a startling new collection, Joyride to Jupiter. She will be discussing her work, Seamus Heaney and more with writer Jan Carson when she visits Seamus Heaney HomePlace on Friday 30 June at 7.30pm.
Here, she shares some of her thoughts on Heaney and his work:
"Seamus Heaney’s beautiful work spoke to me as it spoke to so many and I was always happy to see his beautiful smile at brief, literary festival encounters. He had an infectious aura of kindness and calm.
My fondest Heaney memory is from the Flat Lake Festival at Hilton Park in County Monaghan. The biggest crowd of the festival turned up for Seamus’s reading in a circus tent (much to the joy of the local rock band who preceded him – we all got there early to get a hay bale seat and enjoyed their set).
Seamus was his usual gentle, humble self and he took the theme of learning for his reading. He talked about influences, citing Gerard Manley Hopkins, Wordsworth and Kavanagh, but he also spoke about being influenced by the ‘magical energy’ surrounding him and his contemporaries in the 1960s: his wife Marie, Michael Longley, the Simmons et al.
He read several of his translations of poems attributed to Saint Colmcille and two poems about his father: ‘Lick the Pencil’ and ‘The Harvest Bow’. He finished by reading ‘Mid-term Break’ to us, a poem that always makes me well up. It was powerful.
I’m delighted to come to the HomePlace to read and to learn more about the poet and his life. I’ll finish with a quote from Seamus’s 9/11 poem ‘Anything Can Happen’ that seems (mildly) apt considering my new book’s title, Joyride to Jupiter:
“Anything can happen. You know how Jupiter
Will mostly wait for clouds to gather head
Before he hurls the lightning? Well, just now
He galloped his thunder cart and his horses
Across a clear blue sky.”
For more information and to book, click here.