A couple of weeks ago I was in Slovenia for the 29th Vilenica Festival. It was my first time in Slovenia, and the first time reading work from Keeping Bees somewhere other than Ireland. I was thrilled to be invited, and it was a real pleasure to be a part of it. In addition to my reading, I also participated in the ‘Meeting Literary Foremothers’ roundtable – part of the project HERA, and in partnership with the University of Nova Gorica. I am still left musing about some of the issues raised during that discussion – about voice, and power, and one’s freedom to make a choice, to choose to write – to choose to do anything, to be empowered to do so above all else. I will return to this, after I’ve spent the time it takes me to really think things through, with a more fulsome response.
It was a really good three days. I mean – really good. Writers end up talking writing – this is what we do. It was a joy to talk writing with some of the writers I met at the festival. I loved hearing their perspective of my work – the comments, on the whole, took a very different slant to what I am used to here, in Ireland. Again, it has left me thinking – about my voice, and my my technique – and where I want to take both, moving forward. I will say this – it is quite enjoyable to have someone describe me – my work – as strong and subversive. And not once as provocative (not that being provocative is a negative thing – but sometimes, it’s a nice thing, to hear something different – it’s got me thinking).
And I wasn’t the only Canadian there – not by a long shot. This year, Patrick DeWitt, Linda Spalding and Geoffrey E. Taylor were also in attendance. I had the pleasure of being a member of the Jury, alongside Mr. Taylor, for this year’s Crystal Award. The winner – Liliana Corobca – will be reading at next year’s Cuirt Festival; her winning story, an excerpt from her novel, told the tale of a tick, and children left to their own devices.
I thoroughly enjoyed my time at this year’s festival. It was inspiring; coming back to Dublin, I was excited to sit and begin at the beginning again. It is the toughest part of writing – but also, the place (and space) where everything is fresh, and new, and good, and bad. It is where I get to make a mess, go dig in the dirt with my two hands, looking for cockroaches (I am absolutely fascinated by them for writing at the moment) and duende.
PS - Slovenian peaches - damn sweet and juicy!
In a week's time I will be sharing the stage with two wonderful writers at the Belfast Book Festival. Doire Press authors Kimberly Campanello, Eamon Carr, and myself will be reading on Monday June 9th at the Crescent Arts Centre. The reading begins at 6:30pm, and it promises to be full of good things. Buy your tickets here.
Dimitra Xidous's debut collection 'Keeping Bees" is available now from Doire Press.