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!
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Dimitra Xidous's debut collection 'Keeping Bees" is available now from Doire Press.