A Feast of Female Voices: Celebrating The Long Gaze Back
From making a choice between ‘want’ and ‘need’ to dealing with the loss of a loved one, and from rural Ireland to a bazaar in Egypt; ‘The Long Gaze Back’ takes us on a remarkable journey, and on April 12, it led us to Blanchardstown Library for a special late night event. At 8pm, the […]
From making a choice between ‘want’ and ‘need’ to dealing with the loss of a loved one, and from rural Ireland to a bazaar in Egypt; ‘The Long Gaze Back’ takes us on a remarkable journey, and on April 12, it led us to Blanchardstown Library for a special late night event.
At 8pm, the lending desk fell quiet and attention turned, instead, to the Culture Corner, where the stage was set for a fascinating panel discussion, led by the Editor of the One City, One Book selection for 2018, Sinéad Gleeson.
Approximately forty literary fans gathered in the library for the after-hours event, to hear from Sinéad and our other special guests; Lia Mills, Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, and Bernie McGill, whose stories featured in the anthology of Irish women writers.
Describing publishers New Island Books as ‘a great and wonderful champion of women who write’, Sinéad started the event by explaining her love of the short story, before entering into an eye-opening conversation with Lia, Éilís, and Bernie about their experiences and observations as female writers in Ireland.
Éilís spoke about her education, and noted that Emily Brontë and Emily Dickinson were the only female writers on the syllabus.
“I think you had to be called Emily to make it there,” she laughed.
The writers then addressed the gender imbalance that often occurs, specifically in the literary world, and they spoke of female writers who sent their works to publishers under a male pseudonym, with successful results. Lia shared her thoughts on the matter, making the point that this inequality is not as a result of a conscious decision. There’s ‘no malice’ in it, she said, adding; “It’s a kind of gender blindness that happens”.
Bernie drew laughs from the crowd, meanwhile, when she told of her experience as a Northern Irish female writer. After Sinéad pointed out the difficulties that may have arisen for Bernie, the writer smiled; “It’s great to be in two minority groups”.
Chairing a truly thought-provoking conversation, Sinéad also invited questions from the audience, and introduced the writers as they each read an excerpt from their featured short stories; Éilís’ ‘The Coast of Wales’; Lia’s ‘The Crossing’; and Bernie’s ‘A Fuss’.
Led by Dublin City Libraries and Dublin UNESCO City of Literature, the One City, One Book initiative encourages everyone to read a particular book during the month of April each year. This year’s selection, ‘The Long Gaze Back’ is available to borrow from Fingal Libraries in standard, large print, and audiobook formats, and to download on the BorrowBox app.
By Aoife Carberry, Blanchardstown Library