Welcome to the Munster
Founded in 1993, the Munster Literature Centre (Tigh Litríochta) is a non-profit arts organisation dedicated to the promotion and celebration of literature, especially that of Munster. To this end, we organise festivals, workshops, readings and competitions. Our publishing section, Southword Editions, publishes a biannual journal, poetry collections and short stories. We actively seek to support new and emerging writers and are assisted in our efforts through funding from Cork City Council, Cork County Council and the Arts Council of Ireland.
Originally located in Sullivan's Quay, the centre moved to its current premises in the Frank O'Connor House (the author's birthplace) at 84 Douglas Street, in 2003.
In 2000, the Munster Literature Centre organised the first Frank O'Connor International Short Story Festival, an event dedicated to the celebration of the short story and named for one of Cork's most beloved authors. The festival showcases readings, literary forums and workshops. Following continued growth and additional funding, the Cork City - Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award was introduced in 2005, coinciding with Cork's designation as that year's European Capital of Culture. The award is now recognised as the single biggest prize for a short story collection in the world and is presented at the end of the festival.
In 2002, the Munster Literature Centre introduced the Seán Ó Faoláin Short Story Prize, an annual short story competition dedicated to one of Ireland's most accomplished story writers and theorists. This too is presented during the FOC festival. The centre also hosts the Cork Spring Literary Festival each year.
Workshops are held by featured authors in both autumn and spring, allowing the general public to receive creative guidance in an intimate setting for a minimal fee. In addition, the centre sponsors a Writer in Residence each year.
We invite you to browse our website for further information regarding our events, Munster literature, and other literary information. Should you have any queries, we would be happy to hear from you.
A Stay in a Sanatorium
Southword Editions, 2005.
Poems by Zbyněk Hejda. Translated from the Czech by Bernard O'Donoghue.
Zbyněk Hejda is among the select Czech authors and poets who were banned from publishing in their homeland during the Communist era. As one commentator has said, "his poems have little hope in them and display no socialist optimism". If there is little hope in his work, there is yet much humour and tenderness. Dreams, erotica, the pain of aging and nostalgia for the dead are frequent subject matter in this selection of translations, rendered into affecting English by the award-winning Irish poet Bernard O'Donoghue.
What the critics have said:
"O'Donoghue has rendered Zbyněk Hejda's A Stay in a Sanatorium with particular grace." -The Irish Book Review
"As Tomas Mik wrote 12 years ago, Hejda is `one of the most important Czech poets'. It's a great pleasure to see him brought, at least in part, to the English-speaking world." -The Guardian
"Zbyněk Hejda, translated by Bernard O'Donoghue, is indeed a voice out of the grand tradition of central European poetics. Hejda is playful and profound, narrative yet focused, and his evocative 'slant' diction is nevertheless plainly truth-telling. Poetry with this kind of courage is real poetry with structure and range, and O'Donoghue renders it with a clear, untroubled surface through which that range makes itself apparent." -The Irish Times
Selected Poems from A Stay in a Sanitorium
In the Summer, Now it’s Evening
In the summer, now it’s evening,
take refuge in the graveyard.
Overhead the birds settling;
below them lines and shadows
where white walls hold the sunlight.
In the paths between the headstones
women with water-jars
from wellside to graveside, back and forth.
Church-door wide open.
Shafts of mote-dust
in the silent space.
But there’s one woman praying
in a bench that dwarfs her.
From the chapel garden comes
the sound of laughing: of girls surely.
One hangs out clothes, off-white
from long years of washing.
On tombs along the church wall
inscriptions worn off
by time’s working and the weather.
The lime tree’s balm falls
on the statue of St John
bent double by its years,
and blackened by the ages.
From the pub across the road
a man reels out. Behind him also
working-girls’ voices. You smell burning
from their hard waist-embraces.
The sun goes down
slowly. The shadows grow still longer.
The Evening’s Breeze is Mild
Evening breeze is mild.
Late light on the whitewashed wall.
Olive-groves give shading to the twilight,
colours soften to brown or dark gold-green.
The master is here already, with his followers
in the garden’s shade. Night comes.
Birds fall silent. The lights go out.
Night-sky deepens; sleep comes
at the end of this long day.
The wind gives a sudden shake
to the leaf-cover on the trees.
The sky plunges downwards.
Trees loom from the darkness.
The thorn hardens in the next wound.
Loneliness drops from the air.
Silence as punishment.
It’s no good darkness shrouding the voice.
Everything is asleep.
The bell twists the heart’s pain.
Nowhere, no-one, dear God.
In Grandfather’s farmyard
In grandfather’s farmyard. Music perches on the branches of the majestic
chestnut tree. Musicians too have their instruments at the ready, about to start a
song, but it's not yet quite time; the music still perches in the trees. The musicians,
one after another, climb to the treetop to reach the music. In the process one of
them damages his huge Saxhorn. It turns out that part of the instrument is
missing; strangely, I am holding the missing part in my hands. I throw it up to him in
the branches but it falls back down; it is battered by the branches and lands on the
ground, dented. But it is made of soft, pliable metal, so I repair it easily and throw it
back up into the branches. The musician catches it and fits it back between
the other two parts of the instrument. But the music still doesn't start. We are
waiting for something. This makes me anxious, and so does something else–
everything is a bit different here. In reality the majestic chestnut tree stands more in
the background, as far back as the shed, and there is no chestnut tree at that spot
any more. The stump of another chestnut (or of the same one?) is now in the place
where really the little wooden summerhouse should be, and so on. Then I get the
idea; I am afraid that we are waiting for the start of a funeral…but, to set against
those fears, there is that ease and relaxation in the attitudes of the musicians….
Copyright ©2005 Zbyněk Hejda
English translation Copyright ©2005 Bernard O'Donoghue
Zbyněk Hejda was born in Hradec Králové in 1930. His first volume of poetry was published in Prague in 1963. When he joined Charter 77 he was dismissed from his job in a publishing house and became a janitor. During the 1980’s all of his publications were with Samizdat presses. From 1987 he was co-director of the Samizdat publication Central Europe. After 1990 he taught medical ethics at Charles University. He won the Jaroslav Seifert prize in 1996. He has translated the work of Emily Dickenson, Georg Trakl and Gottfried Benn. He divides his time between Prague and the village of Horní Ves.
Bernard O’Donoghue was born in Cullen in North Cork in 1945. He teaches medieval English at Wadham College, Oxford. His Selected Poems was published by Faber in 2008. The Whitbread prize for poetry is among the awards he has received. He has translated medieval love poetry, as well as poems from Irish and Italian.
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The Munster Literature Centre produces the Irish section of this prestigious poetry site. Current featured poets are from Landing Places, the new Dedalus anthology of immigrant poets. For further information, please visit the site at www.poetryinternational.org.
The Munster Literature Centre hosts two annual festivals. The larger Cork City - Frank O'Connor International Short Story Festival takes place each September, while the Cork Spring Literary Festival, with varying themes, is presented each spring. Further information is available on our drop down menus.
Workshops in poetry and fiction run in Spring and Winter at MLC. Contact Jennifer for more information.
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