Welcome to the Munster
Founded in 1993, the Munster Literature Centre (Ionad Litríochta an Deiscirt) 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.
Southword Editions, 2005.
Poems by Dana Podracká. Translated from Slovak by Robert Welch.
Dana Podracká's poems explore the interior landscape of suffering; they work to establish a counterweight to the emptiness and loneliness of markets, power and money. Full of startling images and sudden transitions, her poems act as prayers in a world where plunder, cruelty and indifference threaten to rule unchallenged. Podracka's voice is an essential witness to atrocities committed systematically by power elites in the heart of Europe.
Selected Poems from Forty Four
Beauty Will Save the World
(for Fyodor Dostoyevsky)
I swore it, Fyodor Michażloviez,
as I put fresh eggs and apples
on your grave, my first time in Russia,
I swore it: beauty will save the world.
I kept dancing all night long
in a ballroom filling more and more
with love as it grew emptier,
and you were asking who I was and whom
I had met, what I had seen. And I,
just saying, beauty, beauty:
a small bird on a white stone,
its red beak, sweet bread, smiles,
the depth of Lake Baikal
in the steppes of Siberia, kissing
and sighing in Russian, saying
beauty will save the world. Mad
with emotion I embraced
the Russian (maybe Rogozhin)
snaking my limbs from head to heel all around
his body while drinking champagne,
when I touched, on his calf, like a snag
on a silver birch, the duty gun.
Beauty will save the world.
One more short throw on the roulette,
Beauty will save
the poor eaters of potatoes,
breathed upon by the steam of hot food,
rising like a photographic image forming
in the darkroom of lack;
will save those who eat the sacred food
of love breathing from the steam that rises
from a warm wood after rain through which
an airship sails;
will save those who eat the last fragments
of beauty breathed out in the steam hissing
from the showerheads in the concrete gas
chambers. O Christ, I am not complaining.
Seven minutes later, the doors were opened.
Men in gas masks, men who were themselves
prisoners too, came in and carried out
the corpses, which they had to prise apart.
They had, at the last, cleaved together
in little clusters now hard to separate.
In the middle of this chalice of arms and legs
the saviour suffered,
throwing himself into the air,
to the beauty.
A Roman Elegy
There are these feelings that do not
want to go away: an alcove with seven
windows of rain; a saloon
of stuccoed walls with reliefs
of faces over
garlands of roses.
They call silence back
to the real.
And of course, too, the mug
with the image of a wolf.
Alone, in this hollow room, trying to rest
amidst hillocks of clothes piled high
on a bed supported by four indefatigable legs
with their clawed feet
I was the only prey.
I was his she-wolf, sprawled out,
taking ease after interminable toil
on a bank of the Tiber
down which his basket had sailed.
We were hoped together as in a ring.
In the despair of the one who still
is in love I call to you for help.
I think I can do this because you did not
defame me; you brought me food,
you gave me a coat of arms, a sword,
and a bench in a white church.
And you left also, in me, a resolve,
should it happen that I am expelled
from the pack, to be wolf, lone wolf.
What I Learned from Bodhan
That, when we fall in love it should be
beautiful, so that when love ends
something remains that is
That, although psychology can unlock
secrets of belief and unbelief,
without love nothing steady can be made
that goes on through the night.
That, in the labyrinth water will stagnate
and poison us with the minotaur of sorrow,
but that, also, only the places where it is possible
to get lost are worth the journey.
That, Uz, the land of Job, was, in the twentieth century,
the concentration camps, where God’s will was amazed
by hope for a new Revelation.
That, after the Last Supper Adam and Eve got married.
That, as we believe less and less in the Heavenly
we more quickly touch the lives of others,
and let them enter into us
while on this earth.
That, a poet being an animal of mythology,
it should be hunted as it runs, so
the two strongest virtues may not vanish from the
resignation and revolt.
Copyright ©2005 Dana Podracká
English translation Copyright ©2005 Robert Welch
Dana Podracká was born in 1954 in Banská Štiavnica in Slovakia. She studied psychology at Comanius University, Bratislava, after which she worked as an editor in a publishing house. Poetry collections include: The Moon Lover (1981), Winter Guests (1984); Scripture (1993); Name (1999) Catacombs (2004). She has also published collections of essays and books for children. In 2002 she entered the Slovak Parliament as an M.P. in the People’s Party Movement. She believes that poetry provides a counterweight to the global impulse by looking into the interior, and that this countervailing is essential to human survival.
Robert Welch is a novelist, poet and critic. His poetry collections include Muskerry (1991), Secret Societies (1997) and The Blue Formica Table (1999); fiction includes The Kilcolman Notebook (1994), Groundwork (1997) and Tearmann (1997, in Irish). Amongst his critical works are Irish Poetry from Moore to Yeats (1980), Changing States: Transformations in Modern Irish Writing (1993), A History of the Abbey Theatre: Form and Pressure (1999). He was editor of the Oxford Companion to Literature (1996). Groundwork was a New York Times Book of the Year in 1998.
He was born in Cork, educated at Coláiste Chríost Rí, University College, Cork, and Leeds University. Married with four children, he is a Professor of English at the University of Ulster in Northern Ireland.
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