"This Week in Literary History" is the first of a few new segments we will be introducing to the HFR blog in the coming weeks. It will be a good way for us all to keep up on our history, read some awesome lit journals and remember to sing our favorite writers "Happy Birthday" on their special day.
June 13th was the 145th birthday of Irish poet, playwright and Nobel Prize winner William Butler Yeats. I'd like to think if he were still alive today he would have celebrated with a nice bottle of Jameson and a virtual tour of his own exhibit in the National Library of Ireland. That's what I would do anyway.
Sticking with the Irish Modernists, the grand-daddy of them all, James Joyce, met his wife for the first time on June 16, 1904. This became what Joyce used in his masterpiece, Ulysses, as the day the reader follows Leopold Bloom on his passage through Dublin. In 1954, June 16th was officially dubbed "Bloomsday" in celebration of Joyce and his work. It's celebrated every year in Dublin with pub crawls and marathon readings of Ulyssses lasting up to 38 hours. There's even an "odyssey" 12-kilometer race held in Spokane, Washington each year. With a holiday like that, who needs Christmas?
Speaking of Spokane, I was thumbing through the June 1999 issue of Spokane's own Willow Springs this morning when I came across two poems by Tomas O'Leary. He's from Boston, not Ireland (although he does share his name with a pretty popular Irish rugby player), and his poems are pretty awesome. Unfortunately neither of the two poems published in the issue are available online, but you can check out some selected pieces from other writers in the issue here. Or check out an interview with Tomas O'Leary here. Or read this awesome interview Willow Springs did back in Fall of '06 with poet and HFR frequenter Beckian Fritz Goldberg. The possibilities are endless.
And while we are on the whole Irish kick, everyone should pick up an issue of HFR #43 from Fall/Winter 08-09 where we published Billy O'Callaghan's short story, "On The Beach" (originally written in Gaelic). Billy contributed to the blog back in November of '08, talking about the difficulties of navigating the publishing world in his homeland of Ireland. Don't get frustrated Billy! Don't pull a James Joyce and burn your manuscript!