Courses by Dr Simon Thomas

Irish Literature: The Dirty Dust (Cré na Cille)

This course will introduce readers to Alan Titley’s English translation of Máirtín O’Cadhain’s iconic and anarchic 1949 Irish novel for (dead) voices set in a Connemara graveyard, a work dubbed by Colm Tóibín ‘the greatest novel written in the Irish language’. Amongst an entertaining variety of tropes, riffs and motifs, in the course of which there will be spirited opportunities for group readings, individual presentations and in-depth conversation around this strange and stirring work, we will examine such themes as the spectral voice and the novel, township loyalties, literary profanity and Irish death rites. Subject to participants’ interests, we shall also take a look at the work’s wider contexts, affinities and iterations with reference to Beckett, Joyce, Flann O’Brien and Macdara Ó Fátharta’s stage adaptation. NB While knowledge of Irish is NOT a prerequisite for the course, which will focus attention on the English text, it will serve as an undoubted (and warmly welcomed) contribution to the group dynamic.

Starts THURSDAY 29th SEPTEMBER 2022 x 8 weeks.

Course concludes 15th November 2022.

Time: 8.00-10.00pm 

Venue: Zoom

Registration €165 Book here

Creative Writing: Dialoguing with the Monologue

Perhaps the most famous soliloquy on the modern stage – Hamlet’s searing ‘To be or not to be’ exercise in existential self-examination – inaugurated, for Harold Bloom, the birth of self-conscious genius in Western theatre. By means of a number of close readings of a carefully curated selection of seminal dramatic soliloquies/monologues in the Irish theatrical tradition – incorporating a preparatory exploration of the interplay between the two terms – we shall explore the liberty and limits of this enduring form of performative speech in relation to the shifting politics and poetics of introspection, irony, sexuality and personal identity. Extracts from a range of influential plays including Samuel Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape, Brian Friel’s Faith Healer, Conor McPherson’s The Good Thief and Geraldine Aron’s A Galway Girl will serve as the basis for creative reading and critical feedback on participant writing in this niche form. For writers with some experience.

STARTS FRIDAY 30th SEPTEMBER 2022 x 12 weeks

Concludes 16th December 2022

Venue : Zoom

Time: 8.00-10.00pm

Registration: €245 Book here.

Irish Literature: The ‘Aisling’ dream poem

How does dreaming enter poetic writing? What might it mean for a poet to be inspired by spiritual forms? In an increasingly disenchanted and dispirited world, what role, if any, could visionary experience play in the process of making verse? This course will explore the origins, inspirations and legacies of the evocative and enigmatic 17th and 18th century ‘Aisling’ (‘dream poem’) form, including its formative contexts in Irish mythology/mourning, the Celtic Revival (cf. W.B. Yeats and Lady Gregory’s 1902 play Cathleen Ni Houlihan) and the figure of the spéirbhean (‘heavenly woman’), culminating in an exploration of the late 20C poetics of one of its most dazzling devotees, the late Belfast poet Ciaran Carson. It will be of interest to all those who are interested in the intersections of dreaming, history, mythology and poetic writing in the Irish literary tradition.

Date: Sunday 2 October 2022 for 12 weeks

Course concludes 18th December 2022

Time: 8.00-10.00pm

Registration: €245 Book here