IN APRIL, Galway will host a landmark project showcasing and celebrating 80 writers and illustrators from ethnic minority backgrounds in Ireland.
While Irish literature is widely recognised and admired across the world, recent studies by Words Ireland and the Arts Council found the Irish literature sector does not reflect the breadth and diversity of writing talent working in Ireland today.
This fact will be addressed by Breaking Ground Ireland, presented by the Cúirt International Festival of Literature and NUI Galway, in collaboration with Speaking Volumes, the British based literature organisation specialising in the promotion of underrepresented voices.
Photo:- Boyd Challenger
Breaking Ground Ireland is a continuation of Speaking Volumes existing Breaking Ground series, which has supported the careers of hundreds of British writers and illustrators of colour.
Visibility is an important step on the path to building a career as a writer, and a key outcome of Breaking Ground Ireland will be a booklet, to be issued in print and digital format, showcasing writers at every stage of their careers from emerging and early-career to established voices.
The booklet will raise the profile of 80 contemporary Irish authors from under-represented, culturally diverse backgrounds - including Irish Travellers - and will be a resource demonstrating the range of contemporary Irish literature.
The booklet will be distributed to organisations around Ireland including publishers, editors, festivals, arts organisations and local authorities, and will launch at Cúirt 2022, which this year takes place from April 6 to 10.
'A wondrous harvest'
The project has been welcomed by leading Irish writer Sebastian Barry. “What a joy, an inspiration, and a revelation it has been to read and experience in recent years the revolutionary work of Oein deBhairduin, Rosaleen McDonagh, Yan Ge, Melatu Uche Okorie, among others,” he said. “These might once have been designated ‘marginal‘ voices. Now they are central, restoring the ground of Irish Literature, erecting graceful, healing, urgent structures of words. Any expansion in this area will be only a boon and a wondrous harvest for Irish literature.”
Chandrika Narayanan-Mohan, the Dublin-based, writer, performer, and cultural consultant from India, said it was “great to see a major Irish festival working with another organisation that specialises in getting underrepresented voices heard”.
She added: “Committing to supporting 80 artists through this initiative will make a real impact on the Irish literary landscape, enabling the sector and its audiences to read works by writers that are creating brilliant new work.”
Additional project partners include The Irish Writers Centre. Together with Cuirt, IWC will devise a bespoke development programme for up to six writers from Breaking Ground Ireland.
For more information see www.cuirt.ie/breaking-ground-ireland/ and https://speaking-volumes.org.uk