I am in Armagh this week for the John Hewitt International Summer School, a week of creative writing workshops, readings, music, and theatre presented by the John Hewitt Society.
The John Hewitt Society was established in 1987, to commemorate the life and work of renowned Northern Irish poet John Hewitt.
The mission of The John Hewitt Society is: to promote literature, arts, and culture inspired by the ideals and ideas of the poet John Hewitt.
Hewitt’s work and writings transcended traditional divisions, and The Society feels a responsibility to continue his work by bringing different identities together in safe circumstances via literature and creative writing.
The life and writings of John Hewitt – in particular his love of the Ulster landscape and his concept of regionalism – lend themselves not only to the expansion of the public’s enjoyment of literature in general, but also the exploration, and repair of Northern Ireland’s deeply divided society.
The Society actively promotes cross-community and cross-border links and, through its work, it plays a very real role in reinforcing the peace process in Northern Ireland, by providing safe, neutral spaces for its activities and creating cultural activities and events to encourage debate, understanding, tolerance and acceptance of cultural diversity.
I am one of several bursary winners from both the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland who are attending the school.
There are also workshops on screenwriting, poetry, memoir writing, and writing YA fiction.
Armagh will be host to a wide range of poets, writers, musicians, and artists, including Donal Ryan, Belinda McKeon, Mikel Murfi, Jo Baker, Glenn Patterson, Sinéad Morrissey, Jack Doherty, Martina Devlin, and Paul Durcan.
For more information and to book tickets to events, visit the John Hewitt Society website.
For a countryman the living landscape is
a map of kinship at one level,
at another, just below this, a chart of use,
never at any level a fine view:
sky is a handbook of labour or idleness;
wind in one airt is the lapping of hay,
in another a long day at turf on the moss;
landscape is families, and a lone man
boiling a small pot, and letters once a year;
it is also, underpinning this, good corn
and summer grazing for sheep free of scab
and fallow acres waiting for the lint.
So talk of weather is also talk of life,
and life is man and place and these have names.
Landscape by John Hewitt