Launch of The Groundsmen at The Irish Writers Centre, Dublin

Irish Writers Centre

Readings from The Groundsmen interspersed with fireside chat in the company of Sean Campbell of Epoque Press, Safe Ireland and guests in The Irish writers Centre, Dublin. The author spoke of the challenging subject matter of her novel and the need to reach a wider audience in order to elicit social change. The narrative voice, interpreting imagery, Greek dynasties and savage social realism were all discussed but it was the compelling lyricism of the written words which captivated listeners.

The Groundsmen by Lynn Buckle published by Epoque Press

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The Ancients are Coming

Header The Ancients are Coming

The shortlist for this year’s Women’s Prize for literature included, besides Anna Burns’ Milkman, two authors whose work reflects the current trend for re-worked Greek mythology. Madeline Miller and Pat Barker, listed for their novels Circe and Silence of the Girls, are just two of the many authors writing today who draw on the ancient past for their inspiration. Irish author Lynn Buckle, whose nomination for the Women’s Prize just missed the list, also references mythology in her novel The Groundsmen. This Greek family tragedy was published in 2018 and is followed by Paul Haddon’s latest novel on similar themes, The Porpoise.

Why the preponderance of mythopoeia in literary fiction? Are there no new stories to be told, are these just re-workings of old tropes? If a novel contains appalling behaviour, family drama, endless sparring or infidelity on an epic scale, it is simply describing the human condition. The Greeks serialised our morality, foibles and failures in the guise of Gods and Goddesses lest we recognise our mortal selves – or lest we don’t. These ancient insights remain pertinent, they are as eternal as immortality itself. And that is the point, we are always ourselves; misogynistic, warring, selfish, idolising, yearning perfectionists. Tragic, clever and beautiful.

The regurgitating, the reinventing, the references and re-writes of Greek mythology will continue for as long as humanity remains on this planet. In case it doesn’t we have been warned by the many versions of dystopian literature which deal in apocalyptic disaster. But Dystopia was never an imaginary place of future ruination, it is now, and authors are at pains to either point out our dystopia-blindness or to salve our weariness of it with idealised beauties and escapist yarns. Authors and readers alike fall into one or other classical camp. But then every human discord has an opposing virtue and a story to help us to understand it. Authors of these stories are seeking congruence with the ancients or opposing them, either way the Greeks are lending credence to contemporary fiction. Pat Barker rights gender imbalance wrongs in her Silence of the Girls, giving a voice to women, not just of the past, in her re-telling of Homer’s Trojan Wars. Narrated by Briseis who was virtually ignored by Homer, it an attempt to give a feminist perspective for women of the present. Country by Michael Hughes also revives the Iliad but sets it in Northern Ireland where conflict and sexist wrongs continue aplenty although Anna Burns winningly attests to this in Milkman without so much as a glimpse of a Grecian. Madeline Miller’s classicist background lends academic rigor to an engagingly written Circe, the novel’s heroine being an extension of Homer’s same character in the Odyssey. Here she presents us with timeless dilemmas. Others, like Daisy Johnson in Everything Under and Lynn Buckle in The Groundsmen set their stories in contemporary life and weave mythological allusions and archetypes throughout their tales like Arachne herself.

Paul Haddon, best known for The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time (2003), feels that mythology lends a respectability in which the author can couch contentious issues. The Porpoise and The Groundsmen are both family dramas addressing the delicate subjects of incest and domestic abuse. Although Haddon’s is a contemporary swashbuckling fantasy adventure, both deal with age-old paedophilia, using ancient myths to add meaning to their characters. The Porpoise is a re-working of Shakespeare’s story of Pericles whereas The Groundsmen creates a new myth for the modern world. From tragedy to beauty, on Mount Olympus or in Mountjoy Square, these authors tread in well-worn footsteps.

Lynn Buckle, art historian, artist, activist, and author of The Groundsmen published by époque press (2018), will be giving a richly illustrated talk on the Greek art and mythology which inspired The Groundsmen in Maynooth library as part of Kildare Readers’ Festival on October 15th.  Meanwhile Lynn can be heard giving talks on her work as part of the Waterstones Myth, Narrative & Social Action tour throughout Ireland and the UK, details here News & Events

Greywood Arts Writers’ Retreat for Carers Bursary Prizes

Writing Room

The Greywood Arts Mini Writers Retreat for Carers Award

Having been a recipient of this fantastic multi-faceted bursary, I just wanted to laud the many prizes which come with the award and to encourage other writers who are also carers to apply for it. Very few of us are care-free, we are all needed by someone at some stage in our lives, but if your writing life is restricted by your responsibilities to others then you will understand why this award was set up to support those who really need it and who can’t avail of the usual literary routes and opportunities. The award is far more than just a retreat.

A collective of five artistic altruistic women – Jessica Bonefant, Rose Servitova, Sharon Thompson, Kit de Waal and Sally Vince – combined their resources to enable other writers to benefit from this award which comes in 4 parts;

Firstly is the residency at Greywood Arts in Killeagh, Co Cork, run by Jessica Bonefant @greywood_arts and generously sponsored by author Rose Servitova @roseservitova. Awardees are given a really helpful stipend, courtesy of award-winning author Kit de Waal @KitdeWaal, for their stay. Accommodation includes not just your own room but a writing room overlooking the River Dissour. A wonderful mix of dancers, film-makers, artists, and writers fill the building with their creative energy. I edited my manuscript there, took long walks in Glenbower woods, wrote poetry, visited the beach and churned out thousands of words for my next novel. All of this without any interruption! It was a truly productive time.

River Dissour

On top of this, writers are are also given a prize of the editorial services of Sally Vince @EditorSal. This, as any author knows, is invaluable in preparing work for submission – adding a truly professional and finished edge to your writing. We have worked together for a while now and I am truly amazed at Sally’s skills. She is impartial, encouraging and an utterly brilliant editor. I cannot thank her enough for all of the work that she has (voluntarily) put into me.

Finally, we all need to engage with other writers and to improve our craft and what better way to do this than to join an online writers’ group? For those who live in remote areas, are constrained by their caring duties, or just very busy, an online group is a no-brainer. Part of the Greywood Bursary includes free membership of Sharon Thompson’s online group Indulge in Writing By joining this I have found my tribe of fellow authors where we share and support one another through private facebook groups, weekly online meet-ups and fantastic Crowdcasts where specialists from the literary and publishing world share their knowledge and answer questions. I highly recommend this as I have made so many useful contacts through Indulge in Writing, learnt so much about my craft, had my hand held and hopefully helped others and my confidence has blossomed. All of this from the convenience of my lap-top.

Redbarn

So a huge thanks to the benefactors of the Greywood Arts Mini-Writers Retreat for Carers for giving me a leg-up on the basis of my writing and for acknowledging that it has been tough getting here. The prizes which constitute this award are far-ranging and I highly recommend applying (see link above).

#WorldPoetryDay19

An Exercise in Humiliation by Lynn Buckle

Hopes queued in the line of prospective tenants

Eligible, desirable, reliable, proof of current employment?

You’re on the Rent Scheme? Must call in the pest control.

Call out the roll call and the twenty-four reduces some more

when the agent asks for cash up-front of

eighteen hundred and then some more for

the next three months and another amount

because he’s a cunt

and thinks you’ll wreck the gaff, despite his filtering system in eugenics.

Sneers

Shouldn’t breed if they’re homeless.

(published in HCE Review 2017 and Luisne an Chleite 2018)

Readathon for International Women’s Day at Irish Writers’ Centre

In celebration of International Women’s Day, The Irish Writers’ Centre are hosting a cross-border readathon on Saturday 9th March. Come along anytime from 11am-4pm to hear excerpts of women’s work in the beautiful setting of 19 Parnell Square. Authors from all over the country will be converging on the centre to read their latest pieces and if you want to hear a snapshot from The Groundsmen, I will be quoting from it at around 3.15pm – for the one in four women who are experiencing domestic abuse today.

UK closes my childhood library

I am gutted to discover that my childhood library in Long Ashton, near Bristol, is to close it’s doors forever as part of a cost-cutting exercise by North Somerset County Council. This is the place where my love of reading began, where fact-finding was an enchantment and books my passion. It furnished my voracious appetite for stories and  built the foundations for my future career as an author. My current local library in Co Kildare, Ireland is a thriving hub of learning and has seen the successful launch of many professional writers. It is valued and maintained as an essential resource for readers, artists, writers, computer programmers, children, adults, teens, learners, students, toddlers and lists too long to include about the social and economic benefits of a free library service. UK library closures are not, I would argue, a matter of prioritizing services within an ever-shrinking budget. It is a matter of much wider political significance. One must question a society which allows an ever-shrinking budget in an already inequitable society. Long Ashton is of mixed socio-economic demographics but it is fair to say that a very large proportion of the home-owners there are ABC1s who could no doubt self-fund and volunteer to set up their own community library to replace the one which is to be lost – an expressed intention in the council’s decision-making. Not every area can afford this or has the social capital quotient. What then? Put simply, the social divide widens, more austerity follows, until eventually a critical mass is reached and enough people are deprived enough to revolt.

Dangerous stuff, closing libraries.

Lynn Buckle is author of The Groundsmen published by @Epoque_Press and Luisne an Chleite, a Kildare Collective published by @Kildarelibrary also sponsored by @Creativeirl 

@ClerkLAPC @Bristol Live @NorthSomersetC @LibrariesWest

Luisne an Chleite

A Kildare collective by Wordsmiths Writers Group was launched at Kildare Readers Festival in Riverbank Arts Centre on 13th October. This beautifully illustrated selection of poetry and prose in Irish, English and Welsh is testament to the rich talent to be found in County Kildare and the valuable role libraries play in nurturing writers, artists and the Irish language.

front-cover-anthology.jpg   Rear cover anthology - Copy

ISBN 978-0-9561244-8-7
Published by Kildare County Council Library and Arts Service 2018

 

On the Benefits of Joining a Writing Group;

       ‘Shop fronts collapsing…man covering body with newspaper,’

Jesus. Kept awake. By accounts of bombings and heart-rending stories and shorts on the topic of Hindustanii temples while eating porridge with a grandma in a rucksack. That’s both in the rucksack, if you’re wondering about my grammar, but no one does in the back room of a library of a Saturday morning or if they do they’ll have told you ten thousand times already and know you’ll enjoy ignoring them in the presence of your own budding genius. Put simply it’s a place to experiment and to find what works, which usually occurs the moment you start reading and realise what useless verbiage you came up with in your sitting room while pretending to watch the news.

And what did you write that for?’ asks man to the left.

And you’re back there, in English class, 1974. Man-to-the-left lifts the question and re questions himself with an answer about Leonard Cohen and we’re going. Along. On his train of thought and it’s just a thought but did you hear the one about The Inspector? Insider information and our writing group’s instigator, agitator, common-denominator regales us with stories and the telling has no ending or beginning but is filling us with confidence of a morning and that’s how it works. Quite simple really. Begotten. You should try it. So A N Other writes a poem about yer woman’s delivery of her delivery. Of sadness. It’s poignant but we don’t say it. Can’t. But the words do and we are double-whammied until I read my swear-load of bile’s bile and the world is a God-awful place. Saints sing across tables instead and we see the value of beauty and Celtic myth as someone speaks of dew and times and scribes and natures way of healing and She does all this in this smallest place of hunger. In the library. There’s a place for every wordsmith.

‘Revenue gave me tax-exempt status.’

‘Bullshit.’

Writing continues.

 

 

 

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Tom Carlisle’s review of The Groundsmen

‘Lynn Buckle’s debut novel is a work of extraordinary power, but it’s also a deeply troubling book: a story that makes you question the moral duty of fiction, and the expectations we have of novels…..The Groundsmen is the work of a very good writer, and I think it has potential to be seen as an important book...’

To read Tom Carlisle’s full review of The Groundsmen click The Independent Literary Fiction blog

 

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