Birds & Ornithologists in Cork

I’m still recovering from a terrific time in Cork last week for the 10th International Conference on the Short Story in English. It was raining on Wednesday when I arrived at the Triskel Arts Centre just in time for a workshop with Robert Olen Butler. The key word from that is YEARNING.

On Thursday, the sun was out and we were welcomed in the midst of graduation ceremonies to the conference. Then followed panels and readings by critics and scholars (ornithologists) and writers (birds), and a Plenary Session on the Irish Short Story today. Colm Toibin gave a lunchtime reading, and then on to more panels and participant readings as per the Conference programme. I gave a paper on The Tell of Smell in the panel moderated by Juani Guerra on Cognition, Embodiment and Sensory Imagery and later on had the pleasure of introducing the readings by Allan Weiss and Evelyn Conlon, and of reading together with Vijay Lakshmi. The evening was rounded off by a reception hosted by the Lord Mayor of Cork.

Tobias Wolff read at lunchtime on Friday and panels and readings continued until Saturday evening with Plenary Sessions on varieties of short fiction criticism and theory (Susan Lohafer, Charles E. May, William H. New and James Nagel) and on What makes an American Writer with Clark Blaise, Ana Castillo, Bharati Mukherjee and Z.Z. Packer). Bharati Mukherjee and Robert Olen Butler also gave a reading at the Triskel Arts Centre on Friday night. Students of the University of Central Arkansas exhibited their paintings of selected short stories at the Centre and visitors dined on Guiness and salmon. Edna O’Brien gave a reading on Saturday evening which ended with a dinner at the Clarion Hotel. Pix of the events can be see at the Flickr set on the Conference here.

I was really pleased to meet and hang out with Patrick Cullen from the University of Newcastle and to hear his paper and listen to his fiction. Patrick’s (linked) story collection will be published by Scribe next year. Here’s a review by Patrick of Nam Le’s (unlinked) story collection, The Boat.

Other good happenings were sharing lodgings with Pat Jourdan, meeting up again with familiar faces first met back in 2002 in New Orleans and in 2004 in Alcala de henares, and meeting new scholars and writers in a setting which Conference Director Maurice Lee always says is one where both experienced and beginning writers and scholars all leave their egos at the door.

Another terrific conference experience which will trigger memories as I see all the things I’ve forgotten to mention.