Writers@work is an offshoot of the EFACIS project Literature as Translation.
Its first instalment, Yeats Reborn, translated a number of poems, plays and essays which touched on the theme of rebirth to celebrate the 150th anniversary of W.B. Yeats’s birth. They were translated into 22 languages.
The second EFACIS Translation project focused on John Banville: johnbanville.eu. The central text was “Fiction and the Dream”, in which the author summarized what writing meant to him; this was translated into 40 languages. We also invited writers from all over Europe to react to it and received beautiful responses from major authors such as Georgi Gospodinov, Claudio Magris, Corin Braga, Carmen Boullosa, Philippe Le Guillou and many others.
Next we invited Irish writers to react to Banville’s statement. We asked some extra questions such as:Which conditions do you need for your writing to flourish? Which are detrimental? Does mood play a role? Does writing need a room (physical, mental, emotional) of its own? Does the unconscious come into play, and if so, how? What was meant as a fun exercise in honest self-reflection seems to have turned into just that: contributors described their work in colourful, accurate and witty ways.
There was no pre-set format nor any restrictions in content nor form; it could be a short essay, a few aphorisms, a fictional scene, a (fictional) diary entry, a dialogue or a combination of these. The perfect size for essays was ideally between 1000 and 3000 words, but if the arc of the meditation /plot would demand more scope, that was fine. Because of its financial limitation the project investigated the writing process of prose fiction only.
The full title of Kaleidoscope’s first instalment is “Writers@work from the island of Ireland”. In the 1990s Clare Boylan had done a series of writers’ interviews for The Guardian, called “Writers at work”, but our contributors were exclusively ‘Irish’, meaning they either lived on the island (north, south, commuting or as a traveller), or in the diaspora and we used the @-sign. Her interviews were collected in her book The Agony and the Ego (1993); the texts of this website, plus ten extra, are published in The Danger and the Glory (Arlen House, 2019), in a salute to Boylan’s book and referring to a vital line in Banville’s essay.
Use of this Website
As all the texts on this website have been published under the Creative Commons Licence 04 it means that they are freely available. If lecturers and/or their students want to translate these texts, or parts of them, they are welcome to do it, as long as they give full, accurate reference to author and website.
Most of the writers on this website are listed in the Irish Itinerary, which means that you can invite them either for a full (post-COVID) visit or for a virtual one (see https://www.efacis.eu/irish-itinerary).
This project has been made possible thanks to the help of many people.
We are deeply grateful, first of all, to John Banville, for allowing the use of his text which anchors the whole project. A huge thank you also to the 50 writers who contributed to Kaleidoscope, 14 from the north, 32 from the south, 4 from the diaspora, 17 men, 33 women. My gratitude also goes to Alan Hayes and Anne Enright who were very helpful in bringing me into contact with several writers, as did Caroline Magennis and Dawn M. Sherratt-Bado. A very special word of thanks to Carlos Solis Reyes who is the ‘master of web revels’, always creative and ready to help. I am deeply indebted to Helena Nolan and Ruth Barrett at the Embassy of Ireland in Belgium, who helped me secure financial backing for this project, provided by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Without the support of the DFAT and the College this initiative would never have come about. Our sincere thanks to the Irish College Leuven which has been supporting us since EFACIS was (re)founded in 2012. And last but not least, a huge thank you to Rebecca Jackson, Sven Kretzschmar, Harry Thorrington and Stella Cheng, the team who supported everything. Extra thanks go to Ciarán Byrne, EFACIS coordinator, whose efficient correspondence and web-savvy approaches made the website to what it is today.
From here on, it is you, visitors and readers, who will make the website fly.