Writers@work is an offshoot of the EFACIS project Literature as Translation.
The second project in this series focused on John Banville (johnbanville.eu). In “Fiction and the Dream” Banville summarized what writing meant to him; this was translated into 40 languages, and other famous authors reacted to it, so on the website you find beautiful responses from Claudio Magris, Georgi Gospodinov, Carmen Boullosa, Corin Braga, 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? Is the literary translation of life into literature something that can be compartimentalized, is it an unceasing commitment, or a combination of both? Does the unconscious come into play, and if so, how? What is an ideal sentence to you and why?
What was meant as a fun exercise in honest self-reflection 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, or more, if the arc of the meditation /plot would demand more scope.
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 we are different, not just in the @sign, but in that our contributors were exclusively ‘Irish’, meaning they either lived on the island (north, south, commuting or as a traveller), or in the diaspora. Boylan’s interviews were collected in 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), saluting Boylan’s book and referring to a vital line in Banville’s key essay.
Use of this Website
People interested in the writers listed here will find an in-depth description of their writing process.
As all the texts on this website have been published under the Creative Commons Licence 04 it means that they are freely available. If readers 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 authors on this website are listed in the Irish Itinerary, which means that you can invite them either for a full visit (once Covid restrictions are lifted) or for a virtual one (For organization see https://www.efacis.eu/irish-itinerary).
This project has been made possible thanks to the help of many people.
I am 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. Our sincere thanks go to the Irish College Leuven which has been supporting us since EFACIS was (re)founded in 2012. Without the support of the DFAT and the College this initiative would never have come about. 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 a success. A word of thanks also to Jing Yun whose updating of the website makes it even more user-friendly.
We hope that you and your students will enjoy the texts.