live and online, the best of both worlds

“It’s really amazing how much resilience there is in human nature. Let every hindering cause, come what may, be removed by any means, even by death, and we fly back to the rudiments of hope and pleasure.” Dracula, by Bram Stoker

Resistance. Heap. pleasure. These are three powerful words, and when I read the quote, I immediately thought of the art world I’ve worked in for almost 12 years. The pandemic arrived and shook the world to its core. But in this time of upheaval, chaos and fear, artists and art organizations around the world adapted and came up with creative ways to bring art to their audiences. Writers, musicians, publishers, festivals, illustrators worked tirelessly to overcome an incredibly challenging time. The motivation? An unwavering passion for the arts.

The Dublin Book Festival has been adapted and gone online in 2020. We reached out to other struggling arts organizations and partnered with writers, publishers, illustrators and musicians to deliver one of our largest programs ever. Our audience came from Ireland and abroad, reaching numbers we’d never seen before.

This year we’re excited to be back in front of live audiences as we head back to many of our favorite Dublin venues; Smock Alley Theatre, National Botanic Gardens, Dublin City Libraries, The Chester Beatty, Dublin Port, Irish Writers’ Centre, Easons, Irish Pen and more! Tickets to live events are limited as for the comfort and safety of our audience, attendees and staff we maintain a 60 percent capacity at all venues.

Every email or phone call I have with publishers, artists, venues and partners has the same sense of excitement and hope. We’re going to see each other again in real life. Yes, we loved looking at each other’s bedrooms and kitchens, meeting the pets, partners and children, but really talking face-to-face, sitting in a room listening to the artists we work so hard to bring together. It’s almost waiting for Christmas!

Likewise, we don’t want to leave out those who enjoy the flexibility of watching an event from the comfort of their home or our new clients from other provinces and countries! As a result, for the first time ever, the festival will feature live streaming events from Smock Alley Theater over the weekend. The online element of the festival makes it more accessible and it’s wonderful to see all the different nationalities aligning themselves with the events – something that wouldn’t be possible without this new online platform.

Collaboration has always been central to the festival. Dublin Book Festival 2021 will once again see the coming together of Ireland’s best literary festivals, venues and arts organisations: West Cork Literary Festival, Belfast Book Festival, Murder One, IMRAM Féile Litríochta Gaeilge; international organizations including Solas Nua, USA and the Embassy of Chile in Ireland; and long-standing partners Dublin Unesco City of Literature, Irish Writers’ Centre, Children’s Books Ireland, Poetry Ireland, Fighting Words, An Post Irish Book Awards. While some of our venues are unable to physically open the doors, we will host virtual events with them: RDS Library and Archive, National Library of Ireland, The Museum of Literature Ireland and Science Gallery at Trinity College

History has always been a big hit with our audience and this year we have talks, walking tours and kids events to keep all ages happy. We’re working with the RDS library and archives for our opening event on Monday, November 8th. Turtle Bunbury will talk with author and polar historian Michael Smith about his new book Icebound in the Arctic, a compelling exploration of the efforts of Captain Francis Crozier, a key figure in 19th-century Arctic and Antarctic exploration. With the centenary of the Irish Civil War approaching, Diarmaid Ferriter, Hilary Dully and Caoimhe Nic Dháibhéid will discuss the role of women during the War of Independence and the Civil War. Step back in time with the beautiful Pat Liddy for an entertaining walking tour of Dublin city, learning about and seeing the many places associated with famous writers from the 18th century to the latest releases.

We also have two fantastic virtual online events from the beautiful National Library; Éilis Ní Dhuibhne talks to author Liz McManus and poet Mary O’Donnell as they star in Look! It’s a female writer! Prof Bryan Fanning will discuss his new book Diverse Republic with author and scientist Melatu Uche Okorie.

We are excited to partner with the Chilean Embassy to bring author Benjamin Labatut to our audience for an online event where we talk with broadcaster Rick O’Shea about his novel When We Cease to Understand the World. Shortlisted for this year’s International Booker Prize, the book is an intoxicating mix of fact and fiction about how the world’s greatest minds can wreak the greatest havoc.

Our live events kick off on November 12 with RTÉ Radio 1’s Arena host Seán Rocks talking to Roddy Doyle, Lisa Harding, Caitriona Lally and Hugo Hamilton with music by Lisa O’Neill, also broadcast live on the radio from Smock Alley theater . Our annual booklovers Dublin City Libraries Readers’ Morning returns to Smock Alley with Niall MacMonagle in conversation with bestselling author Sarah Winman, followed by debut authors Ann Ingle and Luke Cassidy. Emilie Pine then talks to playwright, performer and columnist Rosaleen McDonagh about her intrepid essay collection Unsettled.

We have a new DBF venue this year, at The Pumphouse, Dublin Port, here you can listen to Jo Kerrigan discuss her new book Stories from the Sea, or soak up the atmosphere and enjoy music and chat with Tadhg MacDhonnagháin who are discusses life and work with writer and presenter Cathal Póirtéir.

Attendees will also have the chance to immerse themselves in the natural world by joining us for an afternoon at the National Botanic Gardens, Glasnevin, where authors Declan Murphy and Manchán Magan will explore Declan’s voyage of discovery of the kingfisher by a river in Wicklow. discuss.

Of course, we also have some great events for kids, who can join us in person or through online events and workshops. Get them ready to dance and sing along with author Muireann Ni Chiobhain in a fun, interactive, bilingual event based on her book Eoinín. Beginning authors can get started at the creative writing workshop with Fighting Words.

There’s something very special about 2021. I feel that everyone appreciates being able to step across the threshold of so many locations more, to come together to listen to the authors who have helped us over the past year. There’s a sense of hope and excitement that we, at DBF, really want to tap into… and we hope you all will too!

Julianne Siron is the director of Dublin Book Festival, which runs from November 8-15. dublinbookfestival.com

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