Monday, 11 July 2011
Now in its ninth year at the excellent Market Place Theatre in Armagh, the 24th John Hewitt International Summer School brings together well-known writers, artists, actors and musicians to join with academics and critics who will address aspects of this year’s theme which is inspired by these lines by the celebrated Northern poet, from Neither an Elegy Nor a Manifesto:
Bear in mind these dead:
I can find no plainer words.
I dare not risk using that loaded word, Remember,
for your memory is a cruel web
threaded from thorn to thorn across
a hedge of dead bramble...
As we enter a decade of centenaries of formative events in Irish, British and European history, including the events to which we owe the partition of Ireland and the state we’re in, we should be mindful of Hewitt’s caution when he wrote ‘for the people of my province and the rest of Ireland’ in 1972, that ‘Remember’ is a ‘loaded word’.
Commemorations and anniversaries celebrate notable events in our history, but they can be deliberate manipulations of our understanding of the past. We also manipulate our history through omission. So, in a country where remembering a group as heroes or victims can be essential to establishing collective identity yet display insensitivity to those of differing views, all public commemorations of the events of 1911-1920 will have particular resonances. Can we commemorate events without being condemned to relive them? How can writers and artists play their part in acknowledging the past?
We welcome you to JHISS at the Market Place at the end of July – for a week, a day or an individual event or more – to be challenged by the arguments put forward and to be entertained and stimulated by another impressive line-up of writers, artists and performers.