March 17th isn’t the only great day for the Irish. June 16 won’t be mistaken for St. Patrick’s Day, but Bloomsday is booming---or maybe blooming—and you don’t have to be Irish to celebrate it. Annual commemorations of James Joyce’s novel Ulysses—a groundbreaking chronicle of one day, June 16, 1904, in the life of Leopold Bloom--began in Dublin in 1954 with a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the events of the novel and have since gone global.
Bloomsday is big in Szombathely, Hungary, the fictional birthplace of Leopold Bloom's father, Virág Rudolf, an emigrant Hungarian Jew. In Trieste, Italy Bloomday events are held at the Joyce Museum as the author wrote a significant portion of Ulysses while living that Adriatic port. Bloomsday is also molto popolare in Genoa, where daylong readings are held in 18 different places in the old city, one for each chapter of the novel.
Bloomsday is celebrated all around New York and for 30 years at Symphony Space, a great cultural outpost on Manhattan’s Upper West Side (see below), but this year Culture Ireland and the Irish Arts Center launched the day in style with a Bloomsday Breakfast in Bryant Park. Well over 500 attended, many in costume, to enjoy vintage music, dance and a great series of readings. IrishCentral had video of the event up within hours, but here’s the longer version:
As you might expect Bloomsday has gone digital, most notably on Twitter. Baltimore Joycean Steve Cole launched one of those efforts, a condensed retelling of Ulysses in 140 character bursts in what he called “…a recasting or a re-imagining of the reading experience of this novel, start to finish, within the confines of a day-long series of tweets from a global volunteer army of Joyce-sodden tweeps.” See what Cole and his tweeps came up with at @11ysses. Brenna Ehrlich covering the story for Mashable wrote, “Whoever got the end of the book lucked out. I imagine it goes a little something like this: ‘Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes.’ About six times.”
Okay, I've got an assignment--looks like I better read Ulysses, so next June 16, I’ll really know what I’m celebrating…but not sure I can pull off that Edwardian look.
MEDIA PINGS: June 7 marked the first Irish American Writer’s and Artists Salon held at the Thalia Café in Manhattan’s Symphony Space. The IAW&A Salon gives its members an opportunity to present their choice of readings, poetry, comedy or music. Six more Salons are scheduled for the first Tuesdays of the month, with the next one is set for July 5th. For more details go to the IAWA website. June 30 will be Social Media Day in San Jose, thanks to a partnership between that city and the the Irish Innovation Center in Silicon Valley. The day’s events include a panel discussion at hosted Irish Technology Leaders Group (ITLG). The global online event will be held by social media news site Mashable.com. Bloomsday in Bryant Park photo credit: Erin Bianco