The University of Limerick/Frank McCourt Summer School in New York will return to Glucksman Ireland House this year for an intensive June 27 to 30 run
Led by the internationally acclaimed and award-winning writers of the Creative Writing Program at the University of Limerick, the course will offer an introduction (or a refresher course) on creative writing, whether your discipline is poetry, prose, memoir or short stories.
Tutors will include Joseph O'Connor, Donal Ryan, Kerry Neville, Martin Dyar, Sarah Moore, and Eoin Devereux and special musical guest this year will be the mighty Pierce Turner.
“The Summer School is a calling card for how we teach creative writing at the University of Limerick,” novelist Joseph O'Connor tells the IrishCentral.
“We've had a number of people over the years who've actually later come to study with us and do our full-time MA in Limerick as a result of coming on the workshop.”
So what kind of participants attend?
“The youngest person ever was a boy of 15, but we have had people in their 80's. I think most people are in their 30's, 40's, 50's with an interest in writing. Some are coming back to something that they were doing when they were younger. They might be people who've had things published in journals or newspapers and who want to see if they can take their writing to the next step.”
It's a mix of ages and backgrounds, then. “Overwhelmingly women participate for whatever reason, and I find from looking at the bookings this year that's the case again. So far we have about 35 people attending this summer, and from what I can see 28 or 30 would be women and that's the pattern every year.”
It's important to note that attendees will be invited to explore each of the disciplines listed on the course. “Everybody coming takes all of the courses,” O'Connor explains. “So you'll have one course on fiction writing, one course on short story writing, one course on memoir and one on poetry and they're taken in smaller groups of maybe 15 people.”
There will be a number of lectures over the course of the weekend taken by the entire group and there will also be social events including a reception, a music concert, and brunch at which there will be an open mic.
But don't think it will be all work and no play though, this is an Irish event, after all, there will be craic too.
“We're named after Frank,” O'Connor adds. “My job is endowed by a gift from Frank, and sustained by his friends. I know how important teaching was to him and it's very important that we maintain the link with his past and with the two cities of Limerick and New York.”
The summer school is a way to try and keep McCourt's legacy going, O'Connor says. “That's part of the reasons for commemorating him through a summer school, as opposed to the various other things we could do.”
When he was out in New York in Frank's company, at a reading or just going for a stroll in the city, people would often come up to the older writer and say, “Hey, Mr. McCourt you taught me! Thanks for being such a great teacher.” It became clear to O'Connor that teaching really was a very important part of McCourt's life.
The message he wants to send out now is that the McCourt Summer School is open to all, he concludes. It will be a bit of craic as well as a serious academic and creative outlet.
“But we want people to have some fun too,” he laughs.
Full program details and bookings can be made at frankmccourt.