Blackbird Book Club Returns to Queen's

Northern Ireland literati set to read for students on the Open Learning course

The Blackbird Book Club's inaugural lecture series in 2010 was a parade of some of the most engaging and important authors writing in Northern Ireland today.

Among those who met with students on the Queen's University Open Learning course, Ian Sansom talked about his much-loved Mobile Library Detective series, Glenn Patterson reminisced about his visit to Hiroshima and Malachi O'Doherty discussed growing up in a very different Belfast.

Culture Northern Ireland was there to film most of the sessions. Click here to watch Glenn Patterson, Sinead Morrissey, Malachi O'Doherty, Ciaran Carson and Andrew Pepper in action.

This year, Dr Tess Maginess, Senior Teaching Fellow and Co-ordinator of the Open learning Programme, is keeping up the good work. The authors that Maginess has lined up for the second season of lectures are sure to get the creative juices flowing.

With funding from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, some of Northern Ireland’s most lauded names in literature – including esteemed poet Michael Longley and novelist Bernard MacLaverty – are set to take part in a series of classes beginning September 23. 

'The first flight of the Blackbirds was a wonderful spectacle,' said Maginess as the list of new names was unveiled. 'This year we have another magnificent set of songsters: poets like Michael Longley, Damian Smyth, Sinead Morrissey, Eilean Ni Chuileanain, Leontia Flynn and Frank Ormsby.

'And we are especially delighted to welcome back to his native nest, Bernard McLaverty, whose grace notes have been so memorable. We will also have the chance to celebrate one of our most insightful novelists, David Park. Malachi O'Doherty, disarming and witty occupant of the Louis MacNeice Chair at the Seamus Heaney Centre, will return, by popular demand.

'So the new series, so kindly supported by the Arts Council, and hosted in association with the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen's, promises to be a terrific colloquy of bards.'

Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council, commented: 'The Blackbird Book Club offers a fantastic introduction to Northern Ireland literature, taught in the relaxed and intimate company of some of our most renowned poets and novelists.

'It is an opportunity to hear the colourful real life stories behind the stories, straight from the authors themselves. Last year’s book club was enormously successful and we are pleased to be working with Queen’s University once again to help develop a greater appreciation of home-grown literature.'

The Blackbird Book Club will be taught in two parts, part one starting September 26, with part two beginning January 23, and will run for a total of 20 weeks. The course is open to all adults regardless of qualifications or experience. Visit the Queen's University Open Learning website for more information.