I promised details last time of the projects I'm going to run this year to celebrate #Yeats2015.
1. First up: I am gathering five people who are interested in attending the Yeats Summer School in Sligo in July/August; we'll have a private dinner there and talk Yeats and Gonnes, poetry and magic, all night long! Let me know as a matter of urgency, if you're interested in being one of the five.
2.”Words For Music, Perhaps” Event : London Irish Centre
London Irish writers, researchers and celebrities read their favourite Yeats poems, to musical accompaniment and interludes. More details very soon.
2. Launch of Her Secret Rose
My novel, Her Secret Rose, examines the themes of Yeats’s The Secret Rose, in the light of Yeats love for and working relationship with Maud Gonne.
In 1898, he discovered her secret, that she had a double-life and it left him living the fear he had expressed in The Secret Rose, that “all I held dear, all that bound me to spiritual and social order would be burned up, and my soul left naked and shivering among that winds that blow from beyond this world and from beyond the stars”.
My novel is narrated by a disembodied, asexual and timeless Irish voice and explores themes of gender, the relationship between Yeats and Gonne's spiritual and creative theories and the material and political conditions that so consumed them.
3. June 13th Yeats Day: London Celebrations: Launch CROWDFUNDED PROJECT: Her Secret Rose: Limited Edition by Subscription.
A special edition (500 copies) of my novel, Her Secret Rose, together with Yeats’s The Secret Rose, in facsimile copy of his first edition i.e. printed on laid paper, with pictorial boards stamped in gilt, spine lettered in gilt and the same decorative dark blue cloth designed by Yeats’s friend, Althea Gyles,(1868-1949) Irish artist, illustrator, and designer, (born in County Waterford, as I was myself).
And including, as an appendix, the four essays from the “Ireland in The Coming Times” project (see below): one addressed to Sligo, Ballylee, Dublin and London, four places with which Yeats was most intimately associated
5. To Ireland In The Current Times
Yeats's The Secret Rose is a book of stories he had published in various periodicals from 1892 to 1896. The spiritual and material force of the creative process is symbolised by the Rose, invoked by the poet in the introductory poem, “To The Secret Rose“.
The book uses a chronological structure to take us from pagan to Christian Ireland, through the 17th and 18th centuries, finishing with the mystical tale, “Rosa Alchemica”.
This historical order offers a symbolic history of Ireland and aims to transform Irish myth and history into a creative bible, a blueprint for a religion of art.
Yeats saw himself as being at one with the various figures in this volume who, throughout the ages, have desired to escape the cycle of historical time for the timelessness of transcendental realisation, self-actualisation and spiritual transformation of themselves and others.
The work salutes a spiritual, artistic elite who might save the world. He wrote to John O'Leary in May 1897, that it was his “honest attempt towards that aristocratic, esoteric Irish literature which has been my chief ambition”.
He laid out that ambition in the poem “To Ireland In The Coming Times” and lived by it his life long.
My TO IRELAND IN THE CURRENT TIMES examines contemporary Ireland in the light of that ambition, through the lens of Yeats relationship with his spiritual and political ally, Maud Gonne, and their joint embrace of timeless spiritual and creative values.
It comprises four letters from Yeats and Gonne to each of the following places: the village of Ballylee, the small town, Sligo; the capital city, Dublin; and the metropolis, London.
The letters address the themes covered by his The Secret Rose (1898) and my Her Secret Rose (2015) and their relation to contemporary Ireland — namely the villages, towns, cities and diaspora as represented by Ballylee, Sligo, Dublin and London, where I now live.