The Importance of Social Activism in Writing

A great writer is like a second government in his country. That’s why no regime has ever loved great writers, only minor ones.
—ALEKSANDR SOLZHENITSYN

I think that community and social activism influence us, as writers, to write with passion. Being actively involved in your community and taking interest in social change can create fantastic topics to write about. For example, I was at the Black Lives Matter demonstration in Dublin a week ago. Just being in the crowd witnessing the protestors was such an inspiring moment in my life. I was able to take away different sights, sounds, and descriptions just from being there that would further enhance my writing.

I’m not usually one to partake in public displays of social activism but now that I have, I can see the benefit of doing so. You learn a lot about different communities and troubles in cultures totally unrelated to your own identity. This helps anyone, especially writers, broaden their perspectives and gain more knowledge. That way, when and if the writer decides to write about a different social group or problem, they have some personal background knowledge to help spark the story.

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There’s More to Belfast Than The Troubles

I think I’m in love with a city. In fact, I think I’m so in love that our engagement is happening next week when I go back to visit! What can I say? Belfast and I got along quite beautifully.

Everything from the historic architecture to the artsy graffiti walls to the ripped skinny-jean males; it was all an amazing sight. I especially enjoyed our time with playwright Marin Lynch. He gave some amazing advice, not only for those working in theatre but for writers in general. One piece of advice that particularly stuck with me was “listening to the fire in your belly” and the overarching will to write. I was inspired by his dedicated passion and motivation to writing. There is so much to learn from him.

And I can’t forget to mention the shopping! St. George’s Market was especially fantastic. I had such an amazing time looking at all the local vendors and the beautiful trinkets. Plus, the food there was incredible, and I had the most delicious cup of coffee! If only I were able to taste test everything.

The air was fresh, the people were friendly and the history behind the city is observable on every street corner. You can tell that Belfast is quickly overcoming its past by the warm and welcoming environment given off by its citizens. The city will forever hold a piece of my heart ❤

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Pokemon Go Away

Yes – I am going to be that person to post about Pokemon G0. Don’t hate me for it, I’m sure you’ve seen the news all over your Facebook feed, but the app still hasn’t been released in Canada and I am growing increasingly more frustrated about that.

This article featured on the Belfast Telegraph details breaking news about the release of Pokemon Go in the U.K. The dynamics of Northern Ireland are changing entirely.

I thought by 2016 humans would have developed some sort of telepathic communication system or motorized personal airplanes or robots that pour wine for us. Instead, technology has presented humanity with the luxury of an iOS app that allows people to catch…Pokemon.

Need I remind you Pokemon has been around since 1995, therefore I find it increasingly strange that that brand has sky rocketed into popularity right now, just because of an accessible and entertaining cell phone app. And although I agree the premise of the game is great (I mean, who doesn’t want their children running around outdoors catching sunshine and exploring the world?) but is Ireland really the safest place to play the game?

Theoretically speaking, I bet there’s some pretty badass Pokemon at the bottom of Cliffs of Moher, maybe even a legendary chilling at the top of St. Patricks Cathedral. But are kids and young adults alike willing to risk their lives to catch virtual creatures?

YEAH.

PROBABLY.

So watch out Ireland. This app is going to generate a lot more tourism. Or a lot more people walking around on their cell phones..

 

Questions for Martin Lynch

  1. How do your writing technique differ when writing for film versus writing for radio?
  2. Describe how you felt when your very first play got performed?
  3. How did you react to the controversy surrounding your play The Interrogation of Ambrose Fogarty?
  4. Where or when do you feel the most inspired write?
  5. What advice do you have for new and future writers?

The Wake Reflection

What a treat! I want to start off by saying that I am extremely thankful I got to see this play – it was stunning! The theatre was packed with likeminded individuals, artsy and intrigued by what was to come. The moving stage and set were both gorgeous, especially the backdrop. Oh, and the music was brilliant. Simple, yet effective at keeping my attention throughout the entirety of the play.

When I first read the play, I wasn’t able to fully grasp the characters. I think I was imagining the scenes differently, but the actors and actresses put everything into perspective for me. The emotion, the language, the anger, the distress, the vulgarity – all of it blended together perfectly to create something I couldn’t have pictured simply by reading the script.

Overall, I had a wonderful time and would certainly love to see other performances at the Abbey Theatre if given another opportunity in the future.

DUBLE the fun

Back in Dublin – this time with the Armagh crew! Not much has changed since my first visit two weeks ago: still a big bustlin’ city brimming with bars and tourists. I’m glad I’m here with my friends though, it makes the Dublin experience more inspiring since we’re all writers. Plus I absolutely LOVE our hotel, and so far our dining endeavours have been nothing but good.

It rained a bit whilst I was out roaming the streets. I find that rain doesn’t linger around as much in Dublin as it does in Armagh. It comes out in little spurts, more frequently but less aggressively. Our block also smells like french fries. Soggy ones. The scent of fresh Irish rain mixed with the American privilege of fast food. It’s oddly comforting and reminds me of home.

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Portrait of an Artist Reflection

The way I’d describe Irish culture after reading Portrait of an Artist would be vivid. The delicious imagery used to describe the dishes, such as the “warm heavy smell of turkey” creates a sense of occasion, and the fact that the food is an expensive treat for the family shows how much grace everyone takes when eating their meals. As well,  the subtle details when the author describes a character’s appearance such as “she had put her hands over her eyes: long and white and thing and cold and soft” allow readers to connect deeper with the characters. We are brought into this quaint little world complete with the tension of any family dinner and a differing of opinions amongst famiy members. There is something uniquely relatable when the family fights as well. The argument shows the willingness of family to try to agree with one another, yet the downfalls of having too stiff opinions.

Resonance and Dissonance

Resonance:

I saw this beer bottle lying on the ground of an Armagh street. Normally I wouldn’t pick up a random beer bottle in some grimy alleyway, but this one was a little different. My eye was drawn to the colouring of the label and the grotesque skeletal figure. As I bent down to pick up the bottle, I was pleasantly surprised! The bottle was featuring one of my favourite bands, Iron Maiden. This photo resonates with me because I now have a visual memory of a small, yet surprisingly happy moment in my life. It’s not every day you feel inspired by litter! Recognizing a band I care for on a beer bottle I found while working on a school assignment halfway across the world? What are the odds.

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Dissonance:

I have bad recollections of getting lost in alleyways. I’m not a particular fan of venturing off into unfamiliar places but on a more serious note, let’s talk about that pylon. My city is notorious for undergoing construction, and I remember the good old days when I would drive and come across ten, maybe twenty, pylons on my short commute to school. Pylons frustrate me. They sit there in their bright, orange glory and when I see one, suddenly I panic. Am I entering a danger zone? Do I need to slow down? Is there a Toy Story character hiding underneath one? Too many questions and I’m to stubborn to abide by the rules of a triangular piece of coloured plastic.

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Henry is caught for ever..

Although the original ending is quite somber, I think it would be interesting to see things end from Henry’s perspective. I think Henry should end up Vera some way or another. He’s clearly plastered by the end of the communal meeting with the family and not in his best mindset, so I can imagine him saying “no” when Marcia asks if he would like to come home with her.

Alternate ending:

Henry is in hysterics. Out of his wit, he sloshes down his last bit of liquor and reminisces about his decision to hook-up with the ever handsome Vera. Vera ushers him into her car and Marcia observes in silence; there is a hatred in her eye that only a woman betrayed could display. The engine roars and the car takes off into the night. Henry glances out the rear window of the vehicle and sees his son Norman grasping tightly to the sleeve of Marcia, his soon to be ex-wife.

 

 

JHISS Theme Reflection

The brevity of creative writing can stem from tension. Additionally, history can have a signifigant impact on the way we, as writers, perceive and interpret our surroundings. When you combine history and tension, it creates something instantly relatable. Regardless of your historical roots, the events of Ireland that shaped the country have forever impacted our cultural, religious, and political ways of life today. Reflecting on the meaning of a shared past, I think it’s important to remember that acknowledging the past is the best way to understand and be fruitful of the future. The revolts and revolutions that took place in order to leave Ireland where it’s standing today have certainly created tension, but we as individuals are becoming more cognitive of differing opinions. In short, I think that it’s an interesting year to be in Northern Ireland discussing some of the more controversial historical moments, but nevertheless, this discussion is vital to create written works that not only inspire others to be curious but create a more unified sense of peace.