Wednesday, September 28, 2011

St Stephan's Green - Home to Big Bird

Last Sunday I took my first trip over to St. Stephan's Green, it's so close to my university that it's funny I hadn't stopped in before considering that I pass it everyday on my way into downtown on the bus and can see it from pretty much every vantage point from Grafton to Nassau Street. They have monuments commemorating different historical events and people all over the park and it's home to several 'big birds' otherwise known as Swans. Boy, I never realized how darn big these guys were. I saw them beyond a fence where I was standing as they plumed their feathers and craned their necks about 360 degrees. I decided to get a better look at the fellas and walked around so that I could stand almost next to them by the water. Beautiful but terrifying creatures really. Any way, it was a gorgeous day out as the weather here has been pretty warm and very pretty much every day this week. There was a huge art exhibition being held outside the park gates and every square inch of the fence was highlighted with art pieces. It was really nice to just walk along and admire all the art I was hoping at first that I would be able to snag something nice for my bedroom walls, but alas everything averaged about 100-450 euro. To rich for my blood. 

 Mysterious house in the middle of the park - wonder how much that costs!

The right honourable Sir Arthur Edward Guiness, Lord Ardilaun: Founder of the park dedicated to the people of Dublin. So I guess he was good for more than the beer!

 I liked this duck...he made me smile :)

 Westland Row - the street where the Oscar Wilde Center is located & Pearse Station

Monday, September 26, 2011

First Day with Oscar

I had my first day of classes today and it was great. I finally felt like a real Trinity student walking the grounds. The leaves were turning colours, students were sprawled all over the neatly tended grass by the rugby field, it was like a scene out of a movie really. I had to remind myself that I was actually in Ireland, for the life I'd dreamed about for years. 

We got to class and were introduced to our professors. It's amazing to be surrounded by these four people who have had very successful careers in their own right. Jonathan Williams who will be teaching our writer's marketplace class has been working in the publishing industry for decades and is very well known in England and Canada. He is our guide to the world of getting our work published and will take us by the hand to prepare  us all for the real life of a writer. Basically he'll open our eyes to all that it takes to balance our writing with the rest of our lives - family and other work we may take on. The director of the program Gerald Dawe, who also teaches one of the core workshops kept repeating that this program is a practitioners course. I loved that. We were then introduced to Paul Murray, a twice published novelist who will be our Writer's Fellow for the first term. As of yet I'm not entirely sure how that course will be set up in terms of teaching, but I have to go buy one of his novels now! So the 16 of us are split into two groups of 8 for our core workshops. Half of the students are lead by Gerald Dawe and the other half by Deirdre Maden a woman who has published 7 novels and I think 2 young adult works. I was split into the group to be lead by Gerald Dawe who is a poet by trade and who was the man who set up the Creative Writing Masters in 1997 and is now the director of the program as well as the Oscar Wilde house itself. He is so nice and seems so genuinely excited to work with us all this term. Next term our group will be lead by Deirdre Maden and everyone who is being taught by her this term will be with Gerald or Gerry as he says. 

Basically I have class on Mondays 2-5pm, then again on Tuesday for the publishing class from 5-6pm and then finally on Friday for the Writer's Fellow class from 10-12pm. That's my week. We have the option of auditing classes in the Irish Writing program which takes place in the same house on different days and I am thinking of listening in on the Ireland on Stage class. I have read most of the plays in my undergrad, but love them all and think it would be amazing to learn about them from an expert in the field. 
"Poet, Dramatist, Wit. Oscar Wilde. 16.10.1864"

I was so excited listening to Gerry talk about the program and how our workshops would be. It is a very similar concept to the critiquing workshops I had at Concordia, but the program is solely about our writing. We workshop whatever we want and Gerry said that we should workshop what we intend to use as our finally thesis project. We don't have to of course but he said this is the time to focus and really devote our time to what we see as a marketable project. 

I honestly almost cried in class listening to him talk. It's exactly the program I was hoping for. I wanted a year to devote to my writing, to see if I could come out of it with a finished project that I could aim to have published and from what I heard today that is exactly what happens. They have had many students come out of the program with a finished product and have gone on to have the work they used as their thesis published. 

They talk about writing in such a way that brings out all my happiness. They say it's a gift, that we are all so lucky to be in the program because this year they saw a huge increase in applications. Gerry told us at the end that he has read all our work (from the portfolio we handed in for assessment to get accepted) and that he knows we are all talented writers. We wouldn't be here if we weren't. That made me feel really good. I'm still intimidated, but have to keep reminding myself that I was chosen to I do belong!

We went around the table of eight and introduced ourselves and there are quite a number of people from Ireland. One woman was from County Derry. I really want to talk to her about how it is living in the north. Deirdre Maden is from Antrim too so I want to get to know her better when I am in her class next term. We had to tell Gerry what genre of writing we are most interested in, what our goal is for the year, so I said that I would like to have a finished product by the end of this course. I want to have something that I can turn in for possible publication. I said I had a novel that I had been working on steadily for years and all through university and he was excited to read it in workshops. He seemed intrigued by the fact that I had been working on a novel and had a substantial amount written already. 

All in all it was the perfect first day and I feel like everything was worth it. I'm in the right place and am finally getting to dedication I wanted, I am surrounded by like minded people who have all been through the publishing process, through the masters process, who all seem to see writing the way I do. I can finally say without feeling bad or deceitful that I am a writer. I am a writer. Not a student or a government worker. When people ask me what I do, I will reply that I write. It's all I've wanted to be able to say for years and now I feel like I can, wholeheartedly.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Arthur's Day - September 22nd 2011

We went to several pubs on this night, started out at one on Dame St. A main strip in Dublin. We met some New Yorkers at the next table and one of them took a fancy to me...I was not so enthusiastic about this seeing as though he was clearly older and then told us he had been married, divorced and also had a child. He bought us a round of Baby Guinness shots though, basically Guinness and Bailey's and later told me he liked me in the best possible way. He was sweet enough and actually came out of the bar to say goodbye to me. We later walked to Temple Bar where we had a shot of Jameson for traditions sake but it was overly crowded so we decided to come back out onto a main strip and try to find somewhere the actual residents of Dublin would frequent. We ended up at a place called Dandelion that had a live band. We met a group of Irish people, many of whom were pilots in the Irish Air Force. We spent the night chatting with them and finished the night off at a club called Disey's that had no understanding of the words 'crowd control' or 'over capacity'. The club was set up nicely though and had an outdoor courtyard and three levels, one of which looked out onto the courtyard from above. All the Irish folks we were with though, said the upper level 'was crap because they only let famous people up there...unless you know someone whose already up top'.

All in all a good night and a nice taste of the Dublin night life. The cab driver who took us home made fun of me though because I said that all I wanted when I got home was my pj's and a cup of tea...

 My first taste of Guinness: I've discovered I hate Guinness....

The Girls with Mr. Arthur Guinness himself!

Culture Night - City Hall & Jameson Distillery

Daniel O'Connel - The Liberator
Catholic Emancipation

Beautiful Music to set the 18th century mood. They had City Hall representatives dressed up in costumes to play the part.

 Old Elevator or 'lift' as the Irish say, it reminded me of the Willy Wonka elevator, although I loath Willy Wonka. Freaks me out!

 On our way to the Jameson Distillery we crossed the Liffey and passed the Four Courts! I am looking forward to going back and seeing the building lit up by the street lights.

 You can't tell but the sign says "Jameson Distillery Ahead" I couldn't a shot without the heavy reflection.
Welcome to Jameson - Home of Barley
For those who didn't know, Jameson Whiskey is made from three simple ingredients: malted barely, unmalted barley and pure Irish water.

It goes through 6 steps for perfect taste - they actually served us a sample of their whiskey mixed with Sprite. I took a sip and gagged and then promptly gave my glass over to a friend. I kept the glass though as a souvenir!

Step 1: Malting
Step 2: Milling
Step 3: Mashing- see below

Step 4: Fermentation

Step 5: Distillation

 Rosie enjoying her drink and my own :P

Step 6: Maturation
 Loved this room if only for the cellar like feel and the fact that each barrel of whiskey had it's own year dating back to the 20s.

 Becky, Me, Melony, Jill & Mary (Everyone except Jill is a roommate)