Words in Pictures: Bloomsday

Join this week's Bloomsday celebrations with readings and footage of James Joyce.

On the morning of 16 June, 1904, Leopold Bloom began a meandering progress through the city of Dublin. The day's events - his drinking, dining, philosophical musings and erotic fantasies - became the substance of James Joyce's Ulysses and the high-water mark of literary modernism.

Every year Joyce enthusiasts gather to celebrate "Bloomsday" - now expanded into a week-long festival. Readings, lectures and of course drinking (occasionally even public urination) all play their part in celebrations. These extend from Dublin itself to Trieste, Genoa, Philadelphia and even the tiny Hungarian town of Szombathely - fictional home of Leopold Bloom's father, Virag Rudolf.

The inaugural Bloomsday festivities took place in 1954. A party of Dublin literati gathered to pay homage to Joyce, intending to recreat Bloom's journey by way of pilgrimage, complete with two horse-drawn cabs. The lure of the Duke Street pubs proved too great however, and they made it no further.

Join in this week's Bloomsday celebrations by listening to an extract from Ulysses read by Joyce himself. And, in a lighter vein, watch original news footage of Joyce and hear of his drunken escapades with Ernest Hemingway.

 

 

 

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“Minoan pendant”: a new poem by Mark Granier

“Yes – I press my nose / to the pleasantly warm glass – / it’s a copy of one I saw / cased in the cool museum”

Yes – I press my nose
to the pleasantly warm glass –
it’s a copy of one I saw
cased in the cool museum –
gold beaten to honey, a grainy
oval dollop, flanked by two
slim symmetrical bees –

garland for a civilisation’s
rise and collapse, eye-dropped
five thousand years: a flash
of evening sun on a windscreen
or wing mirror – Heraklion’s
scooter-life buzzing and humming –

as I step in to browse, become
mesmerised by the warm
dark eyes of the woman
who gives her spiel and moves
softly and with such grace,
that, after leaving, I hesitate

a moment on the pavement
then re-enter with a question
I know not to ask, but ask
anyway, to hear her voice
soften even more as she smiles
and shakes her hair – no.

Mark Granier is an Irish poet and photographer. He is the author of four collections of poetry, most recently Haunt (Salmon).

This article first appeared in the 16 June 2016 issue of the New Statesman, Britain on the brink