What do you look for in a literary festival? And what did you find at ILF Dublin 2017? I found passionate and enquiring audiences, and a tremendous bond between writers and their readers. I felt a desire to explore and experiment as the programme moved in new directions, with Inua Ellams bringing his poignant show An Evening With An Immigrant to the festival and with Stories From The City allowing Dubliners the chance to weave their own personal narratives around notions of home and place.
I think the interplay between new directions and traditional pleasures lies at the heart of the programming mix, and hearing great writers talk about their practice is one such pleasure. When Elizabeth Strout opened up about her journey to first being published at 42, she reflected that ‘it took a while to get the sentences right – to get into the crevices of them’. That lovely phrase captures the precision of the finest writing that both thrills and shocks us as readers.
So what else can writing do? It can provoke, entertain, console and inspire and across an eclectic mix ranging from Mary Fitzgerald on reporting conflict to the conceptual fiction of Han Yujoo, from comedienne Ruby Wax to writer and illustrator Tom Angleberger, the festival reached out to an expanded and more diverse audience.
I would like to extend my thanks to Dublin City Council and to the Arts Council for their generous and dedicated support for the festival this year. And thank you to all of the partner organisations and programmers that made ILF Dublin 2017 a tremendous success. Thank you to Red and Grey design for our sharp new look, to Conways PR for spreading the word across the city and beyond, and to the wonderful team at Gutter Bookshop, our festival bookseller.
Most of all, it is such a privilege and a pleasure to work with all the staff and volunteers on ILF Dublin, whose passion and positivity shaped a thrilling 10 day festival.
Perhaps the ultimate storyteller at the festival was Werner Herzog, pointedly introduced by Carlo Gebler as a writer and a filmmaker. When Herzog recounted his famous walk from Munich to Paris to reach the bedside of his mentor Lotte Eisner, the rapt audience at the National Concert Hall were in the presence of a mythic story.
And the essence of Herzog as an artist – his curiousity about the world and his commitment to transform this into stories – seems the perfect inspiration for our work. What is entertaining, demanding, absurd or curious – and how can we bring this to different audiences? What would you like to discover at the festival?
This is a true today as it was in 1998, when the festival first launched in a city that is steeped with writers and readers. Next year we turn 21 and we want to celebrate with the best festival yet – and we’d love to hear your ideas and dreams about what the party will look like…