29th September. At unveiling in City Hall of official portrait of Tom Hartley as Mayor of Belfast, 2008-2009.
24th – 27th September. At the Venice Biennial for a conference, Planet K, dealing with the Kurdish situation from a political/cultural perspective on the subject of ‘Borders, Identity and Language’. Was looking forward to meeting the Turkish-Kurdish writer Yaşar Kemal who has been nominated for the Nobel Prize for Literature but who was unfortunately unable to participate because of a fall and hip injury.
Visited the graves in San Michele in Isola of Ezra Pound, Stravinsky, Diaghilev, and Baron Corvo/Frederick Rolfe. Remember reading Rolfe’s ‘The Desire and Pursuit of the Whole’ in February 1971 when a friend and I, in freezing cold weather, stayed in my grandparents’ abandoned cottage in Islanderry, outside Dromore. English-born Rolfe died of a stroke in Venice in 1913.
US-born Pound was often called the “poet’s poet” because of his influence on 20th century writing in English. In 1908 he published his first book of poems. During the Second World War he broadcast anti-American propaganda on Radio Rome and supported the Italian dictator Mussolini. He was seized by partisans in 1945 and handed over to the American authorities. He was jailed in harsh conditions in Pisa where he wrote ‘The Pisan Cantos’, which is an autobiographical account of his time in detention, “a man on whom the sun has gone down.” He faced trial in the US for treason but was pronounced “insane and mentally unfit for trial” and spent twelve years in a hospital for the criminally insane. After his release in 1958 he returned to Italy where he lived with his long-term mistress, Olga Rudge. He died in 1972, she in 1996, and is buried alongside him. YouTube features an interesting eight-minute long documentary on Pound, here
23rd September. Read ‘Murder in Time’ a quaint, little crime novel by Elizabeth Ferrars, part of Penguin’s Crime Club Choice, published in 1953. Part One of BBC Radio 4’s ‘Peace in Our Time – And What Followed’, for which I was interviewed, was broadcast tonight. Part Two, next Wednesday, 30th September will be available for one week here
20th September. At Croke Park for Kerry victory over Cork in the all-Ireland final.