Top o’ the mornin to ya!
Live from American Airlines Flight #92, en route to Dublin, Ireland! This is the beginning of my Irish immersion; soon I will be cartwheeling through the moist rolling fields of the little island that is Ireland. Who am I, you ask? Victoria Renee Derr, San Diego native, currently in the process of getting a BA in English Literature/Creative Writing at Seattle University. This trip is a part of that process.
Ireland is a place of astonishing beauty, a place of speakers and writers, a place that has sprouted as many creative voices as fields of barley. The Writer’s Workshop in Ireland guides students through poetry, fiction, and our own writing to gain a sense of place while in a foreign country, to better enrich our own experiences through the written works of other Irish writers, and to hone our own creative voice. We’ll be visiting places such as the Martello Tower (the setting of the first chapter in James Joyce’s Ulysses), the Aran Islands, and the beautiful Galway near the sea. We’ll be studying Irish writers such as James Joyce and Seamus Heaney who are notable in the way their writing engages the place in which they are in their life. For example, Joyce’s relationship with Dublin is so intimate that walking around the city today, you can find brass plaques marking places or things Ulysses character Leopold Bloom comments upon.
Our focus is to gain a sense of dinnseanchas, a Gaelic term which translates to “place wisdom.” Poet John Montague translates it as a “sense of the historical layers and legends which give character to an area.” Ireland abroad-ers will be peeling back the layers to find what’s underneath, slipping into our work boots to dig into the rich earth of Ireland (possibly encountering some bog people on the way! click here to see what bog people are all about). With our guides, James Joyce, W. B. Yeats, Seamus Heaney, and Paula Meehan, we, as students, travelers, writers, hope to explore the place that holds these rich layers and create a layer of our own.
And so it begins.