‘The State of Hope'
Now in its tenth year at the Market Place Theatre in Armagh, the 25th John Hewitt International Summer School brings together an attractive line-up of well-known writers, artists and performers to join with esteemed academics and critics who will address aspects of this year’s theme inspired by the celebrated Northern poet’s words in An Irishman in Coventry:
…I took this eager city,
the tolerance that laced the blatant roar,
its famous steeples and its web of girders,
as image of the state hope argued for…
When John Hewitt moved from Belfast to Coventry in the 1950s he was not alone in hoping that post-war, welfare state Britain represented a real step towards the ‘state’ that he and other radical thinkers had hoped and argued for. For Hewitt his Coventry-inspired optimism also meant a welcome turning away from the bitterness of Ireland’s ‘creed-haunted’ conflicts.
Later, back in Belfast, as the Troubles returned with renewed ferocity, some of that optimism faded. But John Hewitt was never to abandon hope, staking his future on books, paintings and the natural world he found in the Glens of Antrim, writing in those troubled times of the writer’s and artist’s obligation of ‘keeping the country in good heart’. Now, 25 years on, the JHISS will take stock of the present ‘state of hope’ and of the role of writers, artists and poets in society today.
You are invited to join the celebrations at this 25th anniversary JHISS at the Market Place at the end of July – for a week, a day or an individual event or more – for a feast of arts and literature provided by yet another impressive line-up of writers, academics and performers and for a chance to reflect on the present ‘state of hope…’