The John Hewitt digital festival of literature & ideas

In response to popular demand, and with thanks to our main sponsors Armagh City, Banbridge and Craigavon District Council and The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, we held a digital festival instead of our regular John Hewitt International Summer School.

Nine online events with world-class poets, authors, journalists and leaders from the arts community. These events took place over 3 days, from Thursday 30 July to Saturday 1 August.

Free Digital Festival Events

February 23, 2021
St Patrick's Symposium on Reminiscence

2021’s Symposium will be exploring the theme of reminiscence – its importance in society, its healing power, its intrinsic dangers and its restorative capacity.

February 19, 2021
Seamus Heaney: Ireland and World Literature

Heaney is celebrated for his very precise poetic engagements with specific locations: his homestead, his family, Ireland. Indeed, he was praised for this when awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. In his acceptance speech for the prize, however, he was at pains to draw our attention to how, from his earliest days, he was drawn to 'the wideness of the world'. The lecture will consider how Heaney's writing fits into that series of contemporary discussions around the relation of poetry to place, of poetics to politics, translation, globalisation, and sovereign or national identity in a world shaped by the demands of making a difference. It intends to seek how Heaney figures in what is now the contested terrain of 'World Literature'.

July 6, 2020
Marita Conlon-McKenna in conversation with Martina Devlin

Marita Conlon-McKenna is an award winning writer of fiction whose novels regularly top the best-seller list.  Her first book, Under the Hawthorn Tree, set in Ireland’s Great Famine, has become a children’s classic, widely translated and published. Marita also writes for adults and her other fiction works include The Magdalen, The Stone House and Rebel […]

July 6, 2020
Out of My Time: John Hewitt on Brexit, COVID, shifting borders and altered identities?

John Hewitt’s radical vision for the region and its relationships - with the rest of Ireland and with the rest of the United Kingdom - was ahead of its time: Dublin-based Belfast poet and academic, Gerald Dawe, Belfast novelist and lecturer Heather Richardson, and London-based Ballycastle-born poet and critic, Cahal Dallat, discuss Hewitt’s poetry and […]

July 6, 2020
Poetry Gala with Terrance Hayes & Mona Arshi

Leading poets Terrance Hayes (USA) and Mona Arshi (England) join host Paul Maddern (JHS committee member) to read their work and answer questions posed by those subscribed to the broadcast. Supported by Poetry Ireland. Biographies Terrance Hayes is one of America’s foremost poets and his seven collections have met with widespread critical acclaim, earning him […]

July 6, 2020
Eimear McBride in conversation with Jan Carson

Eimear McBride is one of Ireland’s most exciting novelists. Her debut novel A Girl is a Half-formed Thing received a number of awards - the Goldsmiths Prize, the Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and Irish Novel of the Year. Her second book, The Lesser Bohemians (2017) was equally well-received, winning the 2017 James Tait Black Memorial Prize, […]

July 6, 2020
Misha Glenny in conversation with Cahal Dallat

The Four Horsemen of the Modern Apocalypse… a talk by Misha Glenny, award winning writer, broadcaster, and commentator. In it he addresses the most pressing issues facing the international order today, and considers the capacity of governments to tackle them. Followed by discussion with Cahal Dallat. Biographies Misha Glenny is an award-winning journalist and historian […]

July 6, 2020
Donal Ryan in conversation with Michael Hughes

Replay available from 21st August 20 Donal Ryan is from Nenagh in County Tipperary. His first four novels, The Spinning Heart, The Thing About December, All We Shall Know and From a Low and Quiet Sea have all been published to major acclaim. The Spinning Heart won the Guardian First Book Award, the EU Prize […]

July 6, 2020
Gallery Goes with…

Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Tom French and Vona Groarke, introduced and interviewed by Nessa O’Mahony. Watch Live on Youtube Biographies Eiléan Ní ChuilleanáinEiléan Ní Chuilleanáin was born in Cork City, educated in Cork and at Oxford before spending her working life as an academic in Trinity College, Dublin. A founder member of Cyphers, a literary journal, […]

July 6, 2020
Going Equipped with a Pen - A recording of poems written by students from the Prison Arts Foundation

Join us for a unique event as we explore poetry written by students participating in creative writing programmes through the Prison Arts Foundation. (PAF). Creative writing allows us to communicate our interests, our stories and our experiences. The PAF residency classes not only give the student a creative learning experience but the atmosphere of the […]

July 4, 2020
After Lockdown

Can the Arts return to health without a vaccine? Watch Live on Youtube Slugger O’Toole makes its annual pilgrimage out of Belfast to record an episode of its monthly Slugger TV discussion show for NvTv at the John Hewitt International Summer School, albeit virtually this year! Hosted by political and arts commentator Alan Meban, the panel […]

Click the image to download the full program of events

The John Hewitt Society offers opportunities for people from Northern Ireland and beyond to experience literature, art and political debate and to explore issues of difference and identity in partnership with many community, voluntary and non-profit organisations.

The aim of the Digital Festival is to explore political and cultural issues through literature and the arts and to encourage residents of Northern Ireland/the North of Ireland and beyond to think critically about the world around them.

Through lectures, discussions and debate, the festival raises issues of relevance to the divided society in Northern Ireland, providing a platform for audiences to engage with speakers from different backgrounds, experiences, and points of view.

The Society encourages the use of the arts as a means to explore sensitive issues, and offers opportunities for engagement with high-profile, high-quality artists and writers; our creative writing classes develop the confidence of individuals and help aid their contributions within their own communities.

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John Hewitt Society

The John Hewitt Society is a not-for-profit, charitable status, limited liability company | Charity Reg No NIC102629 Company No NI041294


The John Hewitt Society, The MAC - level 3, 10 Exchange Street West, Belfast, BT1 2NJ | 028 9032 4522 |

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