The One City One Book Festival 2014 encouraged avid readers to discover the local geography of the Irish capital through poetry.
‘When I first discovered that a book of poetry was chosen for this year’s edition of Dublin One City One Book Festival, I did not think it was going to be too popular’ – Pat Liddy, the famous Dublin historian and tour guide, stops talking to take in the crowd around him. Some people nod eagerly.
We are all gathered at the Meeting House Square, about to start our walk to the Grand Canal Dock, one of the many events in the 2014 festival programme. Standing in the middle of the group, I feel relieved – so I was not the only one sceptical after picking up a copy of If Ever You Go at the local bookstore. Let’s face it – even if you have nothing against reading poems every now and then, over 300 pages is a lot of poetry. However, judging by the interest in the events, even those organised in the middle of the week, we were all wrong.
The idea behind the Dublin One City One Book Festival is quite simple. Every year one book is chosen by the festival committee. All of the city inhabitants are then encouraged to read it during the month of April and join the discussion panels and other events organised throughout the city.
This year’s pick, If Ever You Go: A Map of Dublin in Poetry and Song, edited by Pat Boran and Gerard Smyth, hit the lists of bestsellers in many Irish bookstores. As the title suggests, the collected works are all set in Dublin. The book, featuring poems by famous authors such as William Butler Yeats, Jonathan Swift and Patrick Kavanagh, as well as many modern poets, like the new discovery Jessica Traynor, is divided into three parts, each focusing on a different area of the Irish capital – Liffeyside, Northside and Southside.
From all-time favourites like The Spanish Lady and Molly Malone to Liffey Swim, If Ever You Go is much more than just a collection of poems. The book gives an opportunity to learn about local history and geography through poetry and song. The extensive festival programme, which incuded talks, readings, tours, movie screenings and concerts, invited participants to revisit many popular landmarks such as Phoenix Park and Grafton Street, as well as rediscover less frequented places in the city suburbs.
Those who could not take part in the festival but wish to take a literary tour of the city of their own, are invited to download a free app Patrick Kavanagh – A Dublin Literary Trail (available on iTunes). Dublin One City One Book Festival is an annual event and the book chosen for 2015 will be announced later this year.
Lead image via One City One Book Facebook page