Feb 2: James Joyce’s Birthday Celebration
Festival Bloomsday Montreal celebrates James Joyce’s birthday every February 2. Because, why not?
In fact, the 2020 celebration at the Westmount Library (02-02-2020 for the numerologically inclined) was one of the last times we were able to gather in person before COVID-19 upended our lives. The Westmount room was full to bursting and quite unlibrary-like: the wood paneling echoing with chatter and laughter as people passed around sweets and refreshments. Our master of ceremonies, Kevin Wright, got the lively crowd under control and introduced a roster of readers for an entertaining hour of stories, reminiscence, and recently rediscovered excerpts of Joyceana. After a piece of birthday cake all headed out into the snow.
This year we all assembled on Zoom for another evening of readings by and about Joyce, again hosted by Bloomsday Montreal’s president, Kevin Wright, whose erudition sparkles behind a gracious, genial smile. Kevin has plumbed the depths of Joyce’s work to uncover some little-known gems that suit this year’s theme: Origins. A distinguished group of local “originals” including the delightful literary sisters, Peggy and Colleen Curran, and theatre stalwart, Clive Brewer, brought them to life.
Jan 6: “The Midnight Court”
To kick off our 10th anniversary year, Festival Bloomsday Montréal presented a dramatic reading of The Midnight Court, a racy, word-rich, bawdy poem, widely regarded as the greatest work of comic verse in the history of Irish poetry. Women take the men of Ireland to court for shirking their duties between the sheets. “It’s enough to make us broken-hearted—legs galore and none of them parted.”
Composed 250 years ago by Brian Merriman, our rollicking English translation was penned in the 1950s by David Marcus.
Featuring performers Kathleen McAuliffe, Julian Casey, and Kathleen Fee, the music of Bùmarang and Kate Bevan-Baker, directed by Elsa Bolam, scholarly commentary: Elaine Bander, PhD, hosted by Dennis Trudeau.