Our picks from the International Literature Festival Dublin which starts on Friday.

Posted May 17, 2023 in Article, Arts and Culture, Festival

DDF apr-may-24 – Desktop

ILFD is back in Merrion Square Park this week bringing a wealth of local and international literary talent to this resplendent Georgian square. This ten day long festival which starts on Friday boasts of over 180 events set to inform, entertain and stimulate. Dip into readings, conversations, debates, screenings, guided walks, events, podcasts and broadcasts as the very best Irish and international fiction and non-fiction authors, poets, lyricists, playwrights and screenwriters are celebrated. The Big Romance crew will be on tap and various other concessions will be on site including the latest edition of Totally Dublin. We asked some of our regular contributors to select what they are most looking forward to seeing at the festival. And yes, we removed Mr Tucci, as a choice as sadly the event is long since sold out. The full programme and visitor info can be viewed at ilfdublin.com

lead photo credit: Kamyla Abreu

New Nurturing – FELISPEAKS

Anyone who knows the work of poet, performer and playwright FELISPEAKS knows that their vision and artistry are compelling and dynamic. Their work at this year’s festival, New Nurturing, promises to showcase this further as they collaborate with several exciting artists working across a variety of media. Taking place on the festival’s main stage, New Nurturing will raise the question: What’s next for Irish women? Together FELISPEAKS, Farah Elle, Anna Mullarkey and Tobi Bello will combine poetry, music and visual art in an exciting work that will seek to answer this question. – Julie Landers

Friday May 19 @ 6pm

Speranza, €12.50/€15

Deep Listening – A Soundbath with Sonas Sounds

Vibrations and frequency are the foundations of music. Thereafter, textures and tones are woven together to make patterns to captivate their audience and hopefully transport them to another space. In this regard, music has the potential to block out the stresses of everyday life and provide essential restorative moments. Sonas Sounds specialise in an immersive form of sound therapy which has been in use for over 5000 years. At ILFD, you can experience the soothing effects emanating from ancient instruments in this truly unique event. – Zara Hedderman

Thursday May 25 @ 6pm

Le Fanu, €22.50/€25


Over the last few years Strange Boy has positioned himself as an artist to keep on everyone’s radar. Fresh from being named as the recipient of this year’s Liam O’Flynn award, the Limerick rapper will bring his show NON/TRADITIONAL to the festival’s mainstage where he will demonstrate his singular and captivating style as it flows and interweaves with elements of Irish traditional music. Followed by a DJ set from the one and only R.Kitt, NON/TRADITIONAL is sure to cap off the first day of ILFD with a bang. – Julie Landers 

Friday May 19 @ 8.30pm

Speranza, €18/€20

photo: Leah O’Sullivan

Ursula K. Le Guin: Sowing Worlds

The doyenne of speculative fiction is the ostensible topic of this discussion, but it promises to range as widely as her richly imagined worlds. The host is So Mayer, co-editor of Space Crone: a new selection of Le Guin’s writings of gender and feminism. Authors Clara Kumagi and James Hudson will also be on hand to harvest, from the deep ecology of Le Guin’s invented futures, the seeds for a fruitful discussion of our own. A chance to revisit the sibylline vision of a truly radical and sorely missed writer. – Diarmuid McGreal

Sunday May 21 @ 2pm

Synge, €12/14

M4M: Seeking Queer Connection: Jack Parlett & Marcus McCann

Poet and Scholar, Jack Parlett and civil rights lawyer, Marcus McCann discuss their most recent work with Sean Hewitt, and unearth a history of queer spaces you probably haven’t heard before. Parlett’s Fire Island exposes the luxurious Long Island resort’s role as both an exclusive escape for the rich, and as a safe haven for gay men. McCann’s Park Cruising blends studies of sex-positive legal reform and general histories of queer socialising. Handling such a dynamic history with a synthesis of literary and legal critical lenses, Seeking Queer Connection will make for an exciting investigation into these rebellious chapters of queer history. – Ciara Berkeley

Sunday May 21 @ 2pm

Synge, €12/€14

Many Words for Love: Amy Key & Sophie K Rosa 


Poet Amy Key and investigative journalist Sophie K Rosa will discuss the ingrained traditions of love and sex in a capitalist society. During their talk Many Words for Love, they will unravel the rigid expectation of women to settle down and have babies. In Key’s intimate memoir Arrangements in Blue, she explores life experiences as a single woman without romantic love. Similarly, Rosa’s Radical Intimacy questions the societal pressure to follow the norm and illuminates the possibilities of an alternative life. Author and journalist Caelainn Hogan will lead the discussion with this insightful pair. – Aisling Arundel

Tuesday May 23 @ 6pm

Synge, €10/€12

The High Cost of Living: Santis O’Garro & Katriona O’Sullivan

The cost of living/housing crisis is in full effect. We’ve all borne witness to the fallout from aspects largely beyond our control (inflation) and those which are the legacy of political failure (rental/housing). Journalist Caelainn Hogan will be in conversation with life coach Santis O’Garro, who managed to tackle a €15k debt, and lecturer Katriona O’Sullivan whose memoir Poor is a triumph over adversity story – chronicling becoming a mother at 15 and ending up homeless to leading a programme aimed at improving working class girls’ access to education in STEM subjects. If you like this, then you may also wish to check out Rory Hearne (Gaffs) and Aoife Barry (Social Capital) on Dublin: The Centre Cannot Hold (May 22 @ 6pm). – Michael McDermott

Wednesday May 24 @ 6pm

Synge, €8/€10

credit: Mark Nixon

Gal-gáireach: Comedy as Gaeilge

Beidh scoth na mban grinn i lár an aonaigh don oíche uathúil seo, chun blas a thabhairt de bheocht agus d’éagsúlacht na Nua-Ghaeilge agus lucht a labhartha. In éineacht le  bean an tí (Aideen Mc Queen) beidh Bláithín de Burca, Diane O’Connor, Louise O’Toole agus Louisa Ní Eideáin. I measc na n-ábhar a bheas á bplé acu tá cúrsaí grá, saol an teaghlaigh, agus mórán eile nach iad! Ócáid dhátheangach, nár cheart a chailleadh, is ea Gal-gáireach. – Diarmuid McGreal

Dé hAoine May 26 @ 7.30pm

Le Fanu, €10/€12

Power Play: Mary Gaitskill

Hailed as ‘a prophet of the #MeToo generation’, Mary Gaitskill has long since earned a reputation for her frank explorations of the exploitative side of sexuality. But her writing also leaves room for contradiction and ambiguity, as evidenced by her latest collection of essays, Oppositions. If the latter is anything to go by, the discussion could range from Nabokov to Talking Heads to the Book of Revelation. Gaitskill will be joined by author Lisa McInerney for a nuanced and unadorned discussion. Diarmuid McGreal

Saturday May 27 @ 6pm

Speranza, €12.50/€15

Magali Cazo illustration for the New Yorker

Friends and Lovers: Naoise Dolan & Susannah Dickey 

The final day of the festival promises an intriguing talk, Friends and Lovers, with talented Irish novelists Naoise Dolan and Susannah Dickey. Both of these writers will take to the stage to delve into the sensational narratives of love, loss and happy endings in their latest novels. Dickey’s gripping novel Common Decency explores the lives of two women living closely in a Belfast tenement but divided by misunderstanding, and Dolan’s upcoming novel The Happy Couple follows five people who are searching for their happily ever after. This thought-provoking discussion will be moderated by writer Chandrika Narayanan-Mohanis. – Aisling Arundel

Sunday May 28 @ 12pmLe Fanu, €10/€12

ILFD is brought to you by Dublin City Council, with kind support of the Arts Council.


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