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One City One Book

Events Join The Conversation

Belfast 2014

WELCOME to One City One Book 2014, the annual celebration of local writing and programme of community readings organised by the Arts Council throughout the month of May. The global One City One Book initiative has been running successfully around the world since 1998 and the idea is to get everyone in a city reading and talking about the same book by a local author. The books are carefully chosen to encourage an interest in reading and an enjoyment of contemporary writing, with each book relating in some way to the city that it represents. We introduced the initiative to Northern Ireland in 2012 with Glenn Patterson’s The Mill for Grinding Old People Young, followed last year by Lucy Caldwell’s All the Beggars Riding. This year we are delighted to feature the new novel by one of Belfast’s leading authors, David Park. The Poets’ Wives (Bloomsbury) is Park at his very best.


In 2011 the Arts Council awarded David Park its highest honour, a Major Individual Artist Award, in recognition of his contribution to literature in Northern Ireland. I would like to thank David and our partners in this community reading venture: Bloomsbury, Libraries NI, Belfast City Council, Belfast Telegraph, U105, QFT, Translink and Clements. This year, in addition to the programme of free readings and discussions featuring David Park and other luminaries of the literary world, such as Colin Bateman and Carol Ann Duffy, there will be a series of special interventions in unusual places and venues, including cafes and Translink buses. So, even if you can’t make it to one of the listed events, you may find a reading coming to you!

Why not come along to some of the talks, readings and film screenings happening throughout Belfast this May. Many of the events are free to attend and all of them have been inspired by the themes and issues raised in this year’s chosen novel.

Download the first chapter for free at (during May only)

THE GREAT LITERARY BOOK HUNT If you haven’t yet managed to lay your hands on a copy of The Poets’ Wives maybe you will be lucky enough to find one of the 100 free copies we’ll be scattering throughout the city throughout the month of May for readers to find and keep. Look out for hidden copies on public transport routes, in parks, at literary landmarks and arts venues across Belfast.

Sinéad Morrissey in conversation with David Park, Finaghy Library Belfast Poet Laureate Sinéad Morrissey chats to David Park about writing, Russia & inspiration. Booking advisable. Contact Finaghy Library 028 9050 9214

Finaghy Library, 6.30pm, FREE

Wednesday 28th May

Belfast Telegraph presents… Ghosts of the Past Personal perspectives of the Troubles on victimhood. Chair: Brian Rowan. Two of David Park’s novels – The Truth Commissioner and The Poets’ Wives – engage with the impacts of internecine political and cultural warfare and their often tragic consequences. This session will air these themes in his work, with the power of the artist to give expression to grief, freedom and justice, in the heart of one of our major daily newspapers.

Belfast Telegraph, 6.30pm, FREE

Thursday 29th May

Mary Ann Centre Stage One of the triumphs of The Poets’ Wives is that it brings strong women out from the shadows of highly visible men. This evening, one of Belfast’s most important citizens comes into her own in the centre of the city whose human heart she helped fashion. Mary Ann McCracken (1770-1866) – anti-slaver, social reformer, political radical, loyal friend – is brought back to life this evening thanks to the ballads of Jane Cassidy & Maurice Leyden and the new poems of Ruth Carr. Expect a guest appearance by Dorothy Wordsworth! Booking advisable. Contact Belfast Central Library 028 9050 9150

Belfast Central Library, 6pm, FREE

Unless otherwise indicated, booking is not required.




Thursday 1st May

Reading by David Park David Park reads extracts from The Poets’ Wives and discusses the stories behind the novel at this special event at Ormeau Library. Booking advisable. Contact Ormeau Library 028 9050 9228

Ormeau Library, 6.30pm, FREE

Sunday 4th May

Glenn Patterson in conversation with David Park Join us as David chats to fellow novelist Glenn about fiction, fact and what it means to be a One City One Book author.

The Strand Arts Centre, 3pm, FREE

Saturday 10th May

Arts Council ACES writers present… The Arts Council’s Artists Career Enhancement Scheme (ACES) is designed to support career artists at a pivotal point in their creative life. Here the latest recipients of the award, the rising stars of the literature world, will present extracts from their work and share notes from their creative journey so far.

Clements Café, Royal Avenue, 3pm, FREE

‘Poets in the City’ With Sinéad Morrissey, Carol Ann Duffy, John Sampson The UK Poet Laureate Carol Ann Duffy and musician John Sampson join Belfast Poet Laureate and recent T.S. Eliot Prize winner Sinéad Morrissey for an evening of poems and music, marking the close of Morrissey’s tenure as Laureate, featuring readings of their works and an introduction by David Park

Movie House Cinema, Yorkgate, 7pm, FREE

‘Art is the Tree of Life’ † Poetry and Prose The lives and works of poets William Blake and Osip Mandelstam are at centre of The Poets’ Wives. In this special evening of prose and verse we ask a selection of the brightest young writers at the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s to air their work. † William Blake

Group Space, Ulster Hall, 6.30pm, FREE

‘Writing is easy. All you have to do is cross out the wrong words.’ † Panel discussion with NI writers including David Park, Colin Bateman, Abbie Spallen, Eoin McNamee, chaired by Damian Smyth. † Mark Twain Booking advisable. Contact Whiterock 028 9050 9236.

Whiterock Library, 5.30pm, FREE

Bob Collins Chairman, Arts Council of Northern Ireland

Do you love a good story or are you searching for that next perfect book club read? Copies of The Poets’ Wives are available now through the Libraries NI network. The novel is also out to buy now in hardback and e-book from all major bookstores.

Wednesday 21st May

Wednesday 14th May

Thursday 15th May

Monday 19th May

FILM PROGRAMME – AUTHOR’S CHOICE Presented in association with Queen’s Film Theatre “Over the years the QFT has given me a great deal of pleasure and I don’t doubt considerable stimulus to my writing imagination, so it is very pleasing to be asked to choose four films as part of The One City One Book programme. I have chosen To Kill a Mockingbird as an example of the power of art to affect how we see the world and Dr Zhivago’s tangled tale of politics, poetry and passion because the

middle section of The Poets’ Wives is set in revolutionary Russia. The Lives of Others is one of my favourite films and depicts the capacity of the individual and the human imagination to survive even the most highly organised repression. And finally we have I am Love with the wonderful Tilda Swinton trying to break free from the claustrophobic confines of a deeply patriarchal family in search of happiness.” David Park

Sunday 11th May


Queen’s Film Theatre, 3pm

Sunday 18th May


Queen’s Film Theatre, 3.15pm

Saturday 24th May

DOCTOR ZHIVAGO Introduced by David Park

Queen’s Film Theatre, 2pm

Sunday 25th May


Queen’s Film Theatre, 3pm

For further information on these films visit or call the QFT box office: 028 9097 1097 Charges Apply.

The Poets’ Wives David Park

One City One Book is teaming up with the Translink ‘Life is Better’ campaign, which celebrates the lifestyle benefits of taking the bus or train. Watch out for details of readings and performances on public transport routes during May via the Arts Council website and social media channels.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR David Park has written eight books including The Big Snow, Swallowing the Sun, The Truth Commissioner and, most recently, The Light of Amsterdam. He has won the Authors’ Club First Novel Award, the Bass Ireland Arts Award for Literature, the Ewart-Biggs Memorial Prize, the American Ireland Fund Literary Award and the University of Ulster’s McCrea Literary Award, three times.

He has received a Major Individual Artist Award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and been shortlisted for the Irish Novel of the Year Award three times. This year he was long listed for the Sunday Times EFG Short Story Award 2014 for his story ‘Learning to Swim.’ He has also recently been shortlisted for the IMPAC Dublin Literary Award for his novel The Light of Amsterdam. David lives in County Down, Northern Ireland.

Programme of Events


Saturday 17th May

ACES writing challenge We’re sending three of the Arts Council’s Artists Career Enhancement Scheme writers off on a journey of discovery. Can they write a short piece of prose on a journey from Belfast to Derry and back? What aspect of their expedition will colour their story? The people, the landscape or the rumble of the road? Once in Derry the ACES will host a workshop with aspiring young writers. The final pieces of writing will be published on the Arts Council website in the following days.

Ulster Bus route 212

One City One Book

May 2014

Belfast 2014

One City One Book


Derry/Londonderry 2014

Through a series of exquisite novellas, David Park deftly explores the complex relationship between husband and wife, through three luminous women: Catherine Blake, wife of William Blake, Romantic poet, painter and engraver; Nadezhda Mandelstam, wife of Russian poet Osip Mandelstam, who died in a transit camp en route to Siberia during Stalin’s rule; and the wife of a fictional contemporary Irish poet, who contemplates her husband’s life during the days just after his death.

All three women deal with their husbands’ fame or notoriety. All three stick by their husbands, taking seriously their commitment to the men they married, and to assisting with and preserving their work; despite infidelities, a singlemindedness at the expense of others, and hardships sometimes beyond comprehension. Set across continents and centuries, under very different circumstances, these three women exist as a testament to love against the odds. Profoundly insightful and beautifully wrought, The Poets’ Wives is David Park at his best, a novelist who finds dignity and grace away from the spotlight, and who reminds us that art has the power to restore even the quietest of voices.

This year we are also pleased to be able to announce that One City One Book will be coming to Derry/Londonderry. Events will include:




Thursday 8th May

Reading Rooms, Derry/Londonderry Reading Rooms is a new initiative to encourage a love of reading among disadvantaged, emerging or lapsed readers. The Verbal Arts Centre in Derry presents David Park in the Workers’ Educational Association Reading Room in the Maiden City

Verbal Arts Centre (by invitation only)

Thursday 22nd May

Reading Rooms, Derry/Londonderry Reading Rooms is a new initiative to encourage a love of reading among disadvantaged, emerging or lapsed readers. In partnership with the Verbal Arts Centre in Derry, David Park will join in a schools’ Reading Room in the Maiden City

Verbal Arts Centre (by invitation only)

For more information about all events visit or telephone 02890 385 263

‘A clear, limpid and uncluttered prose that verges on the poetic’ - Belfast Telegraph ‘The Poets’ Wives is proof, if proof were still needed, that David Park is without equal as a stylist and a storyteller.’ - Glenn Patterson ‘The Poets’ Wives is a marvellous triptych: lyrical, respectful of creativity but also sharply sceptical.’ - The Sunday Times

Facebook/ArtsCouncilNI Programme of events supported by:

Twitter/ArtsCouncilNI #OCOB14

An Arts Council of Northern Ireland Initiative

From the critically-acclaimed author of The Truth Commissioner, comes a new novel by David Park, The Poets’ Wives a story of love, infidelity and loss from three women born in different times and places, each destined to play the role of a poet’s wife.

One City One Book 2014 Programme