As tension persists over the future of the Protocol and frustration is leading to renewed speculation of the possibility of a United Ireland we engage with four writers whose work is gathered in a landmark new anthology reflecting on the border. The New Frontier: Reflections from the Irish Border (New Island, 2021) is a landmark anthology of fiction, non-fiction and poetry. Amid renewed international focus on the border in Ireland the anthology contributors Darran Anderson, Jill Crawford, Michael Hughes, Séamus O’Reilly and editor James Conor Patterson join us to read from their work and discuss the meaning of partition in the 21st century for those people that inhabit the divide.
The idea for the book has been on my mind for some time now, probably since the Brexit vote when it became apparent that there would be consequences for freedom of movement across the Irish border. I quickly found that for all the news reports, vox pops and column inches being filled, very often the voices which were left out of the conversation were the ones most affected by it, and I wanted to redress that balance by giving border writers the opportunity to speak their truths. Working with New Island on this book has been an absolute dream, and given that they are behind some of the most important anthologies of Irish writing to date, I can’t wait to share this latest project with the world. — James Conor Patterson, Anthology Editor.
Speaker: Darran Anderson
Darran Anderson is the author of Imaginary Cities (2015), chosen as a ‘Book of the Year’ by the Financial Times, the Guardian, the A.V. Club and others, and described by the Guardian as ‘a dizzying and brilliant piece of creative non-fiction’. He has co-edited The Honest Ulsterman, 3:AM Magazine, Dogmatika and White Noise. He writes for the likes of the Atlantic, frieze magazine, and Magnum, and has given talks at the V&A, the LSE, the Robin Boyd Foundation and the Venice Biennale.
Speaker: Jill Crawford
Jill is a rural Northern Irish writer, based in London. Fiction at Stinging Fly, n+1, Winter Papers, Stranger’s Guide, and Faber’s ‘Being Various’: New Irish Short Stories.
Speaker: Michael Hughes
Michael Hughes grew up in Keady, Co. Armagh, and now lives in London. He attended St Patrick’s Grammar School in Armagh and read English at Corpus Christi College, Oxford before training in theatre at the Jacques Lecoq School in Paris. He has worked for many years as an actor under the professional name Michael Colgan, and he also teaches creative writing. His first novel, The Countenance Divine, was published by John Murray in 2016. He previously spoke at the ILS on his widely praised second novel Country (Hodder & Stoughton, 2018).
Speaker: Séamas O’Reilly
Séamas O’Reilly is a columnist for the Observer and writes about media and politics for the Irish Times, New Statesman, Guts and VICE. He shot to a kind-of prominence with a range of online endeavours including ‘Remembering Ireland’, a parody of Irish nostalgia sites, which featured entirely invented moments from Irish history. In 2016, he posted a long Twitter thread about the effects Brexit would have on Northern Ireland, which led to his first political writing for the New Statesman. Later on that year, his exasperated reviews of the novels of erstwhile footballer and manager Steve Bruce led to his participation in events with Guardian Football Weekly and various others. Séamas lives in Hackney with his family.
Speaker: James Conor Patterson
James is the editor of the anthology in discussion The New Frontier: Reflections from the Irish Border (New Island Books, 2021). He is also author of the poetry collection ‘Bandit Country’ forthcoming from Picador in Autumn 2022. His writing has appeared or is forthcoming in The Guardian, i-D, The Irish Times, Magma, The Moth, Morning Star, New Statesman, Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry London, Poetry Review, RTÉ Culture, The Stinging Fly and The Tangerine, among others.