The Grapevine Art & Soul Salon

Why We Love Atlanta

EMORY UNIVERSITY IRISH STUDIES PROGRAM

Our interest in Emory’s Irish Studies Program was quickened by two events: a trip to Dublin in December 2015 for the Abroad Writers Conference, and an evening event in November 2016 that highlighted the university’s Samuel Beckett Letters project. For those who do not know much about the splendid program at Emory University, we want to create a brief introduction to three features of the program and some links to a lot more information. To celebrate the Dublin trip, we have fashioned a salon space called Dublin Diary, and we invite all who join us there to read this page as well and vice versa.

Samuel Beckett Letters Project

On November 5, 2016, Emory University presented a program at Glenn Memorial Auditorium celebrating publication of the 4th and final volume of The Letters of Samuel Beckett published by Cambridge University Press. Lois More Overbeck was managing editor for the project. The event, entitled “Words Fail So Simply Much Love,” featured readings by Barry McGovern and Alan Mandell with Robert Shaw Smith and Brenda Bynum, who directed and produced the show with Anne Davis. Musical accompaniment was provided by Don Saliers who played interludes from Schubert, and by the Emory Chamber Players.

Charles and Jonathan Knott attended this event and congratulated Ms. Bynum on an impressive culmination of her thirty years of studying Beckett. We have seen her stellar performances in many Beckett plays. Brenda Bynum has her own page in this chamber of our salon (see link on Why We Love Atlanta page) where we mention that her work in Emory University’s Department of Theater Studies, from which she retired in 2000, gave her an academic setting and resources to pursue her dream of bringing playwright Samuel Beckett’s entire dramatic canon to Atlanta in a collaborative project with several theaters. Brenda starred in and/or directed this full cycle and took Enough (one of only two American productions invited) to the International Samuel Beckett Festival at The Hague in 1992. She received Emory University’s Heilbrun Distinguished Emeritus Fellowship for 2004-2005.

According to Melissa Gilstrap at Emory News Center, the Beckett Letters project became affiliated with the Laney Graduate School at Emory in 1990 and dealt with a copious correspondence “totaling more than 16,000 letters.” The editorial team worked for 30 years to come up with a selection that included some 2,500 letters with another 5,000 quoted in the annotations, all selected for their bearing on his work.

“Each volume spans critical periods of the acclaimed Irish-born writer’s work. Beckett’s letters reveal a man whose life and art offer paradigms for the cross currents of the 20th century, extending the limits of fiction, drama, poetry and criticism. ... The newly released Volume IV [The Letters of Samuel Beckett 1966-89] reflects the public’s and the media’s increased attention and, with it, a huge influx of letters from old friends and new correspondents. ... The edition also contains all of Beckett’s writing—published, unpublished or abandoned—including his criticism, reviews, essays on arts, descriptions of paintings that are later transposed into stage images, and observations on musical composition that inform the patterns of his prose.”

Last Volume of Samuel Beckett's Letters Celebrated at Emory

Seamus Heaney: The Music of What Happens

Heaney first gave a reading at Emory in 1981 and had a close relationship with the university for three decades. On an Internet page from Emory called Why Study Ireland? we learn that in 2014, Emory University “created the first exhibition dedicated to the Nobel prize winning poet since his untimely death in 2013. The exhibition … featured materials from the Heaney collection held in Emory’s Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library including manuscript drafts, rare illustrated books, photographs and even the surface of his old desk where he wrote some of his celebrated poems.”

On yet another page, Irish Collections at Emory, we are told, “The Seamus Heaney archive is the largest and most complete research collection anywhere for the study of the life and work of Seamus Heaney.”

See the links below for more information, including a virtual tour of the exhibition and a tribute in poetry and song.

Irish Studies: Virtual Tour of Heaney exhibition, The Music of What Happens

Irish Collections at Emory

A Tribute to Seamus Heaney in Poetry and Song

The W. B. Yeats Foundation

Also on the Irish Collections at Emory page we learn that “The Irish collection began in 1979 with the acquisition of archival material documenting the life and work of W. B. Yeats and his circle. The W. B. Yeats collection includes letters from Yeats to his longtime friend and colleague Lady Augusta Gregory (cofounder of the Abbey Theatre), a lengthy correspondence related to his 1925 philosophical work, A Vision, and manuscript drafts of and emendations to many of his published works.”

The W. B. Yeats Foundation at Emory was founded in 1988 by James W. Flannery, now Professor Emeritus, whose impressive biography spans a series of recognitions for his work: earning his doctorate at Trinity College in Dublin, where he has been named an honorary professor, to his career teaching at Emory while creating and participating in performing arts in Atlanta, including an annual Atlanta Celtic Christmas Concert, and eventually being chosen “Irishman of the Year” in 2012 by the Hibernian Benevolent Society of Atlanta. You can learn much more about him at the following:

James Flannery

Yeats Foundation

Irishman of the Year: James Flannery

Atlanta Celtic Christmas Holiday


Copyright 2015, Barbara Knott. All Rights Reserved.