Programming Frenzy


On Monday I started back to work after two glorious weeks of rest and television crime and writing and eating cheese. It was something of a crunch. I can’t really complain too much about work as I’m often told I have the best job in the whole of Belfast. I work in the Ulster Hall, (a 150 year old, Victorian concert hall in the city centre), as an arts and community outreach officer. I don’t really have average days but any given week could easily include tea dancing with older people, curating art exhibitions, tour guiding, screening movies, teaching small children and absolutely everything in between. I get to meet the most amazing people and hear the sort of stories which are just crying out to be written down. Though there are days when I wish I worked in a completely unrelated job and could leave everything in the office at 5 and come home to my stories, I am mostly very grateful to have such an inspiring day job. It’s easy to be passionate about story when you work in a space so steeped in it.

However, the best part of my job is definitely organizing literary events. For the last two years we’ve had a monthly Literary Lunchtime event at the Ulster Hall showcasing poetry, prose and theatre from Northern Ireland and beyond and it’s been such a brilliant experience to be involved in putting it together. Three times a year I get to sit down and make my hit list of people I’d absolutely love to have reading in the Hall. This coming week is programming week and it’s a great excuse for me to make a cup of tea, parky myself in front of my bookcase and dream about who I’d love to hear at the Ulster Hall, if money, geography and public opinion were not an issue. Here’s my wish list for this season. If any of you are personal friends, please feel free to phone these good folks up and let them know I’ll happily let them crash in my spare room if they fancy a wee trip to Belfast.

1. Paul Auster

2. Marilynne Robinson

3. Jonathan Franzen

4. Greil Marcus

5. Margaret Atwood

6. Neil Gaiman

7. George Saunders

8. Jeffrey Euginides

9. Michael Chabon

10. Donna Tartt

Any suggestions for people we might actually be able to book very welcome.

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