John Hewitt summer school continues striding forward after 30 years

Actor Vincent Higgins; Hilary Copeland, general manager of The John Hewitt Society, poet Lorna Shaughnessy, and Tony Kennedy, chairman of The John Hewitt Society, at the launch of the 30th John Hewitt International Summer School

MARKING 30 years since the death of poet, political writer and commentator John Hewitt, The John Hewitt Society has launched the programme for the 30th John Hewitt International Summer School.

This year’s summer school – whose theme is 'Striding Forward' – is the biggest yet, with 35 events from more than 50 writers, artists, commentators and lecturers. Its aim is to issues of relevance to the north's divided society, providing a platform for audiences to engage with speakers from different backgrounds, experiences and points of view.

The 2017 programme includes music, from Frankie Gavin and De Danann; writers such as Bernard MacLaverty, John Boyne, Lorna Shaughnessy, Jan Carson and Lisa McInerney; and debates, with Seamus Mallon, Steve Aiken and Naomi Long among the panellists.

Ballymena actor Vincent Higgins reading at the launch of the 30th John Hewitt International Summer School. During the July event he will be performing in the play Green and Blue, as well as in a panel discussion exploring the legacy of John Hewitt

Award-winning US poet Mark Doty is also a guest and submissions are open for the rare opportunity to work closely with him in a masterclass setting. The school's creative writing strand features eight workshops plus seminars on getting published.

A summer school highlight will be the staging of a special cross-border incarnation of In Dreams Begin Responsibilities: A Journey in Words & Music, a celebration of reconciliation over the last 100 years.

Belfast-born poet Lorna Shaughnessy is one of the many artists taking part in the 30th John Hewitt International Summer School

Ballymena actor Vincent Higgins will star in Lawrence McKeown’s play Green and Blue, which explores the realities of RUC officers and gardai patrolling the border during the Troubles. Higgins, whose participated in the first summer school in 1987, together with poet Frank Ormsby and Brian Kennedy, former head of art at the Ulster Museum, will also take part in a panel discussion exploring the legacy of John Hewitt.

Other events include broadcaster Eamonn Mallie in conversation with Armagh-born painter JB Vallely and the screening of film short Two Angry Men by Toto Ellis, film-maker and son of well-known Northern Ireland actor James Ellis.

:: The John Hewitt Summer School, July 24-29, The Market Place Theatre, Armagh. Full programme at Tickets 028 3752 1821 or

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