Writer in residence, Slovenian Writers' Association, Ljubljana, 1-26 February 2016
Other People's Countries, a docu-poem-play: Radio 4, 30 March, 2.15, with the voices of Saskia Reeves, Osian and Mari McGuinness, and Patrick McGuinness, produced by Tim Dee.
If anything will have you gagging for Moneybox Live, which comes straight after, this will.
13 April, Reading with Greg Leadbetter, The Woodman pub, Birmingham, 6pm
16 April, Literature Across Frontiers, Aberystwyth, Keynote lecture and Reading, 'Other People's Countries'
10 May, reading with Joshua Weiner, Oxford, tbc
11 May, Poetry Periscope, an evening of European poetry and translation, British LIbrary, 6 pm
14 May, Modern Poetry in Translation celebration event, Queen's College, Oxford
27 May, Reading and Discussion with Kamel Daoud, organised by the French Institute, London details tbc
11 June, Oxford Translation Day, event tbc
8,9.10 July Lettres sur cour festival, Vienne, Rhône
26 July, Radio 4: 'The Inevitable': an exploration of notions of fate and destiny from ancient times to the present.
28 July, Mr B's Reading Emporium, Bath.
6/7 August, Caught by the River Thames festival
29/30 October, Cardiff Book Festival
11-13 November, Malta Book Festival
New Books, recent ones
Guide bleu, poems translated by Gilles Ortlieb, on Radio RTBF's chronique littéraire
Last Hundred Days in Turkish from Habitus
Readings and events 2015
Festival de littérature et de journalisme, Metz, 9-12 April
Reading with Dan O'Brien and Martin Malone, Albion Beatknik bookshop, May 5, 7 pm.
Surrey Poetry Festival, 9 May
Italian Translation of Jilted City, 2011. Il Ponte del Sale. Translated by Giorgia Sensi.
Times LIterary Supplement review of Jilted City is here
Guardian Review below
Review of Patrick McGuinness's Jilted City - Guardian
29 May 2010
'Time without the clock' by Sean O'Brien
In his absorbing debut, The Canals of Mars, Patrick McGuinness wrote about Belgium while indicating that he was also in some way writing about the north of Ireland – two divided societies created artificially and living with the consequences. In an odd way, the inexactness of the fit made the implied comparison more intriguing. In Jilted City, a stronger book than its predecessor, McGuinness keeps faith with Belgium, undertaking a personal exploration of parts of it and in the process making the habitual English dismissal of the place seem merely daft. Belgium's anxieties and seeming paralysis have powerful resonance.
Belgium is "etouffé", choked or stuffed with history, McGuinness notes, and fittingly his central journey is by railway. That work of 19th-century genius can still detain 21st-century travellers inside metaphors they might hope to have outgrown, their "leaving / still entangled in itself years later like the sound of a train / turning the corner, its siren coiled around the echo of the last to go / and the tunnel taking a moulding of our departures" ("Gare centrale"). There follows a dream-diversion at Quartier-Leopold, in the direction of the Congo, "a heart of darkness where the train stops", a colonial catastrophe with which we are still living.
For all his power to evoke, McGuinness might well agree with Auden's observation in "Brussels in Winter": "Its formula escapes you: it has lost / The certainty that constitutes a thing." McGuinness, half-Belgian, half Tyneside-Irish, is well qualified imaginatively to investigate the reticence and poisonous inertia revealed along the line as it struggles to escape the city: "Something is taking shape: a Leviathan fattened on damp / and disregard, the bureaucratic Unconscious, with its pagers, / mobile phones and trouserpresses". What he depicts hardly amounts to a society, but is rather the station car-park of Europe. English readers may find it oddly familiar in its blend of impertinence and incompetence and its complicated dividedness, as of a nation formed from and sustained by mutual dislike: for language and religion read class and location, perhaps.
McGuinness's slow, implacable rhythms, moving as though at shunting speed, enable us to savour a complex mixture of reactions, including contempt, melancholy, curiosity and gallows humour. WG Sebald, a great scrutineer of the railway terminus, may have travelled some of this ground before, but there is clearly a good deal at stake for McGuinness imaginatively; something that remains out of reach but is present as though in negative when he contemplates "all the station clocks from here to Arlon, // their blank faces hung like moons above the platforms / where sheets of tabulated time contrive to be at once / exact (the 11.27 to Namur) / and untrue (it isn't there). / Correspondances /is what they call connecting trains, even when / they don't connect. Even when they don't exist."
The reference to Baudelaire's "Correspondances" also serves as a reminder of the importance of symbolist art and writing in Belgium and vice versa – James Ensor, Jean Delville, strange characters such as Félicien Rops and Georges Rodenbach. The landscape, which seems invested with a significance which a combination of secrecy and exhaustion forbids it to release, sometimes resembles a religion in majestic decline. Passing though Jemelles, we glimpse "the old station standing at our back, // a haunting in red brick with smoke effects of brick dust. / Then the industrial-sized rose window / of the engine-shed . . ." The supernaturalism of these railways can also shift from the religiose to the profane – witness the alarming Paul Delvaux mural of a girl in a white dress among rearing black engines in the station brasserie at Bruges.
By the end of the journey, without having convincingly arrived anywhere, it appears that the railway itself is a language at once chaotic and inescapable: even when disembarked, the traveller will always be "so close to the station you can hear yourself miss the trains". You're not going anywhere. "Charleville" visits the birthplace of Rimbaud, just over the French border, sharing a landscape with Belgium. However far you travel – Ethiopia, in Rimbaud's case – "you never leave", and McGuinness reads the working landscape in the light of the poems: "barges / slip through bilgewater with rooftile cargoes / of Ardennes Ardoise: slates bound into sheaves, / books with blackboard pages and all the boats / were floating libraries and all the letters spelled azure // or, after rain, erasure, which soon became its synonym. / Now his name is on every shopfront." There are gifts, then, but no escape. Life itself feels like exile without ever making it clear where from.
Aptly, the book's closing sequence, "City of Lost Walks", contains poems by an imaginary Romanian poet, Liviu Campanu, exiled under Ceausescu to Constanta, the Black Sea port where Ovid himself saw out his punishment by the Emperor Augustus. This too is well-travelled ground: Geoffrey Hill and Christopher Reid, among others, have used invented poets allegedly working in other languages. McGuinness's contribution is harsh and witty. The archaeological museum takes us close to "time without the clock, / the river without the bank, that point when either / all is form or there's no such thing". The pessimism is invigorating, and Jilted City grows more powerful with each rereading.
2007 - The Canals of Mars and 19th Century Blues translated into Czech:
The Canals of Mars, 2004. Carcanet
The Canals of Mars, in Czech (the Czech title translates as 'Black Box'.