Celtic Junction Arts Review

Issue 19, Beltane 2022

Archiving and Articulating Celtic Heritage
A quarterly publication of CJAC's Education Program

Seamus Heaney

“. . .in suspension between the archaic and the modern, we were as susceptible and impressionable as the drinking water that stood in a bucket in our scullery: every time a passing train made the earth shake, the surface of that water used to ripple delicately, concentrically, and in utter silence,” remembered Seamus Heaney of his gentle dreaming childhood farm house in rural County Derry in “Crediting Poetry” his Nobel Lecture in 1995.

Heaney, who visited Minnesota several times to read his poetry at the Guthrie Theater beginning in 1996 and for the opening of his adaptation Burial at Thebes of Sophocles’ Antigone there in 2011, provides his own rippling concentric circles of influence for writers here in the Midwest.

Digging, backyard garden

Heaney’s poem “Digging” from his first collection Death of a Naturalist (1966) provides a memory scaffold and narrative frame for a new Arts Review memoir essay by award-winning poet, Lynette Reini-Grandell, granddaughter of Finnish immigrants and a poetry teacher previously with us in our Irish College. She brilliantly mirrors her experience transforming her south Minneapolis garden with Heaney’s “Digging” to the transgender journey of her spouse and traces the “30-year transformation journey with no clear map from he to she.” Her memoir Wild Things: A Trans-Glam-Punk-Rock Love Story will be published by the Minnesota Historical Society Press in 2023.

We continue our commitment to original creative writing with an excerpt from the new novel The Fevers by Deanna Larsen-Quinn. It is a work of striking speculative fiction – an umbrella term encompassing her inventive use of fantasy, magical realism, and sci-fi. Set on a lake in northern Minnesota, her astonishing excerpt offers a transformative disruption of normative conventions of time and space and reality. She previously was part of our roster of Irish College teachers and we are honored to showcase her sparking creativity.

The world changed on Thursday, February 24, 2022 when Russia invaded Ukraine. The savage imperial ambition and unhinged aggression evident would be no shock to any serious student of Irish history, familiar with such figures as Cromwell or the brutal devastation of the Famine of 1845-1852. Carillon RoseMeadows, our Digital Curator, writes a luminous account of the Ukrainian benefit concert “Musicians for Ukraine” held on the new external stage at Celtic Junction Arts Center in June, showing how the musical community celebrated our deeper humanity.

Normal People book cover

Two Irish College of Minnesota literature instructors, Mary McCormick and myself ruminate on the brilliant paradox at the heart of the international success of Irish novelist, Sally Rooney in a discussion of her 2018 novel, Normal People. Her fiction is brilliantly crafted and immediately compelling, but her characters are endlessly opaque and elusive, and emotional authenticity and connection are endlessly deferred.

This edition celebrates the “concentric circles” of memory, history and mutual concern.

Patrick O’Donnell – Editor, contributing writer, and founder of the Celtic Junction Arts Review;  founder and co-director of the annual Irish Arts Week; and, Director of Education and founder of CJAC’s Irish College of Minnesota.