Seán Hewitt, poet in residence at Irish Queer Archive, talks Cúirt International Festival of Literature 2021

Cúirt returns this April 2021 with some amazing online events to celebrate writers, thinkers, storytellers and musicians.

A bearded young man with curly hair looks into the camera

The Cúirt International Festival of Literature has announced its exciting 2021 programme, spanning over five days and filling homes and screens with brilliant stories and dynamic perspectives.

Many of the events in this year’s festival will look at how we connect ourselves and our landscape and how we stay connected with each other in a changing world – with writers, thinkers, storytellers, and musicians reflecting on their experiences of finding, losing, and maintaining connections throughout the past year.

Cúirt also has an exciting new commission in partnership with the National Library of Ireland. Award-winning poet Seán Hewitt has been appointed as the first poet in residence at the Irish Queer Archive. This project will shine a light on the histories of the Irish LGBTQ+ communities; reflect upon Irish LGBTQ+ history; and support new work from Irish queer writers.

The appointment will be launched at Cúirt 2021, with readings from Seán and other LGBTQ+ poets, and examine why archival material is so important within minority communities.

GCN caught up with Seán to discuss all things Cúirt. On being commissioned as poet in residence of the IQA, Séan shared, “I thought it would be a really great opportunity to do something public facing and maybe creative with the histories in the archives. I think a lot of it is still not fully catalogued, and there’s a lot of it that’s not digitised or anything.”

Seán explained, “These are public archives of real people who lived and the histories that are in them are still impactful on the way we live our lives today. I think if we don’t take care of those stories and those histories, we risk them falling out of public consciousness.

“There is as far as I know, not a great deal written in publicly available books, there might be academic writings or books that costs a lot of money on Irish history in the timespan covered by that kind of material. So it’s a bit of a novel approach in going in with poetry, but I hoped that that could be a vehicle for delivering those stories to audiences and making them available in interesting ways.”

“The archival materials will be letters, flyers, legal reports, bits of newspaper cuttings, all of these fragmented scraps of stories, and I think that in looking at them in a creative way, we might be able to bring those stories together, and see what they look like when we have them speaking to each other,” Seán continued. “I’m speaking from a place of relative ignorance in that I don’t actually know what I might find, but my sense is that a lot of those people’s lives and stories were sometimes necessarily hidden and silenced, and it’s a real privilege to have the opportunity to bring those voices back out into the open.”

Alongside Seán’s 10 poems based on the materials in the archives, the launch will also be used as an opportunity to celebrate queer writing and performance in Ireland now. “We are going to bring in other queer poets and they will be able to perform their own work alongside these commissioned set of poems,” Seán added.

Cúirt International Festival of Literature will run from 21-25 April. You can download the full programme and buy tickets to all the events on

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