June 10th to 12th 2016.
Another year and another trip to Borris House. This year it started with a bang, with Simon Callow and Chrissie Hynde featuring on Friday. Simon Callow talked about his biography of Orson Welles; before later reading a section of the Aeneid by Seamus Heaney. This performance had a lovely introduction by Seamus Heaney’s daughter Catherine, which brought a tear to the eye. Later Michael Chabon appeared star struck as he interviewed Chrissie Hynde about her life in Rock and Roll. He talked of his time in college, sitting on the floor of a friend’s apartment and listening to the Pretenders.
Saturday featured another wide spectrum of artists. The day started with Sinead Gleeson interviewing Michael Chabon and Joseph O’Neill on their life and work, focusing on the themes that reoccur in their writing. Georgina Harding, Don McCullin and Giles Duley talked about War, with Georgina having written about it and Don and Giles having visited many battlefields. Don and Giles talked about the power of images and how they hoped they could change public perceptions of wars over time. The Gun Violence talk was a fascinating event where Iain Overton and Martin Amis talked about America’s fascination with the gun and the second amendment. Overton has recently written a book called Gun Baby Gun where he discusses the facts and figures relating to the gun. Kate Tempest was next up talking about her latest project; an album and a novel each featuring the same characters and story. She is a poet, rapper, playwright and now novelist, and continues to make the transition look easy. Kevin Barry was the last reader of the day and possibly the best. He has the feel of a frustrated actor and really delves into the characters he portrays. He is currently writing for the stage, so we look forward to seeing what he comes up with.
Sunday was another good mix of ideas. It started with Dominic West interviewing Bruce Robinson, who wrote films such as Withnail & I and the Killing Fields. Johnny Depp met Amber Heard on the set of the Rum Diary, which was written and directed by Robinson, and this was also briefly mentioned! Stephen Frears was then interviewed by Sean Rocks on his latest film Florence Foster Jenkins. Stephen kept giving the same advice to most questions, work with smart, talented people! Luke Harding then talked about Russia, and in particular the murder of Litvinenko who was ‘an enemy of Putin’. It was quite eye opening to see how little has changed since the cold war. Donal Ryan was then interviewed by his editor Anthony Farrell, who described him as a genius in his introduction! The final talk of the event was the meeting of Martin Amis and Michael Chabon, who talked about the nuts and bolts of their writing styles, along with their hopes and fears while writing.
The Festival continues to draw an impressive line up. It was a pity that Hynde and Callow featured on Friday, as if they were on Saturday you would expect bigger crowds. The one thing I did notice was that the best talks were often not the ones you would expect or with the biggest names involved. The sessions that had the best interviewers were the ones that really came to life, as they were able to get much more out of their interviewees. Borris is a lovely location and they continue to be remarkably lucky with the weather. We look forward to next year…
Find out more about Borris Festival of Writing and Ideas here.
Photos from the Weekend below: