Workshop 1 Craft Room Belfast Book Festival


Alice Lyons & Wong May: An Interview

Available to read throughout the Festival

The Belfast Book Festival is pleased to connect Alice Lyons and Wong May in an interview-conversation that will be available to read in The Crescent during the Festival. 

Alice and Wong May’s work explores the plasticity of language as a compositional medium, and its potential to both translate and adapt verbal signs within and across cultures.

Wong May was born in the war capital, Chongqing in 1944 China where she was brought up in Singapore by her mother, a classical Chinese poet. She studied English Literature at the University of Singapore with the poet D.J. Enright; she was at the Iowa Writers Workshop 1966–68. Soon after, she left the USA for Europe. She now lives in Dublin, where she paints under the name Ittrium Coey and has exhibited in Dublin and Grenoble.

Wong May’s collection In the Same Light:  200 Tang Poems for Our Century was published by Carcanet in January 2022 and was the Poetry Book Society’s Spring 2022 Translation Choice. In this collection from the Tang Dynasty are poems of war and peace, flight and refuge but above all they are plain-spoken, everyday poems; classics that are everyday timeless, a poetry conceived "to teach the least and the most, the literacy of the heart in a barbarous world," says the translator.

Alice Lyons is a writer whose work embraces the visual arts. She is a recipient of the Patrick Kavanagh Award for Poetry (2002) and the inaugural Ireland Chair of Poetry Bursary awarded by Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill (2004). Her poetry film, The Polish Language, co-directed with Orla Mc Hardy, was nominated for an Irish Film and Television Award (IFTA, 2010). Originally from the USA, where she was a Radcliffe Fellow in Poetry and New Media at Harvard University 2015/16, she has lived in the west of Ireland for over twenty years. She lectures in writing and literature at the Yeats Academy of Art, Design & Architecture, IT Sligo. Oona (January 2020, The Lilliput Press) is Alice Lyon’s implosive first novel. 

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