Belfast poet John Hewitt spent a lifetime devoting himself to the cause of peace, justice and the arts. Rejecting Northern Ireland’s traditional sectarian divisions, he once famously declared his identity as being Ulster, Irish, British, and European. After his death in 1987, the John Hewitt Society was founded to honor his memory and to explore his ideas and ideals. From June 25th to 30th, the John Hewitt International Summer School — a week of music, theatre, readings and creative writing workshops — will take place in Armagh. Writers attending the Summer School include Carlo Gébler, Belinda McKeon, Donal Ryan, Glenn Patterson, and Martina Devlin. There will also be musical performances, a one-man play by Mikel Murfi, and art exhibitions. All events take place at the Market Place Theatre.
I will be attending the Summer School as a winner of a bursary sponsored by the Irish Department of Foreign Affairs, and will be staying in Armagh as a guest of the Charlemont Arms Hotel. John Hewitt never attained the fame of his fellow Northern Irish poet Seamus Heaney, who was a great admirer of his. Hewitt’s life and writing were spent questioning identities. Heaney’s favorite poem by Hewitt is “the watchers” and it exemplifies the feeling of coming close to an answer, only to have it slip away.