2016 Festival Feedback

Jane Clarke, Poet

It was both an honour and a pleasure to participate in the inaugural Los Gatos -Listowel Writers’ Festival. Like Listowel, Los Gatos is an ideal location for a literary festival; friendly, relaxed and small enough to make any visitor feel at home immediately. During the three days you could hardly walk a few yards through the town without meeting another Irish writer or seeing a crowd gather for a reading, a walking tour or a workshop.

Having never read my poetry in the US before, Los Gatos-Listowel Festival gave me an invaluable opportunity to take my work to a wider audience. The response was extremely positive and I’ve been in touch with readers and fellow writers since. Facilitating the poetry workshop for adults gave me the opportunity to work closely with established and aspiring writers from a range of different cultures.

One of the highlights for me was the moving, respectful tribute to my friend and fellow poet, the late Shirley McClure, after whom the festival poetry competition has been named. I enjoyed attending the many other literary events, exploring the state-of-the-art library or just sitting with a coffee in the sun. It was fascinating to meet Irish authors I had heard of such as Louise Philips, Niamh O’Connor and Mike McCormack, but also US-based authors that were new to me such as Ethel Rohan and Pireeni Sundaralingam.

I was fortunate to be part of the excitement, fun and openness of this new festival and to see Los Gatos-Listowel continue the Listowel Writers’ Week tradition of proudly celebrating both writers and readers.

Niamh O’Connor, Crime Fiction Writer

“The Los Gatos Writer’s Festival was as impressive in scale as it was in content. It made me proud to be Irish, the welcome was phenomenal. My abiding memory will be just how visceral the connection with home was for the ex-pats in the audience–emotions were never far from the surface. The finale – a tribute to Flann O’Brien – resurrected a language and place with such heart it was like being transported back in time. I will always be grateful to Catherine Barry for the endless energy, enthusiasm and imagination.”

 Rose Doyle, Author Heroes of Jadotville

Los Gatos was wonderful, a festival that celebrated words in ways many and diverse.

Books were at the heart and core of things; literature, poetry and prose were debated over the four days with an energy I haven’t seen for a long time. Audiences were hugely enthusiastic, wholeheartedly taking part and attending every event in large numbers.

The diversity was remarkable: history, film, fiction, crime as genre, poetry, short stories, biography and, because readers are parents and grandparents, special events for children. And, because children are readers too, children’s reading was also represented.

Meeting with the other invited writers, an eclectic group if ever there was one, was stimulating and fun.

The Los Gatos/Listowel festival inspired such an ongoing commitment in writers attending that writer Niamh O’Connor has taken it on to produce a dedicated book of short crime stories before next year’s event. Several writers, myself included, have already promised stories for inclusion. Every good wish from me for now!

James Walsh, Writer & Professor Emeritus of History, SJSU
Writing Up The Irish: James Duval Phelan & Villa Montalvo – Oct. 6th

Let me express my deep appreciation for your parts in the initiation and delivery of what we were able to share with such a responsive and an appreciative audience last night. The variety of attendees surprised me. That was gratifying, too.

Thank you for such a good time atop such a highly successful Writers’ Festival.

Keep up the fine work. My best, Jim

Louise Phillips, Irish Crime Fiction Writer

From 1820 to 1930, 4.5 million people left Ireland for the United States. The Los Gatos Listowel Writers’ Festival was my first experience of the strong creative bond between the US and ourselves. I was overwhelmed by the interest in Irish literature, our combined enthusiasm about the creative process and the commonality between us.

It was also a terrific opportunity to explore the dynamic rise in Irish Crime Fiction, often referred to as Emerald Noir, to which the anthology, Trouble is Our Business, published by New Island, was the perfect linchpin to embody this new and interesting time in the genre.

The first crime fiction panel comprised of myself, Claire McGowan and Niamh O’Connor. There was a mix of styles, Niamh with her journalistic, fiction and true crime writer experience, Claire, a young writer, whose early steps in writing came after the Omagh bombing in the latter days of the Troubles, and myself, exploring the psychology behind the genre. I believe the diversity of the panel created something greater than the sum of the parts and many cultural links were formed.

The second panel was different again, with myself, Cara Black, a US author, and detectives from Ireland and the US, focusing on research, the legal differences between the jurisdictions and how fact and fiction are inexplicably linked.

Within the festival the seeds of something very special were sown.

Joseph McBride, Professor of Cinema at SFSU

Many thanks for the wonderful festival you put on for us all. It was a lively and brilliant series of events.

It is a pleasure to celebrate the written word and writers, as Ireland does so faithfully. The events were lively, and the audiences were keenly involved. I had fun talking with participants and attendees, lots of nice people

I am glad you loved the Ford talk! Talking about him is one of my great pleasures.

I would be delighted to participate next year. You did a fabulous job bringing people

together. I know this was a tough job, Kudos on a job well done – you pulled it off brilliantly. Thanks for having me as part of it.

Mike McCormack, Author, Solar Bones

I just wanted to drop you a line to thank you for the wonderful four days I spent in Los Gatos – a really lovely experience which was both enjoyable and instructive and full of nice people. I would love to have spent longer, exploring the whole area but possibly that is something I will be able to do in the future. I hope you enjoyed the festival also and experienced that well being which comes with a job well done – I am spreading the word about your festival and I hope the town is already getting behind it for next year…..

Mary Ann Cook, Friends of The Los Gatos Library

I attended the readings at the bookstore and was very impressed by the presenters…have heard nothing but enthusiastic responses from those I talked to about the entire festival, so you and your cohorts really carved out a successful event! Was happy to be part of it, and just sorry I didn’t introduce myself to you…I was told later you were one of the ones lugging chairs into the bookstore but didn’t know it at the time….I thought you’d be off administering somewhere!…Yours, Mary Ann

Mary Ray Brophy, Attorney, Festival Attendee

“The Los Gatos-Listowel Writers’ Festival brought together the very best in contemporary Irish literature, art and film study. It provided a rare opportunity to meet outstanding authors, professors, and artists and to exchange ideas in an informal and lovely setting. All who attended left with a greater appreciation of Irish contributions to today’s culture. My congratulations to all those who worked tirelessly to organize and execute such an event.”

Bridie Ryan, artist

For me The Los Gatos – Listowel Writers’ Festival was a resounding success and I hope that it continues and receives the support it deserves.
As an Irish artist/painter I feel that it very important for Irish art and literature to be promoted abroad as all too often our art and culture remains too much within Irish shores.
I was delighted with the size of the audience and the interest shown in my art, and the general interest in Irish culture and history around town during the festival.
The atmosphere in the town was electric, the organization of the festival was a credit to all concerned, and it was wonderful to see Ireland and her art and literature get such a promotion in a wonderful town of Los Gatos.