Celebrate Irish culture at the library on St. Patrick’s DayWriter Séamas Cain will do his first local reading of “The Dangerous Islands” following traditional Irish music on Celtic harp and penny whistle
By: Mark King, Pine Journal
The Cloquet Public library is celebrating St. Patrick’s Day with a literary reading and traditional Irish music starting at 10:30 a.m. Saturday, March 17. Irish-American author and Cloquet native Séamas Cain will read from his recently published novel “The Dangerous Islands.” The reading will be preceded by music performed on the Celtic harp and penny whistle by Mary Hagen and Linda Crumpton.
Cain is a poet, playwright, conceptual artist, performance artist and theater director who has written about Ireland for many years. Born and raised in Cloquet by parents of Irish descent, Cain has been active in Irish artistic and political circles since he first lived in Ireland in the late 1960s. The Northern Ireland conflict, known as “The Troubles,” was an early focus of his essays, pamphlets and manifestos. In an essay written in Northern Ireland in 1968, Cain expresses his understanding of the struggle against the British as a humanist movement while deploring the “mindless violence” of the Irish Republican Army.
Ireland’s struggles form the backdrop of his most recent work, “The Dangerous Islands,” an unconventional novel that combines aspects of various genres, including poetry and play script, in conveying the experience of a young Irish-American man from 1965 to 1998.
Francis M. Carroll, author of “The Fires of Autumn: The Cloquet-Moose Lake Disaster of 1918” and “Crossroads in Time: A History of Carlton County, Minnesota,” had this to say about Cain’s book: “‘The Dangerous Islands’ invites the reader into a kaleidoscope of colors, sounds and images. The experience is both intensely personal and cosmic. Séamas Cain’s work comes out of the world of ancient Celtic sagas, out of the séances of William Butler Yeats, out of T.S. Eliot’s desert wastelands, and especially out of James Joyce’s play with language. He takes the reader to mysterious islands, as well as dangerous islands.”
Cain has been the recipient of grants from the IMRAM festival in Ireland, the Minnesota State Arts Board, the McKnight Foundation, and the Arrowhead Regional Arts Council, among other organizations. He describes his novel as “a non-Classic coming-of-age tale. It is a story of self-education and self-development, with convictions and disillusionment. But it resists all pigeonholing, for it is also a novel of ideas ranging across literature, philosophy and politics.”
“The Dangerous Islands” has been published in Ireland by The Red Jasper Press, an independent publishing house under the curatorship of Kit Fryatt, lecturer in English at the Mater Dei Institute of Education in Dublin. Fryatt organizes activities of the Irish Centre for Poetry Studies, to which Cain has contributed. The book’s preface was written by American poet Sheila E. Murphy. Copies are available through various U.S. distributors and bookstores.
Mary Hagen has been a local harper for many years. Linda Crumpton is a member of a Celtic music group that performs regularly at Carmody Irish Pub in Duluth. Both musicians are Cloquet residents.