I don’t know why it’s taken me so long to do a post on this, but here’s a picture from our annual St. Patrick’s Day party. For most people in America, the holiday is just about getting drunk, but my friends and I like to honor Irish culture and tradition, especially its literature- as well as getting drunk, of course. Last year, after a warm-up with a couple of Yeats poems, we all took turns reading aloud from Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake, and this year we continued the tradition. Those of you familiar with the book will know that it is written from beginning to end in a surreal style of multilayered puns that is extremely difficult to make sense of, without a plot or characters in any traditional sense. It would seem like and odd choice for public reading, but it’s actually a crowd-pleaser. Even without quite knowing what you are saying, the words are fun to say anyway, since Joyce has such a gift for creating musical effects in language, and those listening will laugh frequently without quite getting what the joke is.
Sometimes we do this for other holidays as well. Last year on the 4th of July I gave a spirited reading of Voltairine de Cleyre’s essay “Anarchism and American Traditions”.