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One City One Book: A novel way to examine the subjects of conflict and healing in society

By Amanda Ferguson

Published 29/05/2014

Peter Sheridan, head of Co-operation Ireland at the One City One Book event
Peter Sheridan, head of Co-operation Ireland at the One City One Book event
One City One book with author David Park held at the Belfast Telegraph. Rev Dr Harold Good. Picture by Brian Thompson/Presseye
Victim Commissioner Kathryn Stone
Peter Osborn, Community Relations Council
Kate Turner
Sean Walsh, former IRA prisoner

Ghosts of the past and personal perspectives of the Troubles have been explored at the penultimate One City One Book event in Belfast.

This year's choice of book for the annual reading festival is The Poets' Wives by award-winning Co Down author David Park.

The novel, like Park's other work The Truth Commissioner, engages the impact of internecine political and cultural warfare and their often tragic circumstances.

Last night at the Belfast Telegraph offices, David read from his books during a discussion on the subject of conflict and healing chaired by journalist Brian Rowan.

Members of the public, gathered for the Ghosts of the Past event, heard personal perspectives from the conflict on the subject of victimhood.

Among those involved in the discussion was outgoing Victims' Commissioner Kathryn Stone; director of Healing Through Remembering Kate Turner; Alan McBride, whose wife, Sharon, and father-in-law, Desmond Frizzell, died in the 1993 Shankill bombing; head of Cooperation Ireland, Peter Sheridan; republican Seanna Walsh and loyalist Jackie McDonald.

Kathryn Stone, who leaves her post on June 12, praised last night's One City One Book event.

She said: "I think it's really important, a different and creative way to explore some of the themes that victims want to talk about – acknowledgement, truth, justice and reparation.

"All of them are contained within David's book and all are things people say to me they want for them and for their families. It is a really, really good event to come to."

On the legacy issues holding Northern Ireland back, she added: "We have to find a way. Every day in the media there is something about how the past is haunting where we are now."

The final One City One Book event will take place at 6pm tonight. Belfast Central Library is the venue for a celebration of the contribution made to the life of the city by Mary Ann McCracken (1770-1866), the anti-slavery campaigner and social reformer.

The free event features ballads of Jane Cassidy and Maurice Leyden and new poetry by Ruth Carr.

For your chance to win a signed copy of The Poets' Wives, email your name, address and contact number to competitions@ by Saturday.

Story so far

Co Down writer David Parks is Belfast's One City One Book author for 2014. His novel, people have been reading throughout May, is The Poets' Wives. The story explores the relationship between husband and wife through the experiences of three women – Catherine Blake, wife of Romantic poet and painter William Blake; Nadezhda Mandelstam, wife of Russian poet Osip Mandelstam; and the wife of a fictional contemporary Irish poet.

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