Bloomsday literary holiday

PAC partners with James Joyce Pub

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Celebrating the literary tradition and glamour of the legendary James Joyce, the Patchogue Arts Council in partnership with the James Joyce Pub will be hosting an evening honoring Bloomsday on Thursday, June 16 from 5:30 to 8 p.m.

There will be readings from local fixtures, live music, raffles, and trivia to honor the towering figure of modern Western literature.

Bloomsday, which is set at June 16, covers the day that all the events take place in Joyce’s seminal work, “Ulysses.” The main character, Leopold Bloom (and yes, Mel Brooks did that on purpose with “The Producers”), traverses June 16 much like the fabled man in the title.

This year is of particular note, as it marks the 100th anniversary of the publishing of “Ulysses.”

The inspiration and culmination of this year’s Patchogue Bloomsday celebration comes from newly installed PAC board member Edward Schmieder, a Blue Point resident and former literature professor and Sayville High School English Department head.

With his graduate work focused on modern British and Irish literature at New York University, Schmieder was perfect to head a committee on Bloomsday.

“The board had tasked me to provide another avenue of arts appreciation for PAC, which features many fine arts exhibits,” said Schmieder, “so I thought to bring some literary events to the calendar. The board was super excited to hear about my idea for Bloomsday.”

Local guitarist Jerry McKevney will be at the event to regale the crowds with some Irish music to go along with the theme.

Fourteen excerpts, selected by Schmieder, approximately two pages in length for each installment, will be read by volunteers.

“We are planning on having a couple of readings, followed by a musical interlude,” said Schmieder.

The cover charge is $10 a ticket, which includes a drink.

“To keep in line with the Joyce theme, you could opt for a shot of Jameson, but wine, beer, and non-alcoholic drinks are also available,” said Schmieder.

In Dublin, Bloomsday is the impetus for a myriad of pub crawls, with enthusiasts often dressed in Edwardian costume while retracing Bloom›s route around Dublin. A mammoth of a literary piece, some celebrants have been known to have 36-hour non-stop readings of the book (the reading portion of the Bloomsday celebration in Patchogue is roughly one hour).

On Bloomsday in 1982, the centenary year of Joyce’s birth, Irish state broadcaster RTÉ transmitted a continuous 30-hour dramatic performance of the entire text of “Ulysses” on the radio.

A five-month-long festival, ReJoyce Dublin 2004, took place in Dublin between April 1 and Aug. 31, 2004. On the Sunday before the 100th anniversary of the fictional events described in the book (which takes place in 1904), 10,000 people in Dublin were treated to a free, open-air, full Irish breakfast on O’Connell Street consisting of sausages, rashers, toast, beans, and black and white puddings.

In New York City, there are a number of formal and informal readings at pubs and universities. The Irish American Bar Association of New York celebrates Joyce’s contribution to the First Amendment, with an annual keynote speech named after John Quinn, the Irish-American lawyer who defended Joyce’s New York publishers in their obscenity trial in 1922.

In 2014, New York celebrated Bloomsday with “Bloomsday on Broadway,” which included famous actors reading excerpts of the books and commentators explaining the work between segments.

The 2016 celebration included a juried competition for the Best Dressed Molly and Leopold Bloom, selected from among attendees by a blue-ribbon panel including image strategist Margaret Molloy.

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