Marching to Her Own Beat
“The past is never dead. It’s not even past,” said William Faulkner – and the past is ever-present, but with a twist, in Rosemary Jenkinson’s short story collection Marching Season.
The Belfast playwright and short story writer tackles rioting, bonfires to mark the Twelfth of July, TED talks, and one-night-stands and threesomes in her no-holds-barred stories.
Rosemary talks about her themes, but also reflects on the numbing effect of cancel culture in a City of Books interview for Dublin UNESCO City of Literature, where she tells the podcast’s presenter Martina Devlin about her recent experience of generating controversy.
There was a backlash in some quarters after she said the success of Milkman by Anna Burns and other successful Troubles books had led to an excess of fiction focused on a “narrow-visioned Belfast noir”. Subsequently, her publisher decided against publishing a novel by her, saying she had shrunk rather than grown her potential market.
Ironically, Rosemary says it happened as she was working on a play for the Abbey Theatre with cancel culture as a theme. “It’s art imitating life,” she said. She believes writers should engage with the world around them, and shouldn’t be silenced because they fear giving offence.
On writing sex scenes for her work, she says, “I don’t have children and both parents are dead so who’s going to be embarrassed? I’m not. It’s a beautiful place of liberation sometimes when there’s nobody around to care what you write.”
Marching Season by Rosemary Jenkinson is published by Arlen House