Kilkenny Arts Festival has long paid tribute to the memory of Kilkenny native Hubert Butler - one of Ireland's most respected essayists - with the annual Hubert Butler Lecture occupying one of the keystone places in the Festival Programme. This year, Kilkenny Arts Festival are delighted to be able to host both the Hubert Butler Lecture, and the Hubert Butler Essay Prize as part of the 2022 Festival Programme.
Founded by Jeremy O'Sullivan in 2018, the Hubert Butler Essay Prize encourages the art of essay-writing across Europe. The prize is designed to reflect Hubert Butler’s interest in the common ground between the European nation states that emerged after the First World War; his concern with the position of religious and ethnic minorities; his life and writings as an encapsulation of the mantra ‘Think globally, act locally’; the importance of the individual conscience and his work with refugees.
The title for this year’s essay is:
In dark times, what can be done to resist the abuse of political power?
Professor Roy Foster, chair of the judges, writes: ‘In 2022 of all years, the question of resistance to the abuse of political power, east and west, hangs over us as it did in the 1930s, when Butler lived through the downward spiral of events in central and eastern Europe, inspiring some of his most searingly perceptive commentary. 2022 is already being pinpointed as a turning point in history; Butler’s example shows how the essay form is uniquely well adapted for capturing the essence and significance of convulsive events, even as they happen around us, and the importance of the individual dissenting voice.'
Festival director Olga Barry writes: ‘Following our partnership with HEART, London in 2020 Kilkenny Arts Festival was honoured to become the ‘home’ of the Hubert Butler Essay Prize from 2021, and we are delighted to be cementing the Prize's position as an integral part of our Programme alongside the Hubert Butler Lecture, by hosting it in person during the Festival this coming August. We are grateful to Hubert Butler’s family, Julia and Dick Crampton, Jeremy O’Sullivan and the prize panel, chaired by Roy Foster, for their support in securing the future of the prize. This prize is an affirmation of Hubert Butler’s life and work - his legacy continues to grow and inspire others. His clarity of purpose and commitment to the principals of universal humanity is as urgent now as ever. There could be no better way of honouring him in his home city than supporting a new generation of essayists at a time when the intrinsic links between the personal, local and global couldn’t be more apparent.’
Entries will be judged by Catriona Crowe, Roy Foster (Chair), Nicholas Grene, Eva Hoffman and Barbara Schwepcke. The first prize will be €1,500, with two second prizes of €500 each.
Submissions are now open and the closing date is 10 June 2022. The prize giving ceremony will be held in Kilkenny in August 2022.For terms and conditions and to apply please visit hubertbutleressayprize.com
Kilkenny Arts Festival became the permanent home of the Prize in 2021, when the visual artist Alison Williams was awarded the prize for her essay 'During the Plague, I came into my own'.
Hubert Butler was born in Kilkenny in 1900, and he travelled extensively throughout Europe during his life. With his wife, Peggy, he founded the Kilkenny Lectures to encourage dialogue between the people of Northern Ireland and the Republic, and he found international recognition in his eighties for his essay collections Escape from the Anthill, The Children of Drancy, and Grandmother and Wolfe Tone.