Friday, June 4, 2010

Bloomsdays around the world

I think of Bloomsday as a literary Christmas. I love the idea that people are celebrating the birth of modern literature the world over. In addition to Radio Bloomsday, our 7 hour national radio broadcast on the Pacifica Radio Network, there are many other wonderful Bloomsday events happening on June 16th across America and throughout the world.

In New York City alone, several bars are hosting readings:

The Ulysses bar on Pearl Street begins their festivities at 11.30am as local authors read from the book. They are celebrating their 7th Bloomsday.

At Solas bar in the East Village, Tablet Magazine hosts a Bloomsday devoted to the Jewish themes in Ulysses and includes an excerpt of the book that I translated into Yiddish for the Bloomsday centennial performed by the New Yiddish Rep.

Symphony Space
on the Upper West Side celebrates their 29th anniversary focusing on the books parallels to Homer's Odyssey.

The International Center for Photography hosts an exhibit of art work inspired by Ulysses made by students from their class Visualizing Ulysses.

The Irish American Bar Association celebrates with readings at the Irish Consulate on Fifth Avenue beginning at 6pm.

Bloomsday in Brooklyn observes the day on Saturday, June 12th beginning at the Black Sheep Pub.

The most famous worldwide celebration of the book takes place every year for a week in Dublin at the James Joyce center and at venues throughout the city.

Another much admired event, Toronto's Bloomsday run for 25 years by actress Mary Durkan has a day long celebration that includes a full costumed performance on the beach.

In Philadelphia, the Rosenbach Museum and Library which is home to many Joyce manuscripts holds event from 12 to 7pm.

On the west coast, The Wild Geese Theater in Seattle is holding a reading of the Circe episode of Ulysses beginning at 7pm.

In Los Angeles, The Celtic Arts Center has a performance on June 13th and on June 16th The Hammer Museum has a performance.

For a list of 31 other Bloomsday Celebrations in Oslo, Brussels, Buenos Aires and more visit the website of The James Joyce Centre.


  1. I'll be at my 2nd Bloomsday event of my life! As a Dubliner's Daughter (see my column at it is way overdue. My first Bloomsday was at UC Irvine at the Barclay theatre where actress Finnoula Flanigan did a one woman show from Joyce literature. This year I get to read a bit or two at Finn McCool's on Main Street in Santa Monica. I got my Edwardian summer hat with blue bird of happiness in it!

    Ex-Brooklyner Hershal Herscher is playing the melancholic cuckold Leopold Bloom this month in the annual Bloomsday musical literary razzle dazzle at the Thirsty Dog in K’ Rd, Auckland, New Zealand, Thursday June 16.
    Bloomsday is the celebration of James Joyce’s comic masterpiece Ulysses, one of the great modernist novels of the twentieth century.
    It tells the story of Jewish Dubliner Leopold Bloom as he wanders round Dublin on one day and one night of 1904, June 16, before finally returning home to his faithless wife Molly.
    Here in New Zealand Bloomsday has been celebrated for the past ten years in a unique Hibernian-Hebrew cabaret featuring Dubliner Brian Keegan and Linn Lorkin and The Jews Brothers Band—with the band’s accordionist Hershal Herscher as Bloom.
    “Dublin? I’ve never actually been to Dublin,” says Hershal. “They say it’s a happenin’ place. Would love to go. Especially on Bloomsday.
    “I’m from Brooklyn, New York. I’ve been in NZ since 1986. We live in Grey Lynn and Bloomsday is a bit of a neighbourhood phenomenon here. Maybe 90% of the Bloomsday punters are from the neighbourhood: Grey Lynn, Ponsonby, Newton.
    “My grandparents were all from Europe, Jewish immigrants: Ukraine, Romania, Austria and Lithuania. They came to New York city in the 19th century.
    “Bloom is a very common Jewish name. My family had good friends called Bloom, schoolteachers. When I went to London, I went directly to the famous London restaurant Bloom’s, in Whitechapel, right next door to the anarchist bookshop. As soon as I walked in they all greeted me, ‘Oh, it’s Hershal from Brooklyn!’ I ordered chopped liver and kishka.
    “Leopold Bloom is your basic schlemiel. He’s a type I really understand. For example, the world’s
    most famous schlemiel is Woody Allen, and people always tell me I remind them of him and that I talk just like him. Actually I do have the same specific Brooklyn accent as Woody. We come from the same neighbourhood. In fact, I was the one that used to beat him up.”
    “The first time we started doing the Bloomsday show was in the beginning of this millennium, at Rakino’s in the city. After two or three years, we moved to The Dogs Bollix in Newton. It became a huge success. We expect even bigger crowds at The Thirsty Dog.
    “The high point? It’s usually when I’m on my knees and a six-foot bearded transvestite dominatrix straight out of K Rd forces me to lace up her very long leather boots. I’m still holding my accordion and she is schlepping me all around the floor.
    “It’s a one-night show, it’s hardly an income. But you don’t so something like this for the gelt.”
    Bloomsday. Thirsty Dog, Karangahape Rd, Auckland, New Zealand, Thursday June 16, 7.30pm.