Just say 'Yes!' to Bloomsday

Lovers of James Joyce will rejoice to readings set throughout the city

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Dublin and Pittsburgh have nothing in common, except when the Monongahela gets that snot-green cast to it in late summer, like the River Liffey.

Friday, though, the city is doing its best to fill in for Ireland's capital, providing the sets for the 18th annual Bloomsday, the celebration of James Joyce's ground-breaking novel "Ulysses."

Organized from the start by Dublin's own Anne Burnham, the series of readings moves around the city at sites similar to places in the book.

Instead of a Greek warrior, the peripatetic hero of Joyce's tale is Leopold Bloom, a newspaper advertising agent, who moves through Dublin on June 16, 1904, hence the name.

"This is the second incarnation of Bloomsday in Pittsburgh," said Burnham, member of the city's James Joyce Society, the prime mover behind the readings.

She said WQED-FM ran the event for several years starting in 1979 but discontinued it. Bloomsday was revived in 1988 with help from the late Art Fedel, who taught Irish literature at the University of Pittsburgh, and Robert Croneberger, former Carnegie Library director who died in 1998.

Burnham is dedicating Bloomsday 2006 to Fedel, who died last month at 81. She called him "a scholar of Irish literature, a great Joycean and an admired and beloved friend."

The library continues its support of the readings with additional backing from, appropriately, the Pittsburgh Irish and Classical Theatre, which is supplying several of the readers tomorrow.

The daylong celebration is free, and it's suggested that listeners bring along their copies of "Ulysses" to follow along.

9 a.m.: Crazy Mocha Cafe, 4525 Liberty Ave., Bloomfield. Bloom begins his day in the "Lotus-eaters" section. Reading will be by Ray Werner.

10:30 a.m.: Homewood Cemetery, South Dallas and Aylesboro avenues, Squirrel Hill/Point Breeze. The burial of Paddy Dignam is relived in a reading from the "Hades" section. PICT's Deirdru Ring reads the selection.

Noon: Murphy's Tap Room, 1106 S. Braddock Ave., Regent Square. Bloom lunches in the "Lestrygonians" segment, accompanied by "glowing wine." Peter Smith provides the narration.

2:30 p.m.: Carnegie Library, Oakland, stands in for the National Library for the "Scylla and Charybdis" reading. Raymund Ryan, curator of the Heinz Architectural Center, reads.

4 p.m.: Upstream end of Herrs Island serves as the "Wandering Rocks," where Bloom and friends stroll in the afternoon. Jim Hohman is the reader. (The 31st Street Bridge is closed at the Strip District side, but the island can be reached from East Ohio Street.)

5:30 p.m.: Mullaney's Harp and Fiddle, 2329 Penn Ave., the Strip District, will be the scene of the "Cyclops" episode. Reading will be Mario Kinsella, Sean McClorey and Donal Warde.

8 p.m.: City Books, 1111 E. Carson St., is the final venue. Performed will be the "Nausicaa" and "Penelope" segments. Readers are Deirdre Kinsella and Maeve Nolan.

Post-Gazette book editor Bob Hoover can be reached at bhoover@post-gazette.com or 412-263-1634.


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