The Impending Joyce-a-thon; 133 days of social media and helpful hints to prepare you for Bloomsday

by Rob Berry cartoonist of Ulysses “Seen”


Here it comes, every year like clockwork, the lead up to the biggest holiday celebration of Western literature. Bloomsday 2014. For some of us its a regular occasion with events that have been planned out since June 17th of the last year. For many, many others all over the world it is a first encounter with the rich, beautiful and often humorous writing of James Joyce, an author not usually considered as “user friendly”.

So each year we try to do something a little different to help a new audience of readers come to Joyce and, at the same time, provide some lighthearted celebratory material for long time fans. There’s 18 weeks between February 2nd (the old man’s birthday) and the big Bloomsday holiday on June 16th. There’s also 18 episodes in ULYSSES. I like to think of this part of the year as “Joyce-a-thon”. Time to start the reading groups, time to book the tickets for Dublin and time to for a lot of us to start thinking about how to make a bigger Bloomsday for everyone. And, with the centennial of DUBLINERS also coming in June this year, time when the world’s attention comes to reading and celebrating the author’s work. We want to do whatever we can to help with that.

Last year we had a lot of fun with daily Bloomsday Bookmarks (like the one you see here). Simple morning sketches from my drawing board containing quotes from or about ULYSSES and blasted out of twitter here @JamesJoyceCentr and over my own @UlyssesSeen . Daily, of course, meant 133 of these things, so, okay, maybe not so simple. But certainly a lot of fun in both the drawing and the tweeting.

This year we thought to make it a bit more interactive, a bit more of a game and, hopefully, even a bit more fun.


So this year we’ll be doing a little #JamesJoyceJeopardy.


It will still be 133 drawings blasted out once a day, but this time we’ll begin each morning with a question about one of the many, many characters in ULYSSES. Think you know who the “stately, plump usurper” is? Answer quickly over twitter and we’ll blast out the twitter user’s right answer with each day’s drawing. We’ll have some prizes to give to high scores as we finish up on Bloomsday (but answer in the form of a question, please, for the Jeopardy purist amongst you).

We also encourage other twitter friends and followers to use the #JamesJoyceJeopardy hashtag and help new readers learn about the novel. Got a ULYSSES reading group with difficult questions? Blast them out and let the rest of the Joyceheads in the twitterverse help you. Got Bloomsday events planned or theories of your about the book that you’d like new readers to hear? We’ll do our best to retweet them and help spread the word.

Bloomsday, after all, is about celebrating Joyce’s work and bringing it to others. It is, to my memory, the only worldwide celebration of a work of literature and the triumphs of art and language. This year, in the 18 weeks leading up to it, let’s see what we can do to make that a celebration for everyone and to reach out to new and long-time readers alike. Hopefully in the next 133 days we can remind you of some of the many touching and comical moments of ULYSSES and give you reason to read it or to read it again.

“Every age must look for its sanction to its poetry and philosophy, for in these the human mind, as it looks backward or forward, attains to an eternal state.” -Joyce