Marilynn Richtarik's Stewart Parker: A Life was launched at the Brien Friel Theatre at Queen's University this week, published by the Oxford University Press.
With many of Parkers friends, family and professional acquaintances in the audience, it was an emotional event celebrating the life and work of one of Northern Ireland's finest playwrights, who passed away from cancer in November 1988 at the tender age of 47.
Richtarik, an associate professor at the Department of English at Georgia State University, spent many years from the early 1990s researching and writing the book, interviewing a plethora of Parker's friends and associates, as well as theatre practitioners from across the UK and Ireland.
Her book illuminates the generis, development and meaning of such classic plays as Spokesong, Northern Star and Pentecost – works that continue to shed light on the North of Ireland's past, present and future – in the context of Parker's life and times.
Introducing Richtarik at the launch, Dr Eamonn Hughes of Queen's University described the biography as 'definitive', and called for it to be made a set text on future creative writing courses at the university. Listen to his introduction in the podcast above.
Richtarik went on to read from a chapter outlining Parker's experience at Queen's University in the 1960s, how he was influenced by the Civil Rights movement and American counter-cultural movements in literature in music, as well as those enlightened lecturers in Queen's and local playwrights such as Sam Thompson. Listen to Richtarik's full reading in the podcast above.
Stewart Parker: A Life is available now in all good bookshops and via Amazon, published by Oxford University Press.