By BERT GAMBINI
Published September 29, 2023
A short film celebrating Michael Groden, the late Buffalo native and renowned James Joyce scholar who bequeathed his collected works to the UB Poetry Collection, will be among the screenings happening as part of the 2023 Buffalo International Film Festival (BIFF) at 5 p.m. on Oct. 6 at the North Park Theatre in Buffalo.
Groden, who passed away in 2021, also established the Groden Fund in support of the UB James Joyce Collection to purchase and preserve material related to Joyce and other Irish and Irish-American poets and artists who credit Joyce as a major influence.
The Groden papers comprise materials related to his life-long research on James Joyce along with his own scholarly publications, a research focus he neatly encapsulated in his book “The Necessary Fiction: Life with James Joyce’s Ulysses” by writing, “My longest continuous adult relationship has not been with my wife, or a friend, or a cat…but with a book: James Joyce’s ‘Ulysses.’”
“It’s not an exaggeration to say that Michael Groden was one of the world’s leading experts on Joyce and in particular on Joyce’s manuscripts and his writing process,” says James Maynard, curator of the UB Poetry Collection and coordinator of the UB Rare and Special Books Collection.
Maynard is featured in the 15-minute film, “The Michael Groden Papers,” directed by Godfrey Jordan. Maynard examines the Groden archive with Groden’s widow, the noted memoirist and poet Molly Peacock, who met Groden while the two were students at Kenmore East High School.
Maynard and Peacock discuss Groden’s work and career as a world-leading Joycean and Distinguished Professor in the Department of English and Writing Studies at Western University in London, Ontario. The footage was captured during a trip to Toronto in September 2021 where the two helped identify and stage the Joyce-related material that would become part of the Michael Groden papers at UB and the non-Joyce material which would be housed at Western University.
“Groden’s expertise, in particular, was on Joyce’s manuscripts,” says Maynard. “In conversation before his passing, he felt that it was a natural fit to have those papers come to UB since so many of those Joyce manuscripts are already part of the UB James Joyce Collection.”
Both Maynard and Peacock will be attending the Oct. 6 screening, a roughly 90-minute program of three film-shorts that also include “You Will Be My Music,” a tribute to musical dreams, directed by Bob Joseph; and a portrait of artist Sylvia Kleindinst titled “You’re NOT for ART!” directed by Lukia Costello.
The complete 2023 lineup for this year’s BIFF, which runes Oct. 5-9, is available online.