Friday, 30 December 2011

Editor for Revival Literary Journal

Noel King will be the poetry editor of Revival Literary Journal for the next four issues.

Revival is the literary journal of the Limerick Writers' Centre.
It is published four time a year. Submissions, poetry and short fiction,
extracts (500 words), reviews or criticism pieces.

Submissions are now being accepted for issue 22 which will be published in Limerick, March 2012

The deadline for submissions is:
    Issue 22 is Fri 20th Jan 2012- Send to: - Email:

Snail mail: The Editor, Revival, Moravia,
Glenmore Ave., Roxboro Rd., Limerick.
Submission guidelines:Submissions, poetry and short fiction or extracts (500 words). Also Review and Criticism pieces.  

We are also  interested in receiving black and white images/line drawings for inclusion.

Thursday, 29 December 2011

The Writing Room Bursary

This one's free! (But they may try to badger you into paying for an editorial report)
  • First Prize: a professional editorial report, worth £1000, from our experienced literary consultants.
  • Two runner-up prizes: an editorial report at half price.
Submit the first 10 pages, and a one page synopsis (approx 250 words), of a completed work of unpublished original fiction that you have written. The completed work should be a long story or novel (70 000+ words).

The closing date for entries is 31st January 2012

Check the website for terms and conditions.

Wednesday, 28 December 2011

Amazon Breakthrough Novel

READ THE CONDITIONS CAREFULLY before deciding whether this competition is for you, along with Penguin Group (USA) and CreateSpace, announced the fifth annual Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award (ABNA) on December 6, 2011. ABNA brings talented authors, reviewers, and publishing experts together to find and develop new voices in fiction.

If you're a writer with an unpublished or previously self-published novel waiting to be discovered, visit CreateSpace to sign up for regular Contest updates. The entry period for manuscripts begins January 23, 2012 and runs through February 5, 2012. See the Contest Official Rules for more information on how to enter.

Monday, 26 December 2011

New eReader?

Did you or someone you know receive a new eReader for Christmas? Looking for an enjoyable romp of a read to download? Have a look at The Story of Plan B. A real Christmas escape.

And here's a post about eReaders for the newbies.

You can download and read 25% first for free and then only pay if you want to know what happens next. (You will want to know what happens next)

And here's the first chapter 

Spread the word.

Saturday, 24 December 2011

Merry Christmas to all my blog friends

Friday, 23 December 2011

May you find these links interesting too

Sorry. Bit of a hiatus as the festive season catches up with me.

Meanwhile, some links from others:

Do you suffer from these familiar writers' maladies from Nathan Bransford part 1 and part 2
These include The Yoda Effect and Olympic Head Jumping.

Letter from Genre to literature as told to SF writer Daniel Abraham

Fifty Things Robert Crum has learned about literary life.

Thursday, 22 December 2011

Culture Ireland

Culture Ireland’s principal funding scheme is designed to support the presentation and promotion of Irish arts internationally. There are four funding rounds each year. The next deadline is 15 February 2012.

So if anyone from off the island would be interested in a reading or tour from me and/or the Poetry Divas, GET IN TOUCH SOON! And we will try to fit you in to our demanding schedule.

To be eligible for funding the primary purpose of the proposed international visit must be to present the work of Irish artists (including Northern Ireland) at significant international venues and festivals. Proposals are considered for events (e.g. exhibitions, performances or readings) the full costs of which cannot be met by the artist, company or international presenter.

Applications can be made by the local organisation / artist or the international presenter, venue or festival.

Funding Criteria
1. Quality of work and track record of artist / company
2. Level of geographic priority for Culture Ireland
3. Profile of international venue / festival
4. Financial viability of the event (including level of support from presenter / other partners)
5. Proven capacity of applicant to present work internationally
6. Wider promotional and media impact

Eligible Costs
In supporting an event, Culture Ireland will typically offer funding towards the costs of travel / transport and sometimes also accommodation/subsistence, i.e. costs which relate directly to the international presentation of the event. Culture Ireland does not fund fees, production costs, publicity or copyright/royalties.

Full guidance, lists of those who have previously received funding and application details are availabe on the Culture Ireland website.

Wednesday, 21 December 2011

It's International Put Your Poem In A Shop Month

Finally finally after talking the talk about IPYPIASM at Ignite Dublin earlier this month, I walked the walk and put two poems in two shops yesterday.
First a nice drop of wine for the Chrimbo dinner and the start of my poem Drinking Now (available to purchase in my dinky poetry book here, the ideal Christmas present. 4 Euros or £4, a bargain. Can also be hung on the Christmas tree as a novel decoration)

Drinking Now

This wine wants to have its way with you.
It wants to seduce you with spicy notes,
dreams of long, lazy dinners and long lost loves,
warm you, make you smile, lower your defences.
This wine wants to come at you from a different angle,
touch you in unfamiliar places,
your tongue, your mouth, yes, your lips.
See swirling within, the silky undercurrents -
they have something to say.

 Then a beaker of decaff Capuccino and a choccie from the lovely Butlers Coffeeshop leaving A Matter of Taste for other coffee imbimbers to relish.

A Matter Of Taste

You make me feel
you are what gets me out of bed
keeps me awake at night
the smell of you, the way you look
not everyone truly appreciates your depths
delicious, warm and dark,
smooth with an undercurrent of bitterness.
I can’t start the morning until I have you

Lots and lots more at the instigator Various Cushions, plus the non-competative scoreboard. (Heavens to Murgatroy, the things these poets get up to!)
Also see the prolific Titus
and stop by Hope at the Road Less Travelled
The Dead Acorn here
Dominic Rivron here
Adrenaline junkie Bug here
Prolific shopper Stammering Poet
Don't Feed the Pixies gets all seasonal

Any more? Newbies extremely welcome. Guerilla poetry rocks!

Tuesday, 20 December 2011

Sky Arts Futures Funds

Sky Arts Ignition: Futures Fund Seminars

Missed out on the first-round shortlist of Sky Arts Ignition: Futures Fund? Looking for professional guidance? Need help with your application for round two? Find out here how you can sign up for one of Sky Arts and IdeasTap’s national Sky Arts Ignition: Futures Fund Seminars, featuring advice and Q&As with leading arts figures. Who knows – that £30k might have your name on it…

The next round
If you missed the deadline for round one, or didn’t make it to this final stage, then the second round of applications opens on 22 November. This time we’ll be looking for three winners.

Futures Fund Seminars
To help you with your application, Sky Arts is putting on a series of Futures Fund seminars. These afternoon sessions will include a live Q&A with a successful artist talking about their career, how they established themselves as a working artist and offering advice on working in the arts, This will be followed by a panel of Sky Arts and IdeasTap staff members answering your questions about applying for the fund. The afternoon will end with an opportunity to network – free drinks will be provided!

The Futures Fund Seminars will be happening across Britain and Ireland including:

DUBLIN: 20 December, Science Gallery – 2pm to 5pm. Speaker: singer, actress and entertainer Camille O’Sullivan

Monday, 19 December 2011

Nature Poetry Competition 2012

The Rialto, a real establishment poetry magazine (and not in a bad way) is working the with RSPB with this competition on Nature Poetry. The competition will help raise funds to support the vital work of both The Rialto and RSPB.

The term ‘Nature Poetry’ will be given a very wide interpretation by the judges.

Deadline: 30 April 2012. 

1st PRIZE £1000
2nd PRIZE £400
3rd PRIZE £300
ADDITIONAL PRIZE, a personal tour with Mark Cocker of his most cherished wildlife places in East Anglia.
The winning poems will be published in The Rialto, Britain’s leading independent poetry magazine.

Sir Andrew Motion and Mark Cocker

Fees: 1 poem £6, 2 poems £9, 3 poems £12.

no more than 40 lines, excluding the title

For rules and to enter visit

Thursday, 15 December 2011

Interview with Poet Eoghan Walls

Hi Eoghan and welcome to emerging writer. How did you first get into poetry?

I wanted to write from about three, when I was mainly into Bananaman.  Over the years, I got into horror - great cheap pulp titles generally, with titles like Slugs! and Scorpions! - and then studied English at University. I loved the way literature could open a new world for the reader - or briefly refresh this world - and at University, I saw how this could be done in poetry, with Hopkins in particular.  He jarred me awake.  Prose always has its great exciting moments, but often has to string them together with what my younger self would have called "the boring bits". This is not always the case.  But with Hopkins - and Williams, and Eliot, and Muldoon - I saw writers not wasting time writing the boring bits, getting straight to the words where the world could refresh itself.

Have you found Bananaman and Slugs! have had any influence on your poetry?

Heh - I guess I asked for that.  But - well - I would like to say they are becoming more of an influence.  For years, I have been drawn to poems that play at the boundary of high and low culture.  On this side of the Atlantic, I guess I mean poets like Paul Farley or Simon Armitage, but the Americans have more - like with "Attack of the Crab Monster" by Lawrence Raab.  The poem is playful, frames itself as a B-movie - and yet it covers a very powerful and moving love-story at its core.  Gorgeous stuff.  
For years as a young poet I immersed myself in the big dramas - death, sex and sacramental life - but the heavy-handed sincerity of young men does lack the richness such poems achieve. I still think poetry must concern itself regularly with the visceral ends of life, but am only now becoming capable, in my 30s, to approach these with both humour and gravitas.  At least, I hope I am.  

How did your collection with Seren come about?

I have been working on my collection for years - since my Eric Gregory award in 2006 - and it was never quite right.  I kept fiddling about with poems that should have really been abandoned as juvenilia.  I got it into shape - finally, you might say - two years ago, and decided to send it off to a few publishers.  We are warned against simultaneous submissions, but publishing houses have no duties to the aspiring writer, and so I think it is wise, if your collection is ready, to send it to more than one at a time.  Thankfully, a few houses were interested, and I liked what the poetry editor, Amy Wack has been doing at Seren - for a relatively small press, they have been winning a lot of the big prizes recently, and getting nominated for many more.  I was delighted to go with them.

What specifically appealed to you about Seren?

They are a small press, but they are consistently nominated for the big prizes.  Over the last few years, Kathryn Simmonds and Hilary Menos - both Seren poets - snagged the Forward Prize for the best first collection.  Both books were excellent, with high production values and a great variety in the work.  But even this year, two of the six shortlisted were from Seren.  They get a lot of attention.  As an Irish poet, I am aware of the need to be read in Britain as well as Ireland, and so I wanted to get one of the high profile presses.  Amy Wack - their poetry editor - is a great woman - she has a sharp critical ear.  

What advice would you have for new writers?

Stick at it.  Read all you can of your chosen genre.  There is a common debate on whether or not poetry should aim to be popular - to compete with apps, films and novels - or should it be happy with its relatively niche status.  Of course, the market is probably bigger in numbers but not percentage-of-the-population wise, so it is hard to know, but when one does see that they made Big Momma's House 3, it is hard not to get jealous of more lucrative forms of culture.  But a good poet and friend Alex Wylie said to me, in the middle of one argument over pints,

It is not our duty to sell poetry to everyone; it is our duty to try to be better than Dante.  

A tall order, no doubt with snobbish undercurrents, but if we are writing poetry, isn't it because we respect and love the form?  I came to poetry not because it was shinier or gorier than films or comics, but because it could concentrate power in a different way.  So I guess that would be it.  Read a lot, and try to be better than Dante.

Me, I’m trying to be better than Wendy Cope. What have you got coming up?

I guess mainly the book, The Salt Harvest, available from or Amazon.  Also I’m in, The Best British Poetry 2011, available from Salt publishing.  No readings coming up in the near future I can think of, but I am sure some will come along.  Thanks for everything.

Here's a link to Eoghan reading provided by Seren.

This interview first published on

Flarestack Poets Pamphlet Competition 2012

Entries are invited for the Flarestack Poets Pamphlet Competition 2012.

Two winners' pamphlets will be published in late spring 2012. Each will receive £300 and 20 copies of their winning pamphlet.

A selection of outstanding individual poems will be published in an anthology.

Winners and authors of poems in the anthology will be invited to read at a launch event in the West Midlands.

Deadline: 1st February 2012

Entry fee: £20 per entry

Judges: Meredith Andrea and Jacqui Rowe
The judges will read all entries, which will be submitted anonymously. 

Link here

fee of £20.00 per collection
collections of up to 25 pages of poems

Wednesday, 14 December 2011

Poets to Check Out - Gloria Vando

Cool, eh?

Tuesday, 13 December 2011

Interview with Poet, Mary Madec

Mary Madec works with Villanova University in Ireland and has taught widely at Third Level (English lit. and Linguistics) but only recently had a shot at teaching writing.  It's a very different process, the teaching of writing, she says and tells us more about her journey with writing here, how she got into it and why she stays with it.
Mary has been working with people with intellectual disabilities for some time now, teaching creative writing. Tell us about that, Mary.
My husband, Claude Madec, and I set up and run Away with Words in Galway city and county with the Brothers of Charity Services and this project has been has been very successful. It's going for four years now. I believe in it because I think that everybody should have a chance to express themselves in whatever way they are able and in the way they choose. We got some local writers to come on board to facilitate workshops - Susan Millar Du Mars and Kevin Higgins are always there generously sharing their expertise and time as facilitators.. The work of all our participants is moving and inspirational and tells us, like everybody else's about their lives. One of our participants recently won the Inclusion Ireland Art and Poetry competition top prize in writing, to be awarded on 30th November in the National Library. Several other members were shortlisted too in writing. 
I also seeded a project in Ballinrobe in Mayo very recently and got a local writer involved there, John Corless so it's full steam ahead in Ballinrobe.  Over the hills in Connemara things are going great too. In this workshop, which I run we have created a script together and are collaborating with Aideen Barry to animate it.  We received very generous support from the Arts Coucil to do this for which we are very grateful. It will be launched at the Cúirt festival in Galway this April so we are very excited...
Last year I started a residential workshop with a friend of mine, Conall O Cuinn for writers who are starting off,  and we ran the first workshops in Kylemore Abbey, in beautiful Connemara in Co Galway. It was a wonderful setting and it did what we wanted it to do. The idea was to provide a space where participants could engage in the process of writing with gentle guidance and try it out , creating new pieces in a sharing environment. We'll be back there next year..Watch out for our next workshop at Kylemore in Summer 2012.
Do you have monks in your classes?
No, no Benedictines as yet!  And they are sisters!  And very supportive.  It's hardly surprising giving that the discipline of poetry and monasticism are not so foreign to each other really when you think about it!
What about your own work?
I'm working on my second collection, title undecided. I find titles tricky. One of the themes is based around the myth of Demeter and Persephone. It's very exciting. I'm finding out more about the myth as I write. The collection though is about the "truths" in my life rather than the facts, the myth providing a scaffold to do this. I'm working with the sequencing of these with other poems. It's interesting how poetry collections are put together. It's a challenge really and often from what I see it's not taken up seriously at all.  If a writer makes an attempt to structure the book it becomes easier for the reader, it sets up some kind of context for the interpretation of the material.
The poet Enda Coyle-Greene likens it to the order of tracks on an album, a kick ass first track, more thoughtful in the middle and again, finish with a bang.
Yes. I like deliberate sectioning in collections. The usual first collection is very autobiographical and after that, you have the freedom to do things in a totally different way. Freedom but also a challenge to be way more creative..I like that challenge but it's not easy!  
Was yours autobiographical?
There was a good bit of autobiography in it - it's hard to avoid it in a first collection.   Of course it's part of what you do in poetry anyway, but it would be a mistake to just seek autobiography in someone's work - at least to seek it as a summary of their life story since it will always emerge in poetry as a complex personal narrative with a purpose greater than the narration of life events. The meaning overall is greater than the narrative and the "truth" in it is not a simple statement of facts. I think anyone who writes can appreciate what I am saying here. 
What have you had recently published or coming up?
I had a sequence of poems solicited from Fox Chase Review, a Philadelphia based publication and in Natural Bridge (University of St Louis, Missouri). I’ve also published here Southward, I've also have a poem in The Stand in the UK about to come out. They took two years between acceptance and publication. Also I had a dog poem in the Salmon anthology Dogs Singing I don't enjoy the labour of sending stuff out to magazines but I try to do it form time to time. Ideally I would like a PA to organise submissions for me!
Wouldn't we all!    How did you first get into poetry?
I’ve always loved poetry. I had a very early reaction to language and nursery rhymes. The line between school and home was blurred with both my parents teachers at local schools so I can’t say which influenced me most. I was attracted to the music of language from the very start. I think, even now, I go for the musicality of a poem first and the meaning second. Sometimes as poets, we work too hard on the meaning, when the construction of meaning is a mutual task between writer and reader. A poem, which takes a long time to write and in which is invested a considerable amount of life experience should take a little time to understand and readers of poetry get this, I think and also appreciate that you get even more out of it if you stay with it.
I am my own worst critic. I go on gut/instinct so I appreciate feedback from others on what a poem means (I have a few close readers) after I think I’ve finished it. One poem I wrote recently was triggered by an insight where a friend of mine was present. I showed her the poem and she pointed out much more than I had realised. Subconsciously my mind had brought that out in the poem. In our best poetry, we are allowing things from our subconscious to come up even though we think we know everything about what we write. Subjects choose you, which is a strange thing to say maybe. But every poet I believe has a whole lot of poems in there trying to get out and sometimes we are wasting our time trying to write other being a writer is also about listening to yourself and making that part of your creative process.
Do you have any techniques when you write to open that up?
No. If something comes to me though, I always write it down, a few phrases. Sometimes I excuse myself from the company and go to the bathroom to take out my notebook!  If I lose the initial flow of words, I find it impossible to recall later so the first stage is important.  After that you are into multiple edits-some poems might be ready after a few days of editing and others not for years.  The poem that won the Hennessy XO Prize in 2008 took two years to write. Writing can be intense sometimes as I am always at different stages with different poems-it's like having a gang of kids-all different ages!!
What advice do you have for writers starting out?
It is very important to workshop your work. If you don’t do that, you’re deluding yourself. However, you must find a workshop that suits you, where you trust the members. A residential workshop is a good idea, particularly when you are starting out. You must ask yourself Is this really important in my life? Why do I want to write?
And honour the creative expression the most. Don’t get obsessed with publication. It is a risk-taking step. The first refusals are difficult. Prepare yourself. I wonder if it is harder now than ever to get a book published?
Also share your work. Read it for feedback and affirmation. It’s a wonderful way of making friends, different friends from those you meet playing sport, for instance. I’ve met so many lovely people through writing who I would never have met otherwise and got to know them at a deeper level because of writing.
Thanks very much Mary and good luck

Monday, 12 December 2011

Poets to Check Out - Kathryn Simmonds

The Woman Who Worries Herself to Death by Kathryn Simmonds from Seren Books

Sunday, 11 December 2011

Cork Spring Poetry Festival

I went to this last year, to the Saturday afternoon and it was terrifically enjoyable. Some wonderful Irish poets, Dave Lordan, Catch The Moon (Tina Pisco, Cathy D’Arcy, Shirley McClure and guest Geraldine Mitchell) Gerry Murphy, Pat Cotter, Leanne O'Sullivan and a very memorable and exotic Maram al-Masri who is from Syria.

I really want to read there this year. I have lots of in laws in Cork and Cork Driscoll blood sprinting around my veins to please fit me in!

Otherwise there's this. Emerging poets are to be given a chance to appear on a programme with such luminaries as Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Fiona Sampson, Neil Astley, Gregory Orr (USA) and many other poets from Ireland, Britain, Canada, Croatia, Italy, New Zealand, Slovenia and the United States.

The Prebooked Poetry Reading is a free event involving up to eight poets who have yet to publish a full-length collection. Each poet will have the opportunity to read three poems of forty lines or under.

If you would like a chance to partake in this event submit three poems with a biographical note listing any magazine publication credits. Submissions will be accepted by email before January 10th to:
Emails must have the subject heading "Prebooked Poetry Reading".

The list of chosen poets will be posted on and by January 20th

Saturday, 10 December 2011

Story for bedtime

A FREE competition!

Actress and writer Pauline McLynn is encouraging burgeoning authors to get writing and enter A. Vogel's national short story writing competition, aimed at encouraging the creative people of Ireland to write the perfect bedtime story.

"The written word holds so much therapeutic power, whether you are writing the words or reading them. I think we have all experienced the simple luxury of settling into a good story after a long day, and the ability of words to transport the reader to a different place or state of mind never ceases to amaze me, it is part of the reason that I love my job as a writer so much.

I think the challenge of asking people to write a story specifically for bedtime is a really nice creative one, so I am encouraging everybody out there who has a story to tell, to download or pick up an entry form and get writing! I look forward to a winter cosying up with some of the great bedtime stories from the competition".

Running from November 2011 to May 2012

three prizes will be awarded (1st: €500, 2nd: €300, 3rd: €100)

Judges: Pauline McLynn and Nadine O'Regan (Sunday Business Post Books and Arts Editor).

You can also check out the top five stories on our Facebook page ( every month and vote for your favourite.

Entry forms can be downloaded from the website.

Friday, 9 December 2011

Prole Laureate Competition

The second Prole Laureate competition is now open. We are looking for a poet who epitomises the qualities of Prole: a writer who engages, challenges, entertains and is inclusive of a wide audience.

We are open to all forms of poetry: free, blank, structured, rhymed. You write it, we’ll read it. The only arbiters that will inform the shortlist are the elements mentioned above. Once the short list is formed, it will be sent to our Judge. This year Andrew McMillan has kindly agreed to make the final choices. We’ve included brief details here. A full version of guidelines for our competition can be found here:

Winner: £130, publication in April 2012 issue of Prole and on the website. The right to call yourself Prole Laureate!
Two runners up: £25 each, publication on our website and possible publication in our April 2012 print issue.

Deadline: 1 March 2012
Single entry, £3

Thursday, 8 December 2011

Poetry and Art

If you're in or near Enniskillen in the next couple of months, do yourself a favour and stop by the Art Gallery in Enniskillen castle. There you will find not only some wonderful pictures from fabulous painter Douglas Hutton.
I met Douglas at Annaghmakkerig (and made a mess of one of his paintings, sorry again Douglas!) I love the wild colours and daubing.
 Also at Annaaghmakkerig that week was the lovely and talented poet Miriam Gamble. See my interview with her here. She wrote some poems in response to Douglas's paintings and they mounted and are displaying them side by side with the paintings.
Now the poems are great standalone and the paintings are great standalone, but together, they will knock your socks off.

I would be looking for more opportunities like this. Spread the word.
The exhibition is free and open until 10 February 2012. See here for opening hours.

Wednesday, 7 December 2011

Olive O'Brien on starting Silver Angel Publishing

I always intended to write a book, particularly one for children. But with a hectic work schedule and with so many other things going on in my life, I just never got around to doing it.
This all changed in 2008 when I set off on a solo trip around the world. It was a real eye opener and I returned to Ireland a very different person. I took this as an opportunity to write a book and a few months later, my first book Perry the Playful Polar Bear was finished. 

As I had put some time into writing my first story, I really wanted to see it in print. However, I found out pretty quickly that as printing costs are so high, most Irish publishers don’t publish picture books. As traditional publishing wasn’t an option, I started to look into the whole area of self-publishing.
I never worked in publishing and had so many questions such as; how do you self publish a book? How do you sell and promote it?!
Fortunately, Dan Poynter’s Self Publishing Manual (a must-read for anyone who is considering publishing their own book) answered some of these questions and I began to take the first tentative steps towards publishing my own book.
I decided to set up my own publishing company, Silver Angel Publishing to publish and distribute my children’s book. First, I needed an illustrator and looked at several portfolios before I decided on an amazing illustrator called Nina Finn-Kelcey, who has worked with me over the last two years. With the number of illustrations, I also felt that it would be best to employ a graphic designer to design the cover, lay out the interior and prepare it for print.
Once the file was print-ready, I sourced a printer. A local company gave me a competitive price and I printed 1,000 copies of my book. So, my first book Perry the Playful Polar Bear was printed and ready to go.
Now all I had to do was sell it.
An independent bookshop in Cork agreed to hold my first launch in November 2009 and I managed to blag some press attention. An article on the book and launch appeared in a local newspaper which was followed by positive reviews in the Irish Examiner and Primary Times. My book also won the children’s books category in the 2009 DIY Book Festival which honours the best of independent and self-published books.
The launch and subsequent sales exceeded my expectations, which prompted me to release a second children’s book, Perry the Polar Bear Goes Green in 2010.  This eco-friendly book teaches children about the effects of global warming through the eyes of a polar bear cub and has drawn plaudits from the INTO for making the recycling process accessible and compelling to children.
Shortly after the launch of my second book, I set up an online writing community which offers online and correspondence writing courses. Until then I distributed my books through my website however I found myself becoming busier and busier. So, I went about sourcing a distributor and luckily Gill and Macmillan agreed to take on my books. I also employed a book sales agent which freed up a considerable amount of time.
My third and most recent book Eco Zico was released at the end of 2010 which shows children how everyday actions can make a difference to the world around them and earlier this month, an interactive book app for the iPad was launched on iTunes (link: based on Eco Zico.
It has been a major learning experience, but one that has proven worthwhile. I not only love writing children’s books, but also enjoy visiting schools and libraries around Ireland to carry out book readings and workshops. In addition, Silver Angel Publishing was recently shortlisted for the 2012 David Manley Emerging Entrepreneur Awards. My books are available in major book chains and independent bookstores across the country and are distributed in the United Kingdom by various educational suppliers.  
The United States is the next port of call, which will be a tough nut to crack but fingers crossed for next year. I also hope to publish a fourth children’s book in the New Year and you can check out my website at for updates
Follow me on twitter at @oliveobrien or find me on facebook at Books available for purchase at

Tuesday, 6 December 2011

An Evening of Haiku

Some people hold strong opinions about Haiku, both positive and negative. Make up your own mind at this night of Haiku of all hues.

Poetry Ireland in association with Haiku Ireland presents an evening of Haiku with members of Haiku Ireland and special guests and musicians.

Where: The Unitarian Church, 112 St Stephen's Green West, D2
When: Thursday 8th December

Monday, 5 December 2011

Bunclody Library Literary Events

Get to know James Joyce this Christmas at Bunclody Library!   
Bunclody is in Co Wexford.
This Christmas at Bunclody Library we are inviting you to read one of Joyce’s short stories “The Dead”. This short story was first published in 1907 and tells the story of a married couple who attend an annual Christmas-season party at the home of two elderly aunts, an evening which ends in an epiphany for the married couple.
On Thursday the 15th of December at 7pm, we will be showing the acclaimed film adaption of Joyce’s short story.  This film directed in 1987 by John Houston and starring his daughter Angelica and Donal McGann was nominated for an Academy Award (for Writing Adapted Screenplay) so it will be a treat for all Joyce fans.
The following week on Thursday the 22nd of December, multi award winning acclaimed author Claire Keegan will lead a discussion on both Joyce’s text and Houston’s film adaption. Come along and share your views on the text, the film and Joyce in general! Join us for this wonderful two part opportunity to experience the work of James Joyce as you may never have before.
Booking is essential so book your place now 053 9375466.

Sunday, 4 December 2011

Strokestown International Poetry Competition

Strokestown rides again. - I've never got there yet.

Deadline: Friday 20 January 2012

The Strokestown International Poetry Prize

Prizes of €4,000 (currently approximately £3,500 sterling or $5,400 US dollars), €2,000 and €1000 for an unpublished poem in English not exceeding 70 lines. In addition the ten short-listed poets are invited to read a selection of their work at the festival for which they are paid a reading fee of €400 (approximately £350/ $540).

Duais Cholmcille / The Colmcille Poetry Prize
Prizes of €2,000 (currently approximately £2,800 sterling or $4,400 US dollars) €1,500 and €1000 for a poem in Irish or Scottish Gaelic, unpublished and not exceeding 70 lines. The six shortlisted poets are invited to read a selection of their work at the festival for which they are paid a reading fee of €400 (about £380 / $540).

The Percy French Prize
for witty - ideally topical - verse. Backhanders of €300, €100, €80 and various other sums in brown envelopes are passed under the table for witty verse in English, or with a translation if in Irish. Poems can be on any subject but they must be funny!

For postal entries each poem must be accompanied by a fee of 5 / £5 sterling / $5 US dollars.
For email entries paid with credit/debit card payments the fee per poem is €6

The judges' shortlists will be announced in mid March, and the prizes will be announced and awarded during the Strokestown International Poetry Festival, Co. Roscommon, Ireland, which will take place over the weekend of 4-6 May 2012. 

It is a condition of entry that short-listed competitors are prepared to attend the festival weekend and read a selection of their work for a fee of 400 including travelling expenses. A list of the prize-winners will be posted up on this website as soon as they are announced during the festival weekend.

Saturday, 3 December 2011

Doire Press Poetry and Fiction Chapbook Competition

Doire Press is based in County Galway.
They've just announced a new Annual International Poetry and Fiction Chapbook Competition.

Winners will each receive 75 copies of their own professionally edited and printed chapbook, published by Doire Press. Chapbooks will be perfect-bound, contain up to 40 pages, feature colour front and back covers, as well as their own isbn and barcode.

Fiction entries: one short story (4,000 words max)
Poetry: 4-6 poems (10 pages max)
Deadline: 9th January 2012

Fiction: Alan McMonagle
Poetry: James Martyn

I've met both of these lovely lads, Sound!

Submission Guidelines:
Fee: €10 for first entry, €8 for each additional entry.

Cheques or money orders to be made payable to Doire Press.
Send entries via postal mail to: Doire Press, Aille, Inverin, County Galway, Ireland.

Entry fees can also be paid via Paypal through the Doire Press website.

Email submissions will also be accepted with an additional €1 printing fee per entry.

Entries must include cover page with full contact information and title of story or first poem.
Entrant’s name must not appear anywhere on the manuscript.

To read the full list of contest guidelines, submit via email or to pay by Paypal, please visit the website. For any questions, email.

Friday, 2 December 2011

Ó Bhéal

O Bheal, those lovely people in CORK, go from strength to strength.

Upcoming Events for December 2011 and January 2012
(scroll down for full details - the online version is here.)
In association with Foras na Gaeilge   Doireann Ní Ghríofa – 5th December
End of Year reading with   Carol Ann Duffy and John Sampson – 12th December
Xmas Break – 19th and 26th December, and 2nd of January

Helena Nolan – 9th January
George Harding – 16th January
In association with Foras na Gaeilge   Louis de Paor – 23rd January
With earlier Wordshop from 7pm   Adam Wyeth – 30th January
Entrance is free. Readings will last between 30-45 minutes after which there will be the usual open-mic session. Be sure to come early to get good seats. Full bar available.
The night begins with a Poetry Challenge starting between 9.00pm and 9.30pm. Guest poets begin around 10.00pm

Ó Bhéal is held every Monday in the Hayloft, upstairs at The Long Valley, Winthrop Street. See the map:

Thursday, 1 December 2011

Interview with Director of Poetry Ireland, Joe Woods

Thanks very much for agreeing to this interview and welcome to Could you introduce yourself to the readers please?
I’ve been Director of Poetry Ireland for eleven years and recently my third book of poems Ocean Letters was published by Dedalus in May of this year.

How did you first get into poetry?

It was a teenage thing; I was first very interested in music and lyrics and this expanded into poetry and words essentially. I remember various obsessions when I was in my mid-teens from Dylan Thomas to Austin Clarke, Byron, Shelley and Beckett. I was also hugely interested in nature and kept notes on everything I saw, I was an avid birdwatcher and was always compiling lists and notes. I’ve only recently come to the conclusion that this fed into the poetry; observation, for one thing.
I sometimes think people write poetry because they’ve been frustrated at something else. In my case, what I really wanted to be was a zoologist but unfortunately I wanted to be a nineteenth century one and there weren’t very many openings for that kind of carry on.

A loss to the world of zoology. How did you progress to Poetry Ireland?

I’m not sure if it’s ‘progress’! I’ve had mixed careers. I was managing a language school in Dublin when I saw the job of Manager (not Director) advertised. I was writing and publishing poetry at the time and had done an MA a few years earlier in Poet’s House in Northern Ireland under the late James Simmons. I was also attending readings and was ‘involved’ somewhat in the poetry scene if you can call it that, but also slightly wary of throwing my oar into the administration of arts and literature and thinking it might have a negative effect on my own writing.

So did/does working at Poetry Ireland have a negative effect on your writing? And presumably some positive effects too?

I suppose the negative and oddly positive effect is that you sometimes eat, live and drink poetry. My day isn’t always about poetry though; there’s a team of seven people and the different strands to the organisation that ensure that – but there’s enough of it that sometimes the idea of going home, changing desks, and writing a poem is anathema. That said, I often put in a day behind the desk followed by an evening at a reading and go home and wind down by raiding the shelves for poetry! Four or five years ago, I found I stopped writing altogether and I took a complete break and went travelling with my wife for eight months and that got rid of the administration cobwebs or ‘toad work squat’ [ing].
The positive effects in terms of my own work is a constant engagement, reading and trying to keep up with the world of poetry and I’m sure that informs some of the work. On another level, you also get to personally engage with poets who often are impressive or wise and in a sense are the embodiment of a life or lives in poetry and that too is a source of inspiration and simple wellbeing.

How has Poetry Ireland evolved since you joined and what do you foresee coming in the next few years?

One thing that was on the agenda when I joined Poetry Ireland eleven years ago was the matter of 'premises' or finding a permanent home for the organisation. It remains so - despite the raft of building lunacy over the past ten years and including some regional arts centres that are virtually empty because operational or programming staffs were never properly provisioned for - we never got on that ladder or have been a beneficiary and we remain without a proper permanent home to house administration and performance space to function to the best of our abilities.
That aside, in all areas of the organisation I believe there has been radical development and improvements; we have three people working in education including not only delivering school visits but in delivering Writer in Residence programmes across the country. We have recently acquired the Writers in Libraries Scheme in addition to our two Writers in Schools and Residencies Schemes which greatly adds to our the suite of choices not just for partners but for writers themselves and of late we have been working in Northern Ireland delivering residencies north of the border.
In terms of publications, Poetry Ireland Review has undergone a radical design overhaul some years ago and with the independent support of the organisation and has seen its 100th issue since its foundation in 1981. That record coupled with its previous incarnations going back to the inaugural issue in 1948 and the establishment of the then, Poetry Ireland (the journal) edited by David Marcus make it one of the oldest poetry journals in Europe.
Our website is regarded as the de facto events literary listings website in the country but site does much more than that and is full of additional resources from 'getting published' through to offering advice to emerging poets and established poets and has discussion fora, twitter, etc.
Lastly our readings program is greatly enlarged and now encompasses more than 120 funded readings annually and in additional Poetry Ireland runs the 'Introductions' series which offers a showcase for emerging writers and All Ireland Poetry Day which programmes readings in every county in Ireland on the first Thursday in October.

You'd have thought there would be a spare, empty bankrupt business building available for you somewhere! For all the poets reading this who are working towards a collection, what advice would you give?

My advice would be to take your time, you've all the time in the world to get it right, if it's wrong or you're not happy with it, it's in print and on record. Get as many of the individual poems published in a variety of outlets to the point that you are making a selection from published poems in order to make the book. We get lots of queries in the office from people who want to publish a first book but who often haven't published a poem which seems the sensible place to start.
Greg Delanty estimated in Agenda some years ago (2005) that approximately 1400 poetry books or individual collections were published in the US every year which averages out at about 18 books a week. That makes it virtually impossible to be heard and in addition, 2,500 students are earning Creative Writing degrees every year and looking to get books published. Of course, it's not as crowded in Ireland but it's worth reading a couple of dozen first collections to try and determine what distinguishes one from another. It usually comes down to a new and interesting way of saying something or seeing things coupled with craft.

Thanks for that. What have you got coming up?

We've just had All Ireland Poetry Day on Thursday October 6th, now in its fourth year and where we organised poetry events in virtually every county in Ireland; highlights included specially commissioned poems delivered to patients in hospitals. Readings countrywide including open mic, broadcasts, bi-lingual, in Dublin airport and even on canoes in Portora, the list goes on but what was wonderful about it was the way different partners responded to the day.
Autumn is always our busiest season and we celebrated the 30th anniversary of Salmon Poetry with a gala night in the Unitarian Church. We're also about to appoint a new editor for Poetry Ireland Review which also has its 30th birthday this year.
Autumn also means Arts Council applications and as we're funding by both, we have two to compile and complete, it's a necessary chore and we're searching for a new a busy time.

Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Powers Stories

A call came out for short stories that included references to Power's Whiskey. The resultant book is now available. All proceeds are in aid of The Hospice Foundation so make sure you buy a copy.

Guest blog from Nollaig Rowan who's story is in the book.

Earlier this month I met Maeve Binchy, queen of storytelling, for the first time. But it was not the first time that her words have encouraged and inspired me to keep going at this thing we call “writing”. On a previous occasion, Maeve had written the foreword to an anthology which featured one of my stories. The foreword was as congratulatory as if we had all been included on the Booker longlist.
This time I met Maeve, along with thirty-nine other writers whose short stories were published in aid of The Hospice Foundation. The competition was a neat little idea run by Power’s Irish whiskey which required writers to tell a story about “what truly matters” while of course including the words Powers whiskey. The launch was in Dalkey, Maeve’s home village, in a pub and yes, you’ve guessed, there was plenty of whiskey. Maeve was regal in her demeanour and generous in her praise of our small efforts, calling us all “published writers” on the strength of our 500-word stories. She said
“Success is not like a cake; it doesn’t mean that if you have more success that there’s less left for me. We can all be successful.” 
Encouraging words from the grand dame herself.

Here is Nollaig's story.

                               THE  USUAL                    by  Nollaig Rowan                    
 I balanced a plastic bag of notes on the carrier while I unlocked my bike. Rain splashed on the back of my neck, trickling inside my cardigan. Torrential showers in May! All I wanted was to be home and warm and away from Trinity Library where I’d spent too many hours in the past four years. The wind whipped up and my bag tumbled, sheets scattering to the corners of Front Square. Disgruntled but sympathetic fellow students returned them to me and skulked away.
“Damn ... where’re the French notes?” I said to no one in particular.
“What’s that Niamh?” said a familiar voice. I looked up. He handed me a clutch of soggy pages.
I didn’t need this. Not now, not in the middle of my Finals. I hadn’t seen Shane since we split up, over a year ago, when he went to Berlin.
“You look frozen. Com’on and I’ll buy you ...” he said.
“No, I have to ...”
“Just one. In The Pav.”
“The usual” Shane said to the barman who knew us.
“Not for me... I have to study. Get me a water ... ” I said, testily, though Shane was always good at knowing what I really wanted. He placed two Powers in front of us and a sparkling water on the side.
“So?” he said relaxing. “Long time, eh?”
I didn’t want this conversation. I had moved on. He took a long slow sip of the whiskey and unwillingly I caught its warm aroma on his breath, despite the respectable distance between us.
“So?” he said again.
“So, you’re back” I said. “I’m at exams and ...” The word ‘exams’ always made me nervous. I picked up the whiskey and swirled it around in the glass before allowing the taste to explode in my mouth. I had felt nothing like this since ... well, since before Shane went away. He moved closer. We drank silently, reflectively.
“When’s your last exam?” he said.
“Tuesday.  Finishes at six.”
Unlocking my bike in Front Square on Tuesday evening, I felt a hand on my shoulder.
“How’d it go?” Shane said.
“Not too bad... Good, in fact! Yeah” I said, feeling light and frivolous. I expected him to suggest “the usual” in The Pav. Instead he leaned towards me, his light stubble brushing against my cheek and whispered “I want to give you a baby.”
I lurched away from him, dropping my bike on the cobblestones and tripping over my satchel. Passing students stared at me and frowned at him. He bent to help me.
“A Baby Powers,” he laughed taking two miniature bottles from his denim jacket. “Let’s sit on the grass. Isn’t it great you’re finished and have your exams behind you?”

From “Celebrating What Truly Matters” an anthology of short stories. Editied by Patsey Murphy, Irish Times. Published by Irish Distillers Pernod Ricard. 2011.  €9.99 in aid of The Irish Hospice Foundation. Available in Easons.

Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Poets to Check Out - Nikky Finney

Nikky Finney reads "Left" She recently won the National Book award for her new collection

Sunday, 27 November 2011

Dinky Poetry Book Launch in Dublin

Come to my Dublin launch of this year's most sought after fashion accessory.

My Dinky Poetry Book, Some Poems from moth editions

Wednesday 30th November 2011, 6:30pm
The lovely Winding Stair bookshop (on the quays near Ha'penny bridge)
Ted McCarthy from Monaghan, one of the other 3 poets will also be reading from his book.
All welcome.

This is what your handbag needs

or your mother/sister/friend/cousin/aunt/boss/teacher
Your laptop bag needs this
and your jeans' pocket needs this
someone's jacket pocket needs this
And did I mention? Only 4 Euro. The ideal stocking filler

How to publish women writers

An interesting blogpost here with suggestions on how to ensure women are better represented in publishing. As in being published (and reviewed)
women are not published nearly as much as men in most venues in the literary world
The usual excuses are:
  • what we publish is representational of the submissions. Apparently about 75% of the slushpiles are usually from men though I would imagine each slushpile varies greatly.
  • women's submissions are less likely to meet our standards
  • we do publish women (but not very loudly)
  • we consider sexist allusions to be witty and acceptable.
The blogger, Annie Fisch suggestions include:
  • Actively solicit contributions from women. i.e. invite them specifically to submit (Call me, email me, tweet me)
  • Educate yourself on what women like to read and write (OK not so sure about that one as not every women has the same boxes to tick)
  • Read with double awareness (if the writer you are reading is of a different gender, race, class, background, country be self aware of your responses) That's a good suggestion. But I would hope that they are doing it already or am I deluded? 
The writer then goes out to suggest that some women write about small, trivial subjects. That's in the eye of the beholder though.Then she suggests the editors should ask themselves if they publish writing that reads like women's writing. And I'm not talking about childbirth, menstruation and shopping.
  • Next the exercise for the blushing editor is to put on a rampant, angry feminist hat (I have a few in my wardrobe you can borrow if you like) and read through stuff you've published. Look at the featured artists, the cover names, the reviewees. Are you mollified or are you an angry moll?

  • Here are the stats. Quite shocking really. I wonder what it would look like in Irish publications. 
Here's an interesting (actually worringly, off putting) piece about women's writing.