Thursday 26 April 2007

Tyrone Guthrie Centre Annaghmakerrig

I'm off to my favourite Artists' retreat soon in the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig, Newbliss, Co Monaghan. It's a magical place, full of creative energy and just what I need - a kick up the bum to get writing. I go for a week twice a year if I can and get at least a month's worth of writing done plus I'm it keeps me going for a few months when I get home again.

Annaghmakerrig also have international residence exchanges for former residents in Germany, USA, Spain, Australia and India. Each seems to be for a month so may be hard for many artists to do. I'd love to do one but it would be tough getting away from home. Travel is not included so I hope the Arts Council travel bursaries would cover it.

Wednesday 25 April 2007

Irish Publishers

Here's a good link to Sarah Webb's website that lists the big Irish publishers for commercial fiction. It's probably 2 years old but I don't think much has changed. There's also Blackstaff press in Belfast.

Sunday 22 April 2007

Aidan Higgins Festival

The shortlist for the popular Prose Writing Competition, In the Footsteps of Aidan Higgins is:

Animal Loves - by James Anderson
From an abandoned trip, years ago - Barty Begley
Amazing Grace - Nuala Ni Chonchuir
Downstairs - Victoria Neumark
At the Moulin de Kerjean - William Wall

The results of this will be announced on Sunday evening May 6th by Patrick McMahon with readings from the winning entries.

Aidan Higgins has been called arguably Ireland's finest living prose writer. Annie Proulx (Brokeback Mountain, The Shipping News) calls his prose "ferocious and dazzling...the pure architecture of his sentences takes the breath out of you."

The Writer, Neil Donnelly is the Programme Director of the Aidan Higgins Festival which is taking place this bank holiday weekend, Saturday 5th and Sunday 6th May in Celbridge Co Kildare, where Aidan Higgins was born 80 years ago. The program is a celebration of Aidan's writing, including his early masterpiece ‘Langrishe, Go Down’ set in Celbridge.

The weekend will consist of talks, seminars, film showings and rehearsed readings on Higgins’ work and his influences.

The list of those taking part is impressive and includes:

John Banville, Booker Prize Winning Novelist
Fintan O’Toole, Irish Times Columnist and Biographer
Annie Proulx, Novelist, ‘Brokeback Mountain’, ‘The Shipping News’
Dermot Healy, Novelist, Poet and Playwright
Shane Connaughton, Screenwriter of ‘My Left Foot’
Denis Conway, Award winning Actor
Ingrid Craigie, Actor
Gerry Dukes, Academic and Literary Critic
Pat Laffan, Actor
Bibbi Larsson, Actor
Derek Mahon, Irish Poet
Neil Murphy, Academic
and Aidan Higgins

A fiction masterclass with Dermot Healy is also on offer, limited to 12 places on Saturday morning, May 5th. Applications are now being taken. Price 20 Euros.

Registration forms are available on the website or at 9:30 am on Saturday and 10 am on Sunday in Celbridge Abbey.

Tickets are 30 Euros for one day or 50 Euros for the two full days.

Seioge and O'Shea Short Story Competition

Well here are the 14 names of writers whose stories will be appearing the anthology or RTE's Seioge and O'Shea's short story anthology to be published by Poolbeg this autumn. Do the Write Thing. All royalties go to charity (I wonder which) so only fame for me, no fortune. The show gave no idea what sort of stories were chosen. They should have read some extracts to give people a taster.

Ciara Geraghty, Donabate, Co Dublin "Waiting"
Eileen Keane, Newbridge, CO kildare "Tryst"
Elizabeth Bradley, Coolock, Dublin "Dead Ends and New Beginnings"
Ita Roche, Arklow, Co Wicklow "The Locket"
Jackie Walsh, Navan Rd, Dublin, "The Black Wallet"
Jacqueline Ashmore, Santry, Co Dublin "Eton Road"
Kate Dempsey, Maynooth, Co Kildare "The Essential Ingredient"
Katie Ward, Mayor Street, Dublin "Defying Gravity"
Maura McClean, Glengormley, Co Antrim "Mother, Daughters and Frog Legs"
Patricia McAdoo, Moycullen, Co Galway "Fallow Time"
Patrick Brosnan, Brat, Co Wicklow "Baghdad Days"

The top 3 were in the studio:
Antoinette Mangan "Poles Apart"
Ellen McCarthy
Vanessa O'Loughlin

Publisher in Poolbeg and one of the judges was Paula Campbell. As the weeks went on, the writing received improved. As they always do, she mentioned that they had lots of entries that did not adhere to the requirements, particularly with presentation - double spaced etc. So easy to do and so essential. Only one man in the list. I wonder if that was proportional to the entries.

Saturday 21 April 2007

Theatre of the Absurd

Fantastic night with Red Kettle. My actors and director were superb. Eavesdropping on the audience after seemed to offer positive feedback. My cowboy was popular. every woman in the audience wanted to go home with him and every man wanted to be him (even the gay ones.)

Some of the other plays were great, some a bit disjointed. The physical comedy in the suicide one was great. Good timing. There were 3 plays with coffins, a dying person, a dead returned father and Bernard Farrell's set in an undertakers. I loved the Beckett homage but I'm not sure it would take another reading as far as story and understanding goes.

I'm not that good at Beckett. I saw Waiting for Godot finally at The Gate last year which was fantastic, and Krapps Last Tape and a few with the Beckett collection on TV, Play, the one with the lips (Not I?) and the one with the woman buried in sand - very funny. See the Youtube link. Is this Theatre of the Absurd? My play had elements and I need to explore them if I am to turn it into a full length play. Must study Ionescu and Albee apparently.

Friday 20 April 2007

Red Kettle New Playwrights

Getting very excited about my play. 8 plays in a row tonight at the Royal Court Theatre - lovely with lots of cherubs and chandaliers to look at - and the press and other playwrights and all that and a party after and being put up for the night in a hotel. Hope they repeat the plays after. My actors are Charlie Bonner, Jan O'Sullivan and Michael Power and my director Joe Meagher, a talented bunch.

Fishamble in Dublin did a similar thing with 14 new writers in 2003. Wonder why they didn't repeat it. I would think it would go down well as lunchtime performances or perhaps as film shorts.

Do the Write Thing

Well, I was having a very bad day. My mother was over and we had spent some time chasing rabbits out of my garden as they were eating it all. They wait for the tiny green shoots of new plants to emerge and then eat them. They must have eaten hundreds of euros of bushes and flowers. I used to have a herb garden. The rabbits like herbs. The rabbits like eating roses. The rabbits like eating plants that are supposed to be poisonous for rabbits.

Anyway then I convinced myself that I had lost my daughter's mobile phone, probably in tescos. So I was dreading confessing when my phone rang. It was RTE from Seioge and O'Shea to say I was in the top 50 of the short stories selected for this competition and congratulations and was I a real person and aware of the terms and conditions. I was so I'm in the shortlist to be announced tomorrow. Fingers crossed. THe top 14 go in an anthology published by Poolbeg.

Sunday 15 April 2007

Poetry in the Waiting Room

Poetry in the Waiting Room is a long running project to provide waiting rooms around the UK, mostly medical related) with poetry leaflets once a quarter. It's a great idea with carefully chosen poems.

Really there is very little public exposure to poetry especially when you compare it to exposure to other forms of art, particularly sculpture. You can't cross a city, drive down a bypass or walk through a square without tripping over some newly commissioned sculpture, which is great. You don't have to go out of your way to see sculpture, go into a gallery or whatever. It's just there. Other forms of Visual art crop up in hotels, offices, public buildings. Music, Drama, less so. Wouldn't it be great if poetry was treated this way?

I'm trying to introduce this lovely project into Ireland. I've applied for a few grants and done some calculations as to cost but it's quite expensive even to get a start plus I will not do it without getting some kind of pay for my time as I have no money. I am going to ask the Beatrice Trust if they can cough up some supplementary funds and perhaps also the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. Any other suggestions?

Tuesday 10 April 2007

Wigtown Poetry Competition

Wel, I guess I didn't win a prize at the Wigtown poetry competition. Shame, I could use a serious injection of cash now. We have no money, less than no money and writing pay so very, very little. I've been looking for a permanent job in the arts administration side but nothing doing. I just got another rejection this morning. Being rejected is part and parcel of writing and I suppose I'm use to it. They're rejecting a piece of work as being unsuitable (or not good enough) but being rejected for a job is rejecting me as a person and it's very depressing. I suppose I have to go to agencies now, maybe temping. Yuck.

Sunday 8 April 2007

Poetry Workshop

Anyone who is interested in Poetry should check out the Guardian online poetry workshops. They run every month. Go through the archives for numerous gems of wisdom.

Paying Poetry magazines

One of the ezines I subscribe to had information about two poetry magazines that sounded interesting. I checked them out. based in the rockies in North America but it doesn't pay. It's online only and they even ask you for a donation. What's the point? If you have to pay someone to publish your poetry, what does that say about the quality of your work or of the other work in the magazine? Do they ask the web hosting service to provide their services for free? a UK mag, doesn't pay either. It is a print based magazine, I think. But they don't even give the authors a copy of the magazine. You have to buy your own copy. What's the difference between this and

I subscribe to lots of ezines about writing. Most of those around are US based. Some are just published to advertise writing courses or books but some include interesting articles and information about competitions or conferenceds.

Here are some ezines I subscribe to that I think are worth reading: Small Markets Funds for Writers (both from Cynthia Hope Clarke) Poetry Market - buyer beware. Check the contests and submissions. There is some interesting stuff in there. Wordpool - writing for children's

Friday 6 April 2007

Recent Reads

Finally got to read Last Orders by Graham Swift. It's very good. I must confess though I kept getting the characters mixed up in my head. The women weren't very individually identifiable and two of the guys were named Victor and Vince which is a bit close in my head. I did enjoy it a lot though. Haven't seen the film.

I love everything by Kate Atkinson. One Good Turn
is interconnected dialogues by very different characters with great back stories about a murder set around the Edinburgh Festival. Highly recommended. Also Case Histories

which introduces the character Jackson Brodie and the lovely, magical realism short stories in Not the End of the World

First Poetry Collection

I think I am getting close to a first poetry collection.

Although sometimes I wonder why I would bother. First poetry collections are unusual if they sell more than 1000 copies. Even my family isn't that big! So it's not for the money. Except that a poetry collection looks impressive on a CV when submitting or going for jobs.

So how do you know when you are ready? I went to a workshop given by Peter Fallon, who runs Gallery Press based in Meath. And he said that just because you have been submitted in a number of magazines and have won or been placed in some competitions, doesn't mean you are ready. It doesn't mean you are 'owed' a poetry collection. So when are you?

Then I find that there is a hierarchy in the poetry publishers, which I wasn't really aware of. There's the presmiership and then first and second division and so on so just because you have a poetry collection, you also have to look at the publisher.

Gallery Press is apparently Premiership.
as is Dedalus Press - Pat Boran

but what about all the others? The ones in Ireland, the ones in the UK. Which are you supposed to try first?

I've heard that some presses, don't know which so don't ask, if you come with a bit of a publishing history and a grant or prize for funding, will publish you. Certainly I have read collections where I think they poet was not ready. The poems were not ready, more editing and more time was needed.

Thursday 5 April 2007

Writers and Artists Yearbook

Everyone who is submitting to publishers, agents, papers, radio etc needs a copy of this. Check your library if you can afford or justify one every year. The business changes fast.


I can't believe that in the competition they had for the first chunk of a novel (10K words), mine wasn't placed. They had 100 who won a critique. 100 of the extracts submitted were better than mine? I'm devastated. I'm dreaming up possible conspiracies. Why not me? Were they looking for deep, searing, incisive novels about relationships? Do these writers actually exist?

Tuesday 3 April 2007

Red Kettle

Red Kettle - isn't that a great name for a Theatre Company.
I don't know a whole lot about theatre really. I probably go to 3 productions in a year - 3 more than virtually anyone else I know. Red Kettle are taking a play of mine, a 15 minute play. My first production. It's very exciting and a learning experience. I went down to Waterford (lovely place, never been there before) to meet them all and Bernard Farrell too. (v famous) Met my director and one of my actors. We're doing the first read through soon. Bernard said a writer always learns from the first read through and he should know.
The contract says 10% of box office if my play's the only production for anything afer this event, after the usual costs. I don't see much likelihood of a repeat performance though as one 15 minute play is 3 actors and the rest. Touring costs more the more people you have. Maybe I should write a monologue.
I was looking for a play to go to in a couple of weeks in one of the new theatres that's started up around Dublin, the M50 loop - Helix, Draiocht, Civic, DunDrum, Mermaid and as far as I can see, they are all empty for that week. What's the point in the government funding the setting up of theatres if they can't afford to put anything on in them?

Monday 2 April 2007

Mills and Boon

I've never been much of a Mills and Boon reader, never been any of a Mills and Boon reader actually, but here's a competition if anyone out there is. Write a Mills and Boon type romantic story for the Pat Kenny radio show, 900-1000 words by 9th May 2007. You win lots of Mills and Boon and get a flash trip to talk to them.

I do read some chick lit. It seems to be taken as derogatory now but why should it be? Of course there is some dire stuff out there (at least it's published!) but there's some great stuff too, not all frothy and predictable by any means. See Marian Keyes, See Jane Austen. Sure girls gets boy but it's a great read in between.