Saturday 30 April 2011

Rhythm in Poetry

Feet in wellies
Let's get some of the basics of poetry down. Start with rhythm. What is rhythm in poetry? One definition is a musical quality produced by repetition of stressed and unstressed syllables. So much, so unpoetic. Rhythm varies with languages. For instance, Japanese doesn't really have stresses but we're dealing with English and Irish so we're talking stressed syllables.
The metre of a line of poetry is the timing of the rhythm, think metronome, not speed. Think beat. Think hip-hop. The beat there is often very regular. This is called scansion. So if someone says your line doesn't scan, it means there's something off about the rhythm. Of course, it may be delibrate.
A rhythmic line is usually divided into beats or feet. For example an iambic foot is an unstressed syllable followed by a stressed syllable.unKNOWN, aLONE, tromBONE
de-dum de-dum de-dum de-dum
There are 4 feet in this line by Robert Burns.
The QUEEN of HEARTS still MAKing TARTS and I not MAKing HAY
6 iambic feet and an incomplete, stressed syllable at the end in this line from Raglan Road by Patrick Kavanagh. Ending on a stressed syllable is known as a masculine ending. Guess what ending on an unstressed syllable is known as? Guess who called it that? Yes, a man.
But the most common is iambic pentameter. 5 iambs. This is basically a natural speaking rhythm. And with one line in one breath, the most common metre of lines by Shakespeare.
Shall I comPARE thee TO a SUMmer's DAY
de-DUM de-DUM de-DUM de-DUM de-DUM
There's also trochee. DUM-de.
HUBble BUBble TOIL and TROUble
DUM-de DUM-de DUM-de DUM-de
(from Macbeth) Trochaic Tetrameter.
Irish POets, EARN your TRADE
DUM-de DUM-de DUM-de DUM
(Yeats) a 4 feet line. Trochaic Tetrameter but the final foot is incomplete so it's called catalectic.
but a couple of lines further down he has:
All OUT of SHAPE from TOE to TOP
with an extra syllable at the start of the line. Called anacrusis.
What about this one:
Twas the NIGHT before CHRISTmas and ALL through the HOUSE
An anapest. de-de-DUM. This line is an anapestic tetrameter. This type of rhythm has a light feel to it.
And this one?
FASTer than FAIRies, FASTer than WITCHes
DUM-de-de DUM-de DUM-de-de DUM-de
(Robert Louis Stevenson) a Dactylic foot then an trochaic, repeated. This mimics the rhythm of the train he was writing about.
There are also:
  • Spondee – two stressed syllables together
  • pyrrhic – two unstressed syllables together (rare, usually used to end dactylic hexameter)
That's enough theory. Next, why do we care about rhythm.

Previously posted on

Thursday 28 April 2011

Call for Papers

Past Imperfect, Present Tense: Creative Writing in contemporary Ireland

The Open University is seeking paper submissions for a one-day conference investigating contemporary writing in Ireland/Northern Ireland. Submissions are sought from writers, postgraduate and undergraduate creative writing students, and teachers of creative writing.

Papers should be no more than 20 minutes in length. Please send a 300 word abstract to
Deadline: 14th May 2011

General enquiries should be sent to

They don't say when the conference is though...

Interview with Upstart blogger and writer LA Speedwing

So the elusive and expansive and intrepid blogger and writer LA Speedwing agreed to an interview quid pro quo for mine. 

Welcome to emergingwriter blog, LA.

How did you get involved in upstart?
I read on the website that they were looking for a writer blogger. I jumped on the occasion and applied.

I felt it was a sign. Only 6 months ago, I would have never considered the idea of blogging. But with the new year and the need to break up from the Fantasy Novel I was writing, I created my own blog. I set myself to write an entry post every day and I quickly started to enjoy it, so when I saw that position as a blogger writer for Upstart, I thought to myself :"What a great project! Blogging and promoting arts in Ireland? This is it!"
It seemed like a sudden and wonderful opportunity to me.

What did you want to get out of it yourself?
I wanted to contribute in a small way to do something positive and innovative for the Arts. Also I was looking forward to meet with other writers and get to hear their unique experience on writing. Writing comes in so many forms: novels, poetry, playwriting, song writing, screenwriting, radio script writing. It is interesting to know what every artist gets out of it.
Thanks to Upstart, I have discovered a lot of Poets and I must say the world of Underground Poetry is very active and vibrant in Dublin. I was most impressed by it. The experience was an eye opener for me and I certainly hope to discover the other worlds of writing in Ireland.
In fact if song writers, playwriters, novelists are looking to share their works and views with Upstart, they can contact me.

What are your highlights as far as upstart is concerned so far?
I guess that would be the first night we met with the other Upstart volunteers. Also I had a great time meeting with my first three interviewees who were Sarah Maria Griffin, Anne Tannam and Cliff Horseman and the first poetry underground event I went which was the Glor Session in town. That was an exciting time.

And what events/whatever in the underground poetry movement do you recommend?
If you are looking for experimental poetry, then the Tongue Box in the Cobbler Pub is for you. It is happening every last Tuesday on the month.
If you are looking for a bit of a kick then The Glor Sessions is great. They have a weekly night of music and poetry. It is happening every Monday in the basement of the International Bar.
And last but not least, the Brown Bread Mix tape has a lineup of poets, musicians and comedian and every event is blended to the occasion with a theme. It is happening every Wed of the Month in the Stag's head. Those event usually start around 8.00 p.m but you can check their details on Facebook.

You write, yourself, don't you? What do you write?
I do. Because I liked any forms of writing, at first I tried a little bit of everything. The attempts were far from being successful but I gave a go at writing picture books, one act plays, short stories, poetry before I set my heart on writing this Fantasy Novel for young adults I am writing now. It took me nearly two years to come up with the plot and another full year to write/edit it. I am now at the fun part of writing the synopsis. Another completely different writing exercise  but a necessary one.

What is it about?
It is about an outcast sixteen years old teenage girl who runs away from home and discovers that she has an inner ability to connect with the wind. As she faces all sorts of elemental dangers, she learns how to use her gift and embarks on a journey to self discovery.

And next?
Well I would like it to be a trilogy so I would love to write a sequel. If I get lucky, maybe it will happen.
And apart from all that, I would also love to try my hand at a chick lit novel in the distant and blurry future.

Thanks very much LA and good luck! You can read the Upstart blog here

Wednesday 27 April 2011

Write A Short Story In A Weekend

Faber Academy's most popular course.

When: Friday 1st –Sunday 3rd July
(So you have to take a day off work, if you work)
Who: Eilis Ni Dhuibhne, Tobias Hill and Carlo Gebler
Where: James Joyce Centre, Dublin
Course cost: €425

Here's Eilis Ni Dhuibhne:

"You know that the short story is a great fictional form, and writers are always taking time out to tell you it's harder to write than a novel. But the short story has a great advantage over the novel, which is: it's short. It can be read in one sitting and it can also be written, or drafted in one sitting – even if some writers rewrite it fifty times.

This intensive three-day course will give you an overview of the history of the short story form, from Gogol's Overcoat to Roddy Doyle's Pram, from Chekhov's Lapdog to Alice Munro's Nettles. It will introduce you to various short story writing techniques, comparing the modernist epiphany story to the older surprise ending story, which is enjoying a bit of a come-back.

The course will involve some preparatory reading, plenty of class discussion, and lots of writing. By the end of the three days you will have written a completely new short story of 2000-3000 words, and you will be so immersed in the short story form that you will go home longing to write more.

Previous experience is not necessary but it is not a disadvantage.

For more information, or to book, click here

Tuesday 26 April 2011

I like a bit of Crime, me

Celebrate Dublin’s UNESCO status, featuring a host of Crime Writing talent:

On Wednesday May 11th you are invited to discover exciting contemporary European writers in the intimate surrounds of Dublin’s Sugar Club on Leeson Street. Enter the murky world of crime and murder as writers from Czech Republic, Finland, France, Italy and Scotland read and discuss their works. An atmosphere of suspense and intrigue will be created by musicians from Dublin Institute of Technology. Crime journalist and writer, Niamh O’Connor will introduce this exhilarating cast of contemporary crime writing talent. No booking is required.

Want more information? Check out

Sounds excellent. Personally I'm a huge fan of Wallander, on TV anyway.

Monday 25 April 2011

9th John Hewitt Spring Festival

This year's Spring Festival takes place on Saturday 7th & Sunday 8th May 2011 at Carnlough’s Londonderry Arms Hotel on the Antrim coast.

Saturday 7th May 2011
11:00am Coffee
11:15am The Great Northern Novel
This year’s contenders in the Great Northern Novel debate are, The Third Policeman by Flann O’Brien, Brian Moore’s An Answer from Limbo and All the Colours of the Town by Liam McIlvanney. They are championed by Iggy McGovern (see notes on Sunday’s workshop), Michael Foley (see Saturday’s after-lunch “in conversation”), and Kate Newmann, editor, co-director of Summer Palace Press, and poet (latest collection, I Am A Horse, Arlen House, 2010).
Do feel free to read the novels in advance and to challenge our panellists’ perceptions and presumptions.

1:00pm Lunch

2:30pm Collective Amnesia and The Age of Absurdity: Michael Foley in conversation
While John Hewitt warned of the dangers of remembering, Michael Foley’s journey into philosophy (The Age of Absurdity: Why Modern Life Makes it Hard to be Happy, Simon and Schuster, 2010) warns of the dangers in a modern media age of being seduced away from old-fashioned virtues such as effort, aspiration, a willingness to embrace complexity, and a belief in altruism. Pungent, witty, perceptive… like Larkin, only sharper, funnier and more cynical (Irish Times), Michael Foley is a poet (with four Blackstaff collections and his New & Selected due out this year), author of four novels, a former Fortnight columnist and editor of The Honest Ulsterman. In conversation with poet and critic, C.L. Dallat (The Year of Not Dancing, Blackstaff, 2009).
4:00pm Coffee

4:30pm Poetry Reading: Mairide Woods, Moyra Donaldson and Anne-Marie Fyfe
Three Northern poets whose work carries the freight of remembrance in engagement with contemporary concerns: short-story writer and radio-dramatist Mairide Woods, was born in Dublin, grew up in Cushendall and now an Advocacy Executive in the Citizens Information Board in Ireland – Unobserved Moments of Change (Astrolabe, 2011) is her latest collection; Moyra Donaldson was born in Newtownards – her Lagan Press collections include Snakeskin Stilettos, The Horse’s Nest and Miracle Fruit; Anne-Marie Fyfe, born in Cushendall and now living in London, is former Poetry Society chair and winner of Academi Cardiff International Poetry Prize – Understudies: New and Selected Poems is just launched from Seren Books.

6:30pm Drinks Reception
7:00pm Dinner

8:30pm Remembering the Forgotten: Eoin McNamee and Rita Ann Higgins
For poets and novelists the word “remember” is freighted with obligation and compulsion.  Rita Ann Higgins has written honestly and sometimes uncomfortably, about growing up in the South of Ireland, and has won praise for her poetry including Throw in the Vowels: New and Selected Poems (Bloodaxe, 2005) and her memoir, Hurting God (Salmon, 2010) which “conjures a sense of time and place as Higgins takes the measure of remembrance” (Jon Ihle, Sunday Tribune). Eoin McNamee rose to fame through his daring and sensitive explorations of the cultural and psychological motivations of killers in a murderous time. He has gone on to remember, in
Blue Tango and Orchid Blue (Faber, 2010), murders from an age of innocence in 50-or-so-years-back North of Ireland.

Sunday 8th May
10:00am Creative Writing Workshop: Iggy McGovern
Iggy McGovern (b. Coleraine) is Associate Professor of Physics at Trinity College Dublin, a former winner of the Glen Dimplex New Writers Poetry Award, author of two Dedalus collections, The King of Suburbia and Safe House (2010) and a popular creative-writing teacher and facilitator.
12:30pm Lunch

1:30pm Glens of Antrim Literary Bus Tour
1:30pm Depart from Londonderry Arms Hotel
1:45pm Garron Tower ~ Recital - Garron Top
2:00pm Cushendall ~ Recital - The Fairyman
Cushendall Centre ~ Recital - Curfew Town
2:30pm Ossian’s Grave ~ Recital - Ossian’s Grave; Glenaan; and others
Cushendun ~ Recital - Glendun on a wet July day
3:30pm Tea Break
4:15pm Layde Church ~ Recital -The Braes of Layde
5:00pm Return to Londonderry Arms Hotel

Website here

Sunday 24 April 2011

Poem for the Poetry Bus

Nanu is driving the Poetry Bus this week. The theme is Excess. Of Far Too Much. Of Going Over the Edge. See here for other poems.
This one is an insight into my over active imagination.

The Full Experience

As the lights dim, he ambles by,
fumbles in his pocket,
muscles shape his thin shirt,
spicy aftershave,
hair velvet-shorn,
long lean legs, soft leather belt,
and the grace of Fred Astaire.

In another life,
in an other life
I follow him to the foyer.
We scoop five flavours of Ben and Jerry’s
and climb to the projection room.
As the film reels overhead, we sample,
rip off our clothes and make love,
dirty sticky love,
down among the popcorn.

In a life,
in this life
I note him passing,
reach over and squeeze your thigh.
You take my hand,
the music builds, we face the screen.
I prefer the front row for the full experience.


Mindfield have a literary strand. It looks quite good but the prices are 10 Euros for each small event. I think that's mad. Who's going to go to more than one event for that money?

(I'm not sulking because no one asked me to read, honest.)

Actually, anyone I'd really want to see in this list, I've seen before and often for free. Am I on my own in this? So yeah, don't bother. OK?

When: Friday 29th April to Sunday 1st May

Where: Merrion Square, Dublin

Friday 29th April
Arts Council Literary Stage

Literary Death Match
Hosted by Todd Zuniga with Grace Dyas, Philip McMahon, Liam Hourican, Emer Martin and Paddy Toye. €10

Mindfield Pavilion
8–9.30 pm
The Word: Poetry and Slam
Hosted by Marty Mulligan with The Brownbread Mix, Glór Sessions and Tonguebox, featuring Raven, Cah 44, Erin Fornoff, Kalle Ryan, Enda Roche, Stephen James Smith and special guests. €10

Saturday 30th April
Arts Council Literary Stage
1–1.50 pm
New Readers: Gritty Realities
Hosted by Una Mullally with Sheena Wilkinson (Taking Flight), Laura Jane Cassidy (Angel Kiss), Bridget Hourican (The Bad Karma Diaries) and Anna Carey (The Real Rebecca). €10
2–2.50 pm

The Hennessy Literary Awards 40th Anniversary Celebrations
The newly-minted award winners, Eileen Casey, Siobhán Mannion and Afric McGlinchey, introduced by Ciaran Carty. €10
3–3.50 pm

New Departures: Fresh Voices in Irish Fiction
Peter Murphy, Ed O’Loughlin and Mia Gallagher introduced by Derek O’Connor. €10
4–4.50 pm

Rediscovered Women: The Strange Lives of Maeve Brennan and Alice Milligan
Hosted by Anthony Galvin with Dr. Angela Bourke and Dr. Catherine Morris (TCD). €10
5–5.50 pm

A Tale of Two Cities
Readings by Claire Kilroy and Anne Haverty. Introduced by Michael O’Loughlin. €10
6–6.50 pm

John Banville: A reading
Introduced by Anthony Galvin. €10
7–8.15 pm

Publish and Perish? The Future for Printed Media
Featuring Declan Meade (The Stinging Fly), Brendan Barrington (The Dublin Review and Penguin Ireland) and John Ryan ( €10

Sunday 1st May
Mindfield Pavilion
The worldwide phenomenon: Ten speakers, 20 slides each and five minutes to blow your mind. Expect great ideas, entertaining insights and brilliantly concise explanations of everything from trees to genetics; technology to architecture. €10

1.15–2.45 pm

Arts Council Literary Stage

1–1.50 pm
Moods for a May Day: An Hour of Words and Music
Poetry by Dermot Bolger with musical accompaniment by Donnacha and Diarmuid Bolger followed by Carlo Gebler reading from his novel The Dead Eight and discussing the famous 1940s murder that inspired it. €10

2–2.50 pm
John Minihan: Photographing Sam Beckett, Francis Bacon and the last wake in Athy
A rare public conversation and slide show of Ireland’s most famous images by our greatest literary photographer. €10

3–3.50 pm
‘Long Time No See’ and ‘The Fall’
Readings by Dermot Healy and Anthony Cronin. €10

4–4.50 pm
True Survivors: Bald Heads and Beirut
Ferdia McAnna and Brian Keenan in conversation with Dermot Bolger. €10

5–6 pm
‘Foster’ and ‘In This Life’
Readings by Claire Keegan and Michael O’Loughlin. €10

Saturday 23 April 2011

Playwriting Workshop in Athlone

Playwriting Workshop with Thomas Conway, Literary Manager, Druid Theatre Company.
This event is hosted in association with The All-Ireland Drama Festival Fringe.

02 May · 09:30 - 16:30
AIB Gallery @ Dean Crowe Theatre
Chapel St.
Thomas will lead a workshop for beginners and more experienced writers exploring imaginative worlds, writing monologues and dialogue.

Registration Fee: €5.

Thomas will return to Athlone during the Literary Festival in October to host a follow up workshop which will build on the work carried out in May.

Places are limited and advance booking is essential.
Contact to book a place.

Friday 22 April 2011

Poets to Check Out - Kay Ryan

I particularly like this poem about circling chickens called Home to Roost
Kay has just won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry. Congratulations!

Thursday 21 April 2011

Etymology and Synonyms

A really interesting video from the Close Reading Cooperative discussing the connotations between similar words of Latin/Norman origin and those of Germanic origin.

Surreptitious or sneaky.

Basically they mean the same but the Latinate word sounds like something a white collar worker/English graduate/bank board member  would do (and get a slap on the wrist) and sneaky, what a ten year old boy, blue collar worker would do (and get locked up)

Think about this when reading your thesaurus.

Wednesday 20 April 2011

Peregrine Readings

The Peregrine Readings is a touring prose reading series, started in 2010 as part of the Touring and Dissemination Scheme funded by the Arts Council. The Irish Writers' Centre often gets requests from people to put on some of our great events around the country. The Peregrine Readings does just that. The Peregrine by its definition is a wanderer or a traveler, we have taken writers back to the oral tradition to share their words aloud, and like writers in the oral tradition, they will travel from town to town sharing their stories.

The Irish Writers’ Centre is launching the second series of Peregrine Readings. Writers such as John Connolly, Dermot Bolger, Jennifer Johnston, Alex Barclay, and Kevin Barry will spook, enthral, entertain and inspire audiences in Dublin, Cork, Galway, Kerry, Kilkenny, Longford, Roscommon, and Sligo.

What? None in my county

The Peregrine Readings will run every Tuesday over six weeks from the 26th of April until the 2nd of June. The participating writers will read in the Irish Writers’ Centre and then take the readings on a nationwide tour.

Other writers touring the Peregrine Readings include Jennifer Johnston, John MacKenna, Dermot Bolger, Nuala Ní Chonchúir, Kevin Power, Eugene McCabe, Emer Martin, John Maher, Molly McCluskey, Leo Cullen, Anne Haverty, Pól Ó Muirí, Colette NicAodha, Mícheál Ó Ruairc, Maidhc Dainín Ó Sé and Mícheál Ó Laoghaire.

For details of venues and download the brochure please visit the Irish Writers’ Centre website

Tuesday 19 April 2011

Canon Sheehan short story and Edmund Spenser Poetry competitions

Canon Sheehan short story competition
Only one prize for this competition so personally I wouldn't enter it.

Prize is €1,000 and the Canon Sheehan Perpetual Literary Award to be held by the winner for a period of one year. The winning story will be read by one of our esteemed guests on the first night of the festival in a ceremony to take place in Doneraile Court.

Entry fee is €10.

Stories must not be more than 2,000 words in length and may be on any subject

Entrants may submit only one short story for the competition.

Edmund Spenser poetry competition.

Poems must not be more than 30 lines.

Fee of 5 Euros. Cheques/postal orders to be made out to Doneraile Literary & Arts Festival

Entrants may submit only one poem for the competition.

Deadline: June 1st 2011

Prize will be 500 Euro and presentation by one of our guests of the Edward Spenser Perpetual Poetry Award for a period of one year. A smaller award will be presented on a permanent basis. The winning poem will be read by one of our esteemed guests on the first night of the festival in a ceremony to take place in Doneraile Court.

All entries must be accompanied by an entry form.

Please forward your entries
FAO Diarmuid Hudner,
Doneraile Literary & Arts Festival,
Canon Sheehan Short Story/Edmund Spenser Poetry Competition
Castlesaffron Lodge, Creagh Castle,
Doneraile Co. Cork.

For further information please contact Diarmuid Hudner, Festival Committee Chairman on 087 – 167 -5809 or email

Deadline: June 1, 2011

Basically this is the application form

Short Story/Poem Application Form

Name of Entrant: ______________________________________________________
Date of Birth: _________________________________________________________
Telephone:_______________ Mobile:______________________________________
Email Address:_________________________________________________________
Title of Short Story:_____________________________________________________
Signature: _____________________________________________________________
Date; Story/Poem Entry:______________________________________________________

Monday 18 April 2011

Poetry Mines

We all want to clear landmines, just not personally. But imagine if it was in your back yard.
So why not enter this worthy competition. It has a novel judging process too.

The MAG Poetry Prize prides itself on being a poetic e-democracy, with the entrants themselves judging the competition.

Participants only have to read 12 poems in each round yet the combined effect is very powerful. In the final round everyone reads the last 12. All judging is anonymous. It’s a knockout system in three rounds but beware - if you don’t participate in the judging, your own poem may be knocked out!

Fee: Each entry costs £6 with two pounds going towards the prize fund, which will accumulate up to £10,000 maximum.
First prize will be £2,000 minimum.

The value of the MAG Poetry Prize doesn’t lie in the prize money or even in the winning. The value lies in the evaluation process the participants collectively go through.”

Entries can be on any subject and in any style, and can be Poetry or Prose Poetry up to a maximum of 42 lines.

Deadline: Saturday April 30th 2011.
The judging process will take place in the two months following this deadline.

All profits from the competition will be donated to MAG - the Mines Advisory Group – a neutral and impartial humanitarian organisation that clears the remnants of conflict (ie landmines and so on) for the benefit of communities worldwide.

Link here

Sunday 17 April 2011

I made a Book

I did a workshop at the Camden Street Studios
and learned how to make a (very simple) casebound book, all by myself. Now if you knew me (if you know me) you would know that I am not at all artistic (other than words; I'm very artistic with words) and am double blessed with cag-handed-ness. But my book is a masterpiece.

I'm interested in the idea of making limited (very limited) edition poetry books and this was my impetus for doing the workshop. Sandi Sexton who ran it, offers regular and diverse workshops in the area of artists' books. You can see some of her work in Nival at NCAD, Thomas St, Dublin.

If you are interested in, contact her by email.

First get your materials, lovely paper, we used 130gms. 20 sheets. Fold in half carefully in 5 groups of  4 sheets, called signatures.
Then you make holes for the stiching using an awl and a template.
Line the signatures up neatly

and start stitching. This was my favourite bit. Very cathartic.
Soon the 5 signatures are bound together and to each other. It's a bit like writing a pantoum.

Then you make the cover. Choose the book binding material. ( I did wonder if you could use curtain material or old dresses but I'm not sure it would be tough enough) and cut to size for the card and the spine.

Glue the cloth and place the card, carefully lined up.
Cut the corners and fold the edges carefully

Then stick the insides inside the outside.

And let everything dry under weights. A thing of beauty is a joy forever. Thanks to the hugely talented artist Roisin Gartland for some of the photos.

I'm off to Daintree Paper on Camden Street to get some lovely paper and make a poetry book.

Saturday 16 April 2011

Poetry Slam in Drogheda


Drogheda announces a poetry slam with a difference.

When: 7pm on Saturday 30th April
Where: McHugh’s Pub, Chord Road, Drogheda

Part of the Fringe of the Drogheda Arts Festival.

To overcome the difficulty of assessing the two fairly against one another, this slam will have two competitions – one for Page Poets, defined as those writing to be read and themselves reading from the page to compete, and Performance Poets, who write to be heard and will present their work from memory without script.

Poets will compete for a first prize in each category of €100.

Those wishing to compete should sign on online at, where full rules can be found, or come to the venue at 6.30pm to sign in for a start time of 7pm and bring at least two poems. Key rules are that poets may enter only one category, poems must be their own work, maximum length of presentations is three minutes, in any style, and that no costume, props or music are allowed.

MC for the evening is Roger Hudson, well-known Drogheda poet and author, whose collection ‘Greybell Wood and Beyond’ was published by Lapwing Publications last September. The Slam is sponsored by Coca-Cola International Services and presented by Drogheda Creative Writers. Last year’s winners were Drogheda poets John ‘Dixie’ Nugent and Patrick Dillon. Strong talents are expected this year from other parts of Ireland promising an even fiercer battle.

Friday 15 April 2011

Bealtaine Festival at Fighting Words

As part of the Bealtaine Festival, the annual festival that celebrates creativity in older age, we are delighted to announce a three-week creative writing couse here at Fighting Words.

GET WRITING! Everyone has a story to tell
Have you always wanted to write but have trouble getting started?
Would you like to gain more confidence writing?
If so...come to a series of three workshops which will help you discover your own unique writing voice by getting your pen moving immediately. At each workshop, you will write in response to timed, triggering exercises designed to be fun and spark your imagination. All participants will be supported by trained and experienced Fighting Words writing tutors.

No experience needed. Suitable for all levels of education. No homework.

Places strictly limited to 15 participants Deadline for booking is 3 May 2011

Where:    Fighting Words, Behan Square, 13 Russell Street, Dublin 1 Telephone - 01 894 4576 Website here 

When:    Three Fridays in May: May 13th, 20th and 27th from 2pm to 4pm

Cost:     FREE!

Thursday 14 April 2011

Poetry Ireland Introductions

Some great emerging voices selected for this year's Poetry Ireland Introductions. Do yourself a favour and go along and remember to look out for the names in the future.

Where: The Irish Writers Centre, Parnell Square, Dublin 1 .
When: 6.30pm on Thursday May 12th 2011.

Ainín Ní Bhroin
Kimberly Campanello
Michael Farry
Donna Sørensen

Where: The Irish Writers Centre, Parnell Square, Dublin 1 .
When: 6.30pm on Wednesday May 18th 2011.

Eleanor Hooker
Susan Lindsay
Barbara Ann Morton
J.S. Robinson  

Wednesday 13 April 2011

The "I" persona

Is the "I" in a short story the author? If the story says
Every morning I lay on the floor in the front parlour watching her door.
Did James Joyce do this? (taken from Araby, a story narrated in the first person)

I don't think many would think he did.

So why when a poem is written in the first person, do many readers assume it is always autobiographical?
No doubt Wordsworth did
wander lonely as a cloud

but did Philip Larkin really move into a room that was previously inhabited by Mr Bleaney? link here. I doubt it. But I'd guess he did take a train one Whitsunday, mildly hungover.

Did William Carlow Williams eat plums straight from the fridge? I don't know and it doesn't matter. The poem matters.

In fact, some poets find that the distance of the third person allows them the room to write most honestly about their own lives and experiences. And vice versa.

There's a discussion by the poet Sheena Pugh here
and an interesting discussion here in Slate magazine.

Tuesday 12 April 2011

Swift Satire Competition 2011

From Michael Farry's blog

‘Travels Into Several Remote Nations Of The World: Ireland 2011’ is the subject set for the €1,000 competition, which is for satirical writing and is being held to commemorate Jonathan Swift, the author of Gulliver’s Travels and many other works of satire.

The competition is sponsored by the Trim Swift Festival which this year runs from Thursday, 30th June, to Sunday, 3rd July.

Entries will be judged on the basis of satire, irony, absurd humour, acute political insight, grotesque imagination, and lacerating wit – the hallmarks of Swift's best works. Extra explanatory material of not more than 100 words may be included with each entry. “This is to facilitate judging of entries,” explained Paddy Smith, “because this type of material sometimes lends itself to allegorical references which may not be immediately clear.”

Entry fee: €7 (or £5 or $10) per entry. Cash is acceptable.

Length: Prose - minimum of 600 words, not more than 800 words
Poetry – minimum 30 lines, maximum 100 lines.

Prizes: 1st €500, 2nd €300, 3rd €200

Deadline: Tuesday, 7th June, 2011.

Entries (by email or post) will be judged by members of the Boyne Writers Group and a Guest Judge.

Entries should be sent to Boyne Writers Group, c/o P Smith, 25 Saintjohns, Trim, Co Meath, Ireland, OR emailed to (and please put Boyne Writers Competition in the subject line of the email).

Full details on the group's website where you can also find details of winners from previous years.

Wellcome Trust Science Writing Prize

The Wellcome Trust Science Writing Prize 2011 in association with the Guardian and The Observer aims to celebrate new voices in science journalism. If you can enthuse people about cutting-edge particle physics or the latest developments in synthetic biology, this is the competition for you.

As long as you're not already a professional writer or journalist you can enter this competition. To encourage more people to discuss and think about science, we want to bring brilliant new writing to the attention of all our readers.

The prizes will be presented at a prestigious ceremony at the Wellcome Trust on 12 October 2011 and the winning articles from each category will be published in the Guardian or The Observer. There will be two prizes, one for professional scientists and another for everyone else. The winners will each receive a £1,000 cash prize.

The top 30 shortlisted entrants will also be invited to attend a science writing workshop at the Guardian offices in October 2011.

Among the judges will be Guardian editor Alan Rusbridger, the director of the Wellcome Trust, Mark Walport, comedian Dara O'Briain and the Observer's science editor, Robin McKie.

What are we looking for? The kind of writing that we would want to read ourselves.

Great link with more guidance here at the Guardian.

The entries can be traditional newspaper features or writing suitable for the web that utilises the medium in an innovative and appropriate way. Bear in mind, however, that this prize is primarily about the writing and is not meant as a way of recognising expert programming skills or multimedia.

Deadline: 20 May.

Monday 11 April 2011

Purple Moose Prize

Who doesn't want a purple moose?

Entries must comprise 20-24 original poems.

Prize: The winner’s work will be published by Seren receive a 250 pound cash prize, 25 complimentary copies of the pamphlet and royalties from sales.

Work will be showcased on the Poetry Wales website and be promoted to print, broadcast and internet media.
A taster from the winning collection will be published in Poetry Wales magazine.

Deadline for entries: Last post, May 1st.

Judges: Zoe Skoulding and John Barnie

Link to entry form here

Entry fee: £20 or £16 if you take out a subscription to Poetry Wales (£15)

Sunday 10 April 2011

Poets to Check Out - Heather McHugh

"Space Bar" by Heather McHugh

I missed here reading at Poetry Now and wish I hadn't.

Saturday 9 April 2011

Clare County Council bursary for the Tyrone Guthrie Centre

The Arts Office of Clare County Council is delighted to announce that the bursary scheme for the Tyrone Guthrie Centre (open to artists in all disciplines) is being offered in 2011.

The bursary for the Tyrone Guthrie Centre in Annaghmakerrig, Co. Monaghan allows an artist the opportunity to stay at the internationally renowned centre for up to two weeks, all expenses paid. Each artist is allocated their own studio in this spectacular setting of woodland and lakes. Interaction with the other resident artists is encouraged and a group dinner takes place each evening. This bursary is open to all professional artists in the county.

The closing date for receipt of completed applications is Friday 15 April 2011 at 4p.m.

Application forms and further information are available from
The County Arts Office, County Library, Mill Road, Ennis, Co. Clare.
T: 065 6899091
E: or

Friday 8 April 2011

Kilkenny County Council Residency

Kilkenny County Council’s Arts Office in partnership with the Tyrone Guthrie Centre is offering a two week residency at Annaghmakerrig to two practitioners of any art forms currently based in Kilkenny.

The aim of the Residency is to assist and encourage both established and emerging practitioners, in giving them an opportunity to work intensively on a ‘project’ alongside others in a very unique environment.

Application forms can also be downloaded from: /

Deadline: 4pm, Friday 29 April 2011.

For further details and application forms regarding all of the above please contact:
Niamh Finn, Arts Administrator, Kilkenny County Council Arts Office, No. 76, John Street, Kilkenny.
T: 056 779 4138

Thursday 7 April 2011

Fancy shaking up the Irish Academic Poetry World?

Submit a paper here

Innovation in Irish Poetry Conference

The Innovation in Irish Poetry conference at University College Cork is calling for paper submissions .  

The conference will investigate issues surrounding innovation in Irish poetry. Its aim is not only to re-examine the influence that Irish writers have had on 20th Century literature, but also to explore the current status of Irish innovative poetics in the 21st Century.  

The conference will take place in University College Cork on 12 July - coinciding with the 15th SoundEye festival of the Arts of the Word (July 13-17). Papers should be approx. 20 minutes in length..

I think Avant Garde is the order of the day.

Wednesday 6 April 2011

Ledbury Poetry Competition

Ledbury Poetry Festival is an annual celebration taking place each summer in Ledbury, Herefordshire. In preparation for the ten-day orgy of written and spoken verse, the Ledbury Poetry Competition is now open, and is seeking submissions of poetry on any theme.

They say: “Our aim in doing so is to recognise and reward emerging talent, as well as to provide an outlet for the considerable poetry talent which is rooted in our region.”

There are three categories:
  • A for adults, 
  • Y for young people aged 12 to 17 
  • C for children aged 11 and under.

Writer, broadcaster, critic, reviewer and academic Anthony Thwaite will judge the adult entries while author, editor and poet Mandy Ross will judge entries from young people and children.

Deadline: April 28th 2011.


First prize for the winning adult poet is a writing course at Ty Newydd, the National Writers’ Centre for Wales, set in a beautiful house close to Snowdonia National Park. The course will be chosen by the winning poet from any being taught at Ty Newyd, and will include accommodation and full board.

Second prize is £250 and third prize is £150.

The winner in category Y (for poets aged 12 – 17) will receive £100. Second prize in this category is £50 and third prize is £25.

The winner in category C (for poets aged 11 and under) will receive a £25 book token. Second prize in this category is a £15 book token and third prize is a £10 book token.

Other prizes this year include the opportunity to participate in a reading on Saturday July 9th as part of the Ledbury Poetry Festival. Winning entries will also be published on the Ledbury Poetry Festival website. You can still read last year’s entries there.

That's a good idea to see what type of poem appeals.

Entry fee: £4.50 for adults the first poem, and £2.50 for each subsequent poem. Young people and children can enter their first poem free of charge, but must pay £1.50 for each subsequent poem.

You can read the entry rules and download a PDF entry form at

Tuesday 5 April 2011

Thursday night's the night for readings.

First, if you're in Dublin, pop along to the Teachers' Club on 36 Parnell Square at 6:30pm

The launch of Initial Response, the first haiku collection from Maeve O'Sullivan aka Haiku Diva, will take place at 6:30pm on Thursday 7th April.
Published by Alba Publishing (UK). Editor Kim Richardson will be there on the night.

There is a special launch price of €10 on the night (normally €12). Copies will be available from Books Upstairs on College Green afterwards. 

50% of profits will go to Rogpa UK towards projects in Tibet. All welcome!

Then hop aboard your red dragon to Belfast for the launch of Abridged 0-22.
Thurs 7th April 6 - 9 for the launch of the next issue of our poetry/art magazine Abridged. This time Nostalgia is a Loaded Gun. It's damn fine and free. Come and say hallo and pick up a copy....
Golden Thread Gallery, Gt. Patrick Street, Belfast
6pm to 9pm

Then zoom down to Limerick on your trusty flying scooter to On The Nail reading.
Organised by The Limerick Writers' Centre this popular monthly reading and open-mic continues to attract audiences with a mix of poetry, prose and music.

This month the guest geaders are Susan Miller DuMars and Michael Farry.
Venue: The Locke Bar, Limerick
Time: 8pm
T: 087 2996409

Dublin City Council

Dublin City Council invites applications from artists who wish to be considered for a Bursary of €4,000 towards studies at an advanced level or the development of work/professional skills. Artists, resident in Dublin City Council’s administrative area, can apply for a Bursary in Visual Arts, Music, Dance, Drama and Literature. One Bursary will be awarded in each discipline.

Deadline: 17.00hrs on Friday 15th April 2011

Link here

Sunday 3 April 2011

Poetry Menagerie Bus

Titus the dog is driving a bus crammed to the gunnels with all shapes and appetites of animals. Check here for links to other bestial passengers and here for the prompts and suggestions.

I chose the panther and adapted a poem I already had. I think the suggestion of Bodmin Moor type visitors makes it stronger. Thanks for the nudge, Titus.

By the Pricking of My Thumbs

Taken down now for rework. Thanks for all the lovely comments


Sligo Arts Service calls for imaginative and innovative proposals that develop individual artforms and community arts practice:

Arts Act Grants: For activities taking place July 2011 to July 2012
The Arts Grant Scheme supports activities by individual artists and groups to pursue innovative or developmental projects that will enhance access to the arts throughout County Sligo.

Individual Artist Bursary
The purpose of the Individual Artist Bursary Scheme is to support professional artists in the development of their arts practice, to buy time, space and freedom to concentrate on a new body of work.

The Fred Conlon Residential Studio Bursary
Sligo County Council Arts Service invites visual artists, particularly sculptors, to apply for the Fred Conlon Contemporary Sculpture Residential Bursary Award 2011. Dates of the residency are fixed between mid January and mid April 2012 and the award is open to national and international artists.

Further Information and Application Forms are available from, telephone (071) 911 1826 or email

Saturday 2 April 2011

New Irish Writing

I missed this earlier

The New Writing Page, still edited by Ciaran Carty, appears in Weekend Review in the Irish Independent on the last Saturday of each month and is open to writers who are Irish or who are resident in Ireland.

Entries may be submitted (with a SAE) to: New Irish Writing, The Irish Independent, 27/32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1. Stories should not exceed 2,200 words.

And the judging for the Hennessey awards for 2010 is underway now.  Shortlists for the 2010 awards will be published in the Irish Independent on April 2 and the winners will be announced at a gala dinner at the Royal Hospital Kilmainham on April 12. The awards are sponsored by Hennessy Cognac in association with the Irish Independent.

I think, as a three time shortlistee, they should invite me.

Friday 1 April 2011

This is not a controversial blog

I have to warn you now that there are bad words in the following interview. So if you are of a nervous disposition or know you are easily offended, please stop reading now.

yes, now

Still with me? Well, you have been warned.

But frankly, the bad words are not used in bad way, in my honest opinion. To be specific, cunt is used as a reported word of another writer who was, in turn, reporting the word and was actually talking, I'm told, about pudenda. And nigger was used as reported speech in a terrific, well known poem published in an award-winning collection.

There is also a drug reference (maybe more. I'm not very savvy and lots go right over my head.) I've heard and read the poem before and thought it was about cars. And his poems are not all to everyone's tastes, but whose are? The interview is challenging, arresting and well worth a read.

I don't know who the interviewer is but the questions are spot on. So without further delay, may I introduce you to the wonderful, the mad, bad and dangerous to drink coffee with, poet Dave Lordan.

1. How did your readings go at the Dun Laoghaire Festival - what were you most pleased with?

They went well. As I recite by heart, rather than read, it's a little bit more of an effort and a bit more nervewracking to go before an audience then if you've got a book to prop you up. I didn't drop a line and paced and pitched things well. I got good feedback too, compliments from unexpected quarters etc.

Though I felt, as did many of the other readers, that I was at the bottom of well, or a coal mine, staring out at total black because of the absurd set up with the lights in the Pavillion. It felt a little like I was all alone up there (Don Paterson was worried that when the lights went on it would reveal a theatre full of Orcs) but, you know, that lonesomeness suits the theme and tenor of some of my work. I'm not necessarily seeking a connection all the time. Sometimes it's good to feel the distance between yourself and other people.

When you’re invited to read at a festival, how do you prepare? Do you approach each festival the same?

Every festival is different. I think about what kind of audience is going to be there and what I would like to say to them and how I would like to treat (and be treated by) that particular audience. I prepare by rehearsing the pieces I have chosen to read, though I always leave the door open to surprise and spontaneity too, if the occasion produces it.

What value do you think literary festivals offer writers and readers?

I think they offer us the chance to discover things about each other that we otherwise would not. Proximity means, as it does in other situations, that prejudices we might hold about each other are stripped way.

What was your Dun Laoghaire festival highlight? 

There were several highlights.

Anne Carson's esoteric yet mesmeric lecture on the untranslatable in all of us which featured Bacon, Joan of Arc, Velazquez and Celan. Heather McHugh's poems about cunts and ornithological glossaries, Don Paterson's discourse on the poetics of Battlestar Galactica, Borbalo Farago reading Anne Hartigan's poem On Letting Go, the Yeatsian electioneering of David Norris, Nuala Ni Dhomhaill's Merfolkery, Belinda Mckeon reading Heaney's astounding poem Had I not been awake...

On the other hand there was some dreadfully pretentious claptrap spouted too, a lot of of sub-Cage carry on about silence and silences and the 'white spaces' on the page, as if some sort of great aesthetic or philosophical breakthrough was being made when, as Ni Dhomhaill once said about virtual reality, the dogs down in Kerry know all about it. Even if it makes me unsophisticated I'd still like to think that poetry is far more to do with breaking silences, and with the substance of words, rather than with blankness and non-expression. It's obvious to me that contemporary writers who go on about silence and white spaces are really telling us- from a space of great privilege normally- that they have, in fact, nothing to say and no need to say it. I'd say that if David McSavage and John Colleary were there they got some good material for The Savage Eye.

Do you have a poem you would like to share with us?

Ode on winning of de Entente Florale

For Joseph Lordan

Told ye so. Told ye we could win it
‘Spite de filth o' de likes o' ye
With yere baseball caps and yere baggy pants
Yere ghetto blasters and yere nigger music
Yere flagons and yere Mitsoobeachies*
And de trainee hoors hanging offa ye.

Rollin in muck ye are, de flays ating ye.
Manged an’ stinkin like tinkers’ mares
like yere faaders and mudders before ye
but I’d say yere not too sure who bore ye
Shir who pished you out Twishty? De milkman?
De coalman? One o' Fossetts’ weepin clowns?

This here’s ‘come a champion little town
All down to good people like me.
We’ve patched every crack with vines ,
Blossoms cover every stain. Tis like paradise,
‘ceptin ye, ye shnakes, ye divils, ye dirty filthy
feckin animals. Ye give us all a bad name.

*Mitsubishis are a brand of E

Ó Bhéal Readings

Ó Bhéal is a weekly night in Cork city. Wonderful line up below.

Mary Madec – 4th April
launch of Five Words Vol IV for  
Ó Bhéal’s 4th Anniversary – 11th April
*with an earlier wordshop from 7pm*   

 Pat Borthwick – 18th April
in association with Foras na Gaeilge   

 Rita Kelly – 25th April
*with an earlier wordshop from 7pm*  
Anne-Marie Fyfe – 2nd May
 Michael Farry – 9th May 
Kathy D’Arcy – 16th May
 Richard Halperin – 23rd May 
Siobhan Mac Mahon & Sabrina Piggott – 30th May
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

One City, One Book short story competition

To celebrate the choice of Joseph O'Connor's Ghost Light for the Dublin: One City, One Book Festival 2011, Dublin City Public Libraries, in association with Dublin: UNESCO City of Literature, are running a short story competition for previously unpublished authors,

It must incorporate this Ghost Light quote

"He was the sort of man who makes you think the movement of foliage might be causing the breeze".

Entries of no more than 1,000 words.

Submit by email to
Deadline: 8th April 2011.

The winning entry* will be published here on Dublin One City One Book and on Dublin: UNESCO City of Literature

Free to enter!

The winner will receive a €100 book token.