Friday 30 September 2011

Ó Bhéal Readings

For my Cork Readers

Shirley McClure – 3rd October
Tom Conaty – 10th October
In association with Foras na Gaeilge   Seán Hutton – 17th October
In anticipation of The Cork Jazz Festival   Jazz-Poetry Night – 24th October
Nine poets from Salmon Poetry for   Salmon’s 30th Anniversary – 31st October
On the occasion of The Cork Film Festival   Poetry-Film Night – 7th November
Stephen Murray – 14th November
Tina Pisco – 21st November
In association with Poetry Ireland   Kerry Hardie – 28th November

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

Thursday 29 September 2011

Jaunt to Bofin

Following on from the success of recent INISHBOFIN JAUNT writing weekends, Writing Train Writing Workshops and Yvonne Cullen will hold a further JAUNT to BOFIN between the dates of 14th and 17th October
Fiction and Non-Fiction will be our areas, and our beginner and developing writer classes and workshops will be surrounded by lots of time to write, plus readings planned for island homes. 
Course fees: €170 beginners and €230 developing writers, not including accommodation. Lovely shared houses can be booked for the event via Yvonne. 
For info and to book, contact Yvonne at 086 1701418, or at

I'll be featuring an interview with Yvonne soon on Confessions of a Workshop Leader. Should be good!

Wednesday 28 September 2011

Can you write a winning tiny play?

‘The Irish Times’ is supporting an exciting initiative aimed at broadening the range of voices in Irish theatre.

FISHAMBLE IS LOOKING for tiny plays that explore contemporary life in Ireland. We want to create a discussion, through theatre, about our country, so we are inviting new, emerging and established writers of any age – in other words, you – to submit plays that capture moments and offer glimpses of Irish life.

Fishamble choose the winners and pay each selected writer a fee of €250. We will work with you on the development of the commissioned plays and produce them in March 2012 at Project Arts Centre, in Dublin. A selection will be published in The Irish Times leading up to the production.

Plays must be original to the writer and run for no more than four minutes – as a guide, no more than 600 words, including stage directions.
Plays should be performable by a cast of no more than three actors.
Plays must be in English or Irish – or, as long as the writer is based in Ireland, in another language.
Monologues are accepted, but dialogue plays are preferred.
Plays should have a title and should be submitted with your name to fishambletinyplays
Deadline November 11th, 2011.
If you are under 18, please include your age.
No more than two plays per person will be accepted.

Some good tips here

Tuesday 27 September 2011

Writing Train Writing Workshops and Yvonne Cullen will hold a series of workshops for developing poets on Saturdays this autumn at the lovely United Arts Club venue in Fitzwilliam Street, Dublin 2. 
This workshop will gather together returning students and welcome new ones, in Writing Train's own tried and tested fashion. Writing Train students have been nominated for Hennessy Awards and shortlisted for all the major Irish poetry prizes in recent years. 
"Writes beautifully, and can pass on the skill!" is the Irish Times' verdict on Yvonne Cullen's teaching. 
 DEVELOPING POET workshop, 12 weeks, 3- 5.45 pm, from 8 October, fee €320.

I'll be featuring an interview with Yvonne soon on Confessions of a Workshop Leader. One to read!

Monday 26 September 2011

Poetry and Punctuation

had no idea that punctuation in poetry was such a controversial area.
Some Poems
I am currently working with my editor on my new book of poems, "Some Poems" by me, Kate Dempsey, to be published Moth Editions (You can see details and buy one here) on October 7th.
Yes, you are all invited to the launch 7.30pm Second Floor Studios, The Former See House, Kilmore, Cavan. Actually, please come. I don't know many people in and around Cavan.

One thing that we discussed was punctuation. I hadn't realised how grey an area it is.
There are two extremes.

Hundreds and Thousands1. Punctuate as you would prose.
It's very clear what you mean.
It's obvious where to pause when reading aloud

There's less opportunity to play with double meanings
Over punctuation can look like the page has been pepper-shot or sprinkled with hundreds and thousands

2. Have no punctuation.
You don't have to consider each piece of punctuation
More pleasing to the eye
Lists may be confusing
meaning may be too confusing
harder to read aloud

So I have from my poem Lump
For now it’s just a lump
a like it or lump it
a one lump or two, a lump sum
the size of a two euro coin, a heads or tails
an is she or isn’t she, all lumped in together
except it’s only me, on my own, with my lump
and everywhere I go, my lump goes too
And punctuated.
For now it’s just a lump,
a like it or lump it,
a one lump or two, a lump sum,
the size of a two euro coin, a heads or tails,
an is she or isn’t she, all lumped in together,
except it’s only me, on my own, with my lump,
and everywhere I go, my lump goes too.
In the end I decided that in a poem about lumps, so much punctuation was too lumpy. I'm still in two minds about the need for a full stop at the end of a stanza or at the end of a poem. Is it implied? There are poems whose sentences run across two stanzas (enjambment) so maybe not. And let's not start on shape poems where the line ending is determined not so much by the meaning, as by the shape.

I also had from my poem Developing Shadows the line

hands clenched little man

where I have deliberately left out any commas so the reader can become a more active reader and decide for themselves what exactly is clenched and what is little.

Quoted speech is a little more tricky. Quotes scattered across the page can look very messy and usually the meaning can be made clear using the more delicate comma. But not always.

And there's the bugbear, do you start each line with a capital, the way Microsoft Word does as default. My gut says NO, NO, NO! there but that's a personal choice!

So first.
1. Learn the rules before you break them
2. When you break them, know why
3. Don't be afraid to experiment

There's the 3rd option, best left to experienced poets which is punctuation that messes with your head. I'm thinking here particularly of one of my favourite poets, e e cummings from anyone lived in a pretty how town
someones married their everyones
laughed their cryings and did their dance
(sleep wake hope and then)they
said their nevers they slept their dream
You can hear him read it, very sing song, here

Sunday 25 September 2011

I have a book of poems

I am very excited to tell you all about my book of poems to be launched on Friday 7th October 2011 in the Moth office, Second Floor Studios, The Former See House, Kilmore, Cavan.

This is a new venture for The Moth, called 'moth editions' series.

There are 4 in the first group, me, Dermot Healy, Ted McCarthy and Ciarán O’Rourke.

What a wonderful group.

We will all be reading from 7.30 p.m. onwards.

Please do come along and celebrate. And then buy a copy.

They are dinky little books you can slip into your back pocket or handbag. 10cm high and 32 pages long. Beautifully put together.

And an absolute bargain. 4 Euro each inc P&P. You can order them online too here. So why not buy them all?

Lunchtime Readings at The Irish Writers' Centre

This October and November a series of free Lunchtime Readings will take place in the Irish Writers' Centre in association with Poetry Ireland. Each Friday at 1pm we will be alternating between prose and poetry readings, offering audiences the chance to experience wide-ranging talent.

Friday 7th October.  1pm. Patrick Cotter
Friday 14th October 1pm Kate Newman
Friday 21st October 1pm Sean O' Reilly
Friday 28th October 1pm Richard Halperin
Friday 4th November 1pm Karen Gillece
Friday 11th November 1pm Maurice Harmon
Friday 18th November 1pm Mike McCormack
Friday 25th November 1pm Susan Connolly

Details on the website about the readers. I don't recognise all the names. I wonder who/how they choose.

Saturday 24 September 2011

Charles Macklin Autumn School

St. Boden's National School and St. Buadan's Church
Mill Lane
I think that's Donegal

Saturday, October 8th: Short Story workshop, ‘The Bones of the Thing’ with Bernie McGill in St. Boden’s National School from 10.30am-12.30pm.

Saturday October 8th: Poetry workshop, ‘The Magic of Metaphor’ with Moyra Donaldson in St. Boden's National School from 2.30pm-4.30pm.

Saturday October 8th: Reading in St. Buadan's Church at 5pm with Bernie McGill, Moyra Donaldson and Maureen Boyle.

Sunday October 9th: Poetry workshop, ‘Writing the Season’ with Maureen Boyle, back in St. Boden’s National School from 10:30am-12.30pm.

There are lots of other events scheduled for the weekend, including music, walks, talks, exhibitions, performances, a book and record sale and even a blacksmith’s demonstration. You can get full details at

Friday 23 September 2011

What's the Story?

Milk and Cookies have teamed up with Age Action for a great sounding event, in two parts.

St Agatha’s Hall
Dunne Street

Plus there's cake!

Saturday 24 September · 14:00 - 16:30

Age Action Ireland and Milk and Cookie Stories invite you to the first of a pair of intergenerational storytelling events in celebration of ESB Electric Ireland Positive Ageing Week 2011 (

Join us St. Agatha's Hall for a fun, friendly (and FREE!) gathering where you can meet neighbours (young and old), hear a story, tell a story and enjoy free coffee, tea, COOKIES and cakes. Experienced storytellers will be on hand to help and to invite you to our storytelling show ( in Liberty Hall Theatre the following week.

St. Agatha's Hall is right by the royal canal, just a few minutes walk from Connolly Dart Station. We can't wait to see you there!

Please contact Margaret or Keelin on 01-475-6989 or email with any questions and to reserve your place and slice of cake!

Thursday 22 September 2011

Lapwing Launches

Lapwing, the Belfast based publisher, are launching a fleet of poetry collections on Thursday 22nd September at the Irish Writers Centre.

They should get a good audience but I doubt anyone will buy all 7 so they may be doing themselves out of sales by doing it like this.

Una Ní Cheallaigh, Teresa Lally, Gerry McDonnell, James O' Sullivan, Alistair Graham, Helen O' Dwyer and Adam Rudden

at 7pm

Wednesday 21 September 2011

Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook 2012 short story competition

  • a cash prize of £500 
  • a place on an Arvon Foundation residential writing course of your choice* 
  • publication of your story on the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook website
theme of ‘identity’

email it to with ‘WAYB12 competition’ as the subject line.
Please include your email address in the file if submitting as an attachment, or in the body of the email.

The closing date is 14 February 2012.
All entries must be original unpublished prose of 2,000 words or fewer.

Tuesday 20 September 2011

Rhyme and reasons for rhyme - Part I

 Originally published on my blog, Poetic License on

Grist Anthology

Rhyme and poetry go together like tomatoes and onions, tea and milk, his and hers. They often go together, complement each other. But it's not mandatory.
Rhyme in English is the repetition of similar sounds.
Cat, Hat, Wombat, Fancy that, rat-a-tat-tat
It's been around for so long in poems that a rhyme IS a poem, e.g. nursery rhyme.

Perfect Rhyme
This is when the last stressed syllable and any following syllables all sound the same.
A masculine rhyme ends on a stressed syllable
e.g. lawn, withdrawn, airborne
and a feminine rhyme on an unstressed syllable.
e.g. designation, organisation, palpatation
There's also a Dactylic Rhyme where theres two unstressed syllables at the end.
       e.g. devious, mischevious
It's recommended to end a poem on a stressed syllable for a stronger poem.

Why would you use perfect rhymes in poems? Partly there's the belief that all poems should rhyme. But we're in the 21st century now so rule is gone. If anything, rhyming poetry is frowned on. Take a look at virtually any well regarded journal and you can count the rhyming poems on fingers. Sometimes there are none. Is that just a fashion? I don't know.

Here's an example from my sonnet entitled "My Grandma's Older Than the Pope"
Gran, you're older than the pope
she didn't have her hearing aid
she said, it's upstairs by the soap
and poured a gin and lemonade

And that leads neatly into the next observation. Rhyming poems are often humerous. And vice versa. And humerous poems are also somewhat frowned on in literary circles although a good humerous poem can be much harder than a gloomy, solemn un-rhyming one.

Another reason to use rhymes is that it makes it MUCH EASIER to memorise. If you recite your poems, and you should, you will appreciate that.

Other rhymes are used everywhere, even in apparently free or blank verse. Mostly for the ear.
An imperfect rhyme is when a stressed syllable rhymes with an unstressed syllable.
e.g. Sing, dancing
If you read a lot of poetry (and you should) you should look out for slant rhymes (also known as oblique or forces rhymes) which are used within lines to add a sense of coherence. These are rhymes with an imperfect match

e.g. From my poem The Flight of Swallows, published in Grist 1. from the University of Huddersfield

A single swallow flies somehow
in the window, the gap she comes through
as thick as your hospital chart,
realises her mistake and skirts
the stitched screen...

There's also assonance (do you remember these from school?) matching vowels
e.g. escape, plate and hive, fight
and consonance (matching consonants)
e.g. pitter, patter and brain, brown
Half rhyme where the last consonants match but not the vowel (are you still with me?)
e.g. chart, skirt or truffle, offal (I'd like to see that poem!)
and that Old English/Middle English tradition, alliteration

e.g. from Beowulf
Now Beowulf bode in the burg of the Scyldings,
Leader beloved, and long he ruled
In fame with all folk since his father had gone

Well, that's enough for this blog post. Part II soon

Sunday 18 September 2011

Poets to Check Out - Kate Tempest

Kate Tempest reading her poem Pennies

Saturday 17 September 2011

Aspects Irish Literature Festival 2011

Aspects 2011 – the premier Irish Literature Festival in Northern Ireland, this year takes place from 21-25 September in North Down Museum and surrounding area.
Highlights include:
Wednesday 21 September, 6.00pm Lucy Caldwell Long Gallery , North Down Museum Aspects is pleased to welcome rising star Lucy Caldwell, for the first time to the Festival. Lucy Caldwell was born in Belfast in 1981 and is an award-winning novelist and playwright. Her first novel, Where They Were Missed was written whilst still at university. Her third novel, The Meeting Point, is a passionate, sensitive exploration of the lies that make family life possible and the compromises contained in every expression of love. The book was recently featured on BBC Radio 4’s Book at Bedtime. Lucy Caldwell will be hosted by Marie-Louise Muir. Wednesday 21 September, 7.00pm Council Chamber, Town Hall Jennifer Johnston was a guest at the very first Aspects Festival. One of Ireland’s most respected and renowned novelists, she has over the course of a staggering 40 years written some of the most memorable and loved novels of our time. We are honoured she is returning the festival. Born in Dublin, she is a novelist and a dramatist, her most recent novel being Truth or Fiction, published in 2009 by Headline Review. Foolish Mortals (2007) was voted Irish Book of the Decade in 2010. She has received many awards: the 1979 Whitbread Award for The Old Jest and Shadows on our Skin (1977) was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. She was short-listed for the Daily Express Best Book of the Year 1992 for The Invisible Worm. The Irish Independent has called her ‘one of Ireland’s finest writers’. Thursday 22 September, 3.00pm Medbh McGuckian Poetry In The Walled Garden Join us for a special event in the beautiful Walled Garden. The Ward family designed the Castle Park Walled Garden in the 1840s. It was never open to the public and was considered by many as a secret garden! Council began restoring the Garden 3 years ago and opened as a visitor attraction in April 2009. The 1.5 acre site has four distinct sections - the kitchen garden, the herb and topiary garden, the swamp garden and the flower garden. It boasts two unique pieces of sculpture inspired by North Down’s maritime history. Seating throughout the garden make it the perfect place to relax and enjoy a few moments peace and quiet and this afternoon to hear the spectacular poetry of Medbh McGuckian. Medbh McGuckian was born in 1950 in Belfast where she lives with her family. She has been Writer-in-Residence at Queen’s University, Belfast, the University of Ulster, Coleraine, and Trinity College, Dublin, and Visiting Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. Among the prizes she has won are England’s National Poetry Competition, The Cheltenham Award, The Rooney Prize, the Bass Ireland Award for Literature, the Denis Devlin Award, and, in 2002, The Forward Prize for Best Poem. She received the American Ireland Fund Literary Award in 1998. Thursday 22 and Friday 23 September, 6.00pm Poetry at the Boathouse Restaurant Malachi O’Doherty Malachi O’Doherty is a journalist, author and broadcaster. He is the producer and presenter of the audio blog Arts Talk. He provides political and social commentary for BBC NI’s Hearts and Minds programme, and reports frequently for BBC Radio Ulster’s Sunday Sequence. His political journalism has been published in many Irish and British newspapers and periodicals, including The Irish Times, The Guardian, The Sunday Times, The Observer, The Scotsman and The New Statesman. Former Managing Editor of Fortnight magazine, he writes most frequently now in the Belfast Telegraph. He is the author of five books including Empty Pulpits: Ireland’s Retreat From Religion (Gill and Macmillan, 2008) and the memoir Under His Roof (Summer Palace Press, 2009). Maureen Boyle Maureen Boyle was born and raised in Sion Mills, County Tyrone. Her poems have been published widely. She won the Strokestown International Poetry Competition in 2007. In the same year she was the recipient of the Ireland Chair of Poetry Prize for an emergening poet. Come along and enjoy 25% off your meal at the Boathouse Restaurant and while away an hour listening to poetry. Thursday 22 September, 7.00pm Writing with an Edge: Blake Morrison and Nick Laird The Castle Garden Room, North Down Museum Join us for two versatile and engaging writers and speakers. Nick Laird is a lawyer, poet, novelist and critic from Northern Ireland. His essays, reviews and poems have appeared in various journals in Britain and America, including The London Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement. His debut collection of poetry, To A Fault, and his first novel, Utterly Monkey, were published in 2005. To A Fault was shortlisted for the 2005 Forward Poetry Prize for Best First Collection, and Utterly Monkey for a 2006 Commonwealth Writers Prize. Nick Laird’s second collection of poetry is On Purpose (2007), winner of a 2008 Somerset Maugham Award and the 2009 Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize. His second novel, Glover’s Mistake, was published in 2009. He is an adjunct Professor at New York University. ‘Nick Laird’s writing is deft, good-humoured and absorbing.’ -- Frank McCourt Born in Skipton, Blake Morrison is the author of two best-selling memoirs, And When Did You Last See Your Father and Things My Mother Never Told Me, two novels and a study of the Bulger case, As If. Anyone know if Nick Laird looks like his publicity poster in real life? Thursday 22 September, 9.00pm Colin Bateman’s Crime Night presents Ian Rankin Festival Marquee Join us for another Aspects First and something we hope will become an annual fixture at Aspects. Aspects presents Scottish crime writer and best-seller Ian Rankin in an interview and discussion with our very own Colin Bateman. Ian Rankin is the UK’s number one best-selling crime writer. He lives in Edinburgh, and writes about the city in his award-winning ‘Inspector Rebus’ novels. The books have twice been dramatised for television (starring John Hannah and Ken Stott respectively), and are translated into 36 languages. Ian Rankin also appears regularly on television, notably as a reviewer on BBC2’s ‘Newsnight Review’. mega cool! Saturday 24 September, 7.00pm Leanne O’Sullivan and Dermot Healy Castle Garden Room, North Down Museum What a year Leanne O’Sullivan has had: she has won the Rooney Prize for Literature and the O’Shaunnessy Prize, a truly remarkable achievement at such a young age. Leanne O’Sullivan was born in 1983, and comes from the Beara peninsula in West Cork. She received an MA in English from University College, Cork in 2006. The winner of several of Ireland’s poetry competitions, including the Seacat, Davoren Hanna and RTE Rattlebag Poetry Slam, she has published two collections, both from Bloodaxe, Waiting for My Clothes (2004) and Cailleach: The Hag of Beara (2009). Her work has been included in various anthologies, including Selina Guinness’s The New Irish Poets (Bloodaxe Books, 2004) and Billy Collins’s Poetry 180: A Turning Back to Poetry (Random House, 2003). ‘O’Sullivan’s voice sounds with striking confidence and originality…These are poems not just of what it is to be young…but of what it is to be alive; vividly, vibrantly, vulnerably so’ — Irish Times. Novelist, poet, dramatist, Dermot Healy has been described by Roddy Doyle as ‘Ireland’s greatest living writer’. Now, the celebrated author of A Goat’s Song, The Bend for Home and Sudden Times returns with two new books, Long Time, No See, a lyrical coming-of- age novel set in contemporary Ireland and a brilliant new book of poetry A Fool’s Errand which sees him in illuminating form. Hosted by Nigel McLoughlin. Sunday 25 September, 7.00pm Over to You! Kevin Barry and Moyra Donaldson Vin Café Kevin Barry won the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature in 2007. He was born in Limerick in 1969 and now lives in Dublin. Following his 2007 Rooney Prize winning story There Are Little Kingdoms, Kevin Barry’s first novel, City Of Bohane - arrives with great praise: “a writer of truly extraordinary gifts” (Joseph O’Connor): “hilarious and unpredictable” (Roddy Doyle); “destined to be a true literary star” (Irvine Welsh). Moyra Donaldson, born in Newtownards in 1956, and educated at Queen’s University, Belfast, Moyra Donaldson has matured into one of the country’s most distinctive and accomplished writers. Moyra Donaldson’s poetry, short fiction and playwriting have garnered many prizes and much critical acclaim. Snakeskin Stilettos was reprinted in America in 2002 by CavanKerry, bringing her poetry to the attention of an international audience. A poet who weaves ancient lore into the fabric of contemporary life, her work hearkens back, as fellow poet Mebdh McGuckian notes in the foreword to the CavanKerry edition, to the sensual spirituality of Yeats, while simultaneously looking clearly and wryly at everyday experience. In the much ploughed field of ‘Irish’ poetry, Donaldson’s is a honed and highly relevant voice. Over To You…An open mic session hosted by Malachi O’Doherty Join us for the last event at Aspects 2011 and come and read from your own work. It’s Over to You….It’s a chance for anyone and everyone to perform their own work, poetry, prose, stand up – it’s all fair game and you’ve only got a few minutes to convince your audience! It’s not only performers who enjoy this fun night out – come along and bring your friends. Phone or email by September 20 to put your name In the hat. A limited number of people can perform.

Friday 16 September 2011

Belfast - Literary Salon: New Writing Showcase

Venue :Crescent Arts Centre
Times : 20 Oct 2011 6:30PM - 20 Oct 2011 9:00PM

Tickets:£8, £6
With poets Moyra Donaldson, Maureen Boyle, Deirdre Cartmill; fiction writers Sheena Wilkinson, Bernie McGill, D.W. Lewis

Enjoy an informal reading of new poetry and experiments in fiction from six talented writers, overseen by suave salonniere Ian Sansom.

Sip a glass of vino, Tweet your literary ‘criticism’, or just sit back and listen to these distinctive voices.
All six writers were selected by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland for the Artists’ Career Enhancement Scheme, an initiative to assist artists in developing new work through a programme at Queen’s University.

Twitter hashtag: #literarysalon

Ooo a twitter hashtag. What a good idea

Thursday 15 September 2011

Irish Writers’ Centre Novel Fair

The inaugural Irish Writers’ Centre Novel Fair for first-time novelists will take place on March 10th 2012. The Novel Fair aims to introduce up-and-coming writers to top publishers and literary agents, giving novelists the opportunity to bypass the slush pile, pitch their ideas and place their synopsis and sample chapters directly into the hands of publishers and agents.

To mark the occasion, Dermot Bolger will be reading on the night. Agents and representatives from a number of the publishers involved will also be in attendance. All are welcome!

I posted about this competition earlier here

Where: Irish Writers Centre
When: 21st September 19.00 to  22.00

Wednesday 14 September 2011

Workshop Time

It's that time of year when many people's thoughts turn to workshops and classes and masterclasses and call it what you will. Here are some good ones. Writing the Short Story with Sean O' Reilly Tuesday 4th October 10 weeks €280/€260 Irish Writers Centre A ten-week course for short story writers seeking to develop their craft in the dynamic context of a group. This is a chance to immerse yourself in the issues around the contemporary short story, to focus on producing drafts of new stories and to have your work discussed in detail by other writers Actually that sounds good. I may do that one... Writing Poetry with Peter Sirr Tuesday 4th October 8 weeks €220/€200 Irish Writers Centre This eight week course will explore some of the routes into writing poetry. To get a sense of what's possible, we'll look at examples of poetry from a wide range of poets, as well as considering participants' own work. The course will explore what distinguishes poetry from any other kind of writing and will also suggest ways of getting beyond the personal and anecdotal into more exciting territory. Writing For Children and Teenagers with Sarah Webb Thursday 6th October 6 weeks €165/€150 Irish Writers Centre On this six-week course with Sarah Webb, author of the hugely popular series for young readers Ask Amy Green (as well as adult fiction), you will explore central themes and practices for writers of children's and teenager's fiction. These include focusing on finding the age group that best suits you and your work, as well as learning key skills for editing one's own work. In the second week we will also attend a panel discussion on Writing for Children and Getting Published with thanks to Irish Pen - a top UK agent, Puffin editor, and several writers discuss their work Learning to Write Poetry with Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill Wednesday 12th October 10 weeks €280/€260 Irish Writers Centre Acclaimed Irish language author Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill will give a course on Poetry which will run for ten weeks and is designed to move students from being a secret scribbler to the level where you can get your writing accepted by magazines. Is she doing this in Irish? Beginners' Creative Writing with John Maher Monday 17th October 8 weeks €220/€200 Irish Writers Centre Storytelling is a natural human need both to explain and to entertain; storywriting is an extension of this creative impulse. This creative writing class will look at the short story and the novel formats, in particular. Over the course of the eight weeks, examples of writing will be analysed and participants will produce their own work. All are welcome: those who have already embarked on a writing project, those who have published and those who simply want to 'give it a go' and who haven't written anything so far. Intermediate Creative Writing with Jean O' Brien Wednesday 19th October 8 weeks €220/€200 Irish Writers Centre You've taken your first steps into creative writing; this course will provide you with the skills and confidence to develop your own voice and experiment with a variety of forms and genres. During the eight weeks, you'll examine poetry, poetic form and imagery, novels and short fiction, screenplays, radio plays and scriptwriting. The emphasis will be on generating new work, and finding ways to improve existing work. I've heard that Jean is very encouraging. 'A New Way To Fly': The Stinging Fly's Novel Writing Workshop Beginning Monday 26th September Now in its third year, the 'New Way to Fly' workshop is aimed at writers who are in the early stages of writing a novel and who feel they will benefit from a relationship with a group of others engaged in the same process. Under the direction of acclaimed novelist and short-story writer Sean O'Reilly, the group will meet once a week in a workshop setting over a six-month period. Alongside the workshops, on one Saturday every month, there will be a series of specialist talks on issues around the process of writing and the imagination Fantasy Fiction with Celine Kiernan Sat 8th & Sun 9th October €150/€140 Irish Writers Centre This exciting and intensive two-day course will be ideal for aspiring and and already practising fantasy fiction writers So You Think Your Poem is Finished? with Theo Dorgan Sat 5th November €100/€90 Irish Writers Centre A one day workshop that looks at how to develop an editorial cold heart. Participants are asked to share poems that they think complete. Not work in progress. Finished poems And this one sounds great too. Info for this and others here

Monday 12 September 2011

What does the X stand for?

In celebration of Frank X. Buckley and his extensive collection of art, which is on permanant display in the Irish Writers' Centre, they are inviting all writers of both poetry and fiction to write poems and flash fiction based on pieces from the Frank X. Buckley Collection.

The collection includes an exciting array of well-known Irish art including the likes of Felim Egan, Michael Mulcahy, Graham Knuttel and Thomas Ryan. The entire collection was donated by  Frank X. Buckley.  His desire was to make the Irish Writers’ Centre a more pleasant place to work in and create.  Art is another creative outlet not far removed from creative writing where crucially a scene or a moment is imaginatively conceived.

On November 24th they will be hosting a night celebrating Frank X. Buckley and his collection along with an abundance of exclusive guests from artistic and literary circles. The authors of their three favourite pieces will be invited along to read on the night. There is a selection of the paintings on our website and will be adding more in the next week. You are also welcome to come in and look at them in the Centre if you would like to write about a piece that is not on our website.

Submission Guidelines
Up the three poems of maximum 40 lines or up to three flash fiction entries of maximum  500 words.
Please send all entries to and put either ‘Poetry Submission’ or ‘Flash Fiction Submission’ in the subject line.  All submissions should be attached as Word documents.

Deadline: Friday, October 28th 2011

A selection of paintings from the collection are viewable here.

Sunday 11 September 2011

Three Men Talking About Things They Kinda Know About

(Image: Jessica Ryan)

This year's Absolut fringe in Dublin includes three spoken word aficianados in a self written piece that's well worth a look. Here's the fringe link

Expect rhythm and rhyme, Dublin and laughs, anger, nostalgia, universal truths, discomforting questions and thoughful asides. Expect the unexpected except don't expect awful cliches like "expect the unexpected."

Here's the masterful and dashingly handsome Colm Keegan. Guess which one is which in the photos.

I'm Colm Keegan. All round chancer and accidental poet. I have the honour of being part of the amazing Nighthawks which is the brainchild of Stephen Kennedy and co-run by him, me, Julie McGovern and Mary Cahill Kennedy.
Stephen James Smith is the MC of the legendary Glor Sessions, the flagship night at the heart of the independent self funded arts scene exploding into life around us. Show me any other man (or woman) who says they're more at the heart of things right now and I'll chuck them into the Liffey cause they're lying.  
Kalle Ryan is the loudest MC I know, an amazing sketch writer and the Lord Mayor of poetical ranting. He runs the Brown Bread Mixtape (with Enda Roche) which has to be seen to be believed and to me is the best night out in Dublin.
What's the show about?

It's about things we kinda know about. It's about exploring things we mightn't like to freely admit, shedding old skins and moving on. It's about our experiences, what we've learned from things we've been through and which might help someone else along the way.  

How did you come up with the idea to be part of the fringe?

Myself Stephen James Smith and Kalle Ryan became friends after meeting on the spoken word scene in Dublin. Stephen suggested the idea last year but we were all too busy but when the submission time came round again we all decided to go for it.

I love the photo of you on barstools.

It's mad that you mention that photo, people have assumed so much about the play based on it and photo's are a kind of touchstone in the play. Also, it was a photo that made me believe we had to do something together.
It's written collaboratively. How did that work?

We basically met up in each others houses and wrote together. If was fun at first, then we got harder on each other and it got tougher towards the end.. We had to take criticism and learn when to stop giving it too. In a collaboration, it's important to not try and commandeer the process too much. But because we trust each others judgement though I think we found a nice balance.  

Who do you see your audience to be? Who are you writing for?

We didn't think much about the audience at first, we thought more about what we wanted to dig into. Good writing comes from what you're a bit afraid of yourself, so we went after that. One thing that surprised us is that the few women who had a chance to listen in on initial readings thought that women might get more of it from men. We really only thought of the audience when it came to making sure we weren't being selfish with our own stuff - for instance I was harping on about something which could have bored the audience until the other guys pointed it out.  

Do you have aunts and cousins looking for tickets? Would that bother you?

Kinda - I know family coming would bother me slightly, and deffo one of the other lads. It's a non-fiction show, there's some dirt ditched. It's weird - sometimes you depend on those people for bums on seats. But personally I think this piece would work best on people who don't know us. We've sacrificed certain things for the sake of length and structure, and some people who know us might be thinking, 'wait a cotton pickin minute - it didn't happen exactly like that!  

Did anyone else have an input? 

The director, Sarah Brennan, has had a huge input. We're really excited about where she's taking the play. We're used to just getting up on stage and doing some poems.. This is going to be completely different.  

Any special pre-performance rituals?

Maybe - walking to the luas at half seven in the morning spouting lines loudly into the pissing rain before rehearsals later that day is kinda special right?  

When and where? 

Upstairs in The International Bar 19th to 24th Septemnber 7 pm start all week and 5.30 on Saturday

So get down there and see for yourself. What are these three men talking about.

Saturday 10 September 2011

Creative Writing Courses in Belfast

These sound inviting, great prices too. More of this please.
Open Learning, Queen’s University, Belfast have weekly courses starting at the end of September. See the website for more details. 10 sessions for £33 to £58? Bargain!
  • Citizen Journalist
  • Creative Thinking and Writing: Visual Paths
  • Creative Writing for Enthusiasts
  • Poetry
  • Developing Your Writing Skills
  • Guided Autobiography Workshop
  • How to make a short film
  • Memoir Writing group
  • Short Film Script Writing: Introduction
  • Short Film Script Writing and Beyond
  •  The Writer's Journey
  • Travel Writing
  • Ways Into Writing
  • Writing About Nature
  • Fiction
  • Writing for Profit and Pleasure
  • Writing for Profit: Practical 2-Day Workshop
There are also courses in Literature and Media Studies

Friday 9 September 2011

Dromineer Literary Festival

North Tipperary gets all literary once a year so get down to Dromineer for a little autumnal elucidation. The lovely festival committee have a super lineup. (Not wheeling out the same old names as some festivals either)
Dromineer is on Lought Derg which is supposed to be lovely and inspirational.

Thursday 29th September
Poetry with Dermot Healy, Catherine Phil Macarthy and Kerry Hardie. A triumnate of poets.
Where: Lough Derg Yacht Club
When: 8pm
Entry: €5

Friday 30th September
Schools Workshops. It's always good to get the schools involved.

Official opening.
Where: Lough Derg Yacht Club
When: 7:30pm

Competition Results and Readings
Where: Guess
When: 8pm

Saturday 1st October
Workshop with Poet Dermot Healy. Maximum of 12 participnats per workshop
When: 10am to 12.30pm
Entry: €15 including light lunch, - a bargain!

Short story Workshop with VIncent McDonnell. Maximum of 12 participnats per workshop
When: 10 am to 12.30pm
Entry: €15 including light lunch, - a bargain!

Short Movie Premiere
When: 3 to 4 pm
Entry: Free

Irish Crafts with David Shaw-Smith
When: 4 to 5pm
Entry :€5

Meet the Authors: With Jennifer Johnston and John MacKenna.
When: 8-10pm
Entry: €12/€10

The fabulous Poetry Diva Collective
Where: The Whiskey Still
When: 10:30pm
Entry: Free.

Sunday 2nd October
Sunday Afternoon Afloat
Aboard the Spirit of Killaloe from Dromineer Harbour.
The Living Lake with Rick Boelens and Dan Minchin
When: 3-5pm
Entry: €12/€10

Festival Finale. Grief Observed by the Nenagh Players
When: 8 to 10pm
Entry €12/€10

Sunday at Electric Picnic

Started Sunday with heavy heavy rain. Oh well. This had been what we were expecting. Wellies on.
But then later? Sunshine.
Started again with the Dublin Gospel Choir - lovely Queen song (I think) and a cover of Like a Prayer/Madonna. Then to Mindfield, the hot Italian guys at the coffee van and the Word Tent. The Galwegians were out in force, and they were really stunning. I was blown away. I have to get to Cuirt festival in Galway next year. Laurie Leech and the terrific Sarah Clancy stood out for me.I didn't get the name of the shock-haired bloke.
Irvine Welsh took us through some photos in Ignite (not so exciting really)
and the poets in the Arts Council tent were IMHO, awfully worthy mostly. Mildly, unchallengingly navel-gazing (and incestuous) Of course, they didn't ask me or pay me to read so maybe I'm just being picky.
Iggy McGovern was much better, touching, witty and with lovely rhymes in The Word Tent.
Missed most of the lovely brownbreadmixtape to sit in the sunshine
(Photo: Maeve O'Sullivan) and watch the Unthanks, a Northumberland folky/ambient/clog dancing band.
They were lovely but probably would suit a smaller tent. Apparently they were on later in Body and Sould which would have been good.
Joan as a Policewoman was only OK
The Family Stone were so delightfully, over the top Cheesey.
I had some lovely chowder from the Rathmullen Hotel stand. We visited the Salty Dog stage, a boat in the forest.
A super band called, I think, Dark Jokes? From Edinburgh. Very good. Aarrrr.
Caught a bit of Tonguebox on The Word Stage. Fabulously strange Kit Fryatt there.
Then the return of the Poetry Divas. This time at Caca Milis Cabaret.
We had an entourage of small Divas who kept us on our toes but we shone again.  
with visual aids!
The lovely Triona Walsh.
We finished off the picnic in the Word Tent again, catching Arrow in the Sky, a great band I've seen before at the Glor Sessions. Followed by the amazing Kate Tempest with her band The Sound Of Rum. I was completely blown away by her spoken word performance. I have to listen again to pick up some of the adventurous wordplay and passionate takes on life and love and poetry.

All in all a wonderful picnic. I didn't get to the Comedy tent this year and missed the gramaphone disco, which sounded like a holw, but otherwise, pretty packed. I just hope that with the recession level ticket sales, it carries on next year. Because if it does, we'll be there.

Thursday 8 September 2011

Saturday of Electric Picnic

So fed, watered, Diva-ed up, nails and all, the afternoon was ready to start with the Poetry Divas. First though Nelly Murphy from Galway and then some art

Then with some Gin and Tonic (in a can!) we watched a puppet show in Irish, energetic but long, then did our Diva stuff. Thanks to the mighty women of Laois, all our Divas were full clothed and fabulous.
(Photo: Iggy McGovern)
Kate Dempsey, Triona Walsh, Maeve O'Sullivan and special guest appearance by Sarah Maria Griffin. We started with bubbles, ably helped by our new small friend, Ben, then moving on through Bs via Bannoffi, Butchers, Boxes, Babies to the very end Boobs. With visual aids.
(Photo: Iggy McGovern)
Scarily tall people chased us through the field
We were followed by the lovely lads from The Glor Sessions with Stephen James Smith. Then later, Poetry Ireland presented some more poets, not sure who I missed but I caught some from Tom Matthews. And a packed tent for John Banville interviewed by Miriam O'Callaghan.
I also stopped in the Science Gallery tent which was packed to the gunnels. Caught some of the Ignite talks, always interesting.
The sun shone and we tried the smoky Bacardi.
and watched some bands. Caca Milis Cabaret was on every evening with a great mix of acts, Helena Mulkerns sang
There was mime (not as good as it sounds and it doesn't sound great. Is that a pun?) belly dancers, spoken word including Sarah Maria Griffin
and Erin Fornoff.
Had some wonderful Massaman curry and spring rolls at Saba which eventually won the food of the festival award.
There was a wine bar this year. The tempranillo sold out first.
Ran off to see Lykke Li on the main stage who was excellent. Watch out for her.
followed by the pretty epic Arcade Fire. The crowd were absolutely hyped.
So was the band. As hyped as Canadians get. I was taken with their video show.
Wandered around Mindfield and Body and Soul, drank tea, watched a terrific trumpeter and band in Natasha's (overpriced) raw food tent. There was a girl in there with a tail. Honest. Made me shiver to watch her dance. It was cold. It did rain some. Still no need for wellies though. Watched some of the laser show from The Chemical Brothers.

Wednesday 7 September 2011

Friday of Electric Picnic 2011

Here are some of the stand out moments of Electric Picnic. Click away now if you're a bit bored and didn't go. Read on if you want a carefully unbiased reminder or the good, the bad and the ugly. The forecast was appalling so we arrived laden with much raingear and dry changes of clothes. It was sunny and almost warm. An Irish summer, all summer. Actually it did shower a little. As I said, an Irish summer. We started with pie, not Pieminister pie, which was a mistake, but Cully and Sully pie. Nothing to write home about. Shame as one of them was there. Then wandered around the Greencrafts area which you should always do.
Where they were doing crafts.
(Photo: Maeve O'Sullivan) Met one of the woodcarvers who was at Festival of Fires.
Little Green Cars (who I read as Little Green Lars, a lesser known eco-cousin from Norway) were a very good choice to start.
We stopped in to see Jim Crosby, a mellow singer and cousin of the Cosby's who own the house and land. All the rellies were there.
Mindfield was where I spent a lot of time. Here's the Literary Tents, Arts council funded (someone got paid) with pews.
Twin Shadow
The marvellous Marty Mulligan was in full swing on The Word stage. I have a crap, blurry photo I won't share with you. He had lined up a mixed bag of poets and spoken word artists, singer songwriters and all sorts. Not all hit the mark, it has to be said, but sometimes that's what happens. Some were more shout than substance. Low brow, middle brow, humour, common ground, wordplay. It takes all sorts. Caught the tailend of a political debate in the Leviathan. David MacWilliams, Kate Tempest, etc etc. Had to miss the Brad Pitt Light Orchestra
(Photo: Maeve O'Sullivan)
as everything was running late.
Got to the main arena to watch the fabulously unique PJ Harvey with half a dead bird as a headpiece. She was great to watch. I have a blurry photo...
Body and Soul seemed to be a bit smaller this year. Or is it the same as when you return to somewhere you used to know when you were younger. You've grown and everything else has shrunk. There was no ThisIsPopBaby which was a bitter disappointment, and the Chai Teepee with the fire was sadly missing. There were lights
and things in the trees
I think this is The Charlatans