Sunday 29 April 2012

The Times Stephen Spender Prize 2012 for poetry in translation

Entrants are invited to submit a translation of a published poem from any language, modern or classical, into English, together with a commentary of no more than 300 words (see below for guidelines) and the original poem. The submitted translation should be no more than 60 lines long, so entrants may submit an extract if their chosen poem is longer. Self-translation is not accepted.

There's a skill to translation and (so far) I've haven't mastered it.

£5 sterling per entry. Anyone eighteen or under on 1 June 2012 is exempt from this charge

You can enter by email or post.
Entrants must be British residents or British citizens.

There will be three prizes in the Open and 18-and-under categories. The winners of the Open prizes will receive £1000 (first), £750 (second) and £500 (third); the winners of the under-18 prizes will win £250 (first), £150 (second) and £100 (third). There will be one prize (£100) awarded in the 14-and-under category. 

Deadline: Friday 1 June 2012


Crime pays £5,000

Stylist magazine have joined forces with publishers Faber and Faber to launch the career of a new crime writer.

The winning author of our fiction competition will have their debut novel published by Faber and Faber publishing house and will receive a book advance of £5,000. The runner-up will receive a place on a three-month writing course of their choice – worth up to £1,750 – at Faber Academy, Faber and Faber’s esteemed creative writing programme.
   Here’s an outline of the competition rules:
“To enter Stylist’s Crime Fiction Competition you will need to complete the first 6,000 words of your original crime or thriller novel. The novel must feature a female protagonist. Alongside this you will need to submit an outline, no longer than 300 words, to show how the story will develop but which doesn’t reveal the ending, plus a 250-word biography of the central character.”

Deadline: 12th July 2012 

the panel of judges includes bestselling crime author Ruth Rendell.

Entrants must live in the UK. (UK address!)

You can find full terms and conditions, plus the all-important entry form, on the Stylist website.

Thursday 26 April 2012

Hennessy New Irish Writing

I went along to the New Irish Writing awards on Tuesday held at the French Ambassador's residence on Ailesbury Road, possibly the most expensive house in Ireland. It has a fascinating story you can read here.
There are 3 categories, 6 stories in First Fiction and the other 6 in Emerging Fiction so all of the 12 short stories publishe during 2011 in the Irish Independent are included. There is also an Emerging Poetry Prize for 6 of the poems. The Hennessy has always been stronger on fiction than poetry with often, no poets on the judging committee which has made for unexpected results.

This year the First Fiction nominees were:

Ron Woods -Paddy's Will which you can read here
Pat O'Connor -Advice and Sandwiches previously shortlisted for the Sean O'Faolain Competition in 2010
Aisling Keogh - How To Save A Life who I had the pleasure of meeting. This was Aisling's first published story. She lives in Galway.
Paul O'Reilly - I wish MacGowen hadn't written that song. You can listen to another story by him here and his blog is here. Apparently this is shortlisted for the Pushcart prize in the US.
Here's another story and bio by him here
and the winner Barbara Tarrant - Baby - Congratulations!

The Emerging Fiction Nominees were:
Maire T Robinson - Another Breakfast For You. She blogs here and it was lovely to meet her. You can read it here
Mick Ransford (Doyle) - Kindred. Here's another story by Mick
Susan Lanigan - Infinite Loop,who I know from the blogosphere.
Elizabeth Brennan - Strangers who I got to chat to.
Andrew Fox - By The Canal. Here's another story by Andrew
and the winner, Viv McDade - Leaving for Chile which you can read here

The Emerging Poetry nominees were:
Mike J Gallagher - Stick on Stone which also won Michael Hartnett Viva Voce
Monica Corish - Mind Your Sister on the Rocks who has another poem here
Deirdre Doherty - The Shed She has a poem in Crannog here
Edward O'Dwyer - Only by Chance  here's some more poems by Ed
Tory Campbell - I Beckon You and My Father Doesn't Like Cut Flowers who has also been in the Stinging Fly
and the winner, Niamh Boyce - Kitty who I met and who blogs here

Niamh also won the overall prize as well as my own, personal prize for best hairstyle.

Then John Boyne gave a really lovely speech full of wisdom and wit accepting his entry into the Hall of Fame.

We did notice that of the now ten members, only one, Ann Enright, is a woman. This is strange. Did all the women who were shortlisted or won the Hennessy in the old days (it's in its 41st year) not end up with a bit of fame?

Wednesday 25 April 2012

Rathmines Writers’ Workshop Anthology

Rathmines Writers’ Workshop are inviting poetry submissions for their anthology. The winner and two runners-up will be published in the forthcoming Rathmines Writers’ Workshop Anthology and the 3 winning entrants will be invited to read their poems at the launch to be held in Dublin.

Poems can have a maximum of 40 lines which includes the title and must be typed.

Entrants may enter as many times as they like, cost is €3 per entry, €5 for two entries and additional entries €2.

Submissions should be sent to RWW Competition, 19 The Laurels, Terenure Road West, Terenure, Dublin 6W

Deadline: June 1, 2012

Link here

Saturday 21 April 2012

Children's books conference

The 2012 CBI Conference 2012 Weaving a Shared Story, will take place in the National Library of Ireland, Kildare Street on 19th and 20th May. Guest speakers include Alexis Deacon, Jutta Bauer, Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, Alan Early, Paula Leyden, Geraldine Meade, Denise Deegan, Debbie Thomas, Brian Gallagher, Nicola Pierce, Peadar O’Guilín, Sally Nicholls, Chris Judge, Barbara Coughlan, Mary Murphy, Ed, Rebecca and Michael Emberley, Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick, Judi Curtin and the students of Trinity Comprehensive, Ballymun and St Paul’s, Waterford.

Click here  to download the conference flyer with further info.

The conference will also include presentation of the annual CBI award. This award is made to an individual in recognition of an outstanding contribution to children’s books. All CBI members are warmly encouraged to nominate for this award.

CBI are always looking for new partners to help us bring the best in children’s books to the widest audience. If you are interested in participating in the next CBI Conference please contact programme officer Aoife Murray at or 01 8727475.

Friday 20 April 2012

‘She’s the One’ Writing Competition

Poetry, prose or a letter about the women (or woman) who inspire you and/or have changed your world.  

Could be somebody famous or someone who lives in your neighbourhood.  

Your entry should run to no more than 350 words.
Deadlin: 30 June
    Prizes: Winning entries will be published in an anthology.
    Entry Fee: None - free to enter.
    Comp Page:
Click Here.

The She's The One competition is open to anyone who lives in the UK. The work that you enter must be unpublished and not under contract to any other publisher. Work that has been self-published or published on the web is not eligible. If you have previous writing experience please include a brief biography of your writing career.

Wednesday 18 April 2012

J G Farrell Award

Part of the imaginative West Cork Literary Festival, The J G Farrell Award will be adjudicated by novelist Claire Kilroy. This award is for the best novel-in-progress by a writer resident in Munster. The winner will receive a place on Claire Kilroy's The Novel : Beyond the First Draft workshop which takes place during the festival and a week's accommodation at the 4 star Maritime Hotel.
The award is generously sponsored by Richard Farrell.
Applicants should forward the first chapter of their novel (no longer than 3000 words) to the West Cork Festival office at 13 Glengarriff Road, Bantry, Co Cork or to
Deadline: 25th May.
Your entry should be printed on one side of the page only, and double spaced. Please send two copies of your entry. Place your name and address on a separate sheet.
Check out the other workshops here

Sports Writing Competition

From Free Bets Free Link here. Last year's were all fiction and non-fiction prose.

We are looking for the best sports writers to send us exciting, original, even abstract sports writing to help add zest and vigour to the genre. We had a great mix of fiction and non-fiction entries for the 2011 competition (read the full Winning Entries here).The three winning entries from the last competition were about football, golf and darts, but really we don’t have a preference.

The contest is open to entrants of 18 years and older. The entries may be prose or poetry, fiction or non-fiction. You may write about any subject … as along as it relates to sport. Any sport. We didn’t get any entries about synchronised swimming last time, so maybe this time.

Entries may be anything up to 1500 words and must be written in English. Please read the full FBFT Sports Writing Competition Terms and Conditions before entering.

Deadline: Sunday 13th May 2012, the final day of the 2011/12 Premier League football season.

Now, to the prizes:

First Prize: £50
Second Prize: £30
Third Prize: £20

The three winning entries will also be published on our website.


Tuesday 17 April 2012

Daphne du Maurier festival Competition

Interestingly, this short story competition is not limited to pure prose genre. They also suggest graphic, verse or genre-based (Crime, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Historical, Romance, etc).

To celebrate and to encourage this often neglected art form, the du Maurier Festival Society is launching a short story writing competition

Deadline: 30th April

Maximum length of submissions is 1500 words.

Theme of ‘The Rendezvous

fee of £5.00 
Prizes are: 1st £100, 2nd £75.

Can submit online or by post.
Link and form here

Monday 16 April 2012


Spoke is an open mic evening hosted by the Irish Writers Centre, 19 Parnell Square, Dublin 1, on the third Friday of every month. We welcome performances by writers, spoken word artists, musicians and singers. Please come along at 7.30pm to sign up for the open mic. Email sign-ups are not accepted; you’ve got to be there. Performances will begin around 8pm and continue till around 10.30. We’ll also have a guest performer, who will do a 15-20 minute set.

Admission is free and all are welcome.

Graham Tugwell is a writer and performer of Irish distraction and the recipient of the College Green Literary Prize 2010. In what has been described as “one of the best and most sustained indie lit debuts ever” his work has appeared in over fifty journals, including Anobium, The Quotable, Pyrta, THIS Literary Magazine, L’Allure Des Mots and Poddle. He enjoys writing work of abiding strangeness, aimed at provoking that apocalyptic oscillation when the brain cannot decide what is appropriate— laughter or grief. He regularly performs at Milk & Cookies storytelling events and other venues around Dublin.
He has lived his whole life in the village where all of his stories take place. He loves it with a very special kind of hate. His website is

Sunday 15 April 2012

The Joy Of Sex

Do you remember this book or are you too young? I associate reading it sneakily while babysitting. The hairy-ness, the nakedness, the language, the stuff. Ah me.

Celebrating 40 years of The Joy of Sex 1972 edition

We invite poems of up to 40 lines, images (artistic recreations of the front cover) and flash fiction of up to 1000 words. The subject is 'The Joy of Sex'. It can be based on the book or on the wonderful subject of the great joy of sex! 

Deadline: 30th May 2012.

Judges Mabel Watson (winner of Poetry Lostock 2011) & Wendy Klein (Cuba in the Blood)

First Prize: The Joy of Sex (Alex Comfort)  1972 plus £100

Second Prize: How to Be a Good Lover plus £50

Third Prize: The Illustrated Karma Sutra plus £25

All poems plus 20 shortlists to be included in a new anthology: The Joy of Sex 2012

link here

Saturday 14 April 2012

Interview with poet, Kalle Ryan

Kalle Ryan runs the awesome Brownbreadmixtape monthly evening at the Stag's Head, Dublin. This month, together with Colm Keegan and Stephen James Smith, they are reviving their successful show from last year's Dublin Fringe Three Men Talking About Things They Kinda Know About.

First for yourself, how did you first get into poetry?
I was always interested in poetry thanks to a wonderful English teacher (Edward Denniston) that I had in secondary school. Over the years I would write poems, as well as lengthier theatre and comedy pieces, but it was really only when I lived in New York that I started to write poems more seriously. I was lucky enough to be published by a really interesting journal called Lilies and Cannonballs Review and they asked me on a number of occasions to perform at their launch events. Consequently, I started to perform my poems live more regularly and so my writing took a certain shape that was largely dictated by the performance aspect.
How does writing for performance influence your poetry?
I have gravitated towards the performance side of poetry, primarily due to my keen interest in comedy and acting. So, much of what I write is imagined with a live audience in mind and as a result, many of my poems include a call-and-response element designed to engage the audience more actively with the piece. That buzz of energy from people listening in a room is such an exciting way of getting feedback instantly. Having said that, I think ultimately the writing has to be of a high quality in the first place, so I don't draw that huge a distinction between things that are written for the page or the stage. If it is good, then it should stand up to both types of audiences.

How did the idea for Three Men Talking about Things They Kinda Know About come about in the first place?
Myself, Colm and Stephen had admired each other's work for some time and had occasionally spoken about creating an event or show that brought our different poetic styles to the table together. It was Stephen who suggested that we submit an application to the ABSOLUT Fringe festival last year. As you know, not only was it accepted, it went on to sell out every night of the run last September and was nominated for the "Bewley's Cafe Theatre Little Gem" award, which was incredibly gratifying and a remarkable experience. So, this upcoming Turnaround rep season at Project Arts Centre is a genuine honour, as we were hand picked to appear alongside four other great shows from Fringes past. We are really looking forward to bringing the show back to an audience in such a great theatrical setting. It feels like doing a brand new show.
How did you decide between you on the subject matter and the trajectory?
I still have a scrap of paper from the first meeting we had about the show and almost everything we mapped out in that session (including the title of the show) is in the final piece of work, which is amazing really. As early as that meeting we decided that it was going to be a show about relationships and how they shaped us on our journeys until now. We sketched out broad touchstones like relationships with our respective families and partners, as well as looking at our ourselves and our relationship with the different worlds we grew up in. We also were in total agreement when it came to the directness and honesty of the work we were aiming for. We knew that it had to be honest, unflinching and unsentimental. I believe that we achieved what we set out to do. It is a piece of work we are all very proud of.
The piece carefully weaves your own stories together. How much editing of each other’s pieces did you do?
We did huge amounts of editing and reworking of the piece, individually and collectively. In essence, we wrote the show over the course of approximately five months. Initially we would write our own poetic narratives alone and then get together once a week to read them aloud, looking for thoughts, edits and responses to the work. Gradually this process evolved until we had settled on our final individual poetic narratives. Then we sent drafts to each other through a shared Google Doc, making minor adjustments and tweaks, while always leaving room for each of us to have a final say on our respective narratives. It was important that we never tried to impose our own voice on someone else's piece. 
For the opening and closing sequences of the piece, we actually came up with them on a writing weekend in my family home in Waterford and the lines were subsequently knocked into shape by us all until they fit the overall mood of the show. Of course, that is only the story of the text itself. We cannot underestimate the importance of Sarah Brennan's direction to the success of the piece. When we brought it to the rehearsal and performance stage, Sarah was able to lend an assured directorial and theatrical touch to the poetry, as well as a much needed female perspective to the three men talking!
What would you say the main learnings were for you from the process?
I learned huge amounts from the whole process and I genuinely believe it has made me a better writer & performer. In addition, I think we all have a deeper understanding of each other's writing and respective individual writing processes. The good and the bad! So, the fact that we are even closer friends than before is a testament to our temperaments and ability to work so well together. 
Also, despite the slightly frivolous title, it is a show that deals with really serious moments in all of our lives, and I am extremely grateful and proud to have been able to share in the experience of bringing those stories to light and to life. During the writing process, each of us would hear what the other had written, take a deep breath and say, "Ok, I need to dig deeper. I need to tell the deeper truth". My father always said about art, the more specific you make it, the more universal it becomes. In the end, I believe that is what makes the show so powerful, because we tapped into that sentiment and it seems to resonate with each new audience every night.
What advice do you have for writers who are new to performance?
There are basic things worth doing like consistent rehearsal (even if you are not memorising the poems) and performing regularly to become comfortable on a stage in front of a crowd. But I think the most important thing is to stay true to your own voice and style. That might sound like a really obvious thing to say, but I think the more genuine you are the better your performance of your own material is. There's nothing worse than seeing some writer trying to force a persona on stage. The key is to stay connected with your audience as much as your material. Like anything else, you grow into it and become better with each new performance. Until then, fake it till you make it!

Give us the lowdown about The Show
"Three Men Talking About Things They Kinda Know About" is on at the Project Arts Centre on April 18th, 19th and 27th. The show is running in association with ABSOLUT Fringe as part of the Turnaround rep season with four other cool shows. Tickets are 15 EUR (13 EUR conc.) and there are also super deals in place to get tickets to see all five shows or pick and mix three shows. Our show is selling extremely fast, so grab a ticket today!
Thanks Kalle. I thoroughly recommend the show as an evening of the inner thoughts of men.

Friday 13 April 2012

Halloween Theme - Poetry for the Poetry Bus

Liz at Musings is driving this week and on a Halloween theme, she suggested a Triolet. The hardest part with a triolet is to find two lines that justify the repetition.

The rhyming scheme ABaAabAB, if you're interested.

Here's my ticket.

 for Titus's call for poems here

Paul Durcan and Irvine Welsh

I've read some good things about Paul Durcan's new collection. This would be a good evening.

DLR Library Voices Series presents
reading from his new collection of poetry
Praise in Which I Live and Breathe and Have my Being

Sunday April 22nd at 7.30pm in Pavilion Theatre Dun Laoghaire
In Conversation with Olaf Tyaransen
Tuesday April 24th at 8.00pm in Pavilion Theatre, Dun Laoghaire
For tcket information call Box Office at (01) 231 2929

Wednesday 11 April 2012

Lucy Cavendish College Fiction Prize 2012

Lucy Cavendish College has a particular interest in supporting female writers, with many events such as talks, dinners, book launches and writing workshops taking place throughout the year focusing on female fiction and female authors. The highlight of these events is the annual Women's Word festival towards the end of June each year. During Women's Word the College opens its doors to the public for a programme of talks and special events.

A cornerstone of this annual festival is the Lucy Cavendish College Fiction Prize (now in its second year), which is awarded to a remarkable, unpublished female fiction writer over the age of 21 who successfully combines literary merit with "unputdownability" in their entry.

To enter the competition, participants will need to submit the first 30 pages of an unpublished novel and a synopsis of the remainder of the novel (max. 10 pages long).

Deadline: Friday 27 April 2012.

The Judging Panel for the 2012 competition will consist of:
  • Rowan Pelling, Daily Telegraph columnist
  • Isobel Maddison, Director of Studies in English, Lucy Cavendish College
The judges will draw up a shortlist of five submissions; the five shortlisted entrants (plus one guest each) will be invited to a prize-giving dinner at Lucy Cavendish College, Cambridge where the winner will be announced. 

Lots more info here

Tuesday 10 April 2012

Science Writing

You may know that I am excited by science, Physics in particular and this appeals to me. I got to visit a lab recently and it was the highlight of my week even more than the chocolate rabbit of the Easter.

The Wellcome Trust Science Writing Prize 2012 in association with the 'Guardian' and the 'Observer

only open to non-published writers in each of the following categories:
(a) professional scientists of postgraduate level and above
(b) anyone else with a non-professional interest in science (this includes undergraduate science students).

You must be a non-published writer based in the UK or the Republic of Ireland.
Deadline: April 25
Word Count: 800 words
Entry Fee: no fee
Multiple Submissions Allowed: one entry only per person
Prizes: £1000 plus publication
Submission: online only

The judges are looking for originality, bright ideas and a distinctive writing style. Your 800-word article should show a passion for science and encourage the general public to consider, question and debate the key issues in science and society.

Link here

So what springs to mind?

A literary day out

10:00 AM – 4:30 PM
Join an informative and fun day out exploring the city and the book including:
A visit to the Little Museum of Dublin
A talk on Joyce’s Dubliners in the Museum
A horse-drawn carriage ride to Ushers Island and The House of The Dead
A talk on ‘The Dead’ in the very house inscribed there
Readings from Joyce’s story from a Dublin actor
Come in costume to add to the fun!
Join us for a memorable day out!
Book online at
Cost: €75 per person including refreshments
Tel: 083 428 8286

Monday 9 April 2012

New Tricks with Matches

This is out of UCD. I found it via the generous stammering poet blog.

It's basically a way to fund the anthology from the MA there. Nothing wrong with that though. They usually field a terrific rainbow of writers.
  • Poem length is restricted to 40 lines.
  • Stories and poems must not have been published previously.
  • The winning story and the winning poem will be published in the "New Tricks with Matches" 2012/13 UCD Creative Writing MA/MFA Anthology.
  • Winners will receive two copies of the book. 
  • €7 for one entry, €10 for 2.
  • Deadline: Monday 30th April 2012 
Link here

Sunday 8 April 2012

The New Zealand Poetry Society’s 2012 International Poetry Competition

Deadline: 31st May 2012

The New Zealand Poetry Society’s annual International Poetry Competition, Verse and Haiku, is under way, with Open and Junior Sections. The Junior Open and Junior Haiku sections are open to students who are 17 years of age or younger on 31st May 2012. 

Please visit our website at for full competition details and to download the entry forms. Last year’s results, including winning poems and judges’ reports, are also on the website.

Open: 1st – $500; 2nd – $250; 3rd – $100
Open Junior: 1st – $200
Primary/Intermediate: 1st runner-up – $100; 2nd runner-up – $50
Secondary: 1st runner-up – $100; 2nd runner-up – $50
Haiku: Top five haiku – $100 each, plus First Prize Winner receives the Jeanette Stace Memorial Prize of $150.
Haiku Junior: 1st, 2nd, 3rd, Primary/Intermediate – $50 each
1st 2nd, 3rd, Secondary – $50 each
In addition, the writer of the haiku considered the best of the two sections receives the Jeanette Stace Memorial Prize of $100.
All prizes are in New Zealand Dollars. No entrant will win more than one cash prize, though winners may also be included in a commended list.
All winning and commended poems, along with other selected entries, will appear in the New Zealand Poetry Society’s annual anthology in November 2012, to be edited by Owen Bullock (Katikati). It is not necessary to buy a copy of the anthology in order to have a poem included. All selections are made blind (i.e. without identifying information).

This year’s judges are:
Harry Ricketts (Wellington) – Open Verse
Barbara Strang (Christchurch)– Open Haiku
Bernadette Hall (Canterbury) – Junior Verse
Vanessa Proctor (Sydney, Australia) – Junior Haiku

Saturday 7 April 2012

Bealtaine at Farmleigh

Poetry Ireland in association with BEALTAINE and Farmleigh, the State Residence, present a series of 4 free poetry workshops with the poet Macdara Woods. These workshops will take place as part of Bealtaine 2012 which celebrates creativity in older age. The workshops are presented as part of the Dublin UNESCO City of Literature Bringing it All Back Home series.

Workshops will run on Wednesday May 9, 16, 23 and 30 from 10.30 am – 1.30 pm

Applications are sought from unpublished poets who are willing to take part in a final event to celebrate Bealtaine.

Please apply by sending a short 1 page Resume/CV and 3 samples of your work to Bealtaine/Poetry Ireland Poetry Workshops, Age and Opportunity, Marino Institute of Education, Griffith Avenue, D9

Deadline: 11 April 2012

Friday 6 April 2012

Crannog Submissions

Crannóg accepts simultaneous submissions on the condition that we are informed immediately if accepted elsewhere. However, we do not accept third party submissions.

Crannóg is published in February, June and October of each year.
Submissions are open between: March 1-May 1 for June issue. 

POETRY: Send no more than three poems. Each poem should be under 50 lines.
PROSE:    Send no more than two stories. Each story should be under 2000 words.

 When sending by email:
*Send file in body of email.and as a Word attachment.
  (this is to ensure correct layout. We may, however, change your layout to suit our publication)
*Ensure each poem begins on a new page.
*If a poem takes more than one page then number each page Page X of Y.
*Include a brief bio as you would like it to appear, in the third person. Include this both in body and in attachment. 

Writers selected to appear in Crannóg will receive a contributor's copy of the magazine and an invite to read at the launch of Crannóg, which will take place at The Crane Bar, Galway, Ireland

Website here

Thursday 5 April 2012

The Galway Launch of Mentioning the War

The Galway Launch of Mentioning the War - essays and reviews (1999 -2011)
by Kevin Higgins

published by Salmon Publishing

The book will be launched by Darrell Kavanagh
@ Galway Arts Centre, 47 Dominick Street, Galway
on Saturday, April 7th


Best known for his dark, satirical poems; Kevin Higgins published his first book review in The Galway Advertiser in June 1999. Reading Mentioning the War, it becomes obvious that Higgins is not like other critics. An enthusiastic advocate for the work of the new generation of poets who have emerged from Ireland’s thriving live poetry scene; he is also a merciless opponent of hypocrisy and pretentiousness wherever he finds it. His writing is overtly political in a way that draws comparison with George Orwell – the subject of two extended essays here. It would be impossible to agree with everything in this book; it is a book which often disagrees with itself. But on subjects as diverse as socialist poetry and neoconservatism, funding for the arts and the anti-war movement, Higgins informs, infuriates and entertains, as any good critic should.

“The importance of Higgins, in particular, in spearheading a whole new poetry reading/performance movement in Ireland over the last decade cannot be overstated…he is important not just to readers who might agree with his political or ideological critiques but also to practitioners and students of poetry itself regardless of their ideological inclinations.” Philip Coleman

“There’s an arresting phrase, a new angle on a writer or a political position you thought you already knew about, in just about every piece here…The insights range from the literary to the existential to the seriously amusing…one of the things Mentioning the War offers, almost incidentally, is an insider’s account of how to learn to write.” John Goodby

Wednesday 4 April 2012


OK who likes Berlin?

The Reader Berlin and EXBERLINER Magazine have announced this pretty awesome short story competition.

The winning authors will have their stories published as part of an anthology and their work will be read by a literary agent. The authors of the best five submissions will also receive an editorial session from The Reader. The overall winner also receives "an exquisite bottle of champagne". (Ooh, fancy!)

Here's the entry details:
"In association with Another Country (world’s 6th best bookshop according to Lonely Planet), The Reader Berlin is holding a short-story competition.

The competition aims to recognize and support original work by unpublished writers. Entry is free.


We would like you to write a short story in which the bookshop Another Country appears. The nature of that appearance, along with genre, setting and theme, is yours to decide. Up to 5,000 words.

The shop might take a starring role as portal to another dimension, be the setting of a lover’s tryst, or merely glimpsed from the back of a taxi. The possibilities are endless and the choice entirely up to you.

We’re looking for originality, style, clarity, precision… and the magic, let’s not be forgetting that.

Closing date: 1st May 2012

Winners will be notified in June and the results announced at the beginning of August 2012. The judges’ decision is final.

All entrants will be invited to a fabulous party to celebrate the winning stories, which will be held in Berlin in summer 2012."

Link here

Tuesday 3 April 2012

The Moth Altun Short Story Prize

    One overall prize of €1,000
    The Prize is open to everyone, as long as the work is original and previously unpublished.
    Please read the RULES before sending your stories (you can enter as many as you like) along
    with an ENTRY FORM to:
    The Moth‒Altun Short Story Prize
    The Moth
    Co. Cavan
    You can also ENTER ONLINE.
    The entry fee is €8 per story (or €9 if paying by money/postal order).
    The prize will be judged by the award-winning novelist and short story writer, Christine Dwyer
    Hickey. You can read an extract from her new novel, The Cold Eye of Heaven, in the autumn 2011
    issue of The Moth.  
Deadline: 30th April

Monday 2 April 2012

10th John Hewitt Spring Festival in the Glens of Antrim

I am a big fan of the witty, thoughtful writing of Mavis Cheek in particular.

Friday 20th April and Saturday 21st April 2012
The Londonderry Arms Hotel, Carnlough, County Antrim

With Mavis Cheek, Kapka Kassabova, Hector McDonnell, Moya Cannon, Martin Mooney, Eoghan Walls, Heather Richardson, Bernie McGill, Cahal Dallat and Anne-Marie Fyfe

Fri 20 Apr

7:00pm Creative Writing Workshop ~ Eoghan Walls

Eoghan Walls has a BA (Hons) English and Philosophy from University College, Dublin; International Baccalaureate,UCW Atlantic College, Wales; MA in Creative Writing, Queen's University, Belfast; PhD in English Literature, Seamus Heaney Centre, Queen's University. He's won an Eric Gregory Award and a number of scholarships/bursaries. He has taught English in Ireland as well as in Heidelberg, Rwanda, and for the Open University, has published academic papers on philosophy and literature. His first full poetry collection is 'The Salt Harvest'(Seren, 2011).

Sat 21 Apr

11:00am Coffee

11:15am Great Northern Novel

For fiction-fans, the Hewitt Spring Festival's own annual, ongoing Big-Read, the 'Great Northern Novel' debate continues, with poet Martin Mooney (see afternoon event) and novelists Heather Richardson ('Magdeburg', Lagan, 2010) and Bernie McGill ('The Butterfly Cabinet', Headline, 2010) all championing the merits of three more outstanding novels from this part of the world, most recent being David Park's topical 'The Truth Commissioner', preceded by David Martin's haunting Troubles/Civil-War novel 'The Road to Ballyshannon' and Janet McNeill's socially perceptive
'The Maiden Dinosaur'.

1:00pm Lunch

2:30pm The Art of Hope
Hector McDonnell (in conversation) on life, art, the world

From a family long established in the Glens, the 'chosen place' where John Hewitt found cautious optimism in his fellow-Northerners' ability to live together, West-Belfast-born artist Hector McDonnell has studied in Germany, exhibited in London, Vienna, Paris, Madrid, Hong Kong, Stuttgart, Darmstadt, Brussels, Belfast, Dublin and New York, and now divides his time between Glenarm and New York as 'a painter who celebrates life wherever he finds it',(according to John Julius Norwich), painting (among other places) pre- and post-9/11 Manhattan, Tibet and Rwanda.

4:30pm The Poetry of Hope
Moya Cannon, Martin Mooney, Eoghan Walls
and the Poetry of John Hewitt

Three Irish poets take turns to select from, and respond to, themes from John Hewitt's poems, with readings of their own work. Have Hewitt's concerns, and the issues that engaged his generation, from identity and conflict to love of landscape and lore, been replaced by newer, more immediate matters? Or do today's poets find an echo, in their own work, of the explorations of artists and writers from a quarter-century, a half-century ago? Featuring: Eoghan Walls (see above), Moya Cannon (b. Dunfanaghy, 4th collection, 'Hands', Carcanet, 2011) and Martin Mooney (b. Belfast, 4th collection, 'The Resurrection of the Body at Killysuggen', Lagan, 2011).

6:30pm Drinks Reception

7:00pm Dinner

8:30pm The State We're In
Mavis Cheek and Kapka Kassabova

Two writers with strikingly different takes on the contemporary world: Kapka Kassabova first joined us at the Hewitt Summer School with poems of childhood in, and exile from, her native Bulgaria; her latest, 'Twelve Minutes of Love: A Tango Story' takes passion, romance and the exotic in its confident stride. And Mavis Cheek has built an outstandingly popular reputation (15 novels to her credit and currently Royal Literary Fellow at Chichester University) with her witty satires on the hopes, dreams and deluded expectations of contemporary life, ('...wicked social observation', according to Fay Weldon).

All Day Bookstall on Saturday
Courtesy of No Alibis
83 Botanic Avenue, Belfast BT7 1JL
Tel: 028 9031 9601

Evening ~ Creative writing workshop £12
Full day including lunch & dinner £45 (£38 concs)
Half day including dinner £30
Half day including lunch £25
Individual events £8 each at the door (Saturday)

Sunday 1 April 2012

Trinity Access Programme

“I never knew you could just walk in here, like.” A man said to me as we crossed the cobblestones of Trinity on the way to the Long Library where his son was launching his book. “I grew up in the flats on Pearse St. And I’ve never been in here.” He was looking around in amazement. There is something startling about Trinity College. Most local people just walk around the walls but if you slip inside you are in an alternative universe. Cherry trees in blossom, young men in whites playing cricket on the wide green lawns, students lolling about under trees engrossed in animated, passionate conversations, mad old math professors scurrying along the cobblestones who probably haven’t been out of the gates to the other side in decades. It always reminds me of those Persian walled gardens. The gates to a hidden part of paradise right in the city center. The dad actually hesitated on the steps of the Library that housed the Book Of Kells. In contrast, his 12 year old son exhibited no such awe, and ran right in, and hared up the stairs to the Long Library, where we were launching an exhibition of 85 books written over a six week period in three disadvantaged national schools. 
Hannah Maguire, is a visual artist, and I am a writer and artist; we were funded last year by Trinity Access Program, in conjunction with the Pollard Collection, to develop a unique creative project that explores the mystery of books. Starting with a rigorous story analysis of classic and popular fiction, we get the child to write their own story using imaginative meditation, mind mapping, structured writing exercises, descriptive language elevation, final editing, and incorporation of illustration. Each child gets to write, illustrate, bind, cover and keep forever their own individual work of art.
We have taken the project to many schools in the meantime.
This is our second year doing the project for Trinity, the three schools are: Assumption in Walkingstown; O’Connell’s beside Croke Park; and St Lawrence’s in Sherriff St. 
One of the aims of the Trinity Access Program is to bring nontraditional students into Trinity. This project is part of our outreach program in national schools. The kids are brought in on the first day to view the Pollard Collection, The Book of Kells, and take a creative writing class, illustration class, and most importantly have lunch at the Buttery. Hopefully, it demystifies college for them and makes them feel a part of the place. 
Often there is a push in these schools for literacy, and many of them have done book projects before. But all the teachers say this particular one we have developed is different. Whereas some projects get the class as a whole to write a book, they are at first amazed and daunted that we expect each child to produce their own separate book for themselves. For an adult to write and illustrate a book in six weeks would be an extraordinary feat. Inevitably, there is a wide range of abilities in every class room, but the outcome is quite stunning. From the beginning, once we hand out the books, and talk to them about the good Italian paper we are using, there is a level of care, pride and competition that has surprised even Hannah and I. The one thing that strikes us is that we have never had a child lose interest yet. And that’s saying something. 
Many of the kids tell us that they hadn’t realized how hard it was to write and illustrate a book. Though we adhere to a strict classical story telling structure, that is necessary in the creation of a coherent narrative, the kids are allowed to write about anything they choose. We have dragons, licorice monsters in candy land, zombies, mermaids, three headed dogs and chain-saw bats. 
Hannah guides them through a sophisticated range of illustration techniques, using close-ups, battle scenes, cartoon strips, lift up flaps, and self portraits to make the books as visually arresting and varied as the writing. The key to the success of this project is that by getting each student to create their own work this opens a door to a deeper understanding of the magical world of books. 
At the end of the six weeks we bind and hard cover the books. Each book looks as beautiful as the next. Though the Long Library has asked the kids to donate their books to the collection, not one of them has ever done it. 
The long Library is one of those sacred places, and the first things the kids always ask is, “Are there Ghosts here?” Yes I tell them. 
I also tell them that when they finally get to Trinity in 6 years time they will be able to walk by the Long Library and tell their friends that they once had a book on display with the Book of Kells. 
They kids look at me, shrug, and then demand, “When do we get our books back?”

The books were launched on Tuesday 27th of March in the Long Library at Trinity College at 6.30pm. They will be on view for two weeks.

Originally published on the Creativity and Literacy Blog here