Wednesday 30 May 2012

Boyne Berries Open for Submissions

Submissions of poetry and prose are now being accepted for Boyne Berries. The Boyne Writers Group publish this magazine of poetry and prose, twice a year, in March and September.

The first issue of the magazine was published in March 07 and issue No 11 was launched in March 2012.

Submissions will be open until the end of July 2012. Material from these submissions will be included in issue 12, September 2012, and issue 13, March 2013.

Poetry: Send no more than three poems. Each poem should be 60 lines or under.
Prose: Stories etc should be under 1000 words. Send no more than two prose pieces.

Submission details in the lower part of page here.

You can purchase a copy of Boyne Berries online by using the Buy Now button on this page.

Tuesday 29 May 2012

Many Salmon Poets

I can't get to this books launch as I am reading myself in Maynooth. If you are not in the environs of Maynooth, but are in the environs of Dublin city centre, get along and see these fab poets.

Salmon Poetry launches four brilliant debut collections of poetry:

Thanks for Nothing, Hippies by Sarah Clancy
Don't Go There by Colm Keegan
The Book of Water by John Murphy
Jewel by Peadar O'Donoghue

Date: Thursday, May 31, 2012
Time: 6.30pm
Venue: The Unitarian Church, 112 St Stephen’s Green West, Dublin 2

All are welcome - please join us for what promises to be a fabulous evening of poetry.

A relative newcomer to the poetry world, Sarah Clancy has been writing poetry for just over two years. During this time she has had the good fortune to be shortlisted for several poetry prizes including the Listowel Collection of Poetry Competition and the Patrick Kavanagh Award. Her poems have been published in Revival Poetry Journal, The Stony Thursday Book, The Poetry Bus, Irish Left Review and in translation in Cuadrivio Magazine (Mexico). She was the winner of the Cúirt International Festival of Literature Grand Slam 2011. In Spring 2012 a poem of hers received second prize in the Ballymaloe International Poetry Competition.

Colm Keegan has read and performed his poetry at various festivals, including the Flat Lakes Festival, Electric Picnic and the Festival of World Cultures. He was the All Ireland Slam Poetry Champion in 2010. In 2008 he was shortlisted for the International Seán Ó Faoláin Short Story Competition. In 2011 he was nominated for the Absolut Fringe’s ‘Little Gem’ Award for the play Three Men Talking About Things They Kinda Know About (co-written with Kalle Ryan and Stephen James Smith) which is touring 2012/2013.  He is a poetry/arts reviewer and contributing poet for RTE Radio One’s nightly arts show ARENA and co-founder of ‘Nighthawks at the Cobalt’.

John Murphy lives and works in Dublin. He was educated at Trinity College where he received his Ph.D in 1994. He is a computer scientist and has taught at Dublin City University for the last twenty years. John was shortlisted twice for the Hennessy/Sunday Tribune New Irish Writing prize, he was also shortlisted for the Bridport Prize and specially commended in the Patrick Kavanagh Award. He has won prizes in the Boyle Arts Festival poetry Competition and in the UK in the international Blue Nose poetry competition.

Peadar O’Donoghue has had poems published in Poetry Ireland Review, The SHOp, Revival, Bare Hands Poetry, Can Can, and The Burning Bush. He has also published flash fiction in Ink Sweat and Tears. He founded, runs, and edits The Poetry Bus Magazine, an innovative journal of art, fiction and poetry, accompanied by a CD of the poets reading their work. 

Saturday 26 May 2012

Wine and Poetry

Wine and poetry go together like bread and cheese, like penguins and icebergs, like sunshine and cutgrass.
So get to Maynooth, Carton  House Golf Club Bar where there will be tastings of about ten wonderful wines, diverse in origin, taste and price. Interspersed with some 
wine inspired poetry from three award winning poets.
Iggy McGovern, a fantastic, witty poet from Coleraine, published by Dedalus Press, also a physics professor at Trinity, and Eleanor Hooker, a thoughtful poet in full control of all her words from North Tipperary, published by Dedalus Press and a lifeboat helm and Kate Dempsey, a Maynooth based poet who reads her poetry at events and festivals all over Ireland, published by Moth Editions.
It’s Thursday 31st May, at 8pm in Carton House Golf Club Bar.  

All welcome.
€10 in.
You can pay on the day.

Friday 25 May 2012

Poets to Check Out - Brendan Kennelly

A very interesting poem about power. The Visitor.

Thursday 24 May 2012

Ledbury Poetry Festival Poetry Competition 2012

Ledbury Poetry Festival Poetry Competition 2012
Judge: Ian Duhig
Closing date: Tuesday 3rd July 2012

Ledbury Poetry Festival is re-launching its competition with a fabulous first prize of £1000 cash and a residential course at Tŷ Newydd, The National Writer’s Centre for Wales. Tŷ Newydd is renowned for its excellent writing courses, taught by outstanding poets, in a beautiful setting.

We are delighted that Ian Duhig has agreed to judge all entries: Ian has published six books of poetry, most recently Pandorama (Picador 2010). He has won the Forward Best Poem Prize, the National Poetry Competition twice, been shortlisted three times for the T.S. Eliot Prize and is a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

Adults: First Prize £1000 and a week at Tŷ Newydd
Second Prize £500
Third Prize £250
See website for details of Young People and Children’s competition section.

Winners have the opportunity to read their poems at next year’s Ledbury Poetry Festival.

Go to for further details of our poetry competition and to download an entry form, or telephone 0845 458 1743 and we will put a leaflet in the post for you.

Entry fees: first poem £5, for each subsequent poem £3.
Children and Young People free for first poem.

Ledbury Poetry Festival: Date for the diary 29th June – 8th July 2012. If you wish to join our email list and receive a programme in May email:

Wednesday 23 May 2012

Haiku Reading

 Out of Japan

A way of seeing expressed in Haiku form

“Suddenly the sun rose
to the scent of plum blossoms
along the mountain path”
Basho (1644-1649)

“Someone is living there;
smoke leaks through the wall
in the spring rain”
Buson (1716-1784)

Readings from classic haiku poets from Japan followed by contemporary Irish Haiku with associated music at The Lantern Centre on Friday 25th May 2012 at 19.30

Lantern Centre
17 Synge Street Dublin 8

Contact number: 085.7710803 (Dermot)

- entrance fee by donation -

Tuesday 22 May 2012

Barbara Smith: The Angels' Share

Barbara is a super poet and a legendary Poetry Diva so make sure to check out her second collection

23th May 2012
Barbara Smith: The Angels' Share

All are welcome to the launch (sponsored by Create Louth) of The Angel's Share, a collection of poetry from Barbara Smith, published by Doghouse books and launched by poet Enda Coyle-Greene.
Venue: The Basement Gallery, Dundalk Town Council, Crowe St, Dundalk, Co Louth
Time: 6pm
Admission: Free

You can preorder a copy online from doghouse books now.

There may still be some copies of her first collection, Kairos if you're lucky.

Monday 21 May 2012

The Stinging Fly is in Drogheda on May 26 and May 30 for two events in association with Droichead Arts Centre.

Saturday, May 26: Fiction workshop with Sean O'Reilly
Short-story writer and novelist, Sean O'Reilly, will lead a fiction workshop, focusing on work in progress. Each participant will be expected to submit work in advance, and all work submitted will be shared prior to the workshop. In-depth discussion of participants' work will form the basis of the workshop.
Tickets for the workshop can be booked at:
Early booking is encouraged and participants should submit their work in progress (a short story or 10-15 pages from a longer pieces) as soon as possible. Work in progress should be sent to
Time: 10am-5pm
Cost: €50
Wednesday, May 30: Stinging Fly Showcase Event
With readings by the novelist, Emer Martin, short-story writer, Mary Costello, and poets, Alan Jude Moore and Leeanne Quinn. Plus music from special guest, Briana Corrigan (The Beautiful South), who has recently released her second solo album, Redbird.
Time: 7:30pm
If you have any questions about these events, please email Declan Meade (

Sunday 20 May 2012

Poetry Ireland Introductions

The Poetry Ireland Introductions Series, offering a showcase reading to poets working towards a first collection (or with a first collection already published), 22nd May features Derek Coyle, Cal Doyle, Gerry Galvin and Judy Russell.
The second in the series - on 24 May - with  Michael J Whelan, Doireann Ní Ghríofa,  Kevin Graham and Patrick Toland.

Venue: The Irish Writers’ Centre, 19 Parnell Square, D1

Time: 6.30pm

Saturday 19 May 2012

Michael Farry: Asking for Directions

Anyone in or near Co Meath 21 May 2012, the launch of the very talented poet, Michael Farry's collection.

All are welcome to the launch (supported by Meath County Council Arts Office) of Asking for Directions, a collection of poetry from Michael Farry, published by Doghouse books and launched by writer and broadcaster Pat Dunne.
Venue: Castle Arch Hotel, Trim, Co Meath

Time: 8pm

Admission: Free


Friday 18 May 2012

Burning Bush Submissions

I have never been a huge fan of online Poetry Mags as some seem to have no editorial filtering whatsoever but recently there has been a spate of new mags or old mags going online with some poems worth reading.

Of course, the business model with little or no advertising possible and no subscription income, means no payment for the poets so bear that in mind.

And some embrace the multimedia posssibilities more enthusiastically and imaginatively than others. Why so few mp3s or videos?

Burning Bush, a revival of a mag that used to be based in Galway, revived by Alan Jude Moore.  There are some terrific poems, well worth a dip

Patrick Chapman, Kevin Higgins, Nuala Ni Chonchuir, Dave Lordan, Sarah Maria Griffin etc. Hardly any women, I notice. Maybe they'll address that for the next issue. Maybe more women need to submit.

Submission should be no bigger than 4 poems, in the body of an email, to

The closing date for receipt of submissions is 10 June.

Thursday 17 May 2012

Yeovil prize

This competition is unusual in that it includes the novel.
  • Entries may have appeared online but may not have been published in any commercial online form (e.g. in a journal or magazine, or as a publication requiring payment to access.)
You have to be careful these days as come competitions insist that entries may not have appeared online.
  • The word count for the Short Story category is 2,000 words. All genres accepted.
  • In the Poetry category each poem should have a maximum of 40 lines.
  • Novel entries must have a synopsis, and either the first three chapters, or, the first (up to) 15,000 words, whichever is relevant. Do not exceed the combined word count of 15,000 words. 
Judges for 2012.
Sophie Hannah , who is the author of many books for children, collections of poetry and several psychological crime novels, will judge the Novel category
Sue Freestone, who has a wealth of experience in the publishing world, will judge our Short Story category
Multi-talented Louis de Bernières, who writes poetry, novels and short stories, will judge our Poetry category.

Category 1 Novel - The Betty Bolingbroke-Kent Award Great opportunity for creative writers Excellent cash prizes
Requirement : Synopsis and Opening Chapters (combined maximum 15,000 words)
Prizes : 1st £1000 2nd £250 3rd £100
Entry Fee : £11

Category 2 Short Story Requirement : maximum 2,000 words
Prizes 1st £500 2nd £200 3rd £100
Entry Fee : £6

Category 3 Poetry Requirement : maximum of 40 Lines
Prizes : 1st £500 2nd £200 3rd £100
Entry Fee : £6 ; £9 for 2 ; £11 for 3

Deadline: 31 st May 2012
Link here

Wednesday 16 May 2012

Bridport Prize

This is one of the most prestigious writing contests in the British literary calendar.

Do you have a really good poem or short story? Or a few? I mean, really really good?

poem - no more than 42 lines
short story - no more than 5,000 words.   
flash fiction category - stories of up to 250 words 

This year’s judges are Gwyneth Lewis (poems) and Patrick Gale (stories).

    Closing: 31 May 12.
    Prizes: In each of the main categories (Short Stories, Poems) - £5,000, £1,000, £500.  There are also ten runners-up prizes of £50.  These are called ‘supplementary prizes’ to make you feel less like an also-ran.  There is in addition a special prize of £100 and a perpetual trophy for the highest placed writer from Dorset.  Prizes in the Flash Fiction category are £1,000, £500, £250, plus three supplementary awards of £25.  The top 13 short stories will be entered for the National Short Story Prize worth £15,000, and the Sunday Times Short Story Award worth £30,000.  The top four poems will be entered for the Forward Prize.  All winners will be invited to an awards ceremony on October 14 at the Bridport Open Book Festival.

    Entry Fees:Poems - £7.  Short Stories - £8.  Flash Fiction - £6.

    Comp Page: Click Here.

Tuesday 15 May 2012

Frome Festival Short Story Competition 2012

The contest, which is connected to the Frooom Literary Festival, is for stories of between 1,000 and 2,200 words.  
judges : Crime writer Peter Lovesey and novelist Maria McCann.

    Closing: 31 May 12.

    Prizes: £300, £150, £75.  In addition there are prizes for local writers

Winning stories are broadcast on radio - FromeFM no less. 
The winning stories are read by Literary agent Jane Judd who offers welcomed feedback to the authors.  A batch of stories are also sent to Women’s Weekly magazine which are often purchased.
    Entry Fee: £5.

    Comp Page: Click Here where you can also read last year's winners to get an idea of what they are looking for.

Monday 14 May 2012

Dún a Rí Forest Park

OK I know this is very late notice but I thought I'd blogged about this before. Sorry...

Cavan Arts Office has launched a short story competition inspired by the magic of Dún a Rí Forest Park, Kingscourt, County Cavan. Do you have what it takes to enter? There’s a chance to win €500!

Cavan Arts Office is searching for a short story that will bring the magic of Dún a Rí Forest Park alive. It is looking for stories that are inspired by the Forest and also by the Public Art pieces themselves. In essence, the Arts Office is searching for someone to write a modern fairytale that has its origins in the Irish tradition of storytelling and folklore. It is hoped that the winining story will be a modern-day legend that comments on contemporary Irish society as well as drawing upon the myths and history of the Dún a Rí Forest Park.
Literary compositions are judged on their technical merit; however artistic expression is our core criterion. We are looking for writing with a strong, clear voice by authors who are daring, original and unafraid to take risks. Other aspects such as relevance to the context are also taken into consideration.

The winning story will be published in e-book format and formally launched in August 2012.

Prize: The winner will also be awarded €500 and a commemorative scroll.

Deadline: All entries must be submitted on-line by 4pm on Thursday 17th May 2012.

Entries must be from emerging, unpublished writers. - OK what does that mean?

more digging finds this:

You must be an emerging writer and have not yet published any previous work, (excluding magazine articles, anthologies, ezines, self-published work)  

I think this excludes me then. 

The work can be no longer that 2,000 words

Spoken Word or Fiction.

Free to enter

More here

Point to think about. This is not well publicised so the number of entries may be low.

Sunday 13 May 2012

Poetic Forms - Triolet

Part x in a very occasional series of poetic forms. The Triolet.

a poem or stanza of eight lines in which the first line is repeated as the fourth and seventh and the second line as the eighth with a rhyme scheme of ABaAabAB

Got that?

Here's one of mine (actually the only one I'll own to)

She Stoops to Conker

My daughter and I in the woods gathered
holly and cones for a winter display.
The locals tattled tales; I overheard
my daughter and I in the woods gathered
scarlet toadstools,  moth wings, eye of blackbird -
a much better tale this eve than to say,
my daughter and I in the woods gathered
holly and cones for a winter display.

So  "My daughter and I in the woods gathered" appears in lines 1, 4 and 7.
"holly and cones for a winter display." appears in lines 2 and 8.
and lines 1,3,4,5 and 7 rhyme as do 2,6 and 8.

So the lines must bear repeating. Ideally the line must have a slightly different meaning or feeling when you hear them again.You can mess around with the punctuation, if that helps and some poets may even mess with the prepostitions, but that's not very hard core.

The origin is supposed to be French medieval poetry but it's not uncommon now.

It looks so simple and yet it's a tricky one to master. It has been used cleverly for some horror poems as the simple, lyrical form and the repetitions can make scary stuff seem more menacing.

You can have a look at a triolet by Wendy Cope here, with some brilliant rhymes and another here.

It is a close cousin to other strict rhyming forms with repetition, such as the Rondeau, Villenelle and Pantoum. I may cover these in a later post in this very occasional series, but I'm not promising anything!

Saturday 12 May 2012

Words on the Street - European Literature Night 2012‏

Another day celebrated in many countries. There's quite a lot of them, aren't there?!

Words on the Street - European Literature Night will happen in cities across Europe on the same night - Wednesday 16th May.

In Dublin well known Irish people will read in English contemporary writing from twelve European countries in twelve venues, many of which are unusual and not normally easily accessible to the public.

Joe Duffy, Mary Kennedy, Sharon Ní Bheoláin, the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Donal McIntyre, Brian Kennedy, Tom Hickey, Owen Roe, Breandán de Gallaí and authors Bernard McLaverty & Joe Dunthorne will be joined by others in places such as The Chapter House in Christ Church (normally closed to the public), the Undercroft in Dublin Castle, Smock Alley Theatre, Gallery Number One, Tailor's Hall, Werburgh St Church (burial place of Lord Edward Fitzgerald & usually closed), Council Chamber in City Hall, Contemporary Music Centre, Gutter Bookshop, St. Audeon's Church (only remaining medieval church in Dublin), Lord Edward pub and Exhibition Space in City Hall.

A map showing the location of the venues with information about the readers and readings will enable the public to move from venue to venue - all of which are in the Temple Bar West/ Christ Church area. The map will be available from libraries in Dublin, Failte Ireland tourist offices, National Library and the venues.

The twelve participating countries will each be represented by a short (15 minutes) translated piece of a novel, poem or short story which will be read every 30 minutes so people can wander from venue to venue taking in readings from Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Malta, Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Poland, Romania, Spain & Wales. The first reading in each venue starts at 6.30pm and is repeated on the hour and half hour with the final reading at 9pm.

First launched in Prague, it has now become a major international cultural event promoting European cultural heritage by presenting contemporary writers, well-known and newcomers to the broader European public.

This is the first time this has happened in Dublin but we hope it could become an annual event.

A Dublin UNESCO City of Literature project in partnership with Alliance Francaise, British Council, Goethe Institute, Instituto Cervantes, Italian Institute of Culture, embassies of Austria, Belgium, Malta, Netherlands, Poland, Romania and the Romanian Cultural Institute

Friday 11 May 2012

Token for Foundlings

This is a forthcoming anthology about childhood published by Seren for the benefit of the Foundling Museum in London. Token for Foundlings  is edited by Tony Curtis and will include poems by Gillian Clarke, Carol Ann Duffy, Don Paterson, Siobhan Campbell, Seamus Heaney, Michael Longley, George Szirtes among many others, all of whom have donated their work. 

Come along to the Irish launch of Token for Foundlings on May 17th at 7p.m. in the Irish Writers Centre. Readings from Jane Clakre, Tom Lavelle and Welsh poets, Gillian Clarke and Tony Curtis.

West Cork Literary Festival

8 - 14 July 2012

 Sir Michael Parkinson, John McCarthy, Anita Desai, Paul Muldoon, Romesh Gunesekera, Kevin Barry and Anita Shreve are just some of the headliners at the 2012 West Cork Literary Festival, in Bantry, West Cork. This year's festival is  celebrating the maritime heritage - from Brendan the Navigator to Wolfe Tone, from longboats, and the French non-invasion, to the forthcoming visit of the Atlantic Challenge to Bantry with The Bantry Bay Series, which will include readings and talks based on all sorts of matters nautical, as well as a reading on an Irish Navy vessel.

Another theme this year is Writers in Peril; the first evening's event is an interview with journalist and broadcaster John McCarthy, who was kidnapped and held for five and a half years on his on his first foreign assignment to Beirut in 1986. Throughout the week, in association with Amnesty International the festival honours those who risk their lives in order to write, report, blog and tweet for the benefit and enlightenment of us all.
One of the innovations in the 2012 festival is Writer Idol, a fun event which affords aspiring writers the opportunity to submit their work for an on-the-spot assessment by a high-powered panel, featuring Anita Shreve, Marianne Gunne-O'Connor, actress Kate Thompson and Suzanne Babaneau, Senior Consulting Editor with Simon & Schuster.

 Other highlights of this annual festival, which has attracted writers with international reputations to the beautiful West Cork town of Bantry will include Dava Sobel, Christine Dwyer-Hickey, Dermot Healy, Claire Kilroy, Chris Stewart, Noo Saro-Wiwa, Gerald Dawe, Colm O'Gorman, Theo Dorgan, Alex Scarrow and many more.

 There will also be late-night readings in Bantry Courthouse with authors Liam Ó Muirthile and Michael Clifford as well as thriller duo, Nicci French, and, for a change of pace, Afternoon Tea with Jane Urquhart.

 As usual, the festival is hosting a series of diverse workshops, from Flash Fiction to how to write a Comic Novel, Songwriting with Jamie Lawson, poetry with Dermot Healy, Fiction and Novel Writing with Glenn Patterson and Claire Kilroy, Journalism with Lorna Siggins, Teenage Writers workshop with Dave Lordan and the Short Story with Tessa Hadley.

 The JG Farrell Award runs for the third year and invites entries from aspiring novelists from Munster. The prize for the best first chapter of a novel-in-progress is a place on Claire Kilroy's Novel Writing workshop and accommodation in the Maritime Hotel, Bantry.
The Children's Festival at West Cork has always been strong with readings, workshops and special events and this year organisers are very proud to present, Anne Fine, a distinguished writer for both adults and children.

The West Cork Literary Festival, July 8th - 14th, is organised by West Cork Music in partnership with the Cork County Library and Arts Service and funded by the Arts Council and Fáilte Ireland. Booking for readings or Workshops is on 027  52788 or through

Thursday 10 May 2012

Five Minute Play Competition

This for playwrights and dramacists

Scripts for original 5-minute plays are now being accepted by the Swift Satire Festival, Trim, Co Meath, for performance during this year’s festival on Sunday, July 8.

A shortlist of 5 plays will be selected for competition. Entrants on this shortlist will be required to stage their own play with their own cast. Each play must include a character called Gulliver. Casts are limited to three characters.

Entry fee is €5 per play. First prize €300; €50 each for the four runners-up, with a €100 audience prize for the best play (decided on votes by the audience).

Closing date for entries is Friday, June 1. The shortlist of five finalists will be selected, and authors informed, by Friday, June 8.

Enquiries and rules from or to Paddy Smith, 25 St Johns, Trim, Co Meath, 086 1577526.

The Swift Satire Festival (formerly the Trim Swift Festival) is a celebration of the life, times and heritage of the writer, Jonathan Swift (1667-1745), who lived in the Trim area for many years.

Wednesday 9 May 2012

What not to say (please)

Other things you hear:
  • I'm on a roll. I wrote 5 poems today - but they're not very good yet
  • I average 10 pages a day - but they're not very good yet
  • Oh that novel's on the back burner now, not quite finished. I'm starting a new one - you have to finish a novel to get it published
  • I thought, I can write better than ...(fill in the blanks here) - but they did it first
  • I mean, how hard can it be? - very
  • My mum/kids/best friend loves it and she/they/he reads a lot - unless they work in publishing, this doesn't help
  • I have the cover sorted already - not going to happen, unless you self publish
  • I was thinking Ashton Kushter for the lead when they make it into a film - yeah right
  • What does an agent do for you anyway? - quite a lot
  • I was never any good at spelling. I let the spellchecker/grammar checker handle that for me - eh no.
  • The editor can fix the punctuation, that's what they're for, right? - eh no
  • It's Twilight meets Upstairs Downstairs meets The Artist - no it's not
  • How much of an advance should I expect?- very very little for a first time novelist, nothing for a poetry collection
  • I've given up the day job -  please no
  • No I don't ever read any modern poetry - how can you write it then?
  • No I don't read in the genre I'm writing in - how can you write it then?
  • I've finished it today. Can I email it to you? - eh no
  • I know the rules said 2,000 words but they're only guidelines. 3,000 is fine. - No it's not
Any to add?!

Monday 7 May 2012

Festival of the Fires

The Hill of Uisneach - a magical place. More magical and fun every year. We kicked off on Natasha's Living Food Stage.

Where we launched into our foody, drinkie, luscious set. It's a lovely stage, tent two or three times bigger than last year with cushions and yummy raw food.
Then we went for a meander about the site and caught up with some bands and food and art and the lovely man at the chips and coffee van.

This craftsman was here last year and here's the weathered face he did then.
Here's the lovely head, all a little mother earth. I hug trees in private myself.

We tracked down the legendary secret stage behind the lake and drew in the crowds quite successfully for our second reading - an acerbic feminist set . Note Diva Babe below reaching for the all important Diva fuel (Gordons and tonic in a can) And then, OMG, here we are actually named on the festival T-Shirt. The fame! I bought a hoodie, very toasty for the chilly evening. 
Off to see some more bands - impressed with Bressie, a generous home coming.

And finally the fire parade and fires. There's something enjoyably primeval about bonfires.

Sean O'Faolain International Short Story Competition

I like the idea of lavish

Deadline: 31 July. 
Judge: Ian Wild.

First Prize: €2,000 (*approx $2690.82/ £1685.27), publication in the literary journal Southword, AND a week-long residency at Anam Cara Writer's and Artist's Retreat. 
Second Prize: €500 and publication in Southword. 
Four other shortlisted entries will be selected for publication in Southword and receive a publication fee of €120.

The Seán Ó Faoláin Short Story Competition is an annual short story competition dedicated to one of Ireland’s most accomplished story writers and theorists, sponsored by the Munster Literature Centre. If the winner comes to Cork to collect their prize, we will lavish them with hotel accommodation, meals, drinks and VIP access to the literary stars at the Cork International Short Story Festival (19 - 23 September 2012). 

You can read previous winners here

The competition is open to original, unpublished and unbroadcast short stories in the English language of 3,000 words or fewer. The story can be on any subject, in any style, by a writer of any nationality, living anywhere in the world. Unfortunately, translated work is not in the scope of this competition.

Each entry must be accompanied by an entry fee of €15, US $20 or £15.

Sunday 6 May 2012

Interview with poet Enda Coyle-Greene

Hi Enda and welcome. First, how did you get into poetry?

I think it was rather that poetry got into me when I was far too young to be intimidated by it. It was probably the musicality of a poem like, “Mise Raifteirí an File”, for instance, that drew me in. When I was growing up, I was surrounded by music as my mother was a piano teacher and had trained as an opera singer. My siblings played instruments, the violin and the guitar, and both went on to a lifetime’s active involvement with music. I was the eldest, and I think the assumption was that I’d take over the mantle of piano player. But although music is and always will be central to me, I kept being pulled towards words. As a child it seemed to me that poetry was music on a page, the best poems jumped out at me like heard tunes.
Because there was always music in the house, and I associated poetry so closely with music, I never thought that the avid reading or writing of it marked me out as being special or different in any way to my friends who had other, probably much healthier, interests. I had a couple of tiny poems published when I was about nine or ten and remember thinking how strange it was to see my own name in print underneath them. It felt as if somebody else had written them. It’s still like that sometimes.
I wrote all through my teens and early twenties and there is a box out there somewhere, full of my angsts and adorations. It went missing sometime in the late ‘70s and I hope it never shows up.
But for reasons of my own I never really considered submitting anything I wrote as an adult – until I joined a writing group and started sending out to journals and competitions simply because that’s what everyone else was doing. It was good for getting me to try to complete a piece of work instead of constantly revisiting it. I can quite happily spend hours moving a comma in and out of a sentence so deadlines are good! 

I have heard it said that every poet be able to write in form, much as every driver should be able to parallel park. Do you find writing in form restrictive or liberating?

Whether it’s liberating or restrictive all depends on how you approach it. I know that if I were to sit down with the intention of writing a sonnet, for instance, that the impetus of the poem could be very likely ‘stopped’ because of that intention. At the earliest stages of a poem’s gestation, when it’s still extremely tenuous, I try hard not to impose myself too much on it. But unless one is writing Haiku – and that’s such an interesting consciousness – I don’t think anyone ever sits down with the shape or length of any poem already decided; that a poem is going to have say, four lines per stanza, six stanzas in total, or whatever. Even if you write in free verse all the time it just doesn’t work that way, does it?  
However I do know that staying within the defined contours of a particular form has sometimes prevented me from getting distracted by a subject to which I’m perhaps a bit too close. If I had a poem like that buzzing around in my head somewhere, I might turn to form to see if it would free me into writing a poem that is centred, more honest. And it often has, so yes, that would be an example of form being liberating.
There’s that famous quote from Adrienne Rich about form being like asbestos gloves to be used for handling a difficult subject – and Anne Sexton said something similar – with which I would concur.
In an interview a year or so ago, Paul Farley said that, “Engaging with form – any form – means that there’s at least a chance you’ll say something you weren’t going to say.” I hope he doesn’t mind my quoting him verbatim here, but I remember reading that sentence, recognising the experience, and agreeing so wholeheartedly that I actually cut out the interview and kept it.  
Again, with me it’s that intent thing – I might have a vague idea, more of a feeling really, and if I try it in form, sometimes the form just seems to take up the resulting poem and surprise me.
In the end though, the poem that wants to be written is invariably the one that will be written, irrespective of whether you’re using form or writing in free verse. It’s what falls out on the page that matters so it’s best not to have too closed a mind about it.
I also feel though that if you are accepting of the traditional forms, and can see why they have endured, you might be inclined to be more open and curious about other perhaps experimental ways of making your own poems.
Ultimately I suppose my view would be that if form is part of the armoury or equipment of being a poet – and it is – even if you don’t, or can’t use it, you shouldn’t abuse it. Some poets write in form, some poets don’t, and some poets do some of the time. And parallel parking? Most drivers can, and as you well know, I avoid it whenever possible… 

How long were you writing before your first collection was published and how would you summarise the path you followed?

I’ve always felt that there is enormous pressure on poets to produce a first collection,but a lot of it can be self-inflicted. When your poems start appearing in journals etc. you get asked about a book until you almost feel obliged to declare that you’re working towards one. I probably said as much myself at times. But in reality I had so many other things happening – a family, a job that demanded a lot of my time and attention, and a contingent life – that I resisted allowing something as central and necessary to my own existence as writing poetry to come on board as any type of pressure.
All I really wanted to do was to concentrate on the poems as they arrived and to hone each one as well as I could. I published in magazines and won prizes for single poems but didn’t even think about a manuscript until I featured in a couple of full manuscript competitions. That was probably when I finally stopped prevaricating and decided that I must be somewhere in the vicinity of a book.
I think it’s important not to bring out a first collection until you’re ready for it, and at that stage I still didn’t feel that I was. Maybe it’s just me, but I always say that once that book is out there you’re going to have to live with it.  
At that stage I had a manuscript into which newer work was being slotted in while other poems died a natural death or just fell by the wayside. Then I had a year in which I was continuously writing poems that seemed to belong more to a narrative that was emerging. I found that while I still had everything worth keeping from the original manuscript, including some of the very early poems, the collection had completely shape-shifted.
When I submitted it for the Kavanagh Award it had thirty-something poems, one of which I decided to take out of the eventual, published book.
That’s the long answer – the short one would be that I took my time!   

You’re working on your second collection now, many poems of which you started on your MA in Queen’s Belfast. How many would you already have published in magazines first before you decide to collect them in a book? How do you think a second collection is different to a first, typically?

I like to leave a poem to ‘set’ before I begin to think about submitting it. I could be walking around doing something else altogether when an alternative way of saying a line might randomly strike me, and it’s very frustrating if the poem is already out there walking around in the wrong shoes.
I tend to use my writing time for actual writing and when I’m not actively engaged doing that, I organise myself into sending out mode. There is a completely different energy required for deciding which poems to send where, writing covering letters and then proceeding to either the post office or the ‘send’ button.
But I think it’s important for poems to have had a life of their own in the magazines before they are collected. It’s good if a poem can sit comfortably beside poems by other poets and it can give you a feeling for what is working, what isn’t, and what perhaps never will.
Of the poems in ‘Snow Negatives,’ the majority had appeared in journals. With the newer work I’ve magazine published quite a few and am currently living in hope for the others! I wouldn’t set myself a quota or anything like that but it’s nice to have some publishing credits in there.
As regards the difference between a first and second collection, I always think it’s a bit like what bands used to say years ago about that much-mythologized second album. For the first one, it’s like you’ve had your whole life almost up to the point of publication to produce the work, while with a second or subsequent book it’s done a little bit quicker.

What would you say that writing non-fiction pieces for Sunday Miscellany takes from and gives to your poetry?

If I’m facilitating a workshop or a class I always re-iterate that old maxim about ‘frisking’ every poem for the superfluous word and the duplicated or redundant image because it’s something I always do myself. Even when I think I might be finished with a poem, I always hold it up and give it several good shakes to see if anything falls out! My least favourite poem is the ‘baggy’ one and it really doesn’t matter to me who has written it; I’ll read it with my mental red pen working overtime all the way down the page. If I find that I’m writing one myself, and can’t prune it, I’ll step away from it and let it go stone cold before I approach it again.
I would apply the same principle to any piece of writing, whether poetry or prose and I wouldn’t see that either one detracts from the other. In fact, writing poetry is
probably very good exercise for saying what you want to say in a non-fiction piece that has to have a clearly defined word limit. In return, I often find that the clarity of thought and precision of imagery needed for a successful piece of prose can only have a favourable influence on whatever poem I might be working on. The two disciplines compliment each other most of the time. 
What advice do you have for new poets?

My advice to anyone beginning to write poetry would be:
  1. I know it sounds obvious but if you are writing poetry, you have to read poetry. Read the journals, print and online, and you’ll have the excitement of being struck by a poem by a particular poet and you’ll remember the name the next time you come across it. You might even go out and buy a full collection by that poet. Poetry journals and publishers need all the support that the writing community can offer. If you are writing, don’t forget that you are part of that community.
  2. Join a good writing group or workshop. And don’t switch off or shuffle pages when someone else’s poem or story is under discussion. If you fully engage with the constructive criticism being offered, you’ll learn more for your own work.
  3. No matter how busy your life is, try to set aside some time every day for yourself in which to write. Take control of some small corner in your home, then shut the door behind you and just get on with it.
What are you working on now?

I’ve recently finished working on the manuscript of my next collection so, for the moment anyway, what’s done is done and I think I can move on a bit. But I still have to decide on a title for it!
I’ve started to make poems that feel very different to anything I’ve done before and am taking each one as it comes. I’m also writing prose and that’s always something I enjoy doing.

Thanks Enda. Here's a link to the first collection, the highly recommended and accomplishe Snow Negatives published by the Dedalus Press.

Saturday 5 May 2012

A Short Story - Saturday's Kiss

It started with a kiss. Or rather the lack of one. I think kisses should be built in to the marital vows. ‘To love, honour and smooch so long as you both shall live.’ Not confined to your courting days. Not merely a precursor to bedroom games or at midnight at New Year’s Eve. Call me a dreamer, but I think of kisses as a husbandly duty. And I didn’t get so much as a peck on my proffered cheek from any of my boys that Saturday, least of all from Mike, my biggest boy. I stomped off and left them sorting out the weekly timetable. Football practise, swimming, horse riding.
Saturdays were freedom. My time.
I had minimal interaction with the mechanic when I dropped the Megane into the garage on the way. A middle-aged woman becomes invisible to everyone bar other middle-aged women. I took the 66A into town. Mike only called three times.
“There’s no sugar.”
“Where’s my wallet?”
“Who is this Kevin I need to pick up from horse riding?”
I had to raise my voice. The whole top deck knew that his wallet was in the hall and Kevin Donnolly was the red-headed boy who had lived next door for the last six years. Yes, that Kevin. I was already frazzled and I hadn’t started spending my freedom time.
My plan has always been to use this time for art galleries, poetry readings and other such cultural happenings. I rarely get as far as making this reality. The new shopping centre and local craft market exert a strong pull. This Saturday was different.
The exhibition I visited was a series of parodies of, or homages to various iconic masterworks. There was a room of Mona Lisas, all smiling enigmatically or frenetically at the people drifting through. A Mona with a fetching pink Mohican and nappy pin through her cheek caught my eye. Studying it was a young couple, entwined around each other. The man was wearing a jacket very like the one Mike wears when we go to school concerts and fundraiser race nights, this being pretty much the extent of our social life now. As I watched, the girl rested her head on his shoulder and he turned and kissed her. It must have lasted less than a second but by the time their lips had parted, I was in the next room feeling twisted in my stomach. Had Mike and I ever been like that? So demonstrative? So close?
I dawdled through a banquet of Last Suppers set in a wide range of dining establishments. Then a parade of Botticelli’s Birth of Venus where the goddesses ranged from obese to anorexic. I didn’t rate the coat hanger version and the sculpture made of balloons hadn’t lasted three hours.
I wound up in a display of variations on Rodin’s ‘The Kiss.’ I wandered around soaking up the sensuousness of them, the way the bodies wrapped around each other, hands on thighs, arms round necks, shoulders stroked, lips on lips, nice tight torsos, eyes shut. It was all very arousing. I sat on the shapeless black bench in the middle and drank it in, imagining myself in their granite embraces.
One sculpture was of two young men. The younger dark-haired Adonis had muscular arms and delicious eyebrows. He reminded me of a boy I had a cavernous crush on at school. The star of the football team and all round hero, built for worshipping. All the girls obliged. At the end of term disco, the gods were favouring me. I managed to snag him for the last slow dance and a long snog. It was a delicious but short lived victory. I relished the look of pure disbelief on the netball captain’s face when the football star put his arm around me and walked me home. To be precise, I walked him home as he lived closer to the hall. That didn’t shatter my illusions about our future. I practised writing our names together until he dumped me the next week for the same netball captain. He had been trying to, and had succeeded in making her very, very jealous.
On the rebound, I dived into the arms of Barry McNevin, a less sought after god. We were together for months. I thought he was heaven, long blond hair, an earring and matching black leather jacket with fringes. I was comparing my memory of his oblong buttocks with the taut posteriors of the two sculptured snoggers when, as if in the story, into the room walked Barry. I could feel him approach before I actually saw him. My skin tingled. The stone buttocks blurred on front of me and I stood up too quickly. My head swam and I staggered towards the bench before I crumpled and embarrassed myself completely. It was one thing to be caught staring at buttocks and another thing altogether to swoon. Two warm hands caught me.
“Whoa. Are you OK?” His voice was soft, almost squidgy.
“Stood up too fast.” I leaned forward taking deep breaths.
“Take deep breaths,” he said and pushed my head towards my knees.
We sat like this for a while, I enjoying the sensation of his hand on my hair though wishing I’d had my roots retouched. I could hear his slow breathing. Someone walked into the room, paused then left again, picking up speed, the clips of their heels echoing around the walls. When I was sure we were alone, I said “Barry?”
I sat up. “Barry McNevin, as I live and die.”
He had cut his biker hair. Now it was sandy and short with speckles of grey. Why does grey look distinguished on men but decrepit on women? His face was lined but not yet craggy and he had managed to avoid the belly that many of the other lads from school display like a proud brewery pregnancy. His striped blue shirt was exactly the same deep shade as his eyes. He had always been clothes conscious. His sister had worked in Burtons and got him a discount.
“Is it you? It is. God.” Now it was his turn to swoon. “I can’t believe it. I haven’t seen you in years. How are you?”
“Fine, fine. You?”
“Fine. Great. Just visiting my mum.”
We swapped family updates for a while. His PR job sounded much more glamorous than my electronic paper pushing position. I talked it up a little. I mean, PRs spin for a living, right? So he probably wasn’t exactly the managing director yet, was he? I didn’t quite get around to mentioning my boys, leaving a family sized hole there that he could make of as he saw fit. He made no mention of family either. But there was no ring, whatever that means.
We studied the other sculptures in the room. He made comments about the materials and pointed out intriguing features. This made a pleasant change from Mike’s usual interest level which, if he could be persuaded to accompany me in the first place, peaked only when we headed for the café.
“Now this position is impossible,” said Barry.
We were stopped in front of two Giacometti stick-like figures. The woman-stick was sitting on a chair bending over the man-stick who was sitting beneath her on the ground.
“Oh I don’t know.” I moved my arms the way the woman-stick was holding hers. “You’d have to try it.”
“You couldn’t bend over like that.”
I looked around. The room was empty. I sat on the bench and bent over, my arms crossed and dangling. “See?”
“Your hands won’t reach.”
He sat down on the floor below me. I could smell his shampoo. I was suddenly aware of my heart, thudding against my rib cage as if it wanted to break out and join the bloody innards of the Damien Hirst ripoffs in the next room. I swallowed.
Then I was leaning over him, my hair tumbling down, his hands on my bare shoulders pulling me forward, my hands on his knees, his head on my chest, his mouth on mine.
“See?” he breathed and kissed me.
It was like a warm summer’s day with strawberries and cream and sunshine on my back and a second glass of Rioja and honeysuckle blossoms and cicadas in the long grass and someone faraway playing a lonesome saxophone and …and I was a married woman. I broke away.
“Barry.” I choked. I could hardly breath.
“Yes?” He smiled up at me from the ground. He had learned a lot about kissing since he was seventeen.
“Barry, I…” I was flushed from my hairline to my waist. If I flushed anymore I’d set myself alight. Headline. ‘Gallery burnt to the ground by spontaneous internal combustion mystery.’ Was this the start of the menopause?
“Did I tell you, you look amazing?” he murmured.
I tried not to simper. He got up and brushed the gallery dust off his trousers then sat on the bench with his arm around me. It felt good. He kissed me again, a proper kiss. There was a touching of tongues. He nuzzled my neck the way he had when we were supposed to be studying for our exams. I let him. I breathed in the clean, clinical smell of his shampoo, ‘Head and Shoulders,’ the same brand Mike uses. Mike. I stiffened. What about Mike?
“Barry. We shouldn’t be here.” What was I doing? What if someone came in who knew me? It could happen.
“You’re right.” He stopped, his lips warm below my left ear lobe. I shuddered despite myself. “Let’s go somewhere else.”
Somewhere else? Was this how it started? Is this how my twice divorced sister did it? Did infidelity run in families? My hands were shaking. He took one and held it.
“Are you cold?”
“No. I have to go.” I looked at my watch like it was some kind of escape hatch. I had no idea what time it said.
“Really? Already?” His Brad Pitt grin was infectious.
“Can’t you be late?”
He had said that before too. Barry had spent a lot of time being late. I had wasted many hours hanging around by the newsagents waiting for him. Wondering if he’d show up. One day he hadn’t.
“I know somewhere we can go. Come on.” And he walked away, expecting me to follow.
“I can’t. Not today.” I tried not to think about my boys coming home smelling of chlorine, horses and mud. Mike was picking a DVD for us to watch tonight. Probably another all action, kick-ass, no brainer.
“Another time then. How about next Saturday? Same time, same place?” He waited, smoothing his hair.
Next Saturday? I had no idea what was on the calendar for next Saturday. I should be able to get away. Surely I could. I looked at him standing in the doorway. What should I do?
My phone rang.
“Hi sweetie. The garage called. The car’s ready for you.” Mike sounded tired.
“Uh-huh.” My voice came out strange, slurred almost.
“I got a DVD. Some slushy chick flick. I thought you’d like it.”
I looked up. Barry had vanished. Disappeared completely.
Popped out of existence like the balloon sculpture. As if he’d never been there at all.
“When are you coming home?” In the background I heard a crash and one of the boys shouting.
A guide came in trailed by a group of baseball capped tourists. They stood between me and the embracing figures, oblivious, just another invisible middle-aged woman huddled on a bench.

3 into 1 short story competition

3 into 1 ... What’s the story?

The 2012 3INTO1 Competition is offering a £1,000 prize for a short story of up to 3,000 words, to be judged by bestselling authors  Michael Dobbs and Adèle Geras.

There is only one rule: the story must incorporate and link these three items…

  • a black queen chess piece
  • a bunch of fresh flowers 
  • a £10 note.
Intrigued? Stories can be in any style or genre – comedy, tragedy, romance, mystery, detective, science fiction, ghost story – the possibilities are endless. Let your imagination roam!

The competition is to be judged by acclaimed writers Michael Dobbs, famous for his political intrigue House of Cards and his Harry Jones thrillers, and Adèle Geras, author of more than 90 books and a former judge for the Costa Awards.

First prize is £1,000, 2nd prize £500, 3rd prize £300, 4th prize £200 and the best 20 stories will be published in an anthology.

The entry fee is £7 per story.
Deadline: 31st July 2012 

website here

Friday 4 May 2012

Revival Submissions

The Limerick Journal Revival is looking for submissions.

Revival Literary Journal is calling for submissions from local, national and international poets and writers for the next issue (No.23) which will be published in Limerick, July 2012.

As well as poetry and short fiction, extracts (500 words) the Revival Literary Journal are now also seeking reviews, criticism and black and white images/line drawings for inclusion.

The deadline for submissions is Friday 1 June 2012

(Is a little out of date currently) 

Thursday 3 May 2012

A Poetry Reading to Celebrate the Publication of Selected Poems of Gerald Dawe by The Gallery Press

DLR Library Voices Series presents
A Poetry Reading to Celebrate the Publication of Selected Poems of
Gerald Dawe by The Gallery Press
Also reading poems by Gerald Dawe will be:
Chris Binchy, Ron Ewart, Peter Fallon, Gerard Fanning, Nicholas Grene, Kathrina Goldstone,
Seamus Heaney, Eleanor Methven and Jonathan Williams.
Wednesday May 9th at 7.30pm County Hall, Marine Rd, Dun Laoghaire
Tickets 5 euro from Pavilion Box office (01) 231 2929

Now that's some heavy hitters

Wednesday 2 May 2012

Festival of The Fires

This is a lovely festival on the Hill of Uisneach, Co Westmeath, next weekend 5/6 May.
The fabulous Poetry Divas will be blurring the wobbly boundary between page and stage and going all pagan.

2pm on Natasha's Living Food Stage - boozy, foody, bubbly poems
Around 6pm on the SPoken Word Stage.- Ranty, passionate, raunchy poems

We're back from rehearsals now and we have two cracking sets.

Apart from spoken word, there's music big and small, lots of art everywhere, super food and drink, Celtic warriors and a shamanic workshop (what's a festival without a shamanic workshop?) drummers, lots of things for kids, bouncy slides and the like.
And at dusk, the hills are alight with bonfires - wonderful!