Friday 27 December 2013

Dublin Genius - A Day of Ideas

The fabulous, glittery Poetry Divas will be taking some time out from their festivities in the bosom of their friends and families to take part in Dublin Genius on Monday 30th December.

Dublin Genius, A Day of Ideas, will celebrate some of Dubliners’ best known talents: literature, comedy, and non-stop talking!

There's loads going on so if you need to shake the cobwebs out, come into Dublin. And what's more, it's free!

The Little Museum will be hosting a History Ireland Hedge School, which will cover the breadth of Ireland’s literary history. Taking in Joyce, Stoker and Roddy Doyle, some very special guests will be on hand to underline why Dublin has historically been such a city of words. Writers carrying that torch into the 21st century, such as Dermot Bolger, will be reading their works and starting conversations in Smock Alley Theatre (the city’s oldest theatre).

Nearby in Dublin’s Twisted Pepper, the irreverent political cabaret that is Leviathan will be examining the role Ireland’s great writers have played in the political life of the country in its usual enlightening manner, while the Irish poetic tradition gets the slam poetry treatment in a swathe of pubs across the town.

A packed programme of cultural events, from poetry slams and literary readings to science exhibitions and comedy, kicking off at 2pm and running til late. Dublin Genius is an opportunity to experience the “cultural capital” of our capital. It organised by the lovely lads that bring us Mindfield at Electric Picnic, Leviathan.

We are on sometime between 6 and 6.30pm in The Church, Mary St.

Check out the programme here

Tuesday 24 December 2013


Hi All, I'm going to take a break from online stuff for January to kick start some writing. I'll repost some interviews for January starting with a brand new one on 1st January!

And watch out for details of a Poetry Divas gig after Christmas.

Meanwhile I bring you details of an online mag Wordlegs that I will be editing for poetry.

Note the following:
  • Writers should be from or living in the Republic of Ireland or Northern Ireland.
  •  There is a strict submission limit of 500 words in flash fiction or 2500 words in short stories or other category.
  • Up to 2 short stories or pieces in other category, or 3 poems per writer per issue
More details here

Deadline 31st December

Monday 23 December 2013

The Today Show RTE's "Publish your Novel" competition in conjunction with New Island

We are looking for works of fiction, any genre including Literary Fiction, Crime Fiction, Short Stories, children’s and YA. Please do NOT submit non-fiction, Drama or Poetry.

We ONLY accept submissions if they adhere to the following guidelines:

1) Submissions are sent by email to: editor[AT] with “competition submission” in the subject line

2) Attach the first 50 pages of your novel, PLUS a synopsis of the novel (no longer than 500 words) as two separate Word documents (.doc or .docx)

3) Printed manuscripts will not be accepted, nor will manuscripts contained on CDs or other storage devices sent by post

4) Entries will only be accepted between 16:00hrs on Friday 10th January and Midnight Sunday 25th January 2014

5) Shortlisted authors will be contacted before Friday 21st February 2014.

Sunday 22 December 2013

Listowel Writers’ Week Competitions

Listowel Writers’ Week goes from strength to strength

The Closing Date for receipt of novels for The Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year Award is: 1st February, 2014.

The Closing Date for receipt of all other competition entries is: 1st March 2014.
  • Entries cannot have been previously published.
  • Please submit your name and contact details on a separate sheet. The entrant’s identity must not appear on the competition entry (with the exception of The Creative Writing for Youth Competitions).
  • Entries may be in Irish or in English / Is féidir iontrálacha a bheith i mBéarla nó i nGaeilge.
  • Please identify the specific competition for which you are entering on the front of the envelope, for example ‘The Bryan MacMahon Short Story Award’.
  • Awards may not be presented where an appropriate standard is not achieved.
  • Listowel Writers’ Week reserves the right to withhold or to publish winning entries in the publication Winners’ Anthology 2014.The Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year 2014 (More Details..)
The Bryan MacMahon Short Story Competition (More Details..)
Duais Foras na Gaeilge (More Details..)
The Éamon Keane Full Length Play (More Details..)

The Single Poem (More Details..)

The Poetry Collection (More Details..)
The Nilsson Local Heritage Competition (More Details..)
Listowel Writers’ Week Originals Competitions (More Details..)
Con Houlihan Young Sports Journalist Competition (More Details..)
Kerry County Council Creative Writing Competitions for Youth (More Details..)
Creative Writing for Special Education Category (More Details…)

The Irish Post New Writing Competition (More Details..)
Writing in Prisons Competition (More Details..)

Saturday 21 December 2013

This is a Story Flash Competition

This is a Story invites entries of all original unpublished work of up to 500 words and the cost is €5 per entry (3 entries for €10). There is no theme or subject limitations and entries will  be judged anonymously by author Mike Mc Cormack. You can enter by post, by e-mail or by Facebook and the deadline is January 14th 2014. Prize: €300.

Send entries to GRCC, "The Lodge" Forster Court, Galway with cheques/postal orders made out to Galway Rape Crisis Centre.
Overseas entries:
a)    enter via website using a credit card
b)    enter by sending a paypal payment to
c)    enter by post 

Competition winners are informed around late Febuary but the official announcement is made at the time of the prizegiving – this year it will mid March 2014.  Check the website after this date or send an SAE for the list of winners and judges’ reports.
More info: Aoife Ní Laoi -

Friday 20 December 2013

Festive Reading at Accents Cafe on Sunday 22nd December

Hope to see loads of you in festive mood on Sunday 22nd December in Accents Cafe, Stephen's St Lower in Dublin. 7pm.
I'll be wearing my Christmas jumper and waxing lyrical. With the energetic and inimitable David Hynes

Show starts promptly at 7pm as we have an amazing array of talent on display.
Come see our lyrical diva Kate Dempsey
Our bantering bard Philip Lynch
Leinster king John Moynes who will not only be charming you with his poetry but also his comedy.
And coming from any bar or room which will have him the musical wit genius that is Mark Cox.
We have Eoin O Murchu with funny words
And fresh from her world tour of England where the crowds of littlehampton north gloustershire and worchesterpark were left screaming for more we have the comic genius Aideen McQueen.
As usual there's me David Hynes and also a late addition if there's time of Eddie izzard .

For Christmas cheer without the beer.
Accents cafe bar
Sun 22nd Dec 7 o clock
And it's free

Thursday 19 December 2013

Lumen/Camden Poetry Competition 2013-14

Here's one to win a chapbook publication and all proceeds to two London Homeless Cold Weather Shelters
Closing date 14 February 2014.        
  • Judge: Andrew Motion.
  • Poems up to 40 lines.
  • Single poems £2.50, 6 poems £10.
  • Poetry must not be previously published.
  • 50 free copies plus a reading.
How to submit
Enter by Post and by Cheque:
  • Make your cheque out to 'Caris Camden', and send it with the poem to Ruth O’Callaghan at: 49 Ripley Gardens, Mortlake London, SW14 8HF.
  • Include a separate sheet with your name, contact details, and the titles of your poems.
  • DO NOT put your personal details on the poems themselves.
Enter Online with PayPal:
  • Pay by clicking buttons below
  • Then either post your poems to Ruth (see address above) and include the PayPal transaction code and your PayPal account email address on a separate page along with the titles of your poems
  • or send the poems in the body of an email with your contact details and the Pay Pal transaction code at the top of the email to Adele at:
Link here

Tuesday 17 December 2013

Arts Council: Travel and Training Award 2014

The window for 2014 Travel and Training Award applications opened on 27 November 2013. There are no formal deadlines for the Travel and Training Award. Applications are accepted on an ongoing basis. Applicants seeking support for formal courses (postgraduate or equivalent) and for other eligible opportunities must submit their application at least six weeks before their course or work programme begins. You are advised that the Arts Council cannot guarantee to assess applications received less than six weeks before a course or work programme begins.

Funding will be available in the following art forms: Architecture, Arts Participation, Circus, Dance, Literature, Music, Opera, Street Arts and Spectacle, Venues, Visual Arts, and Young People, Children and Education.

As I understand it, there isn't a deadline but when theannual money runs out, it's gone.

Do if anyone outside of Ireland is interested in a reading from me alone or with the Poetry Divas, let me know.

Please visit the Arts Council website here for further information: here.

Sunday 15 December 2013

Prole Laureate Poetry Competition

The Prole Laureate Competition

Winner: £140, Publication in Prole 13 in April 2014
Publication on the Prole website
2 x runner up prizes of £30, possible publication in Prole 13
Publication on the Prole website

Kate Noakes
Kate Noakes is an elected member of the Welsh Academi. She has taught creative writing for Oxford University. Her most recent collection is Cape Town from Eyewear Publishing (2012). I-spy and Shanty is forthcoming in 2014 from corrupt press. Her poem ‘Snow light’ was selected by Carol Ann Duffy for her Poetry Corner in The Daily Mirror in January 2010. She won the Owen Barfield Poetry Prize in 2009.
Entries will be anonymised before being sent to judge.

Deadline: Feb 1st 2014
Winners will be announced in issue 13 of Prole in April and on our website by April 20th.

We are, as ever, completely open: free verse, blank verse, highly formed verse. We want poems that epitomise the editorial values of Prole: to make writing engaging, accessible, entertaining and challenging. Quality is all.
All work must be the original work of the writer and be unpublished.

£3.00 for first entry, £2.00 for any subsequent entries.

How to enter
Via our website and email – preferred.
Make the correct payment using PayPal.
Email your entry, including the text and PayPal transaction number within the body of the email, to:
By post
Make a cheque (GBP only, please) payable to
P Robertson for the correct amount and mail along with entry to:
Brett Evans
15 Maes-y-Dre
LL22 7HW

Friday 13 December 2013

Francis Macmanus Short Story Award

Gradually later and later until it missed 2013 all together. The next deadline is Friday 31st January 2014. This is a short story for the radio so the ear is everything.

Submissions for the 2014 RTÉ Francis Mac Manus Radio Short Story Competition are now being accepted. 
The competition is free to enter. 
Applications forms and guidelines can be found Here  
Apply by post to-
The Francis Mac Manus Short Story Competition,
RTÉ Radio 1,
Dublin 4.

The three judges for 2014 are Christine Dwyer Hickey, novelist and short story writer, Julie Parsons, and author and former radio producer, Eoin Purcell, Editorial Director, New Island Books.

Wednesday 11 December 2013

Cavan County Council ARTS AWARDS

Deadline: 21st February 2013 

The Arts Awards are intended to stimulate and support the ongoing development of the arts in County Cavan. This award scheme is intended to assist organisations and individuals in the development of new and innovative Art projects and events in County Cavan and support professional artists to develop. Cavan County Council strives to work with individuals and communities to promote access and participation in all art activities.

Applicants must be from or residing in County Cavan at the date of application or planning work that is relevant to the County.

Details of the various awards as well as the application form are available here.

Perhaps some Cavan based festivals will have the readies to pay me to read now!

Monday 9 December 2013


Apparently I have an inner Fratboy because I love most of this broetry. The Irish equivalent could be Ladetry (you heard it here first) I wonder what the girl equivalent would be? Suggestions?

Brian McGackin's (aka the "Broet Laureate's") takes a frat boy look at classic poems such as

William Carlos Williams' "This is Just to Say" --

I heard him on a podcast from NPR here. Poetry for dudes.

His book (Available on Amazon ) includes his own originals "Ode to That Girl I Dated for, Like, A Month Sophomore Year," "Why Do Buses Smell?" and "Final Final Fantasy"

Link here and here and a review which discusses the gender bias here

My version
This is Just to Say
I have finished
the chocolate
that was in
the cupboard
and which
you were probably
for Borgen
Forgive me
I was hormonal
so cranky
and so hot

Saturday 7 December 2013

Magma Poetry Competition

Magma is a super poetry magazine based in the UK. Well worth picking up a copy.

Deadline: 12 December 2013

The competition has two contests:

Magma Judge’s Prize 
For a poem of 13 to 80 lines.  All poem entries of 13 to 80 lines will be entered for the Judge’s Prize which this year will be judged by award-winning poet Philip Gross.  Philip Gross is Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Glamorgan.  He won the 2009 T S Eliot Prize with The Water Table (Bloodaxe) and the 2010 Wales Book of the Year award with I Spy Pinhole Eye (Cinnamon).
First Prize £1,000
Second Prize £300
Third Prize £150

Magma Editors’ Prize
This celebrates the short poem and is open to poems of up to 12 lines. The Magma Editors’ Prize reflects the magazine’s unique rotating editorship and poems of up to 12 lines will be judged by a panel of Magma Editors comprising Julia Bird, Rob Mackenzie, Ian McEwen, Laurie Smith and Karen McCarthy Woolf.  The panel will select a range of poems for ‘special mentions’ as well as choosing first and second prize winners.
First prize £1,000
Second Prize £300
Plus 10 Special Mentions £15 each

As part of the prize, all 15 winners will have their poems published in our Spring Issue 2014 and be invited to read alongside Philip Gross at Magma’s prize-giving event early next year.

Link here

Competition Entry Fees: £5 for the first poem, £4 for the second and £3 for the third and each subsequent poem.  Magma magazine subscribers benefit from reduced fees, £4 for the first poem, £3 for the second, and £2 for the third and each subsequent poem.

Thursday 5 December 2013

Report on a workshop run by Neil Astley

Neil Astley is the editor of the brilliant and highly regarded published Bloodaxe Books. My lovely Dad, John Prior (as seen in Poetry Bus 3, Rialto and others) went to a workshop he gave recently in Norwich and wrote up a report which he has kindly agreed to share with you here.

NOVEMBER 11th 2013

The twelve attendees at this meeting had all been published: all with magazines, one had been mentored through the Writers' Centre and one had been through the UEA poetry course.
Neil's talk was mainly concerned with getting your first collection published but on the way he gave excellent advice for poets right through the writing process. I shall follow this route in my report, beginning with the poem itself through to full publication.
Before doing this it is worth pointing out the there are large numbers of people writing poems. For example, the recent National Poetry competition received 40,000 entries. Some were from overseas of course, but generally it 's fair to say that huge numbers of people are poets.
He went on to say that a survey showed that books are bought by only 63% of the population. Only 1% of these purchasers buy poetry and of this 1% only 5% of books are by living writers. Of these living writers 67% of the books were by Seamus Heaney. It must be said though that the figures not absolutely recent.  This was in the year of Beowulf. Nevertheless it is obvious that the market is small and the competition intense.

The advice Neil gave applies to all stages i.e. .

95% of poems written and entered for competitions are unsuitable.
1. They are not crafted i.e. it's prose chopped into lines, and there's no metre or             rhythmical sense.
2. It's obvious the writer never reads other poets and that their experience of       poetry comes from poorly remembered school lessons.
3. There are awkward rhymes with the inversion of words.

And less serious but still failings (though the judges might read the fault):

4. In the middle of a good poem theres a 'wrong note': a line or word that jars or is             syntactically wrong or grammatically wrong.
5. It's boring. It might be OK but it's anodyne. This particularly applies to writers out       of writing schools.
6. The poem sounds too much like an existing writer.

He gave advice as to how to improve and rid yourself of the above errors.

a. Read your stuff aloud
b. Workshop your poems with other poets the more skilled the better.
c. Go to groups and on courses e.g. Arvon, Ty Newydd (Wales) and there are      some University courses.
d. Above all: read, think, and write.

Luckily, at the talk in Norwich, all twelve people were already doing these things and many of the readers of this report will have heard it all before.

Neil has been a judge many times. He admitted that after a long list has been drawn up the process is a bit of a lottery. The judges don't always agree so that sometimes the winner is the poem least disliked by all the judges.
In the smaller competitions the poems may be filtered through less reliable readers.
The numbers of entries can be too tiring for the judges. He suggested that more than one poem should be entered because, although no names are on the pages, the numbers are in sequence so that not all the poems by the same poet are likely slip through unnoticed. Also two good ones carry more weight.

If it's a big competition you are up against the best so you have to be the best.

The big competitions can result in the next stage being offered e.g. pamphlet publication or full publication. Big competitions include: The Arvon, The National, The Cardiff, the Cheltenham, the Plough and Basil Bunting. You will need to check the Poetry Library website for the current list. ( )
It was reassuring to learn that the major competitions are truly open.

These are sometimes called Chapbooks (an American term). These are small booklets sometimes sold at readings. They contain a small number of poems. The number and the rules for your submission vary but once again look at the relevant website for details. A number of publishers take on Chapbooks including Mariscat, Doughnut, Hearing Eye, Flipped Eye, Rack Press, Templar, Rialto, Cinnamon Press, Nine Arches, Flarestack, Smiths/Doorstop, Lighthouse an IOTA. Some of these run competitions for pamphlets. Check before sending.
The sort of poems that will attract publication are:
1. Faultless poems.
2. Coherent poems e.g. in the same voice and possibly with a unifying theme.   Bloodaxe is proud to publish and to have published many women poets and people    from mixed and ethnic minorities.

Faber, Picador, Carcanet (the c's are hard), Bloodaxe. Not all of these take unsolicited MS.
Also note that submissions to Carcanet are through Oxford Poets.
Chatto might be starting a poetry list.
The etiquette is to send full submissions to only one publisher at a time, of 64 pages or roughly 50 poems.

OR you can send samples of 6 to 10 poems to some or all of the publishers. e.g. simultaneous submissions.

There should be a strong covering letter, not rambling, of course, but mentioning you existing publications and including your email address and a stamped addressed envelope. If you're older (and one or two of the participants were older) Neil suggested you shouldn't mention your age because each publisher is looking for a long term investment.

Neil gets 5,000 MS in his slush pile in a year. He reads them all but may take months to respond.

If you are taken on, the time from acceptance to publication could be 14 months and your advance could be £500.

Here the situation is constantly changing.
You can publish an e-book for an e-reader. The best poems for an e-reader have short lines so that they look good on the page. An iPad can make poems look more attractive and add sound. The internet itself can act as self promotion e.g. through blogs or u-tube readings.
Some magazines publish on the internet only and these are read by poets other than those who submit.

This has a bad name for itself but self publication can work, provided that you don't pay a commercial firm to publish and promote you.

Neil recommended Lulu which is an internet business supplying print on demand. They give the publication an ISBN number, and print exactly the numbers you ask for. You design the cover, arrange the internal layout etc. and transmit this as a file to Lulu. The costs are transparent on the website and when you receive your copies you are on your own, though more copies can easily be printed. Established poets self-publish and distribute and sell books like these at public readings.

Apologies if you are familiar with much of this report but I'm certain that not one of the listeners on November 11th knew it all. I certainly didn't.

 One or two among the twelve, may have been discouraged by the general gist of Neil's talk but personally I felt he gave us a useful guide as to how, with time and dedication, one might become better.

John Prior 14.11.13

Tuesday 3 December 2013

Reading in Maynooth Library

Maynooth Library opened first in 1983 and is having its 30th birthday this week. We are celebrating with a reading of some poems by me and also some stories and chat by the well known local writer, Martina Reilly.

Please come and join us for the evening this Thursday 5th December starting at 8pm, main street, Maynooth.

Refreshments promised too.

Monday 2 December 2013

Ó Bhéal Events

Upcoming Events for December 2013 and January 2014
in association with Foras na Gaeilge   Dareina Ní Chinnéide – 2nd December
Joseph Horgan  and musician Adrian Boyle – 9th December
Annual Break – No Readings on 16th, 23rd, 30th December or 7th January

Mae Leonard – 13th January
Michael Gallagher – 20th January
Annette Skade – 27th January
Entrance is free. Readings will last between 30-45 minutes after which there will be the usual open-mic session. Be sure to come early to get good seats. Full bar available.
The night begins with a Poetry Challenge starting at around 9.30pm. Guest poets begin after10.00pm

Details here

Sunday 1 December 2013

New Writing Commission Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown.

Deadline : 12 noon on Friday 6th December

To celebrate the opening of the Central Library and Cultural Centre in Dún Laoghaire in Autumn 2014 Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council invites applications from writers to create a new piece of work that references Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown and/or its inhabitants. This may take the form of any genre including literature, popular fiction, short stories, poetry, screen or script writing, children’s literature, young adult literature, factual writing and journalism. To apply writers must live in, work in, be originally from or have studied in Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown.

It is envisaged that a selection of writers will be commissioned to develop a piece of new work from the entries received while other writers will be invited by direct commission. All the commissioned work will be published in a pamphlet or broadsheet available from the Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Library Service and online via the County Council website. The writers will also be required to give a brief reading of their work (together with some of the other selected writers) in the Central Library and Cultural Centre.

For more information please contact Carolyn Brown at or (01) 271 9532.

Link here

Friday 29 November 2013

Interview with poet Donna Sørensen

Hello Donna and welcome to emergingwriter. I’ve been reading and enjoying your collection, Dream Country, on the train to work. First how did you first get into poetry?

I've been reading and writing poetry since I was a young teenager, back when I thought I had the 'black dog' that Winston Churchill suffered from! Ah, the drama of being a teenage girl. I wrote on and off for years after that but other things got in the way, like getting my pilot’s licence and travelling the world, so I never focused on it. My mum is a children's author and I dabbled in writing children's texts alongside teaching for a while but it was only really when I was working at the Irish Writers' Centre in Dublin and I started taking part in poetry workshops, that I fell headlong into the poetry world and haven't really come up for air since. I knew straight away it was the medium I'd been looking for, as all I wanted to do whenever I had a spare moment was write poetry. So I'd say I've been really working on developing the craft and getting poetry ready for publication since 2009. Being in Dublin helped; there's such a vibrant network for writers, you can experience and understand exactly how it all works - the editing, the sending out, the different journals being published, the importance of doing readings etc... I really miss it!

Would you recommend poetry workshops or writers groups for people who are just starting out writing? What about for people who have been writing for a while?

Defo for people just starting out. I found it most useful for me to start right at the start in workshops lead by experienced poets who could pass on something of the craft of poetry as well as their artistic insight and then writing groups as I got more confidence and material. Iain Broome and I were just talking about whether we think writing groups are useful now actually in our podcast,Write for Your Life. I think once you're further down the line, it's vital to keep in touch with other writers and to get constructive feedback, but you've got to be in the right group where you respect them as writers and value what they are saying.

You mention having had something of the craft of poetry passed on to you. Do you have any examples you could share?


Caitriona O'Reilly was a fabulous person to workshop with. She's got such a wealth of knowledge about poetry and is a really quiet and assertive intellectual force. I felt she was great at passing on something of what she'd learned along the way. I did a course with her called The Shape of the Poem and we only wrote formal poetry, experimenting with different forms each week. I really liked where it took me, as I don't use formal structures very often when let loose on my own. I wrote sestinas, triolets, villanelles and pantoums and liked being forced into patterns with my writing; liked creating something based on a big wild idea but reined into a constrained space.

And Paula Meehan really helped me with editing. Before I worked on poems with her, I accepted poems and lines and even words that I should have scrutinised more. She talked a lot about putting words under pressure and I've carried that through with me. Is this really the best word for this space? Have you mixed your metaphors? Have you laboured the point, spelled things out too much? Questions I try to ask myself now when I am finished with a first draft of a poem.

Those are some good questions to ask of a new poem. Are there any others spring to mind?

I am not sure whether all people writing poetry feel this, but I am constantly wondering what other shapes a poem could take. I feel sometimes it's like one of those books I used to read as a kid where you had to make decisions and those decisions would determine which page you turned to next and therefore the next adventure in the story. So many different ways to take a poem or a line, sometimes seemingly endless possibilities, it can seem like a big responsibility to finish something at a certain place, to mould a poem into definite stanzas. I guess that's part of the mystery of any creative pursuit! Some of my poems finished in the form they started and quickly too. Others seemed to take ages and much pulling them apart and putting them back together before I found how I wanted them to be on the page.

Are some of the poems in your collection started from the workshops?

Yes, the first poem in the collection, Mirrored Belly of the Sea, was written when I was under the tutelage of Paula Meehan. It's the first poem I had accepted for publication too. I think that's the only poem actually I'd written for a workshop that was in the collection. It was accepted by the Stinging Fly and didn't come out until a year later (back when they were doing once a year submissions) and in the meantime I'd had a few more accepted and published. But this one still felt like the first one.

About 16 or so have been published from the collection I think. It's actually exciting, starting to send out stuff for consideration by journals that's not in the collection! Haven't written masses by anyone's standards, what with having a baby and day job again now, but I am getting round to it every so often. It's a big thing, preparing submissions. I don't think I realised it right at the start, but keeping track of what's where and who's said no to things before and what particular journals are looking for. You've got to keep trying though eh!

Are any of your formal poems in your collection?

I decided not to use my formal poems, mainly because their subject matter was quite separate from that of the collection; I felt there'd be a strong discord. I sometimes feel, too, that poems with more formal structure seem more certain and sure, I guess because of the repetition, the recitation; like mantras. I know this is not true of all of them, but it's just something I associate with that style. My collection evokes more of a feeling of uncertainty, of transformation, of moving through unknown spaces. 

How did the publication come about? Had you been sending it around?

I was really lucky, actually. The Stinging Fly had me as their Featured Poet in the Spring 2012 issue and New Island Books read my poems there, liked them and asked to see my manuscript. I'd written in my bio about getting a commendation from the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award for my 'unpublished collection', which turned out to be a good thing to put in there! I worked a lot on the manuscript in the time between submitting for the award in 2011 and publication, but the main skeleton of it is the same.

And actually, it's something I've always wondered about poets - do they always know when a collection is finished? I have since written poems which I've thought "Oh! That would've worked really well in the collection!" but I guess that's just part of creating something... You could get yourself into an endless cycle of tinkering on things if you didn't have a deadline to work towards.

I read your interview with Billy Ramsell and really enjoyed it, especially the part about poetry rewarding reading in areas not traditionally associated with poetry:

'The richer such a storehouse becomes, the less the poet has to draw from the accidents of his or her biography.'

I can totally relate to this and quite a few of my poems in Dream Country were sparked by really random stories and bits of information I picked up. 'This is London' for example, was inspired by an urban myth I heard that after the war, there were so many books streaming into antiquarian booksellers in London, from the victims across the continent, that they didn't know what to do with them. So they used them to fill in the city's bomb craters. I am not sure it's true but that doesn't matter so much. The image it created was so powerful to me.

Another random poem - 'We Are Far From Home', relates to me and the confusion I have about having ended up in big cities, when I am happiest out in the middle of nothing - but it was sparked by a National Geographic piece I read about Nile Crocodiles they'd found living in tiny holes, burrow and caves deep under the Sahara Desert and thousands of miles away from proper water sources. Completely random I know!

What advice do you have for aspiring writers?

My advice for aspiring writers would be - take advantage of the writing and performing going on around you. Get out to readings, festivals, spoken words, read journals, enjoy being part of something bigger, because it fuels and inspires you and right now, I feel very, very far away from all that. Coming back to Denmark has been amazing for my life - I've got everything a person could need to flourish, but I don't have the creative buzz around me that I felt in Dublin and in parts of the UK. I wish I could pop along to poetry readings after work, or drop in to open mic nights, but those are few and far between in Denmark and what with the collection out now, a 1-year-old, a weekly writing podcast and full-time job, I don't feel I have the space to start a night up on my own yet. Maybe I will at some point. I've met some great writers here, but it's just not the same!

These things have also meant that I am not writing as much as I want to. I am scribbling lines here and there and feeling annoyed with them. I've done more abandoning now than I ever have before. I wonder if it's also the pressure of having had a collection published and feeling like I have to be more serious or more perfect. Whatever the excuse (and you can see I have many!) I am only writing the odd bit of poetry here and there. I am hoping to come over to Ireland to do a reading in the spring and would love to enjoy Dream Country a bit more - take some time to read from it and show it to people. I feel like it's been cast out into a sea of books and people and I need to haul it in and wave it around from the deck to passing ships.

Is there any English language literary scene where you are?

I'm in Copenhagen and there is virtually no literary scene in English. There's a writers' group I've tried out and a few writers scattered about, but no regular nights. There are a couple of literary festivals, but really, you do feel completely adrift here! I'm just spending any writing time I've got glued to the computer, Twitter in particular, to keep abreast of things and read good stuff. Anyway, can't complain as it's a great place to live! Just feel like I had to sacrifice something big creatively in order to move back here. I also use Danish all day every day at work and I feel very contained and not myself - operating in a second language is a really interesting exercise and you get to know a lot about yourself, but mostly I just sit there thinking that people around me are not getting the full me and feeling a little sad about that. When I write, I am reconnecting with my Englishness and my full person.

Thanks very much Donna and good luck with your writing.

Donna Sørensen is a young poet, originally from the UK. Her début collection, Dream Country, is published by New Island Books in Ireland where Sørensen lived and worked, in the literary sector, for three years. Sørensen's poetry has been published extensively in Ireland, and in the UK, including literary journals such as The Stinging Fly, Poetry Ireland Review, THE SHOp, Southword, Crannóg, Orbis, Revival, Cyphers and Bare Hands. While in Ireland, she was a board member of the Irish Writers' Centre, where she had previously worked as a volunteer coordinator.
Donna Sørensen was selected to read at the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series in 2011 and the Cork Spring Poetry Festival in 2012. An early version of this collection received a commendation in the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award 2011. She now lives in Copenhagen, Denmark, and works as English-language Content Manager for VisitDenmark. She is also the co-host of the popular weekly podcast for writers, Write for Your Life (
Dream Country is available to buy in bookshops and on New Island Books (