Saturday 29 June 2013

Readings at the Hunt Museum

Lunchtime Poetry Readings at The Hunt Museum

The Limerick Writers Centre presents a series of lunchtime poetry readings at the Hunt Museum, Limerick.

Eight poets (2 per week) will give a reading in the Captain's Room every Thursday in July from 1.00 to 2.00 pm. Each reading will be introduced with a piece of classical music.

The programme for July is:
  • 4th July - Peadar Clancy & Mary Ellen Fean
  • 11th July - Vivienne McKechnie & Jim Burke
  • 18th July - Mary Shanahan & Tom McCarthy
  • 25th July - Tim Cunningham & Richard Halpern
Further details are available on the Limerick Writers Centre website.

Thursday 27 June 2013

Interview with Niamh Boyce

Niamh Boyce's first novel The Herbalist, was the winner of the inaugural Novel Fair at the Irish Writers Centre in 2012. Since then she has been working very hard on whipping it into shape with her publisher, Penguin Ireland. I was lucky enough to get a review copy and my nose was stuck in it for a long weekend recently. Set in 1930's Ireland, it is packed full of great characters and fascinating stories. Do yourself a favour and get a copy to see what all the fuss is about. Here's an interview on some of the burning questions I had on the book's journey to publication.

Welcome Niamh, to emergingwriter. Congratulations on your novel. You have 4 women narrators who are quite distinctive. I am particularly fond of Emily. How did you keep their individual voices and attitudes?
The women were so different in circumstance, age and attitude that their voices felt very distinct from early on in the process. I wrote them exaclty as I heard them – but  did vary the point of view. Emily, who was a real chatterbox, narrates from the first person; which is the most intimate. And Carmel and Sarah were written from the third person. It was no effort really to keep their voices distinct- they're at such very different stages in their lives and have very different attitudes towards life, love and the Herbalist.

The women in your novel are to a certain extent, defined by their clothes. How would you recommend any emerging writers consider this for their own characters?
It depends on the character really. Many might not notice clothes at all. For someone like Emily however, with her love of Hollywood glamour and silks, satins and furs - clothes become very important. They symbolise the kind of woman she wishes to be. 
Clothes can be very evocative, a child's shoe can evoke loss, a leather belt can evoke terror.  When I facilitate writing workshops, I often use small items to help writers to create with characters. Lipstick has worked very well in the past, often bringing up stories of betrayal, murder and lust, as well as some touching personal memories. A hat can represent a part of someone’s personality they usually keep hidden, there are endless ways to work with characterisation through clothes, it’s a very rich area, and very enjoyable.

Your novel won the novel fair in 2012. What did your agent and publisher recommend you change between then and the final draft?
My novel fair entry was a condensed version of my original manuscript, so the first thing I did was work back in those scenes I had cut for clarity in the fever coming up to the novel fair! The next stage was working with a calendar, an excellent recommendation from my publisher. I printed out a calendar from the year of the novel, one for each character. That way I knew where everyone was on any given day. It was very helpful; I’d recommend it to anyone writing a novel.

Niamh blogs here and you can see the Amazon link for The Herbalist here, or better still, buya copy in your local independent book shop.

Other blog tour links are:
6th June
June Caldwell of the Irish Writers Centre

13th June
Alison Wells at Head Above Water

20th June

Wednesday 26 June 2013

24 Little Hours

A 24 hour participatory poetry and prose programme with Grace Wells, Mark Roper, Dave Lordan & Mia Gallagher

Grace, Mark, Dave and Mia, four leading writers from Ireland's contemporary literary scene, will come to Clonmel for 24 hours. During their stay in town, they will share their skills and experience with emerging writers and poetry enthusiasts, perform their work at set readings, and walk and explore the streets of Clonmel with workshop participants, giving insights into how a writer goes about their work, and develops their skills of observation and composition.

With workshop sessions taking place in locations throughout the town and over the 24 hours, the participants will see the urban landscape as it changes colour from busy shopping streets through the hubbub of Saturday night and into the quiet of Sunday morning.

On Sunday afternoon there will be an open-mic session at which the participants will have the opportunity to share some of the work they created during the Twenty-four little hours.

To be part of 24 Little Hours you can fill out our application form here.

Where: Venue: Festival Box Office Upstairs, Clonmel
Fee: €35

24 Little Hours timetable:

Saturday July 6th
1.30pm : Gathering and Introductions
2.00- 4.00pm: Walking, Talking and Writing with Grace or Mark
4.30-5.30pm : Selected readings by Grace and Mark
5.30 onwards: Dinner at the Junction Festival Catering tent
7.30-8.30pm : Selected readings by Mia and Dave
9.00- 11.00pm: Walking,Talking and Writing  with Mia or Dave

Sunday July 7th
11.00am-1.00pm: Walking, Talking and Writing with Grace, Mark, Mia or Dave
2.30pm: “What a Difference a day makes” Open-mic with Grace, Mark, Mia, Dave and the programme participants.

Purchase tickets online here.

Tuesday 25 June 2013

Hay at Kells

The program for the inaugural Hay festival at Kells is packed but not many appeal to me personally. I've always wanted to go to the festival in Hay-on-Wye so I'm a bit disappointed, to be honest.

Here are some that look worth catching

Friday 28th June
Owen Sheers Pink Mist – Reading followed by Q&A
A reading from this verse drama originally broadcast over a week on Radio 4. Three school friends return from Afghanistan to face the consequences of their tours, for them and the women in their lives. Drawn from interviews with wounded veterans, Pink Mist is a lyric narrative of rare dramatic and emotional intensity.
Q&A chaired by Peter Stanford.

Jeanette Winterson
The Biggest Book Club In Ireland
The author of Oranges Are Not The Only Fruit, The Daylight Gate and The Passion introduces her fabulous memoir Why Be Happy When You Could Be Normal.

Saturday 29th June
Poetry At The Railway Bar
An evening of poetry and entertainment featuring Gerry Stembridge, Myles Dungan, Nerys Williams and Sean Rocks, presenter of Arena on RTÉ Radio 1, with music from Maidhc Dainín Ó Sé

Sunday 30th June
Karlin Lillington, John Maher and John Kampfner
Blog And Be Damned: Social Media And Libel In Ireland
What constitutes fair comment, as opposed to defamation, on social media and should the standard be the same as for traditional media?
Is the freedom inherent in social media threatened by the chilling effect of potential claims for libel?
To what extent should tweeters and bloggers be as aware of the dangers of libel as are professional journalists?
Karlin Lillington of The Irish Times, barrister John Maher, and Google’s John Kampfner discuss with Myles Dungan

DBC Pierre
The Booker Prize-winning author makes a rare public appearance to discuss his life and work with Sean Rocks, presenter of Arena on RTÉ Radio 1

Peter Fallon and Vona Groarke
Poet, editor and publisher, founder of The Gallery Press, Peter Fallon reads poems from his published works alongside award- winning poet Vona Groarke, whose collections include Spindrift, Juniper Street and Flight.

and yer man from the Great British Bakeoff (a secret pleasure of mine)
Brendan Lynch
Kells native Brendan, a finalist in 2012’s Great British Bake Off, has been passionate about baking for 30 years. Join him as he demonstrates some of the skills that took him to the final and talks to Fáilte Ireland Food Champion Olivia Duff about his plans to take baking into retirement homes.

John Boyne
This House Is Haunted
The author of The Boy In The Striped Pyjamas and The Absolutist introduces his new novel. Eliza Caine arrives in Norfolk to take up her position as governess at Gaudlin Hall on a dark and chilling night... He talks to Sean Rocks, presenter of Arena on RTÉ Radio 1.

Also Victorian Afternoon Tea
Kells Arts Club are hosting an afternoon tea with literature, poetry and song

Sunday 23 June 2013

Concrete Poems

I've been researching concrete poems recently.

The definition is something like poems in which the layout is as important in conveying the intended effect as the conventional elements of the poem, such as the words, rhythm, rhyme and so on.

Dom Sylvester Houedard is a name that came up. See what he does with words
and how about this clever piece from Nicola Simpson
But there's needs to be something more to it than cleverness. It has to say something with both the words and the shape working together.
or this one

Wednesday 19 June 2013

iYeats Poetry Competition 2013

The iYeats Poetry Competition, now in its fifth year has become one of the most highly-regarded in the country, attracting hundreds of entries from across Ireland and abroad. An online, national and international competition, there are 2 categories; 
  • General
  • Emerging Talent for poets between the ages of 16 and 25. 

Judges:  Katie Donovan and James Harpur
First Prize 500
Emerging Prize
Commended X2

All winning poets will have their entries published on the Hawk’s Well Theatre Website and will be offered the chance to read their work at Aloud an intimate evening of original poetry from our eminent past judges and the 2013 winners. This ceremony will take place during the 2013 Yeats International Summer School.
Deadline: Wednesday 9th July, 2013

Winners will be notified by Friday 22nd July, 2013
Results Publicly Announced: Wednesday 3rd August, 2013
Prize-giving ceremony ‘Aloud’: Wednesday 3rd August, 2013, 8pm.

You can view last year's winning poems here.

Link here  for more details

Monday 17 June 2013

Fourth Japan-EU English Haiku Contest

The Embassy of Japan is pleased to inform you of the Fourth Japan-EU English Haiku Contest, organised by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and the Delegation of the European Union to Japan, and sponsored by Matsuyama City, Ehime Prefecture, Japan and the Flemish Haiku Centre, Belgium.

523 haiku poets submitted entries on the theme "Dawn" for last year's third contest. For this year's contest, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan and the EU Delegation to Japan are pleased to call on contestants to share their haiku related to the theme of “Rainbow”.

The organisers have set up a Fan Page on Facebook ( and selected haiku will be uploaded. The aim of the contest is to deepen the relationship between Japan and the EU and encourage people to enjoy both writing and reading English haiku.
  • The deadline for applications is Thursday, 1 August 2013 (2.00am, Brussels time).
  • Applications should be submitted by e-mail to using the official entry form available to download from the Embassy’s website or the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website Only one original and previously unpublished haiku may be submitted per applicant (please see the attached guidelines for detailed information on the format of the haiku).
  • The contest is open to the nationals of EU member states (including Croatia) and Japan who are currently residing in the EU (including Croatia) or Japan. It is open to all ages.
  • One winner each from Japan and the EU will be announced in due course. The Ministry of Foreign Affairs will offer the winner from the EU a round-trip to Matsuyama City, the birthplace of modern haiku in Japan. The EU Delegation to Japan will invite the winner from Japan to Belgium, the home country of European Council President H.E. Mr. Herman Van Rompuy who loves haiku and is an active haikuist himself. The contest winners will be notified by e-mail and given further details of the round-trip prize. Please note that related expenses covered by the organisers have certain limitations.
  • Enquiries should be sent by e-mail only to the European Policy Division, Ministry of Foreign Affairs:
  • You will find the detailed Guidelines for Submission and official entry form on the Embassy’s website and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs website

Saturday 15 June 2013

Cork International Short Story Festival 2013

The 2013 Cork International Short Story Festival will take place 18 - 22 September.

 The programme for the Cork International Short Story Festival is complete except for firm responses from a couple of invited writers. We can confirm the participation of Alastair MacLeod, Edith Pearlman, Patrick McCabe, Etgar Keret, Deborah Levy, Julia O'Faolain

There will be a special focus this year on anthologies and on the graphic short story. 

There will be readings by many debut authors, book launches, discussions, interviews and workshops galore. 

Workshops will be offered on the short story for beginners, a masterclass for published authors, a workshop in crime writing, on flash fiction, on songwriting by John Spillane, John Minihan - Samuel Beckett's favourite photographer will be offering  a workshop on photography. An interesting development this year is a workshop on the Horror/Fantasy literary short story offered by Alannah Hopkin

Full details as they will become available will be posted on

Thursday 13 June 2013

500 nights of Whitehouse Poetry in Limerick

Here's something worth celebrating in Limerick.

500 consecutive Wednesdays of Poetry

Congratulations to all.

So head on down on Wednesday 19th June 2013 to the Whitehouse Bar.
There will be an OpenMic poetry reading from 10.30am to 11.30 pm.

Dancing and food from 8pm.

Come to read and listen to great poetry, to dance and sing, to enjoy yourself in a big day of Poetry Celebration.

Tuesday 11 June 2013

RTE Guide/Penguin Ireland Short Story Competition

Penguin Ireland in partnership with the RTE Guide magazine have announced their annual short story competition.

Rules: All entries for the 2013 RTE Guide/Penguin Ireland Short Story Competition should be original, unpublished and previously not broadcast short stories in English of 2,000 words or less. Entrants’ name and contact details (address, phone and/or email) should be on a separate page.

The closing date is 6pm on Wednesday July 5th.

Entries are welcome from anywhere in the world.

Send your entries to : RTE Guide/Penguin Ireland Short Story Competition, PO Box 1480, RTE, Donnybrook, Dublin 4 or you can email

Monday 10 June 2013

Docklands Books Sale

If you are in or near the IFSC tomorrow, Tuesday, make sure and go to the 4th Dockland's Book Sale

It is a brilliant event. Thousands of books will be sold for just EUR 1 each and all proceeds from the sale will be distributed to partnering agencies who provide critical services for older people living in the Docklands area.

You can help by donating unwanted books, by helping out or by buying books. I bought too many last year and could hardly carry them!

Sunday 9 June 2013

Guest Editor for Boyne Berries

I am excited to be guest editing the September edition of Boyne Berries, a Meath based magazine that has been running for a few years now. They publish poetry and short prose. Read the rules here and adhere to them like superglue. Line count, word count, format, brief bio.

Send in early, please. I don't want to read them all in one go. It's anonymous so no favoritism! Bribes though are willingly accepted and will do no good at all at all, so they won't. Do me a favour though and if you think I will recognise your pieces for whatever reason, choose something else so I don't have a moral dilemma!

No payment, only glory. But what glory!
Come to the launch in Trim and read your piece.

I googled around and here are some pointers:
  • Fresh, powerful and polished - from Thereviewreview
  • I want to hear the resonance. If I really love a poem, I read it aloud - from shinejournal
  • If I couldn't find a strong image, or a clear sense of emotion, or connection between stanzas, it was easier for me to set the poem aside. Also from Shinejournal.
  • It is necessary to spell your poetry correctly. Scrap the cliches. Don't just chop up prose - from Nick Laird
  • Is it a So What poem? Excel here 
  • Some more pointers from Don Paterson here. Well worth a read
Here are some of the things I hope to find:
  • I'd like some poems in form please, sonnets, pantoums, ghazals, rhubaiyats etc. Give it a try.
  • I like pieces that make me see something in a new light. 
  • Pieces I haven't read before umpteen times.
  • Pieces that are multi-layered and take time to unwind.
  • Having said that, I don't have much time for writing that is so so obtuse, so obscure, it makes me feel frustrated or plain thick. It shouldn't take a machete to get to the point.
  • Pieces that love language, love words, make me fall in love with new words
  • Show me something new, show me the feeling, let me picture the image. 
  • Leave some gaps for me to fill in myself.
  • Pieces that are honest
  • Pieces that are sly
  • Pieces that catch me out, make me laugh out loud
  • Pieces that leave me gulping
  • Pieces with a subtle turn
  • Pieces that come at me from left field
  • Science pieces. Love Science. And Maths
  • Pieces that take risks
Submissions are open during the period 1 June - 13 July 2013.

Friday 7 June 2013

Peace Camp Poem on display

Peace Camp was a series of installations that took place last summer in some of the most beautiful coastal locations around the UK including the North Antrim coast and Mussenden Temple in Coleraine.

Glowing lights, designed to be visited at dusk and dawn, were accompanied by the nation's favourite love poems, read out loud by a wide range of people from across the country.

They asked for contributions to their website and created an online anthology of love poetry. The British Library are archiving the website, including all contributions, for posterity. It inspired hundreds of poems and photographic images. Tens of thousands of people visited the project website; to view and share images from the live event around the country, to read and listen to poems and contributions, and nominate poems for the anthology.

The project was inspired by the Olympic Truce and organised by the Artichoke Trust.

I am delighted that my poem, Let's Go Driving, is to be included and is one of only twelve to be on display at the Poetry Cafe in London along with some amazing photos.

You can see the early version here

Get down and have a look if you possibly can.

10 June -13 July

The Poetry Cafe
22 Betterton St, 
11am-11pm Monday to Friday

6.30pm-11pm Saturday 

See website for more details here

Thursday 6 June 2013

Scripts - Playwriting Festival

Sunday 8 – Saturday 14 September 2013

Scripts, Ireland’s newest playwriting festival is dedicated to new Irish plays - the writing of them, the development and nurturing of them.  

Playwright's can submit original 15 Minute plays on the theme Home for selection.  Those selected will benefit from a professional development process where they will be mentored by professional playwright Eugene O' Brien in an exciting workshopping process. 

For 7 days in September the picturesque heritage town of Birr, Co. Offaly, a haven of Georgian elegance, will play host to an ensemble of playwrights, producers, actors and directors, all working towards one goal -  to produce 7 outstanding new Irish plays in 7 fun-filled days!

Submissions are now being sought for:
-      10 – 15 minute plays on the theme, Home
-      10 – 15 minute Radio Play, on the theme Home
-      OR, you can register to be part of a “Pop Up” Play in a Day Challenge

visit for more info 

Wednesday 5 June 2013

Cork Peer review Workshop

A new weekly peer review workshop for writers of poetry and flash fiction will begin at the Munster Literature Centre and run every Friday morning of July/August. 

The workshop will be facilitated by Patrick Cotter director of the Centre.  

There will be a maximum of ten places and participants must have had either a poem or a piece of flash fiction published in a professional publication. 

It is envisaged many of the participants will already have books published. 

There will be a nominal charge each week of €5 to cover coffee and photocopies.  

If you are interested in taking part email Patrick at

Monday 3 June 2013

McLellan Poetry Prize

The McLellan Poetry Prize is awarded in memory of Robert McLellan the poet, playwright and short story writer who spent his working life in High Corrie on the Isle of Arran.
Once again we will be offering a first prize of £1000 (along with 11 other prizes and commendations). 
Poems will be judged by Peter and Ann Sansom, who will present the prizes in person at a special festival event on 30th August. 
Deadline: 30th June 2013 
Poems should:
  • be no more than 80 lines  
  • Have a title
  • be in English, 
  • be previously unpublished 
  • must not have won a prize in any other competition.
This is an international competition, open to all.
Fee: £5 per poem and £4 each for three or more poems. Cheques drawn on a UK bank
or Pay Online
Full details can be found at

Saturday 1 June 2013

Dublin Writers Festival

I spent a happy week volunteering at Dublin Writers Festival. I met lots of lovely people. Readers are such nice people, ready to chat and talk about books. Very patient queuers too, which was useful. Some queues I saw were way long.

First on Tuesday I went to the Jon Ronson event in the lovely theatre in Liberty Hall. The place was packed and the balcony was full too. Jon talked about investigative comedy. He tackles serious issues under the cover of comedy and talked about some of the situations he found himself in. Check out some of his clips on YouTube for a flavour and buy his newest book, Lost At Sea, which takes him from the Klu Klux Klan to LA drug barons to psychics. I have a theory that because he is a small, unassuming man in appearance, he can get away with a lot more than bigger guys as he does not come over as threatening.He was massively generous and patient with the huge queue to sign his books, talking to everyone who all came away with a big smile.

Thursday I went to Caitlin Moran, a hero of mine, hard core feminist and funny and irreverent, she says out loud many things I've thought for years, some of which I've never said out loud. The National Concert Hall was sold out, which with the chorus seats also open, is about 1,300 people, some of them were men too! Again, massively generous with her time at the signings and there must be loads of photos of her posing with her fans now, young and old.

Friday I went to see the Scottish poet Robin Robertson who was wonderfully dry and clever at Smock Alley, introduced by Paul Perry. I missed hearing Frank McGuinness but the reaction to his reading was very positive. I bought Robin Robertson's newest collection, The Wrecking Light, at the Gutterbookshop after. Check out his poem called A&E about going to hospital post heart surgery. Gruesom. I loe his sea poems too, the language is wonderful.

Saturday I went to an event in the Chester Beatty Library (love that building) talking about reading and sharing the reading experience with Christina Dwyer Hickey, Naomi Alderman and a very engaged audience.

After that Anthony Cronin's epic poem Titanic, first published more than fifty years ago, with musical colaboration by the traditional musician Donal Lunny. The music made the hair on your arms stand to attention. Great response from the audience at the United Reform Church.

On Sunday I had an early start at the GutterBookShop who had unfortunately started the day with a breakin and a visit from the guards. So I took some story books outside in the sunshine and read to the small group of children who came to storytime. We all enjoyed it immensely. One book we read was Where the Wild Things Are and I had kids roaring their terrible roars and rolling their terrible eyes fit to burst. I'd happily do it again and so would some of the other volunteers I talked to. So let's do that again!

Then hotfoot up to the Dublin Writers Centre to catch a chat with the indefatigable Programming Director Liam Browne talking to Thomas Keneally about one of his favourite books, Voss by Australian Laureate Patrick White.

Lastly a children's event in the Ark with writer Sally Gardner. A lovely lady but I felt she did not engage at all well with the children or their parents. Not every writer is a good speaker.

There were lots of events that I would like to have seen, Brownbreadmixtapes and others at the festival club, Rebecca Solnit, Tracey Thorne, The Faber Social and the Dennis O'Driscoll event at The Gate in particular.

Roll on next year. And find a slot for me to read, why don't you?