Thursday 31 October 2013

Ballymaloe Poetry Prize

Ballymaloe Poetry Prize

Here's one of the biggest Irish based competitions. Get your writing hats on.

Closing date: 31 December 2013

Prizes: 1st €10,000, 2nd €2,000, 3rd €1,000

Details: The Moth magazine teams up with Ballymaloe Cookery School for the third year to offer one of the biggest prizes in the world for a single poem. The prize is open to everyone, as long as the work is original and previously unpublished.

The entry fee is €9 per poem, and you can enter as many poems as you like.

This year's judge is New York State Poet Laureate Marie Howe.

Wednesday 30 October 2013

Ó Bhéal Winter Warmer Festival

This sounds like a lovely festival in Cork.

I'd love to read in Cork again. Ask me please?

15th – 16th November 2013 
Ó Bhéal Winter Warmer Festival 
to be held at
Sample Studios Amphitheatre (Sullivan’s Quay, Cork)
Ó Bhéal is proud to announce its first Winter Warmer Festival, a weekend of poetry featuring twenty-one poets, four of whom will be performing to music.

oikos will present a live installation incorporating poetry, influenced by butoh and body-weather practices. There’s also a preview screening of Seamus Murphy’s excellent new poetry film Snake: Poetry of Afghanistan’s Women (the world première of which follows in December), as well as a closed-mic for ten local poets.

Programme here

Poets to check out here include Cal Doyle, Dimitra Xidous, Snake: Poetry of Afghanistan’s Women, Robyn Rowland, Patrick Cotter, Doireann Ni Ghriofa, Matthew Geden and many others

Tuesday 29 October 2013

Cafe Writers Poetry Competition

Deadline: 30th November 2013


1ST  £1000        2nd £300 3rd £150   Six Commended Prizes of £50
Funniest Poem not winning another prize £100Norfolk Prize  £100awarded to the best poem from a permanent Norfolk resident not winning another prize

Entry Fee : £4 per poem; or £10 for 3 poems and £2.00 per poem thereafter
 SOLE JUDGE Deryn Rees-Jones

Maximum of 40 lines (excluding title) on one side of A4.

Entries must be entirely the work of the entrant and must never have been published, self-published, published on any web-site or broadcast.

Entries should be sent to:  Café Writers Poetry Competition, 168a Silver Rd, Norwich NR3 4TH with a cheque payable to Café Writers or enter and pay online at

Sunday 27 October 2013

Francis Ledwidge International Poetry Award

The winner of this award gets a Ledwidge plaque for the mentalpiece. I don't have a mentalpiece. Perhaps you do.

1st Prize is the Ledwidge plaque (a keepsake) inscribed with the winner’s name & cash prize.
Cash prizes and books for second and third and merit certificates for finalists.

The first 3 poems will be entered in the Forward Prize UK

In addition, the winner will be invited to read at the annual Francis Ledwidge Commemoration at the National War Memorial Gardens in July 2014.

Poems should not exceed 40 lines of type.
€ 4 per poem, 3 for €10. Maximum 6 poems (€20) payable to the Inchicore Ledwidge Society

Name and address and telephone number on a separate sheet.

Deadline: 5th November 2013 

Snailmail only:
The Francis Ledwidge International Poetry Award 2013, c/o 20, Emmet Crescent, Inchicore, Dublin 8

Winners will be notified and results will be announced at the annual awards night.

check out the Inchicore Ledwidge Society Facebook page

Friday 25 October 2013

iOTA shots Awards for Short Poetry Pamphlets

Deadline: 18th November 2013: 
Results announced February 2014

Two, and up to three poets will have their shorter 'poetry shots'  published by Templar Poetry in 2014 and publication will be accompanied by launch events as well as the opportunity to appear at live Templar Poetry events and other venues.
An iOTA shot will be whatever you make it as a poet. It may be a series of sonnets, haiku, a sequence, a single narrative poem, a mini-epic or a short collection on a theme; it is both an invitation and an opportunity to produce an innovative, original and imaginative short piece of work.

Templar Poetry  is a publishing house with a reputation for developing new audiences for poetry through its fresh and unfettered approach to discovering excellent new writers and presenting their work to a wide range of readers and listeners.

  • Each winning poet receives £100 and fifty copies of their iOTA shot pamphlet
  • Each winning poet will be offered the opportunity to record their work for our forthcoming online poetry carousel
  • Each winning poet will be issued with a Templar Poetry publishing agreement which will include the option to submit a full collection for consideration
  • All poets who submit receive a complimentary Templar Pamphlet
  • READER – Alex McMillen: Managing Editor, Templar Poetry

  • The cover, title and contents pages are not counted in the twelve to sixteen pages of poetry.
Postal Submission Fee: £14.50
Online Submission Fee: £15.50

 Link here

Wednesday 23 October 2013

Dublin Book Festival

Dublin Book Festival has been running since 2005. This year it is in the lovely Smock Alley Theatre from Thursday 14th to 17th November.

Here are some events that appeal but full details here

Friday 15th November at 6pm in The Black Box.

Every year, around the world, the Day of the Imprisoned Writer celebrates and supports writers who resist repression of the basic human right to freedom of expression and who stand up to attacks made against their right to impart information and insight. On 15th November Theo Dorgan, poet and prose writer, and Shona Murray (Broadcaster) will read from the work of writers based around the world who have been targeted because they had the courage to speak their minds, challenging injustice and confronting governments and oppressive regimes far afield and closer to home.

Friday, 15th November at 6:45-8:00pm
RTÉ Arena @ DBF: Sarah Griffin, Shaun Dunne, Elizabeth Reapy and Lucy Montague-Moffatt, Colm Keegan  
Cost:  €7/€5 Concession
Saturday 16th November at 3pm in The Boys' School
In a special collaboration with the Dublin Writers Festival, we welcome three of the new generation of Irish poets. 

Sinéad Morrissey, Leanne O’Sullivan and Sarah Clancy

Tickets are free with a nominal booking charge.

Saturday, 16 November at 4:00pm-5:00pm  
Emerging Authors Making a Stir: Ciaran Carty, Niamh Boyce, Gavin Corbett, Janet Cameron  
Irish Writers’ Centre, Parnell Square

Saturday,16 November at 4:30-5:30pm
The Anti Room @ DBF With Sinéad Gleeson, Anna Carey, Christine Dwyer Hickey, Jennifer Ridyard, Nuala Ní Chonchúir

Sunday, 17 November at 12:00pm-1:30 pm
The Myth of the Perfect Woman: Róisín Ingle in conversation with Emily Hourican and Emma Hannigan
Cost:  €10

Sunday, 17 November at 2:00pm-3:00pm
Making Us Laugh: Damian Corless with Paul Howard and Pauline McLynn  

Monday 21 October 2013

Literary Orphans Submission call

The Chicago based magazine, Literary Orphans, is looking for pieces with an Irish angle. Not Oirish though, they are hasty to say. No Leprechauns or roads rising up to meet you, unless after 15 pints on the way home or perhaps in a post-apocalyptic way.

They take stories, poetry and flash fiction.

Send us your stories, your poems, your lyric essays, your unwashed, your poor, your bastards, your monsters, your orphans. We’re reading submissions for our Ireland issue. We want writing that represents 21st Century Ireland in all its multifaceted glory. Whether you’re Irish, of Irish descent, or simply enjoy a glass of Tullamore Dew or Bushmills, send your best work. Refrain, of course, from any mention of Emerald Isle, forty shades of green, Leprechauns, St. Patrick, Riverdance, The Quiet Man, or other similarly reductive tropes. Bring us the Ireland of expansive writing; writing to curl our toes and send shivers down our hard drives.

Link here

They say:

The world we struggle to create on these binary pages is a world that will make you uncomfortable and reflective. The writing on Literary Orphans is a mood more than a style.
It’s the nervous glances back at your apartment when you go for a walk without your cell phone. It’s the nostalgia you have for squeaking cassette tapes and Soviet ICBMs. It’s an analog dream in a digital era.

Saturday 19 October 2013

Cuisle International Poetry Festival

Cuisle Poetry Festival

One of the pre-eminent figures of Irish Literature will participate in this year’s Cuisle Limerick City International Poetry Festival from 24-26th October.

Poet, novelist, biographer, critic, commentator and arts activist, Anthony Cronin will join other established Irish and international poets at next week’s festival which includes lunchtime and evening readings, screenings of poetry films, an open mic session, a tribute to departed poets, a varied programme for schools, and the ‘Young Poet of the Year Award’.

Funded by Limerick City Council Arts Office and The Arts Council, Cuisle 2013 will feature lunchtime readings at the Hunt Museum by Ron Carey (Thursday) and Kerrie O'Brien (Friday). The evening performances at 69 O’Connell St (formerly the Belltable) will feature Anthony Cronin, Biddy Jenkinson, Macdara Woods, Hugh Maxton, David Wheatley, Adam Wyeth, and Limerick’s own Jo Slade. The Schools’ Programme will feature readings by Biddy Jenkinson, David Wheatley, John Davies (Brighton), as well as master classes by Veronika Dintinjana (Ljubljana) and Tim Cunningham (Limerick).

This year the festival’s network of poetic exchanges, which already includes Slovenia and the UK, has been extended to Italy with the arrival of Marco Viscomi, nominated by Cuisle’s sister-festival in Umbria (Riflessi DiVersi).

In addition, the yearly poetry anthology ‘The Stony Thursday Book’, edited this year by Paddy
Bushe, will be launched at the festival.

Cuisle is the pulse that brings life to language, and creates friendships through verse between all peoples. All of this is wrapped up in the warm tradition of Cuisle, providing a very special atmosphere that festival guests have come to love. If you’re within a pigeon’s flight of Limerick, or need some poetry in your life, pay a visit to the City for Cuisle.

The Cuisle Limerick City International Poetry Festival will be formally launched on Wednesday 23 October and will run from 24 – 26th October (Thursday, Friday, Saturday).  Further information is available from

Thursday 17 October 2013

Tara Maria Lovett in conversation

Interviews from the Babble Journal 2013 by Maria Smith

In case you didn't get to see a copy of the Babble Journal, Maria has kindly allowed me to post the two interviews here. First playwright Tara Maria Lovett.

Tara Maria Lovett displays a refreshingly no nonsense approach to playwriting. Seated in the stonewalled sunshine of the Backyard Arts Centre in Moynehall, she searches for a cigarette lighter and speaks with a frank conviction about her work, style and methods.  
First off she stresses that the most important thing for aspiring writers is to dispel the pretentions that lurk around the Arts and to remember that the word ‘play’ in the dramatic sense “means just that - to play with ideas and find that liberating playfulness indulged in childhood and use this again as a source of creative energy.
Originally from Bray, County Wicklow Tara Lovett began writing plays at a young age. She wrote her first play, a four act entitled ‘The Granite Bird’, at twelve. “It just went on and on” she recalls – “it was a Ulysses for a twelve year old. I was into animals like most kids, dogs in particular and one fateful day after starting secondary school I met a lady out walking her dog. Her name was Eileen. She was a retired civil servant, fascinated by the fact that I was writing a play, and we casually began what would become a lifelong friendship. At twelve, I couldn’t type so she typed that first play for me using carbon paper and a large old typewriter as I sat watching her.” While that early play didn’t go anywhere the writing went on from there.
“My own family were not into theatre, it would have been frowned upon as ‘slightly dubious’. I had seen plays at school, so I understood the basic structures of drama more from observation than any heavy reading. There was a friend of my mothers, a lovely woman called Auntie Kay who was a theatre goer and loved the drama of theatre; she took me to see a production of Peter Shaffer’s Equus in the Gaiety Theatre and seeing that play changed my life. I never forgot it.”  
I wrote fiction from then on. Secondary school was drab. Teachers took an interest, saw potential but probably saw my work as too dark and possibly a little weird. Life began properly after leaving that school and repeating the leaving at a different one.” Despite choosing a career in veterinary, Tara continued to write. In 1997, after attending a week long writing course in Dingle given by Cavan author Michael Harding, she returned in earnest to writing drama. She regards meeting Harding that week as a real turning point. “I was writing fiction at the time. Over the course of the week we had to come up with the synopsis for a play and he was a superb tutor, hugely encouraging. He asked me why I was writing fiction when it was clear that I should be writing for theatre. It was the advice that I needed and I trusted his judgement.”
“That gave me confidence. I started writing plays and it all kicked off from there. I wrote some one act plays and won a couple of awards with those. I won The Fingal Scribe Award in Dublin and subsequently Focus Theatre via Deirdre O’Connell picked up that play The Shape. Deirdre effectively gave me my first start in professional theatre when she took two of my one act plays and put them on in The Focus Lunchtime Series and that got me that bit of extra notice.”
Smiling, she recalls being half terrified yet in her element sitting in the back of The Focus watching the directors working with her plays. It was a crucial learning experience for Lovett and it was not always all smiles. On one occasion a director asked for her opinion on a performance piece and she willingly gave it, only to be berated by a very full on O’Connell who saw writer intervention as unhelpful.
As those on the cutting edge of the Irish theatre scene began to take notice, the awards kept coming.  In June 2001 Lovett won the Oz Whitehead Award for another One Act play entitled Action Man and later in March 2002, she was awarded the Sean Dunne Literary Award for The Hen House (2002). She subsequently won the Eamon Keane Award for her first full length play The Piano Lesson at Listowel Writer's Week (2002). A young director from Trinity College took another full length play The Suck and put it on at The Project Arts Centre. Another full length play was performed at Dublin Castle and shortlisted for an Irish Times theatre award the same year. Druid were calling, as were London based agents, The Abbey Theatre held readings and she participated in their New Playwriting Development Programme.
Yet, she remains very humble about these early achievements and says she never really let it sink in. From listening to Lovett speak passionately about this exciting and seminal time you realise that personal fame or recognition was never a goal. It was always about the plays not the playwright. Not surprisingly when life and family matters intervened, she says she stepped out of the playground and back into the real world. For more than a decade writing plays took a back seat. Moving to Cavan, however, saw Lovett picking up the pen again. She was always attracted to rural Ireland, having never written a Dublin centred aesthetic or in a Dublin dialect. She now regards the move to Cavan as “a sort of spiritual homecoming.”
A critical thinker as well as a writer, Lovett believes that modern drama deals too much in the dialogue of psycho babble and people telling each other how they feel. Moments of silence are so important in Lovett’s work, she says she writes to achieve those moments of silence. For her, a play remains a very visual thing. “Images bring you the plot”, she says. “I see an image and I wonder what scenes or dialogue might flow from that.” For instance, a dead magpie and a mass rock formed the inspiration for her latest play The Mass Rock, which premiered to a packed Ramor Theatre in Virginia last July.  
“I try to write theatre that is not about tables and chairs or bars”, she says. “I write with the hope that when people go to the theatre they are going to see images that they are going to remember. I don’t write to shock but I want an audience to be moved. No one writes to make an audience feel safe. They shouldn’t be thinking about where they might be going for a drink after the performance or if they paid for parking, they should be engrossed, involved, and maybe uncomfortable.”
She believes that when writing, simplicity and tenacity are key as things dilute when you move from page to stage.
Lovett makes bold statements with compelling conviction as she explains her dramatic vision. She tells emerging writers at her workshops that they should be able to sum up a play in six lines. That “the less you have happening on stage the easier it is to engage your audience.” She is not a proponent of the Fourth Wall Convention and does not see the play as an imitation of reality. “The play is a dream or a metaphor.”
“Conflict in theatre is most interesting when you don’t use or over-use dialogue.”
“Your play may have a sub plot and multiple layers and dimensions but you are really only telling one story. You will water down the play if you try telling too many stories.” She believes that an audience must ultimately get what they want but not necessarily in the way that they expect it.
Finally, she advises that “the action of the play must go to the end of the world. You must follow through on all images, ideas etc. In theatre you simply must go all the way.”
Tara Maria Lovett’s new one act play The Change premiered at Babble Literary Festival in Cavan town August 17th, 2013.

Tuesday 15 October 2013

Programme Isla Festival 2013 -The Power of Words

This festival is organised by the Instituto Cervantes. See link here 

Friday, 18th October 2013

Doors open

4pm - 4.45pm

Official opening speech by Irish writer John Banville

Remembering Seamus Heaney: Reading of sonnets by actor Tom Hickey

5pm - 6.15pm

Poetry as a Calling: Profession or Possession?

Chaired by: Lorna Shaughnessy (NUI Galway)


  • René Vázquez Díaz (Cuba)
  • Daniel Freidemberg (Argentina)
  • Tomás Mac Síomóin (Ireland)
6.30pm - 7.15pm

Today we are reading with

Introduced by: Bill Richardson (NUI Galway)


  • Daniel Freidemberg (Argentina)
  • Tomás Mac Síomóin (Ireland)
  • Paula Meehan (Ireland)
  • Kirmen Uribe (Spain)
  • Enrique Vila-Matas (Spain)

Wine Reception

Saturday 19th October 2013

11.30am - 12.45pm

Dublin and Other Cities of Literature

Chaired by: Ciaran Cosgrove (Trinity College Dublin)


  • John Banville (Ireland)
  • Eileen Battersby (United States)
  • Enrique Vila-Matas (Spain)
12.45pm- 2.00pm


2.00pm - 3.15pm

The Novel, Memory and Resistance

Chaired by: Cara Levey (University College Cork)


  • John Boyne (Ireland)
  • Julio Espinosa (Chile)
  • Kirmen Uribe (Spain)
3.30pm - 4.15pm

Today we are reading with

Introduced by: Carmen Sanjulián (Instituto Cervantes)


  • John Banville (Ireland)
  • Eilleen Battersby (United States)
  • John Boyne (Ireland)
  • Álvaro Enrigue (Mexico)
  • María Tena (Spain)
4.30pm - 5.45pm

Hispanic Power

Chaired by: Catherine Leen (NUI Maynooth)


  • Álvaro Enrigue (Mexico)
  • María Tena (Spain)
  • Fernando Sánchez Dragó (Spain)

6.00pm - 7.10pm

Film screening: «Antonio Machado: Destierro y muerte de un poeta»

Documentary on Antonio Machado
2005 (Spain).66 min.
In Spanish + English subtitles

Sunday, 20th October 2013

11.00am - 12.30pm

A Question of Genres

Chaired by: Jean Philippe Imbert (Dublin City University)


  • Marina Carr (Ireland)
  • Susana Cella (Argentina)
  • Manuel Gutiérrez Aragón (Spain)
12.45pm -13.30pm

Today we are reading with

Introduced by: Ciaran Carthy 


  • René Vázquez Díaz (Cuba)
  • Susana Cella (Argentina)
  • Marina Carr (Ireland) ´
  • Julio Espinosa (Chile)
  • Manuel Gutiérrez Aragón (Spain)
  • Fernando Sánchez Dragó (Spa

Sunday 13 October 2013

Interview with Writer Fred Johnston

Fred Johnston has such a long writing CV, I can only summarise it here. He was born and educated in Belfast. He has lived in Toronto, Canada, Spain and Africa. 'Orangeman', a collection of stories in French, translated by film-maker and writer and good friend, Christian le Braz, appeared from Terre de Brume (France) in October 2010 and has just published a second volume of short stories, 'Dancing In The Asylum,' from Parthian Books (UK) Among his poetry achievements are Founder of Galway's annual international literature festival, CÚIRT, in 1986. Writer-in-Residence to the Princess Grace Irish Library at Monaco, 2004. He is the Founder of the Western Writers’ Centre – Ionad Scríbhneoiri Chaitlín Maude – based in Galway (

Hello Fred and welcome to emergingwriter. You've had such a long writing life so far, I'm not sure where to start. But I'll start at the beginning. How did you first get interested in poetry?
I was writing poetry very early on, at about the same time that I began to write short stories. I wanted only to be a short story writer, as it transpires. Steinbeck influenced me, and James Baldwin and later the French writers. Dear me, but I toted things up the other day, and it is forty-two years since I published my first short story! Poetry was always dear to me in so much as, writing songs, which I also did from an early age, I believed in the measured potency of words. I also believed - and it was in the air then too - that poetry had a social and political importance; certainly, that poets had or should have. Not many Irish contemporary poets want to hear that now, sadly.

You write both fiction and poetry. How do you change from one to the other?
One doesn't so much 'change' from one to the other as permit oneself to be led into a different manner of seeing things; poetry has one way of doing things, let's say, prose quite another: which is why it saddens me to see young poets banging out poems which are actually merely acts of chopped prose. I blame writers' workshops, some of the worst kind, anyway, for this. In poetry I am dealing with music; in prose, with a sort of oration. Each demands something quite different from you.

You also do book reviews. With Ireland a very small place, you must often know the writers you are reviewing. And the reviewers of your books may often know you. How do you keep the review separate from the relationship?
I was a book reviewer for newspapers and journals and indeed theatre and visual art for many years. I have no problem keeping the relations between reviewer and acquaintance separate, but I have learned that there are those who believe you are betraying them if you speak your mind. Joyce said, and I paraphrase, that the big sin in Ireland was to put things in print. He wasn't wrong. I expect he meant opinions that ran contrary to the consensus, or some consensus served up by a tiny group, poets, writers or politicians.
The cultural world in Ireland tiny, the poetry world a tinier world within an already tiny world. Everything is personal. Everyone connected to one degree or another. Friends help out friends, review friends: woe betide the reviewer who speaks his mind to his friends! It is held, schoolboy-fashion, that some poets are not to be criticised save favourably and sanction will be sought if one attempts to criticise them unfavourably. Of course, this attitude prevents the poet under review ever from maturing. I believe also that a writer is not divorced in some quasi-mystical way from his or her work; this view is not tolerated easily in some quarters.
For instance, if a poet who epigraphs his work continually with quotes from old Soviet Union poets who were incarcerated for their work, yet will himself never join a demonstration or write a letter of protest to a newspaper, I see it as a reviewer's duty to point out the obvious disconnection inherent in this. This rather more 'holistic' approach is not welcomed in Ireland. One doesn't lose real friends by being a reviewer, it should be said. One only loses those acquaintances whose time it was to go anyway.
Have I 'suffered' professionally from writing negative reviews? Oh, without a doubt. But I'm against cultural love-ins, they do the art no good at all. One should rather have art and literature that was excruciatingly bad than art and literature that slapped itself on the back. The word 'consensus' sounds too much to me like the sort of thing a doctor might write on one's chart at the end of a hospital bed.

You have embraced Facebook. What, if anything, do you get out of it as a writer?
Facebook is merely a communications tool, for opinion, viewpoints and dissent, sometimes. But God protect us from a day when some budding poet adds to his bibliography that he or she 'had three poems published on Facebook.'

What advice would you have for poets who are starting out or at an early stage of their development?
One could be dreadfully cynical and suggest that he or she finds some well-connected friends in the media before writing a line. Too much of publishing and promoting poetry is a 'who-you-know' game. It has become particularly thus through the fashioning of 'poetry celebs,' God help us, and that sort of thing.
On a more positive note, one might suggest that they stay true to their first creative impulse, that they do not crave publication as if it were the height of poetic achievement nor desire to have a collection of work published while they are too young to have anything to say; that they do not look to a writers' course ever to turn them into poets nor seek poetry prizes. Of more real value to the world is to be the local postman.
As Eliot said, writing poetry is a mug's game. One writes, I would add, because one has no choice. There is no other motive.

What can you remember your first publication?
It was a short story published by the late David Marcus in the New Irish Writing page of the old Irish Press. It was based on real experiences.
How did you feel, do you remember, when your story was accepted?
I felt very good when my first story was published, four decades ago. I was also very young. I believed the publication heralded the beginning of an illustrious and adventurous Bohemian career. I was incredibly naive; but these days anyone who publishes anything is looking at once at a collection of this or that and being encouraged to do so. Dreadfully damaging in the long run. I had one real thing to say and I said it. I was eighteen years old. At twenty I probably had one more thing to say. That's all.  Most things that I believed pertained only to my own view of the world. With some contemporary writers, this affliction never quite passes.

Have you got a good writing prompt for a new writer?
I am unsure as to what you mean by a 'writing prompt,' as I had always thought that, firstly,
inspiration was a personal affair and secondly that imagination worked from there. The
writing should prompt the writer.
I guess what I mean by a writing prompt is just an exercise a new writer could use to kick start the imagination. What do you do? Walk? Read? Meditate? use a notebook? Memoirs? Use photos or visual art?
I have personally never used prompts as such beyond giving ideas time to mature. I can't say much more about that.

Time - a great writing prompt!
I know you write in French. Does the initial idea come in French? Do you dream in French. Do you do your own translations? I have tried poetry translation (I speak Dutch) but I found it extremely tough to get both the meaning and the rhythm and nuances out.
Excellent question. I have occasionally had dreams in part-French! The nuances. . . well, when translating, your faced with a choice: to go for the adaptation of the poem, or the more precise translation, which is always more challenging, naturally. But I suppose that's part of one's job. And one's risk.
The initial idea derives very often from a sort of verbal play, if you like; I simply want to use French to see how it sounds, how it works text-wise. Yet just as often I have a theme which, odd though it may seem, is more suitably handled in French. I am freer in my writing, I think, in French - I envy very much those who can, for instance, write in Irish as well as English. One can deal with subjects in a very different, not to say more open and even intimate way. It's always hit-and-miss.
I am always delighted and surprised to have one of my poems in French take by a French publication. For me, changing languages is changing my mind-set, my emotional response. I suppose one literally becomes someone else. I have respect, I would hope, for the translator's task and detest the fact that in Ireland so much of what is published as a translation by some poets is in fact a crib from an original translation altered slightly. That's just messing about, to put it mildly.
I think I would add that the French have more respect for poetry than we have. We're churning it out, paying little attention to style and some times, to form; we think emotion is poetry. It isn't. Too many of us see poetry as a way to get trips abroad and a handy grant. I hate to say this, but Irish poetry is far from being in a healthy state. It needs serious critical revision. But sadly, I doubt that it will get it. We're not who we think we are.

Trips abroad and grants galore. I wish!
What have you got coming up?

A new collection of poems, 'Alligator Days,' is being published by the redoubtable Revival Press. I was extremely lucky to receive a literary bursary from the Arts Council of Ireland and another from the Northern Ireland Arts Council this year, and for this second bursary I am working on a project with Lagan Poetry in Derry.

Friday 11 October 2013

Carlo Gébler in Conversation

Interviews from the Babble Journal 2013 by Antoinette Rock

In case you didn't get to see a copy of the Babble Journal, Antoinette has kindly allowed me to post the two interviews here. Second writer Carlo Gébler.
“I remember the sound of the typewriter clacking day and night, I suppose I found it soothing as a child. Both my parents were writers. One wrote during the day the other at night.”
After leaving school in London he enrolled in a typing school on Oxford Street to learn to touch type. He tells how there was a screen on the wall of the old cinema building with letters and the students typed these letters over and over again. Nowaday, Gébler sometimes likes to write long hand, but mostly he types. He finds it easier to type dialogue, “I always use Courier for clarity I have a keyboard which makes noise to emulate the sound of an old fashioned typewriter but of course it isn’t the same thing.”
He is interested in the physicality of the writing process itself, the piano-like musicality of the fingers finding a rhythm when pushing the keys. Posture too, he believes is very important to the creative flow.
Recently he has taken up yoga and finds this a great form of relaxation. “I believe the body needs to be in relatively good shape when writing.” He feels that a writer’s body needs to be aligned to the process and that walking and swimming or indeed any physical exercise that involves movement can help with this.

Gébler says, “When you read, you take material into your imagination, the characters wear the costumes of the period, all these things come from the lumber room of the memory.” When writing however, this process is reversed, “You cannot control it you have to be tolerant, you have to go with them.”
Language becomes a means of expression “When you are writing you have dialogue in your head, words come to you, fingers move, language is the master of the moment.” Gébler tells us you need to be ruthless to write you need to spend time alone away from other distractions. People have to be focused “Plough on to survive”. When writing is really good it looks like no effort has been made at all.

Gébler is writer in residence at Maghaberry Prison. According to him “prison is a place where narrative and text become a very important currency.” Indeed, prison sometimes helps people to write. “People only tell you what they want to tell you, everyone has the ability to tell a story whether they are literate or not.” Writing is important in prison as nothing happens unless it’s written down. Stories have an increased power or agency within prison walls.

One of his novels, A Good Day for a Dog, deals with prison life in a humorous way. Gébler has another book due for publication entitled A Wing Orderlies Diary - a collection of tales from a man who cleans the wing. In prison Gébler explains one goes inside one’s self, he says that prisoners are forced to have a close relationship with themselves. “You meet the one person you go in there expecting not to meet – yourself. You cannot help but eventually think about where you are and why you are there.” The aim of his work behind bars is to help prisoners write as well as they can. Some of their writings have been published. Yet, people have to struggle to free themselves from the category.

For Gébler all writing is a process where one goes into a dark underground. It’s not quite a film or a play. “Enchanting and exciting words come to say what you need to say without having to search for them.” Some things you don't see you just have to conjure up.
Memory and images are also key to his aesthetic. For instance, Gébler recalls the house in Dublin he moved to from Wicklow as a young child. He remembers the light streaming through the blue, yellow and orange glass windowpanes at the top of the stairs. He recalls the images reflected through the light. A feeling of being almost four years old again.

In his new autobiography due for release this September from Lagan Press he looks at memories of things gone wrong, of a pessimism that begets catastrophes. What it’s like to be the catastrophist of the title - always believing things can only go downhill. Despite the subject matter he assures us it is really quite a funny read.

Being a writer has changed how Gébler approaches others works. “I don't read for pleasure any more, I don't read innocently.” Reading for him is a thinking process. Currently he admits to reading four or five books each week. He cites many impressive post-recession Irish novels including Donal Ryans The Spinning Heart amongst his collection. Gébler also enjoys folk material. He produces a copy of Sean O’Sullivans Folktales of Ireland from the garden shed in which he now writes. He recalls the volume as a childhood treasure and remembers ‘The Children of Lir’ as a boyhood favourite. He says the Russian writers have been influential in his writing but admits to having yet to tackle Dostoyevsky. He has read all the classics Dante, Wordsworth, Chekhov, Camus and also mentions how he enjoys the work of Edward Bunker.

Advice for new and emerging writers, Gébler says, can be summed up in three simple words “Read, Write and Re-write. It’s also important not to take yourself too seriously.”
Writing should be done with simplicity and clarity. It should not warn readers off. “Anything you write people should be able to read, language should not be flowery, keep things simple bedrock.” These traditions Gébler says he got from both his parents.

When asked about the title of the journal Babble and the notion that “All sense is nonsense, All talk and written words are in some sense - babble”, he smiles and he assures us that he has no reason to disagree.

Wednesday 9 October 2013

Dublin City Council - Arts Funding

Dublin City Council invites applications for funding towards arts projects and programmes in the city which are complementary to the following objectives:

  • Achieving quality provision of the arts and cultural services
  • Supporting the established and emerging artist
  • Ensuring equality of public access to and participation in the arts, particularly through the city neighbourhoods
  • Encouraging awareness, education and research in the arts
  • Supporting the sustainable and strategic development of arts initiatives
Application forms, guidelines and criteria may be obtained from:
City Arts Office, Dublin City Council, The LAB, Foley St., Dublin 1
Tel: 222 7843 
or E-mail:


Deadline: Monday 4th November at 5pm.

Monday 7 October 2013

Desmond O'Grady Poetry Competition

The lovely people at the White House Limerick Poetry present the Desmond O’Grady Poetry Competition 2013; it's open to all poets from all around the world.

Poems can be in English or Irish language and must be unpublished.

Judge: Fred Johnston
Fee: €3 for poem;
€8 for three poems.

Closing date: 31st October 2013

First prize: €1,000
Second prize: €300
Third prize: €100

A longlist of 45 poems will be selected by the judge and author poets are invited to read them on the 20th and 27th November and 4th December (15 poems per evening) at the White House Limerick Poetry Open Mic that takes place every Wednesday at White House Bar in Limerick, Ireland.

More information here

Saturday 5 October 2013

Red Line festival Events

South Dublin County Council have a super line up of events for this years festival called Red Line. Quite a few free events and some imaginative initiatives and settings.
Events include (first and foremost):
Blurring the Wobbly boundaries between Page and Stage - A Workshop on reading your poetry or prose with The Poetry Divas at RUA RED Arts Centre
Friday 18th October at 6.30pm
Admission €12/€8
Places limited, book early to avoid disappointment!
Book now!
Three Men Talking about things they kinda know about
at the Civic Theatre, Tallaght - Main Auditorium on Wednesday October 16th at 8pm
Admission €12/€10
Rhythm & Slam Poetry & Performance by Migrant Writers & Performing Artists Ireland
at RUA RED Arts Centre, Tallaght - Wednesday 16th October at 6pm
Admission free - booking essential
Shame this is so early. I wouldn't be able to get there in time and I'd love to go. Live streaming? 
Red Line Book Festival Poetry Competition Prize Giving Ceremony & Readings with competition judge Alan Jude Moore
RUA RED Arts Centre Cafe, Tallaght
Thursday 17th October at 6pm
Again, too early for me.

Check-Out Poetry with Colm Keegan

at Superquinn Shopping Centre, Lucan
Thursday 17th October at 1pm

A little poetry with your beans.
Readers Day has interviews with Dermot Bolger, Fintan O'Toole and Mary Kenny. Saturday 19th October starting at 10.30am

The Things we Know Now: Meet with author Catherine Dunne
Thursday 17th October at 7pm in Lucan Library
Admission Free.

John McGahern: His Time and His Places
Tuesday 15th October 6.30pm-7.30pm Institute of Technology Tallaght
Publishing: The Inside Track - A Panel Discussion curated by The Lilliput Press
at the Civic Theatre, Tallaght - Main Auditorium
Tuesday 15th October at 8pm
Admission €8/€6
Crime Writing Workshop with Louise Phillips
Thursday 17th October at 6.30pm
County Library, Tallaght

Creative Writing Workshop with Catherine Dunne

Friday 18th October at 2.30pm
Ballyroan Library
Admission Free. Booking Essential

Start Writing Workshop with Vanessa O'Loughlin
Saturday 19th October at 10.30am-1.30pm 
Lucan Library
Admission Free. Booking Essential
There are children's events too. Full details and booking links here