Wednesday 30 December 2015

High Life New Talent Awards

In my constant search to bring you some out of the ordinary places to which you can submit your writing, I flew with British Airways last month and saw this in their rather excellent High Life Magazine.

Celebrating 500 issues of High Life, this exciting new competition is aimed at finding the best young talent in writing, photography and film

Don't know why they restrict it to "young" though. Seems rather short-sighted. Most people who can afford to travel regularly are not "young."

As part of the celebrations for our milestone 500th issue this month, the inaugural High Life New Talent Awards has been conceived to find — and reward — the best young writers, photographers and filmmakers aged between 18-30
The first prize for each category of the competition will be undertaking an international commission for High Life

The overarching theme of the competition this year will be simply ‘cities’. Writers entering the awards will be asked to submit a well-structured, original and captivating 500-word travel feature about a city of their choice. Photographers should submit up to three images that capture the essence of their chosen city, in a way that is imaginative and astute. Film-makers should submit an evocative film about their city that is up to three minutes long, demonstrating both technical and creative ability. 
The judging panel will include BBC world affairs editor John Simpson, the renowned photographer, Rankin, and director, scriptwriter and punk pioneer, Viv Albertine. Joining them will be High Life editor, Kerry Smith, and other senior members of the magazine’s staff.
On 3 February 2016, finalists will be invited to an exclusive exhibition opening at the Strand Gallery, in association with Proud Galleries, where their work will be showcased and the winners will be revealed. The winners will also be announced in High Life magazine and on
The competition is open to UK residents, and will close at 23:59 GMT on 3 January 2016. 
Link here 

Monday 28 December 2015

Big in Berlin?

There are lots of English language magazines who take writing so don't restrict yourself to Ireland, the UK or even the USA.

SAND - Berlin's English Literary Journal
We are currently accepting submissions for our upcoming issue. For our lucky 13th issue, we are particularly looking for great writing from perspectives that are generally underserved in literature. For example, female, p.o.c., queer, or otherwise magnificent authors!
We also want to make a special call for literary nonfiction: personal essays, travel essays, creative reportage, etc. We're not looking for hard criticism or anything too academic; we want nonfiction with a strong authorial voice that demonstrates the author's gift for observation. 
As always, we also invite artists, photographers and illustrators to show us their work.
The deadline to submit for issue 13 is January 15th, 2016. 
Submit your work to us here:

Saturday 26 December 2015

Interview with Poet and O'Bheal director, Paul Casey

An interview with poet, facilitator and director of O’Bhéal literary nights Paul Casey.
Hi Paul and welcome to emergingwriter. Where did the impetus to start Ó Bhéal come from?

Firstly from my favourite two words, Poetry and Cork. And then from many places. I was aware of the scarcity of consistent venues, places where poetry can develop in the long-term and thrive through regular exposure, engagement and debate. I wanted to see it made less frightening. And to build audiences based on the qualities and potentials of the art form itself, rather than on its therapeutic abilities, or hungry egos. I’m no therapist. I’m in it for the craft. It partly came from a strong desire to give something back to my home city. Cork has always been a source of immeasurable sensibility and has been very good to me over the years.

I ran a multilingual poetry gig in South Africa when teaching there from 2003-5, which became quite popular, and after that I emceed in Dublin for Gerry McNamara’s Write and Recite sessions, over a couple of years. Ó Bhéal was born in April ’07, when there was no regular poetry venue in Cork, which seemed odd, if even embarrassing, especially when visiting poets would ask about reading here. They were present in Dublin, Galway, Limerick and Belfast at the time, but not here. Not in the regular sense at least, although they had been so previously. Some lucky timing for me.

I imagined a job where I could fire on all cylinders and sustain the full skillset. Writing, editing, film, multimedia, languages and teaching all rolled up into one. It made sense to combine them into a form of poetry service, so that I could be submerged in every aspect of it, both for my own growth as a poet and to add to the available choices within the wider landscape of poetry, the same scape within which so many writers like you and I need to actually survive. And to thrive. And for other selfish reasons. To widen my own education in poetry. To get on with the business of poetry. To encourage my own and others’ voices to emerge confidently within an informed, responsive, encouraging and challenging environment. A venue for all levels of experience to mingle and spark discourse, from the absolute beginner, to the master.

I wanted to shake up some of the prevailing perceptions of poetry and imagined remedying those induced allergies, remnants of rote-riddled, antiquated education systems. To attend an event where the full spectrum of poetry’s wonders, in all their marvellous permutations, could be welcomed and appreciated (or not!), and perhaps render certain boundaries meaningless. A forum able to counter and dissolve notions of elitism, doctrinaire clique-isms, egomania and so on. After seeing too many venues suffer from ego-inflammation (one is too many), its contagions and absurd exclusivities, I developed a strong need to level the playing field in whatever way possible. A bit like what Kate Tempest has been on about recently, but also to depoliticize the space to some extent. Another aim was to promote a culture of emcees, self-regulated, both for the cultivation of good and respectful compère practice and to keep the personality of the event in a kind of ego-resilient state of flux. 

Aside from the apparent benefits to poets and poetry, it’s a financial disaster, just as 99% of all poetry-related work tends to be. Now for the annual price of a short film, we could maintain ownership of one of the world’s most successful poetry programmes. And the merits prove multifold, in a venue where any member of the public can feel safe to engage, dip a toe or dive straight in, or simply enjoy. To not feel like an alien. To explore what’s possible in poetry, welcoming the spoken, written, traditional and far beyond, while being regularly exposed to a wide range of what’s really good. Pushing where it can go, what it can do, how it can marry. Ó Bhéal seemed the best way forward, although it’s far more demanding at this stage.

Kate Tempest was talking about intellectual snobbery amongst poets, which is common, but I have to say, also common in other walks of life. Of course there is a conflict between performance and written poetry. There is some terrible performance poetry that if performed well, goes down OK. But equally there is some dreadful page poetry that gets published and lauded based on the name. Good performance poetry has to stand up on its own merits on the page, but page poetry that doesn't perform well, or is never performed, is missing something.
I agree Kate. On all accounts.

So there are no egos at O'Bheal? How do you manage that?

There are plenty. We just keep them too busy with poetry overload. Mine included.

Can you be a bit more specific about the financial disaster of the organisation? What sources of income do you have? And what are your costs?

It’s an opportune series of questions, for which I’m grateful. Our drive for long-term funding is underway and we have just over a year left to secure Ó Bhéal’s life beyond ten years. The various Arts bodies have funded us consistently since 2007. These are, with current figures: The Arts Council (€3000 pa.), The Cork City Council (€2200 pa.) and Foras na Gaeilge (€2400 pa.). These are all down from previous years. 

For 2016, the Arts Council increased their award to €5600, a welcome surprise and sorely needed relief for minimum fees. One difficulty of course is in having to spend 100% of any given budget with having only 50% up front. Tricky enough with irregular cash flow, but we're very grateful regardless and hope it's a sign of more permanent things to come. It may catch on even more yet, that in appreciating the foundations of poetry we surely honour the most valuable of our traditions. That the invaluable, cultural payback can never be quantified.

Over our first six years, Poetry Ireland would fund 3-4 readings per year @ €250 per reading, which allowed us to intersperse the programme with poets from the more established arenas. This has been reduced to €300 p.a., which goes entirely towards our Winter Warmer Festival (which cost €5600 this year). 

Of course I’m acutely aware that these bodies are all under significant pressures of their own. Still, relatively speaking, it’s a lot cheaper than most arts budgets, especially considering the return. The rest of our income arrives via donations either through the donation jar, or through online campaigns.

Our new campaign explains this. We ultimately need to generate the equivalent of €40,000 per year for Ó Bhéal to continue beyond 2017. I’m certainly doing the work of at least four people. My plan B is that once our administrator is fully trained (and effectively reducing my hours), I should be able to squeeze in a part-time job somehow. It sounds like a world of full-time stress however - not unlike the present scenario. I teach night classes twice a year at the Cork College of Comm, which helped me in a small way to relieve the deficit when I was on the CE scheme, but now the Social takes back almost 95% of what I earn there.

At current rates and aside from my own ‘income’, Ó Bhéal is costing in and around €16,000-€18,000 per year, and we usually fall a couple of grand short of that, which I cover personally. And that’s with completely inadequate fees for poets. I’m on Jobseeker’s Allowance (CE Schemes last max 2-3 yrs per person), where at any moment I can be pulled on my ‘availability’ for work. It’s tenuous. I won’t manage beyond April ’17 without a wage, if I’m allowed continue for that long. If we don’t have any positive sign by this time next year, we’ll start to wind down. We won’t book anyone beyond the 10th Anniversary event - and will go out with a Bang! On the other hand, if we can secure a basic director’s wage plus at least a 20% increase in programme funding, we could be set for another five to ten years. I’m trying every avenue possible, including European funding.

The community has gradually taken on more of an active role in driving the programme. It’s more community-driven now than ever; we have a board of 12 members who meet four times a year to decide on guests and volunteer activities. A lot of these talented writers and artists jump on board when we need them to. Our international reputation and network is fairly established at this stage and growing fast. I don’t understand why we can’t seem to attract more serious funding attention. I do believe that the national value of the event will be very hard to replace. Impossible, in fact, without a great deal of expense. The logistics are immense. I even have to maintain two sets of accounts each year to retain access to funding. The Tax Year for the CRO and the Calendar Year for City Council funding. You can’t take your eye off the ball for a day.

How well is your Five Words competition going?

The Five Words International Comp is sailing along slowly but nicely. It’s attracting very good work. It hasn’t covered the associated costs yet, but is about 80% of the way there. It’s only in its third year, so with a little more encouragement and spreading of the word etc, it should create a small profit margin before too long. Then we can pay judges and up the prize money.

What about sponsorship? Is that a possibility?

Outside of our constant appeal to regular Arts funding bodies, in early 2015 we posted comprehensive appeals for sponsorship off to 150 corporate social responsibility officers, carefully picked from a database of 1000. We have since heard back from about forty of these, each whom have committed their budgets to various charities. Only Dunnes came through from the private sector, with 1000 euros for the Winter Warmer. We’ve recently set up an ongoing gofundme campaign, which has raised almost 700 euros.

Winter Warmer sponsorship is sought for each year at local level, via our board members and volunteers. This year’s Winter Warmer has mercifully been completely covered by (in order of contribution): The Long Valley, Rising Sons Breweries, Forum Publications, Foras na Gaeilge, Cork City Council, Poetry Ireland, UCC School of English, Arc Publications, The Quay-Co-op and Café Paradiso. But the Winter Warmer makes up only a tenth of Ó Bhéal’s annual remit.

The financials are gloomy. Tell me about your writing. You write in different forms, don't you? What have you been working on recently?

I’ve just sent off Virtual Tides to Salmon, due for launch in February at Munster Lit’s Cork Poetry Festival, all going well. Then at the AWP in L.A. The forms vary significantly more than in home more or less. There are prevailing themes, while narrative, tone and subject matter range far more broadly. It’s a fleet of traditional forms, sound poems, concrete poems, stone circle poems, lyric poems, prose-poetry, two didactions [sic] and an after poem – that probably sounds a bit motley crew but I’ve enjoyed being a lot more experimental, especially in terms of space on the page and shifting dimensions ... I’m very excited about it.

That sounds like a fascinating mix. What do you mean by a sound poem? And what is a didaction? And an after poem?

I use the term ‘sound poem’ loosely. The idea of poem as soundscape, rhythm and lyric gathering and building towards a sonic boom, is one which has gripped me for some time. Narrowing the poem’s proximity to music. Constructing the poem on a foundation of sound clusters, cloud-storming the topic’s associated sounds into alliterative, assonant and rhyming groups to gather the base material. It culminates in work which is more song than narrative. More orchestral than cerebral. While all poems are of course sound poems, in some sense, I have about half a dozen in the collection which are intensely sonic, hence the term (albeit probably too broad).

Didactions? Mea Culpa! That sounds quite lecturous. It must be from working with all those sound poems. I meant to write redactions - that peculiar breed of found poem that results in an entirely new and strange animal. Take a newspaper article that you’re drawn towards. Remove any words you don’t like. Keep going until you whittle it down to the bare essence of what you see most in it. Like redacted legal documents, omitting what you don’t want seen, but to coax out a hidden code, or image, etc. ‘After’ poems, some prefer to call ‘response’ poems or imitation poems. I rarely write them. When I do they’re usually tongue-in-cheek and just for fun – like, I Wandered Lonely as a Drunk, after Wordsworth, or The Song of Plundering Genghis, after Yeats - neither of which are in the collection. The ‘after’ poem is one made in the same style (and/or form) as another poet’s verse, often retaining lines or phrases from the original, and would without doubt be considered plagiarism without due reference to the original author. I’ve included one such ‘after’ poem, Inside the Bonsai, after Yehuda Amichai’s Inside the Apple.

That sounds like fun. Would you read the sound poems or almost sing them? I wonder would any of these be worth using as a workshop exercise?

One could do either I suppose, depending on the occasion. Reciting or reading poems aloud usually seems to ring somewhere in between song and speech. And more so one than the other, depending also on the context of presentation. It’s never quite melody, never quite oration. I’m open to adapting the emphasis though, the pace, timing of a piece etc, for musical accompaniment. And yes, it’s great for workshops! While kept busy assembling the musical components of the language, the poem takes form. It’s an effective, evocative constraint.

In all the time you've been running the O'Bheal, you must have heard all types of readers. What ones do you remember (for good or for bad. Non names!) How have they influenced you in your own reading? What tips would you have for other readers?

So many voices! I can remember something significant about most, if not all the poets we’ve presented. I believe that everything we’ve ever read or heard has influenced us in some small (or big!) way. Whether specific techniques or mechanisms, symbolic usage, exquisite lyrics, gripping narratives, hypnotic performances, satirical mastery, experimental genius, new possibilities in rhythm or form, or even the gravitas, courage and the sheer character of certain astonishing poets, I find it impossible to name a few. I imagine trying to do like steadying a kite in the cross-winds of five hundred perpetual gales and storms, each the bearer of countless poems and passive influences, residues of style and voice amalgamated through their own reading. I can’t tell what has or hasn’t influenced me anymore.

As mentioned, the subject and stylistic range of my work is very eclectic. My reading material has always been eclectic, as have my interests. But not so in my reading of poetry, until 2004. A dozen years ago I would have said Eliot, Yeats, Amergin, Shakespeare, Homer. Nothing contemporary whatsoever. To illustrate, in 2011 I was closing in on home more or less at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre. Three days into this fortnight-long residency, I suffered an acute anxiety of influence attack. Total panic. I couldn’t tell how much, if any, of my recent work was being influenced by what I had been reading or listening to. And my solution? So very typical of me – to plunge straight into the deep end. Purge the doubt before it grew into a monster. I must have been really desperate. Over the next three days I speed-read 196 collections from the Tyrone Guthrie poetry library, and by choosing one line from each book, formed fourteen cento-sonnets. That way, while smothered in a widespread and colourful tapestry of simultaneous influence, I could let the cards fall where they may and forget about how much of whom or what might be creeping in. To say who or what styles have influenced me any more than any others, would take some considerable reflection. I do believe strongly that there’s something in every poet’s work to learn from and appreciate, no matter how small, and in doing so one’s bag of tricks deepens. Sparks lead to sparks. One’s poet must be allowed to grow, be it consciously or otherwise.

You read 196 collections! Crikey. I doubt anyone else has done that in so short a time. Guinness Book of Records?

I’m in heaven when in seclusion for extended periods. And starved of it so much of the time. When I manage a two-week residency like at Annaghmakerrig, I average thirteen hours writing/reading per day. That would have meant five collections per hour over three days - but that’s trawling each book for just the one line. If I found it on page five, I’d move on. I don’t think Guinness would consider that reading!

Does your eclectic reading and interests come out in your writing? Any unusual topics in your recent poems?

It certainly does. It used to worry me, but now I relish in the variety. Since my first collection I’ve written about things like obsolescence, stone circles, environmentalism, foley artistry, bars, confined spaces, migration, the virtual, history in the present, joy, language, writing, music, war, fun, love, hypocrisy, inspiration, humanity - I could go on.

The Winter Warmer must be some undertaking. At least you have the experience of organising previous events. Where did you end up?

I woke up as director of an extensive poetry programme. Be careful what you wish for, right? But I awoke doing what I love most, albeit while treading water. The Winter Warmer takes up about a tenth of the year’s work, but is quickly becoming Ó Bhéal’s crown jewel. You’d think that after almost nine years of cultivating this, that the Arts Council would be taking us just a little more seriously. 90% of the festival budget is sourced from local business. This amounts to a little more than a third of our annual income, which has to cover the other fifty events. If Ó Bhéal can’t secure annual funding by its 10th anniversary, I’ll need to find a paid position somewhere (if I’m not forced to do so sooner) and the weekly series will end. If that happens, I’ll focus more on the festival, the competitions and the Unfinished Book project. I won’t have the time for any more unpaid work.

Considering that Ó Bhéal now has a paid employee with an office in the Civic Trust house, while its director lives off a portion of his Jobseeker’s Allowance, one phone call and all the cards could come tumbling down. Technically I could go to jail for running Ó Bhéal, while being ‘available and actively seeking work’. At least I wouldn’t have a rent problem, and would have loads of time to write.

You sound quite down about the financial future. What can we do to help?

Ah, I’m not so much down as frustrated with the funding bodies. Ó Bhéal keeps my spirits up all year round. I’ve no problem turning a new page if it comes to it, though I do love this particular formula. Know any rich patrons? No, seriously, the best way to help is to keep writing your best poems! Ó Bhéal wouldn’t - couldn’t exist without the continual rivers of excellence which often flood contemporary Irish poetry.

I don’t believe poets should have to be asked to fund their own platforms. Certainly not when they can hardly fund themselves. Should artists pay for galleries? Should comedians pay for the stage? Musicians for radio time? Filmmakers for screening time? I know it’s not the same, but we’re well aware there’s no viable commercial model for promoting or fostering poetry outside of universities. If anything, it’s upping the dialogue around the vitality of, and crucial need for poetry, which has any chance of improving this unique state of affairs. I don’t think it receives the respect or attention it ought to. Especially not in a country built upon poetry. Minds need to change. As do prevailing perceptions around its societal value.

As things are, about 20% of Ó Bhéal’s overall income comes from donations offered up by poets. That is more than enough help, and more than there should need to be. Poetry is an exception within the arts and the relevant ministries should acknowledge this overtly. Ó Bhéal now having a paid administrator is taking some pressure off now, so I’ll have a bit more time to turn over all those stones. It won’t be over till it’s well and truly over. And sure, 10 years is a good run.

Finally, can you tell us a bit about your collection, Virtual Tides? Are there any themes or threads running through it?

Reels and reels. Elemental, political, love, loss, the geographical, geological, musical, digital, spatial, even threads on existential awareness and states of unawareness. It’s certainly hungry for alternative perspective and solution, whether simpler or more complex. It considers how changing historical influence can affect our negotiations with people and the world. It seeks to elicit common sense and healthy concern, to consider things differently. If we’re doomed to be greedy, as a simple example, why not be greedy for a more pleasant world? It wants to remind us of the personal choice we can still make - to take responsibility - for just one small part of that overwhelming, tidal whole. On a political level it’s a call for a more visceral, melioristic approach to our faltering world, where solutions themselves are now rapidly becoming extinct.

Some of the poems in Virtual Tides attempt to tap into instinctual memory. They want to lure from the reader their latent ability to unleash a more ancient, holistic and more selfless form of intelligent functioning. To liberate a form of thinking dulled down by preoccupations layered over eras. Some of the echoes found across this suite of poems have their own effect, outside of the poems. It tries to reconnect the ever-more distanced reader to the actual world, to rely less upon, yet appreciate the virtual - for all it’s reflective and pragmatic benefits, so as to consider more than the self. That the self depends on the health of the whole. It hopes to challenge the hypocritical, the egocentric and explores self-imposed distancing and isolation. It even hopes to dispel the virtual entirely at some point, if just for a moment. I hope it offers a few different ways to think about things.

Paul will be reading from his collection at the always excellent Cork International Spring poetry Festival in February.

Wednesday 23 December 2015

Poetry Books to Recommend

Please buy poetry books, either in your independent bookshop or direct from the publishe

First, obviously mine. The Space Between. Buy at Doire Press here. P&P free worldwide.

Also from Doire Press this year was In a Hare's Eye from multi-award and competition winning and really lovely poet Breda Wall Ryan. A careful book with a love of words.

I really loved Clasp by Doireann Ni Ghriofa published by Dedalus Press. Especially the Cork city sequence of longer poems.

Doire Press had Arts Council Funding of €17,000 in 2015.

And Liffey Swim by Jess Traynor was packed with good poems between Dublin rivers. The title poem is a recommended read.

Dedalus Press had Arts Council Funding of €80,000 in 2015.

Stone Dress the second collection by Shirley McClure is a very good read, a witty, feminist take on life and health issues. Published by Arlen House.

Arlen House had Arts Council Funding of €17,000 in 2015.

Jane Clarke had a very well received collection River published by Bloodaxe. A mostly rural selection with elements of grief with lovely imagery.

Bloodaxe is supported by the Arts Council in the UK but the amounts don't seem to be publically available, which is interesting in itself.

For some super haiku, tender and terrific at capturing the essence of a moment, try A Train Hurtles West by Maeve O'Sullivan published by Alba Press.

I also read Black Country by Liz Berry which was stunning, a fantastic use of voice and place. Publishedd by Chatto and Windus.

Lastly the Guardian first book award winning collection, Physical by Andrew McMillan. I saw him read at Latitude festival and I'm trying to get him to come to Ireland to read this year. Very visceral, very gay and very Barnsley. Published by Jonathan Cape.

Tuesday 22 December 2015

My recommended books of the year

I have read a lot of books this year, mainly fiction and poetry. Here are some of my highlights.

First fiction:

Whiskey, Tango, Foxtrot by David Shafer.
It's a story of a near future dominated by computers, obligatory internet, surveillance and super-corporations up to no good. A trio of great characters carry the action from Burma, London and Oregon via Stoneybatter. David lived for a while in Dublin and it's great fun to see how he uses Smithfield. A real page turner, scary and very funny.
Don't confuse this with the 2016 comedy set in Afghanistan with Tina Fey
Review here

Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel
Post apocalyptic novel with an aging actor and a troupe of travelling players. Fantastic, scary and very funny.

Elizabeth is Missing by Emma Healey
Wonderful, moving novel from the point of view of an older lady suffering from dementia. Using an unreliable narrator like this to solve an old crime is brilliant.

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
I thought I had discovered this myself when I was in America. I came home to see it on the top of the bestseller list. It deserves it. A great read, page turning and another fabulously, painfully unreliable narrator.

Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
I also read this although it's not from this year. Very clever, alternate lives from the start of the 20th century like a series of Sliding Doors (that film with Gwyneth Paltrow)

Her new novel, God in Ruins is on my Christmas List.

As is the new David Mitchell book, Slade House

The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguru
I also enjoyed the slow, quiet surreal book based in what I assumed to be the Dark Ages.

June by Gerbrandt Bakker
Translated from the Dutch by David Colmer, this is a wonderful read set in a small Polder town after a traumatic event. beautifully written. If you like his Impac Award winning book The Twin, you'll love this too.

Maddaddam by Margaret Atwood
Finally finished the wonderful trilogy by Margaret Atwood in a near future post apocalyptic setting with wonderful, sympathetic and flawed characters and genetically engineered food, animals and people along with some hippy eco warriors. Fantastic. Read them all.

No Irish books on this list I notice. I do have Kevin Barry's, Frankie Gaffney's, Danielle McLoughlin's and Sara Baume's books yet to read.

But that's enough for now. I'll try and post up some poetry books next. 

Monday 21 December 2015

Caterpillar Poetry Prize 2015/16

The prize is for a single poem written by an adult for children (aged 7–11). They say:
What we are looking for is a stand-out poem to which we can award a prize of €1,000 to celebrate the richness of children’s writing.   

The Prize is open to everyone over the age of 18. The work must be original and previously unpublished

The entry fee is €12 per poem.

Deadline: 30 March 2016

1st Prize €1,000 plus publication in the summer 2016 issue of The Caterpillar. The prize is for a single unpublished poem written for children aged 7-11 years.

The competition will be judged anonymously by the publishers of The Caterpillar and The Moth, Rebecca O’Connor and Will Govan.   

Saturday 19 December 2015

Doolin Writers Competition 2016

Entries are now being invited for short stories and poems for the Doolin Writers Competition.
Deadline: February 5th 2016.

Dave Lordan will judge the poetry competition and Anthony Glavin will judge the Short Story

Prizes: €1000 and publication in Banshee Literary Journal are up for grabs for the overall winner of each category.

Meanwhile, Hotel Doolin has confirmed the weekend of the 4th-6th March for the 4th annual Doolin Writers’ Weekend, which will again play host to some of the country’s leading writers. Joseph O’Connor will launch this year’s Writers’ Weekend with the final line-up of participating poets and writers will to be announced in early January.

Visit for further information or to enter the Doolin Writers Competition 2016.

Thursday 17 December 2015

Residency for writers in the Irish Language

The Irish Writers Centre and Anam Cara Writer's & Artist's Retreat are delighted to partner together to offer two one-week residencies at the Anam Cara retreat to Irish language writers, including fully subsidised accommodation and meals. 
This is an open call to writers resident in the Republic of Ireland with a proven track record and at least one book of prose or poetry in the Irish language which has been published by a recognised publisher.
See link for how to apply
Deadline: 25 January, 2016 at 5pm
Applications go before a selection committee of the Board of the Irish Writers Centre and a nominee of Anam Cara. The successful applicant will be notified by letter no later than 8 February, 2016.

Tuesday 15 December 2015

Hungry Hill Writing Competition

Hungry Hill Writing invites entries for our annual poetry competition: Poets meet politics 2016
  • Two first prizes of €500: 
  • One for a poem about any political subject
  • One which focuses on the 1916 Irish Easter Rising
  • Second prize of a week’s retreat in the Creativity Cabin in Kilcatherine Point on the Beara Peninsula. 
  • Third prize of €100.

This year’s judge is Afric McGlinchey

Deadline: February 1st 2016

Winning and shortlisted poems will be featured at the Poets meet Politics Award Event in Castletownbere, County Cork, on the 16th April 2016, and published in a printed anthology and/or on the Hungry Hill Writing website.

Fee of €10 per entry of up to three poems

More details here

Sunday 13 December 2015

Abridged 0-14: Floodland Submission Call

Abridged, the Northern Irish Poetry and Art magazine is looking for submissions on the theme of Floodland. This is what they say:

The chaos of water in water: transformation – from Lethe to Floodland. A process manifested on many levels – physical, social and psychological. The untamed advances its borders and floods the land and fear overwhelms our psyche. We buckle under, the weight of a wild, alien and apathetic element. We fear for our borders, our habitats, and convince ourselves that the flood blatantly undermines our very occupancy of the spaces over which we have asserted an order, drawing lines and making rules. We fear it will return those in its wake to the primordial mess, engulfing earth, obscuring sky, bombarding all sense of the foundational order. Floods are the sky falling. It seems the flood is the mindless purging of the earth and the heavens, scraping out a vacuum between them. All floods are mindless, and fully charged with the violence of mindlessness. In the midst of the reflective flatness and the rubble, there are the minds of individuals shaken out from the trauma of the flood into a strange and vulnerable newness. We are flooded with panic and paranoia: time, economy, global crises, and fear are made immediate, vital and simultaneous. We go blind with saturation and buckle under it in a great inevitable giving-way. Why would the world make war with us? Our eyes ask of the sky, our bodies of the ocean, our minds of our bodies, our art, our institutions. Our old stories knot colossal floods up with beginnings and re-beginnings. Born from the water we are swallowed and reborn of it, stripped to infancy by the huge indifference of the elemental.

Abridged is exploring paranoia and fear in its 0 – 14: Floodland issue. We are looking for poetry (up to three poems) and art (up to A4 landscape size and 300dpi or above). Submissions can be sent to 
Deadline : 22nd January 2016

Wednesday 9 December 2015

CWA Margery Allingham Short Story Competition

CWA are looking for the best unpublished short story – one that fits into Margery’s definition of what makes a great story.
“The Mystery remains box-shaped, at once a prison and a refuge. Its four walls are, roughly, a Crime, a Mystery, an Enquiry and a Conclusion with an Element of Satisfaction in it.”
The competition is open to all – both published and unpublished authors- and is for short stories of up to 3,500 words.
Not previously published so whether you polish off a dusty draft or craft a brand new idea is totally up to you.
£15 fee per short story. This fee is subject to VAT.
Deadline: 1st March 2016.

Link here.

Tuesday 8 December 2015

ROPES 2016 submissions

Ropes, the Galway based annual anthology edited and published by the students in the MA Literature and Publishing at NUI Galway, is looking for submissions for their 2016 issue. 

This years theme is independence in all its guises and they seek your most innovative, daring, experimental and gutsy writing.

Contributions are welcome in fiction, nonfiction, poetry and artwork. This includes flash fiction, genre fiction, graphic stories, memoirs, essays, visual art, photography, page decorations and illustrations.

All proceeds of ROPES 2016 will benefit the Galway Simon Community, a charity
that provides housing, support and health care services for people who have
become homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless in the West of Ireland.
Deadline: December 18th

Saturday 5 December 2015

Readings from A Mystic Dream of 4

Ireland's greatest mathematician William Rowan Hamilton, was also am astronomer, a poet and friend of Wordsworth and Coleridge. He died on the 2nd of September 1865 and 150 years later we celebrate his extraordinary life. Poet-Physicist Iggy McGovern some of his poet/physicist friends will be getting together for a staged reading of 12 sonnets, featuring family, friends, poets, priests, mathematicians, matriarchs, and patriot performers.
We'll be reading from Iggy's book, 'A Mystic Dream of 4' , a book of 64 sonnets about the life and times of William Rowan Hamilton.
For Hamilton, science and art were not separate but indivisible. He described his seminal 1843 discovery of the quaternion – which is a kind of four-dimensional number - in poetic terms: “I felt that galvanic circuit of thought close”. Appropriately enough, this discovery happened not in a laboratory but on a walk by the Royal Canal.  He immediately scratched the formula for quaternion multiplication:
 = =ijk = -1 
on the wall of Brougham Bridge by the Royal Canal, lest he forget it. Unfortunately that scratching didn’t survive the years, or the weather, so now a stone plaque has been put up on the bridge in memory of Hamilton’s eureka moment.
Reading about Hamilton’s life, we might pertinently ask: would he have been so remarkable a mathematician had he not also given himself so freely to poetry and imagination? If he had not let himself be galvanised by circuits of artistic and scientific thought, could he have made his great breakthrough?
Hamilton pretty much answered this question himself. He wrote that the quaternion was “born as a curious offspring of a quaternion of parents - say of geometry, algebra, metaphysics and poetry.”
The event will take place in the first floor cafe of Books Upstairs on the afternoon of Sunday 6 December at 3pm. 

Tickets are €5 and available at Books Upstairs or online.
All welcome. It should be a wonderful afternoon.

Sunday 29 November 2015

Boyne Berries submissions for 1916 theme

The submission period for Boyne Berries 19, which will be a special issue commemorating the centenary of the 1916 Rising is open. The magazine will  be published in late March of 2016.

Deadline: Sunday, 03rd January, 2016. 

From Orla Fay, the editor of Boyne Berries:
What does 1916 mean to you now? Can you picture life one hundred years ago? Is romantic Ireland dead and gone? What would those figures, those celebrated heroes of our past make of Ireland today if they could step out from the shadows? Is this a time to truly reflect? I don't want to put words in your mouth but I'd love to know what you think, what you feel, what you imagine...

I am keen to read work from writers in the Meath area but national and international submissions are also welcome.
  • Send up to 3 poems per poetry submission. 
  • Poems should be no more than 40 lines long. 
  • Fiction and prose submissions should be no more than 1500 words. 
  • Please use Times New Roman 12 and single spacing. 
  • Please include a short biographical note about yourself. 
  • Submissions should be placed in the body of the email and attached as a word document attachment. 
  • Submit to only.

Submissions which fail to adhere to the above criteria will be ignored.

Wednesday 25 November 2015

Cafe Writers Poetry Competition

Deadline very close for this poetry competition

Deadline 30th Nov 2015

1ST  £1000       
2nd £300 3rd £200  
Six Commended Prizes of £50
Funniest Poem not winning another prize £100

The sole judge this year is Tiffany Atkinson.  There is no sifting.    
Entry Fee
£4 per poem; or £10 for 3 poems and £2.00 per poem thereafter
Enter and pay online at .  You can download an entry form direct from the link if you prefer to send your entry by post.  

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

The competition funds our programme and allows us to pay writers properly. Café Writers is a Norwich based grass-roots writers’ network supporting and showcasing work by established writers in all genres.  It also encourages and champions new work by emerging writers.  It is run entirely by volunteers that are passionate about encouraging wider participation and excellence in literature. 

Monday 23 November 2015

Hennessy New Irish Writing Award

How to Enter for The Hennessy New Irish Writing Award
All stories and poems published in Hennessy New Irish Writing will be eligible for the 2015 Hennessy Literary Awards.  The winner of each category will receive a Hennessy trophy and €1,500. A Hennessy New Irish Writer of the Year, chosen from the winners of the three categories, will receive an additional prize of €2,500 and a trophy.

Stories submitted to Hennessy New Irish Writing should not exceed 2,200 words. 
There is no entry fee. 
Writers whose work is selected for publication will receive €130 for fiction and €65 for poetry. 
You can email your entry to or post it (with a stamped addressed envelope) to Ciaran Carty, Hennessy New Irish Writing, The Irish Times, 24-28 Tara Street, Dublin 2. 

A story and poems are printed once a month in the Saturday Irish Times, a must read.

Saturday 21 November 2015

Interview with Dublin Book Festival

I thought you might be interested to read the interview I did with the lovely people at the Dublin Book Festival before I took part in RTE Arena live radio programme talking about my poetry book, The Space Between, available to buy direct from the publisher here.

Q: How long have you been writing and was it always poetry towards which you were drawn?
I started writing as a New Year’s resolution for 1999 and haven’t stopped. After struggling on my own for a while with stories, I joined an evening class in Lucan where the writer Stuart Lane, led us, not always gently, into the unchartered territory of character creation, plays and poetry.
So I have had some fiction and non-fiction published and broadcast on RTE Radio. I also had a short play performed by Red Kettle theatre at the Waterford Royal Theatre. A couple of years ago I had a piece of satire included in the “New Planet Cabaret” Anthology that started on RTE Arena but in the last few years, 95% of my writing has been poetry.
Partly I think because it’s the poetry muscle I am exercising, so that’s how my brain is working but partly because I went back to working outside the home full time around then and found poetry easier to fit into the spaces between working and family life. I write on the train commuting in and out of Dublin and in the evening and at weekends, I rewrite.
Q: The Space Between (Doire Press), your debut full-length collection, has just been published: how long have you been working on the poems that make up the collection? Were they written with a collection in mind?
The collection changed its title umpteen times in the last few years. The Space Between is a line from one of my poems, “Reaching Agreement”
Your lips move but I’m hearing
the way you taste the space between your words,
phrasing so there’s something more than silence,
an emphasis pregnant with promise.
Once I’d settled on that, I realised that there are lots of spaces of different kinds that are touched on, in one way or another in the poems. There is a space between a poet and the reader or listener, and also a space between the voice of the poet and the person who is the poet. So between the ‘I’ in a poem and the ‘I’ of the poet, which are not the same. That’s what I wanted to show with the picture of a Venetian plague doctor mask I chose as the cover, a mixture of performance, laughter and death. I think it’s a striking image but I also like that it indicates the performer and the audience and the space between them.
I’m from Coventry but I’ve been living in Ireland for more than 20 years now but I still see a space between Ireland and Britain, between Irish and British people. Between people, friends, family. I have a Physics degree and have been working in IT for years so inevitably my love and fascination for Science shows through in some poems. I like to think of The Space Between stars and galaxies as well on the smaller scale, between sub-atomic particles. I’ve read at the Science Gallery before and I was Poet in Residence at Science Hack Day Dublin this month, which was a first.
In the collection, the oldest poem is from 2000, my first published poem from Poetry Ireland review. It’s about changing the toilet roll, among other things, and it has been used as an example in creative writing workshops that you can write a poem about anything! The most recent poem is "Unintentional Installation," a riff on the William Carlos Williams poem “The Red Wheelbarrow.” I was in Dingle last year with good friends and fellow poets Triona Walsh and Maeve O’Sullivan who together with Barbara Smith make up The Poetry Divas. We had a gig at Feile na Bealtaine there. (Brilliant festival and fantastic destination) Triona and I went for a walk in the rain to at Art Exhibition and there was this wheelbarrow…
Q: Tell us a little about the Poetry Divas. What inspired it?
The Poetry Divas are a collective of women poets. We read our own poems at events and festivals all over Ireland, blurring the wobbly boundary between page and stage. We tailor each show to the occasion and audience and aim to give a deliciously infectious show that’s bound to touch a nerve. Events have included Dromineer Literary Festival, Dundalk Book Festival, Electric Picnic, Caca Milis Cabaret, Flat Lake, Leonard Cohen festival, Kildare Readers Festival and Allingham Festival.
What inspired it was that I wanted to go to Electric Picnic but the tickets were too expensive so I applied to be a wandering troupe of poets in Body and Soul. And they said yes, what are you called?, so I had to think up a name on the spot.
Divas have a reputation for being temperamental but I prefer the definition that implies glamorous, successful, confident and independent women. Some spoken word and literary events can be unbalanced, not only for gender but also for generation so we like to tip the scales a little. We get a great kick out of performing for audiences who rarely come across poetry and the best feedback is when someone comes up after and says “I don’t like poetry but I like yours.”
There's lots of other interesting interviews here.