Wednesday, 31 March 2010

Guest Post from Maeve O'Sullivan - Poetry Now

It’s the end of March, it must be Dun Laoghaire. How do I love thee, Poetry Now? Let me count the ways: Your lovely location which happens to be my home town (not only does that give me a warm fuzz of pride at being a former Burger, but it also means that my B & B’s sorted); the eclectic programme which usually pairs Irish poets with their overseas colleagues; the talks, the workshops, the awards, the chance to meet other poets (emerging and established) and indulge in gossip…

I was asked to write about PN10’s Sunday events. The first of these was the Strong Reading and Award for Best First Collection which took place at noon. There were four short-listed collections for this award: Tolstoy in Love by Ray Givans (Dedalus Press), The Owl and the Pussycat and other poems by Tom Mathews (Dedalus Press), Laughter Heard from the Road by Maggie O’Dwyer (Templar Poetry) and Tír Tairngire by Peadar Ó hUallaigh (Coiscéim). The event was pretty well attended, given the day and the time of day, and it was ably introduced by Liam Carson, who I gather was the judge of the event, or one of them. He paid tribute to the festival organisers, and to independent booksellers such as Books Upstairs, who he urged us all to support.

All four poets read their work well to a responsive audience. Three things struck me about all of them: 1. They were all fifty or over (something Carson remarked on too) which gives us emerging writers some hope! 2. They had all established professions outside of poetry, three in other artforms: one is a former teacher, one a cartoonist, one an artist and the other a musician. 3. There was a relative lack of confessional poetry in the work that was read, which was quite refreshing in one way.

Tyrone-born Ray Givens read a number of poems inspired by the lives of Tolstoy, Dostoevsky, Akhmatova and others, some written from the point of view of others in their lives. I half-expected Paul Muldoon’s heckler from Thursday night (see Kate’s blog post) to reappear and hassle him as well, along the lines of “You’re a poet from NORTHERN IRELAND, why are you writing poems about dead RUSSIAN writers?” My favourite poem was the one in which the poet gets a haircut from a former student. The metaphors were handled beautifully.

Tom Mathews read work from his book, also a new poem about Humpty Dumpty (after Auden). Nothing and no-one is sacred here: he tackles Byron, Dylan Thomas, Gogarty, Yeats and Joyce, applying the wit that we’re used to seeing in visual form. While I welcome humour in Irish poetry – we need much more of it – I found many of these poems to be too gimmicky for my taste.

The third poet to read was artist Maggie O’Dwyer. Her work was more personal, but subtly so. “Good Driver” invoked her father, and the love of driving that she inherited from him. “Wallflowers” described the possible temptation by a snake, and had echoes of Carole Ann Duffy for me (and Paula Meehan for my companion). In her final poem, “House”, she uses the title as a metaphor for the body, a brave act.

The fourth and final poet was Peadar Ó hUallaigh, who hails from Clonmel but is now living in Dingle. He helpfully gave what he called a “detailed sketch” of each poem in English before reading it in Irish, but some of them sounded like polished poems in English to me. The work, in as much as I understood it, was lovely: the flow, the rhythms, the imagery and the beautiful vowel sounds. The main theme was one of heritage: the fossil footprints on Valentia Island, the Swiss Alps, the Water Course and the White Cow nature goddess, who is said to have created the Milky Way. The delivery was clear and melodic, as one would expect from a musician. It didn’t come as a great surprise after the readings to hear that Peadar had won the 2010 Strong Prize, or that Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill was the first to congratulate him.

Sexual Imbalance in Poetry Competitions?

Uiscebots, that well known promoter of positive discimination for women and thoroughly nice guy, pointed out a possible bias in poetry competitions. I decided to dig deeper.
  • Iota shortlist. 4 out of 13 unless Pat is Patricia. The judge was man (Tim Turnbull)
  • Crawshaw shortlist, 3 out of 12. Winners, 1 out of 6. Judge - The Salt Publishing board.
  • Strokestown shortlist 4 out of 10. Judges a man and 2 women (Sebastian Barker, Julie O'Callaghan and Enda Wyley)
  • Dromineer: 3 out of 3 were men. 3 women in the commended list of 4. Judge a woman (Vona Groarke)
  • Arvon/Classic FM 2008: Top 3 men. 2 out of 3 commended were women. Judges: a man and two women (Andrew Motion, Moniza Alvi and Alice Oswald)
  • Attleborough: 3 (maybe 4) out of 10 Women. Judge: Committee
  • Padraig Fallon 2008: 5 out of 14 women. Judge: a man (Ciaran O'Driscoll)
  • National Poetry Competition 2010: 1 woman out of 3. Judges: 2 men and a woman. Ruth Padel, Daljit Nagra and Neil Rollinso
  • Cafe Writers. 3 out of  7. Judge: 1 man (George Szirtes)
  • Wigtown 2009. 2 out of 12 (2 initials only) Judges: 2 men. (Douglas Dunn and Kevin MacNeil
  • Patrick Kavanagh. 2 out of 5. Judge: a man (Brian Lynch
  • Troubadour. 9 out of 23 (couple unknowns). Judges: a man and a woman (Maura Dooley and Jamie McKendrick
  • Plough.  4 out of 8. Judge: a woman (Alison Brackenbury)
  • Windows: published 16 out of 30. Judges a man and a woman (Noel Monaghan and Heather Brett)
  • Bridport: 7 out of 13. Judge a woman (Jackie Kay)
  • Fish 2009: 6 out of 8 women! Judge: a man (Peter Fallon)
  • Gregory O'Donoghue Poetry Prize: 8 out of 13 women. Judge: a man (James Harpur)
  • Ragged Robin. 3 out of 5. Judge: Committee
Total  85 out of 199.

This is a straw poll but I find the results startling.
Are the low proportion of women in the shortlists representative of the submissions proportions?

Are there proportionally fewer women poets? That's not the impression I get at readings or workshops.
Do fewer women send poems to competitions? That's possible. Certainly men appear to be more likely to send out their poems at an earlier stage than men. The only way to find this out is if some competition organisers crank out some numbers here. (A thankless task, I think)
Are there more male judges than female? 10 women and 13 men in the ones above suggest slightly more.
Are male judges more likely to favour men? The numbers above suggest not really.

Or are the type of poems that win or place in competitions, the type of poems more commonly written by men? Call me controversal, call me mad, call me jealous, but I'm suggesting yes.

Next question.
Does this have a knock on effect in poetry magazines and poetry collection publication?

Interesting Links

Poems on the Dart here. Cecilia McGovern, Eamonn Bonner and John O'Donnell's poems. Anyone seen these on a train?

Alien versus Pooh (as in Winnie the)

Ten Commandments for the Happy Writer from Nathan Bransford

Fablus post on spell-chequer from Strictly Writing 

Poem on th reality of Poetry Readings on Michael Farry's blog.

Words not to use in poems from Bill Posters. Ever used any of these? Shard,  seep, pellucid, myriad, woe, curlicue, soul, mind, pent, hence, yonder.

15 words contemporary poets overused from World Class Poetry Blog

I'd add: Alas, burgeon, breast (really, do we need so many?) anything relating to masturbation (boring), fuck (boring and lazy), heart (overused) also fragile, fragment, tears, soul, ripe, soar, I, my, mine, the (check, you can often leave it out) and (can often use a comma) pare.

What words would you add?

Tuesday, 30 March 2010

Two Philips, Reeve and Pullman

When: Tuesday 13th April | 6.30pm-8.30pm
Where: JM Synge Theatre, Arts Building, TCD, Dublin

Children’s Books Ireland, in association with Trinity College Dublin, is delighted to announce a special event with award-wining Science Fiction and Fantasy author Philip Reeve, celebrating the launch of his latest title A Web of Air.  Philip will be joined by distinguished children’s books commentator Robert Dunbar to discuss his bestselling Mortal Engines series and his Carnegie Medal winning historical adventure Here Lies Arthur, as well as his many other writing achievements.

The event will be followed by a book signing and launch reception.
Places are free but limited, bookings to: info[at]


When: Saturday, 17th April
Time: 3pm
Where: Edmund Burke Theatre, Trinity College
Tickets: €12.00 (€10.00 concession OAP / Students)

Philip Pullman in conversation with Fintan O’Toole

Presented by the Dublin Writers Festival in association with the Trinity Long Room Hub

Prior to this year’s Festival, Dublin Writers Festival will be co-presenting an event with His Dark Materials author Philip Pullman.

Philip will be reading and discussing his latest work The Good Man Jesus and the Scoundrel Christ.

Booking through Project Arts Centre, 39 East Essex Street, Temple Bar, Dublin

Iota Poetry Competition Shortlist

1st Prize £2,000
2nd Prize £1,000
3rd Prize £500
10 Supplementary Prizes of £50

All poems will be published in Iota 88.

"Here is The News" by Carol Beadle

"A truck called 'Perseverence' ", by Martyn Crucefix

"Look Who's Shunting The Nuclear Train", by Mick Wood

"Playtime", by Maeve Henry

"Los Angeles", by Matthew Caley

"The embolism suffered by Edward's father (during a sudden cold snap)", by Rosie Sheppard

"Doors", by Kevin Russell-Pavier

"In the Gardens of Titans", by Clint Frakes

"Everyone Matters", by Jamie Walsh

"Untitled", by Pat Cash

"Where the Bull Got In", by Kate Miller

"New Flat", by Ben Wilkinson

"Eurythmy Artiste with Toque", by Christopher North

Some wacky titles there but no names I recognise from either side of the water. Not mine anyway. Grrr. Where shall I send my unreconised masterpieces next?

Monday, 29 March 2010

Sunday Tribune 2009 stories - Up for the Hennessey New Irish Writing

Well, it's official. I'm on the shortlist for the Hennessey New Irish Writing 2009/10 for fiction. April 20th is when it all happens. Cocktails and canapes in the Dinish Hall at Trinity. Not the Four Seasons this year, more's the pity. I love the Four Seasons.

Here's the competition, or all I could find. Let me know who I'm missing:

Short Stories

January James Lawless The Kiss

February Andrew Fox Currency

March Rob O'Shea Cut Throat



June Sara O'Loughlin The Beautiful People

July Niamh Boyce Steps of Stairs

August Alison Wells Bog Body

September Kate Dempsey Ginny Doran Writes Down the Whole Honest Truth

October John O'Donnell Promise

November Oona Frawley Cowtipping

December Alice Redmond Other People


January Michael Massey

February Eriko Tsugawa-Madden

March Aidan Murphy


May Olive Broderick

June Aideen Henry

July Jessica Traynor

August Cathal McCabe

September Helena Mulkearns

October Geraldine Mitchell

November Cliona O' Connell

December Ruth Daly

Not all poetry is nominated for the Hennessy. Only 6.

Kildare Readers' Festival

A new initiatiative by Kildare County Council Arts Office is a FREE festival in Naas (phew, not in Newbridge again)

Friday 14th to Sunday 16th May 2010.   

The aim of the festival is to provide readers from the many book clubs in Co Kildare and the general public with an opportunity to meet and discuss their favourite books with fellow book lovers, be inspired to join a book club and share the experience of reading.  Events will include world class author readings, interviews and signings, a walking tour, drama performances and an opportunity to meet with other book lovers.

The confirmed line up includes Dermot Bolger, Laura Jane Cassidy, John Connolly, James Durney, Patricia Groves, Claire Keegan, Brian Keenan, Professor Robert Kitchin, Mae Leonard, Martin Malone, John MacKenna, John Minihan, Stuart Neville, Joseph O’Connor, Sheila O’Flanagan and Dermot Somers.

All events are free of charge but booking is essential via our online booking form (available shortly)

Open Mic in Kilkenny

Anyone in Kilkenny? (Want the Poetry Divas to wow you?)

Poetry in Bollards' Back Room last Friday each month. 31 Saint Kierans Street


Grace Wells & Michael Massey are back with Kilkenny Writers' Club.

See you there: 8 pm

Come & read or Come & listen.

I'll add this to the post for all-Ireland open mics. Am I missing any more?

Sunday, 28 March 2010

For the Poetry Bus

This week's poetry bus is driven by Rachel Fox at More about the song. Her prompt was to pick a word.

My word is Chitting.

Removed for more work!

You can read more passengers here.

Screenwriting workshop in Navan

Professional Theatre Workshops | Tall Tales Theatre Company & Solstice Arts Centre in partnership with Meath County Council Arts Office

Playwriting Workshop
Dates: Saturday 24 & Sunday 25 APRIL    Time: 9.30am - 5.30pm

For a full listing of upcoming professional theatre workshops, click here

Celebrated writer Mark O'Halloran while talking through his own creative process introduces participants to different techniques in getting started with creative writing including characterisation, plot and dialogue. Aswell as writing numerous plays Mark is probably best known for his writing for screen with 'Adam and Paul', 'Garage' and 'Prosperity' earning him numerous awards.

To participate in the course and for a more detailed breakdown of the workshops schedule please contact Tracy at
Fee for the two days is €80.   Please book early as places are limited. Call 046 909 2300.

Saturday, 27 March 2010

Poets to check out - Jackie Kay

In My Country (aka These Parts)

Friday, 26 March 2010

Rip Roaring Start to Poetry Now Festival, Dun Laoghaire

Well, what an evening, what a kick off, what pleasures promised for the rest of the festival.

Picture this, Dun Laoghaire, the clink of rigging on the masts of the yachts in harbour, the gentle hum of the South Dublin Priuses parking, the whiff of fried onions from the high street, the hum of anticipation as the great and the good (some of them) gather in the Pavilion theatre for the keynote address of the Poetry Now Festival in Dun Laoghaire by Paul Muldoon.

Who was there? Loads of people. I don't recognise everyone but Famous Seamus, Famous Derek, Iggy, Tony, Anne Stevenson, Medbh, Maeve, Chris, Niamh, John F., Peter, Anne, Joe, Leanne and many, many more.

As we went into the auditorium, we were handed a sheet of 7 poems, 6 Irish poets, 2 of the in the audience, on the theme of Fish. We took our seats (front row for me, scary, luckily he didn't either spit on me, ask me a question about spondees or call me up to help with a magic trick) and read the poems.

The lovely, tireless curator Belinda McKeon came in on fabulously high heels and welcomed us and introduced Paul Muldoon. He came on and before he could say a word, there was a heckler. Yes, a real live, agressive heckler at a poetry event. And he wasn't even there to try and read his own poems or force someone to published his dog eared manuscript. (is it always men?) Anyway, he wanted Paul Muldoon to take a position on Provisional IRA activity.

Paul, though taken aback, was unfazed and defused the situation with the help of some audience conuter-hecklers. All in all an exciting start. No one was asleep anyway.

The lecture was entitled Go Fish and Paul read and analysed the poems and underlying themes and links to other contemporary events.

Sunday Morning by Louis MacNiece where Paul pointed out echoes of a poem by Elizabeth Bishop. He invited the heckler to read it, which he did with aplomb, I have to say. Then he wandered out. Phew.
Little fishes vanish with a wink of tails.

The Net by W.R Rodgers (confession - never heard of him) which was about an affair with loads of rude things. Also Moby Dick. Jane Russell, Stephen Dedalus and willies.
Guineas and gills will flake/ At each gull-plunge of me.

The Trout by John Montague. John not being with us, this was read by an audience volunteer. Let's call him Bernie from Limerick City. Unfortunately Bernie had left his reading glasses on the train so this was fraught with tension and misquotes. "Jesus. Mary and Joseph," he said at the end, "I made a hames of that" or words to that effect. The poem is about guddling trout and willies. (What is it with male poets and masturbation? Are they many (any?) poems from frigging women poets? Not such an obsessive avalanche I think)
The two palms crossed in a cage/ under the lightly pulsing gills

Limbo by Seamus Heaney, read beautifully by the man himself. My favourite. No willies this time, only death.
Fishermen at Ballyshannon/Netted an infant last night

and The Guttural Muse also by Seamus Heaney - voyarism, echoes of his Skunk poem here. Macbeth and dirty old man trench coats, though that may have been one echo too far. I don't know. I get irritated when teachers/whatever tell you what a poem is about.
I felt like some old pike all badged with sores

Then a couple of women, almost as an afterthought and little analysis. No willies I suppose.

The Flower Master by Medbh McGuckian, read by the poet herself. I don't know what it's about. Nor, I suspect did Paul. Lovely language though.
stoop to our low doorway/ our fontanelle, the trouts dimpled feet

The Shannon Estuary Welcoming The Fish by Nuala Ni Domhnaill a translation I think from her Irish. Paul pointed out a rude bit but but little else.
I am welcoming, full of nets/enveighling, /slippery with seaweed

He also talked about his school days in Armagh and a personal family story leading into the Pope's letter to the Irish church last week which, Paul said, basically told lay catholics that the problem with the church was secularism (surely a result, not a catalyst) and that what was needed was prayer. In essence, there is an Irish confusion between victim and abuser. The fish has to get itself off the hook.

Cue thunderous applause and lots of luvvie hugging.

Paul reads some of his poems on Saturday at 8:30pm with the legendary Anne Stevenson and Homero Aridjis from Mexico. Should be a great night.

Of course Various beat me to a post.

Thursday, 25 March 2010

I hate seeing myself on TV

I mean, the hair! the size of me! My grandma's chin. Why her chin and not her soft skin? How could that happen to me? And what was I thinking with that cardigan. And the voice. I SO don't sound like that inside my head. Believe me. I am not a fan of cameras. Cringe.

I can't watch these myself but you are welcome to watch these.

Reading at the Locke Bar, Limerick. (The sound is very dodge but a lovely crowd)

Reading at Ignite, Science Gallery, Dublin. 5 minutes, 20 slides. Brilliant fun. Bad Hair.

Also this mp3 of my reading at O'Bheal in Cork here.

Submission words of wisdom

Words of wisdom from Nicole at Help! I Need a Publisher.How new writers need to get the right book published in the right way.

More from Editorial Ass It's better not to be published at all than to get published in an inferior way.

And some from Kidlit.

This holds true for books as well as magazines. Have a look at the other books or pieces published by the publisher you're submitting to. Is this the sort of company you want to be published in? If the magazine publishes stories about coming to Jesus and your piece is a gritty murder mystery, is that a waste of paper? If you write about snowdrops and kingfishers and the other pieces are grimy, urban fantasy pieces, should you look elsewhere? If the other books are actually not very good or you've never heard of the writers, why would you start here?

If you went to a party with these people, would it be fun? Interesting? Tedious? Mind-numbingly Boring? Gross? Interlectually stimulating? Stimulating in any other way? Would you be out of your depth? Would you stick out like a sore thumb?

Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Third Forge At Gort Literary Festival

Another event for the weekend if you're near Gort is this festival where everything is free (rare) so do buy a book or three if you're there.

March 26th and 27th at Gort, Co. Clare All events are free. 

The festival is organised by The Western Writers’ Centre (Ionad Scríbhneoirí Chaitlín Maude) Galway and is sponsored by The Arts Council,Poetry Ireland and the generous assistance of Knute Skinner, Edna Keil and Pat O’Callaghan, Drew Logan (USA), Noel Monahan, and our thanks to The Lady Gregory Hotel, O’Grady’s Bar and Restaurant and Sullivan’s Royal Hotel, Galway County Council and the Staff of Gort Library.
♥ Details from and 087.2178138 

The preliminary line-up for this festival features:  
  • John Arden,novelist, with Patrick Early, poet – Friday March 26th – 8pm – Gort Library;  
  • Marty Mulligan (performance poetry) Friday, March 26th – Gallery Café - 10.30 pm; 
  • Pete Mullineaux – Workshop (poetry) 11am - Sullivan’s Hotel - Saturday, March 27th;  
  • Rab Fulton,storyteller - 12 noon - Gort Library;  
  • Rosemarie Rowley – 1pm – O’Grady’s Restaurant –1pm.  
  • Kate Thompson– Saturday March 27th - 3pm Gort Library;  
  • Pádraig Ó Moráin &Paul Dooley (harp) -7pm- Gort Library; 
  • Clare Three-Leggéd Stool Writers’ Group & Yuki Nishioka (violin) – 4. 30pm – O’Grady’s Restaurant;
  • Stephanie Allen-Early - Lady Gregory Hotel, Gort - 9pm.

Promo video at

Watch to the End

Revival Whitehouse Poets

This lovely Limerick magazine is to be launched in the Locke Bar, Limerick on Thursday 1st April. I have to recommend getting your sticky mits on a copy as there are some very famous, talented and Diva-esque poets included, some of whom have promised to show up on the night and read, with or without tiara.

Niamh Bagnell - Various
Brian Kirk
Pete - The Stammering Poet

How could you not rush out and buy a copy?
 Purchase here

Tuesday, 23 March 2010

Weekend Writing Courses in Dublin

There are some cracking weekend courses at the IWC this weekend. (Shame it clashes with the Poetry Now festival)

Story Story Workshop with Molly McCloskey (She's the current Trinity Fellow)
Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th March: 10.30am-4.30pm
The workshop will explore various aspects of the short story– character, structure, dialogue, pacing, and so on – by looking at examples of the short story form from its best practitioners and by analysing writing from workshop participants. Participants should arrive at the workshop with stories-in-progress ready to share with the group for discussion. 
Beginners' Creative Writing with Kerry Hardie (Super poet, very lyrical)
Saturday 27th March: 10.30am-4.30pm.
This one-day course introduces aspiring writers to various techniques and exercises that help to free-up their imagination. It is suitable both for writers who are only starting off and for those who haven’t written much yet. The purpose of this compact course is to help students to set aside what they think they ought to be writing about and to help them to identify what actually excites them. 
Storytelling for Film and TV with Sean Hardie (A lovely man, don't know much about his writing)
Saturday 27th March: 10.30am-4.30pm
Sean Hardie, the producer, director and writer of Not the Nine O'Clock News, is teaching the art and craft of screenplay storytelling for film and television. The course explores ways to create and maintain dramatic tension through the interplay of plot and character; how to play games with your characters’ – and your audience’s - emotions, assumptions and expectations. It is suitable for anyone trying to write for film or television, but particularly for those who’ve tried and would like to do better next time.   
The Practice of Writing with Mia Gallagher (A generous teacher)
Saturday 27th and Sunday 28th March: 10.30am-4.30pm
This workshop is aimed at people who want to deepen their awareness of their writing process with a view to sustaining their writing practice in the long-term. Using elements which are key to the facilitator’s own practice – reading, dialogue, field trips, dedicated writing time, entertainment and critiquing – participants will explore ways of generating material, engaging with content and form and challenging their own (and others’) received notions of writing. 

One-day courses cost €70 while two-day ones are €140.

For more information or to book click here; 

Also a screen writing course.
Alan Keane is offering a two-day Introduction to Screenwriting seminar on Saturday, March 27th and Sunday, March 28th, in the Smithfield/Stoneybatter Area in Dublin City.
Screenwriting is a notoriously difficult career to get ahead in and all too often people make the plunge with little knowledge as to how the industry works and what's exactly required to get yourself noticed. This 2-day seminar will act as a crash course in understanding the principles involved in great writing. It will help you to become aware of the skills and craft you'll need to create unforgettable stories that will get you noticed by readers and also help get you an agent.

* Format
* Style
* Dialogue writing
* Visual Grammar
* Three Act Structure
* The craft of writing a scene
* Characterisation and the arc of transformation
* Genre
* What the readers are looking for - An industry perspective
* How do I get my first break?
Cost of the seminar is €95.

To register your interest email or contact Alan at: 086-1972270. There is also a Facebook page for the event.

Monday, 22 March 2010

Readings this week

Wednesday 24 March


This week's guest poet at the White House, O'Connell St, Limerick is Paul Casey. yes, he is the endlessly energetic and optimistic organiser of the O'Bhéal reading series in Cork.

Thursday 25 March


Over The Edge presents a reading with Jean Kavanagh, Paul Casey and Jessie Lendennie. - a great lineup again - at Galway City Library, St.Augustine St, Galway.


Dr Michael Longley, current holder of the Ireland Chair of Poetry, will deliver a lecture entitled The West at The Great Hall of Queen's University Belfast


Wurm im Apfel presents reading by Anamaría Crowe Serrano and Ronan Murphy at The little room, 26 Benburb St, Dublin 7

And of course at the weekend Poetry Now starting Thursday in Dun Laoghaire and The Forge festival at Gort.

Arts Council: Touring & Dissemination of Work Scheme

This grant could apply to literature. Why not? How about getting the Poetry Divas to tour to your county?

The Arts Council has announced a new scheme for supporting the touring and dissemination of work in all arts disciplines. The principal purpose of the scheme is to ensure that audiences throughout the country may have access to high quality arts experiences.
Applications are invited for proposals seeking funding in support of high quality activities aimed at reaching various types of audiences in any art form or area of arts practice. These activities should be due to take place this year, or at least begin in 2010.

Deadline: 5.30pm on Thursday 15 April 2010. 

Full information (including Guidance Notes and a sample Application Form) on the Arts Council website.
The Touring and Dissemination of Work scheme is open to applications from organisations, individuals and various types of networks / consortia. Applications are encouraged from networks, consortia or other collective groupings of presenters, particularly where these indicate a high degree of collaboration with the producing entity or artists.

Waterford:two weeks at Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig

One for my Waterford buddies.

The Arts Office of Waterford County Council is offering a special bursary award to an artist born or currently living in the Waterford County Council Administrative area. The bursary is open to practitioners of all the arts.

This prestigious award will enable the chosen artist to spend two weeks at The Tyrone Guthrie Centre at Annaghmakerrig, the artists’ workplace in County Monaghan during 2010.

It covers all board and lodging expenses plus the use of a studio if required. The Centre can also cater for artists with special needs and the bursary extends to having a person accompany such artists if necessary.

Application forms and guidelines can be downloaded from or contact the Arts Office, Waterford Co. Council, Civic Offices, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford - Tel. 058/41416.

Deadline: Friday 9th April 2010.

Sunday, 21 March 2010

Things not to write about

- a wedding
- lace
- mental institutions
and says
I’m still waiting to read a really good scene about somebody getting their ears pierced. It can be done.

The Rejectionist includes
- crime spree ending in small dusty Mexican town
- cubicle jobs
- being a twenty-year-old musician with existential torments who lives in Brooklyn

But couldn't you combine them all?

Some great opportunities for playwrights

Rather than copying out, may I direct you to Jaki's blog CloudNine.

It includes:

  • Tinderbox Young Writer Programme Fireworks 2010.  Deadline 3 May
  • 2010 “Write Now” Competition. For unpublished writers. Deadline 31st March
  • Lunch Time Theatre Belfast. 
  • Bare Bones Nights at the Old Red Lion Theatre, London Deadline: 17 April
  • FoxedUP Theatre, London Deadline: End April
  • National Ten Minute Play Competition 2010 Deadline: 23 Apr 2010

Saturday, 20 March 2010

Trinity Writing Workshop

Trinity College Dublin's Writer Fellow every year gives a workshop or workshops for us mere hoi-polloi (Don't you love that word?) I did one a few years ago with Eilis Ni Dhuibhne and still meet with many of the excellent writers I met there.

This year it's Molly McCloskey, short story writer, novelist and essayist. Free weekend workshops May 8th and 9th.

Submissions with fiction or memoir, not longer than 1,000 words.

Deadline: 23rd April

More details from the end of this Irish Times article.

Anam Cara Workshops - Writing in Ireland

Anam Cara seems to aim particularly at the US market. It's a lovely place and many participants come back totally in love with the whole experience.

Creating Compelling Characters
Guide: Susan Hubbard
One-week Residential Retreat, arriving Saturday, 5 June and departing Saturday, 12 June

Writing in Ireland
Leader: Karen Blomain
One-Week Residential Retreat, arriving Saturday, 12 June and departing Saturday, 19 June
The Poem and the Dream
Leaders:  Paula Meehan and Juliet Clancy
One-week residential retreat, arriving Saturday, 19 June and departing Saturday, 26 June

Writing from Within:  Haiku and the Spiritual DimensionLeaders:  Maeve O'Sullivan and Kim Richardson
One-week Residential Retreat, arriving Saturday, 17 July and departing Saturday, 24 July

Ireland: A Workshop for Photographers, Writers, and Visual Artists
Leader:  Patrick Keough 
One-week Residential Retreat, arriving Saturday, 31 July and departing Saturday, 7 August

Visual Storytelling
Leader: Selila Honig
One-week Residential Retreat, arriving Saturday, 14 August and departing Saturday, 20 August

Emotional Structure:  Creating the Story Beneath the Plot, A Workshop for Screenwriters
Leader: Peter Dunne
One-week Residential Workshop, arriving 21 August and departing 28 August
Encountering the Sacred in the Landscape of Ireland Retreat/Art Workshop Guides: Damian Zynda and g.a. Sheller
One-week Residential Retreat/Workshop, arriving September 8 departing
September 15, 2010

Alums Receive a 10% Discount

Once you have been on retreat to Anam Cara, you will receive a 10% discount on your chosen room rate on all subsequent residencies. 

They have a new blog and this is their website
but nowhere can I see the cost. Daft!

Seán Ó Faoláin Short Story Competition

The Seán Ó Faoláin Short Story Competition is sponsored by the Munster Literature Centre. It's now open for really, really early submissions

Warning: They do have a history of being heavy on North American winners. Not sure why. Do they get proportionally more or are the pre-readers biased to the North American style? Does such a thing exist?

First Prize: €1,500 (approx US $2000) and publication in the literary journal Southword.
Second Prize: €500 (approx US $650) and publication in Southword.
Four other shortlisted entries will be selected for publication in Southword and receive a fee of €100 (approx USD $130).
There will be a long list of twenty entrants published.

Judge: Tania Hershman

Up to 3,000 words

Fee: €15, US $20 or £15.
Deadline: 31st July 2010

You can submit by email.

Friday, 19 March 2010


Can I just point you all in the direction of my extremely talented and anime obsessed son's blog. Just made the shortlist for the Irish blog awards in the youth category. Go read.

The Cartdriver

Isn't he fabulous? Spread the word to all anime obsessives. (I taught him all he knows...)

Extra Links for your elucidation

What's IN and what's OUT from The unmissable Intern

Is this your query? from Paperback Writer

Masterclass in editing your story down from Essential Writers.

How to choose a book title from Rachelle Gardner, Literary Agent

Sometimes you have to die to get famous   

Do you knit?Why not clothe Limerick, an urban knit project.

Hilarious article on submissions.

Cavan Grants

If you're in or from Cavan, why not apply for an artist's grant? Read the aims and write your application with these in mind.

The Arts Awards are intended to stimulate and support the ongoing development of the arts in County Cavan. Cavan County Council strives to support artists and audiences in engaging with quality artwork and live art events and production.


-To work with individuals and communities to promote arts production, showcasing, access, inclusion and participation across a wide range of quality arts activities and experiences.

-To work with individuals and communities to promote access, inclusion and participation in a wide range of quality arts activities and experiences.

- To assist organisations and individuals in the development of new and innovative arts projects and events in County Cavan.

Applicants must be from, residing in County Cavan at the date of application or planning on producing work that is relevant to the County. Applications can be made under a variety of categories. For full details contact the Arts Office.

T: 049 4378548.

Deadline: 4pm on Thursday 8th April 2009.

Thursday, 18 March 2010

Languages of the readers of my blog

Per my stats, after English (UK and US (hello my lovely American readers) what do Canadians set their English to? What about Aussies and Kiwis? Do you have your own settings or it is down to how yo uspell colour/color?) The next language settings of my readers are:

German : Guten Tag und Gruss Gott! Did you see my poem in the Bremen magazine Newleaf? I did a lovely residency in Oberpflatzler Kunstlerhaus a couple of summers ago. Such lovely people.
Spanish: Buenos Dias mi amigos. Half as many as the Germans. Spread the word. I'd love to do a residency in Spain. I read about one in Catalonia but it seemed a bit remote. I like countryside but I like people too.
France. Bonjour mes amis. J'aime la France beaucoup. I'd love to drop in on the Paris Irish centre but I'm probably not quite Irish enough.
Italy. Ciao! Any chance of an invitation? What's not to love about Italy?
pl I'm guessing is Poland. Dzien dobry! Did you know that when Tesco started translating their signs in Irish stores to bi-lingual signs, i.e. English and Irish, they translated Polish where the interesting Polish foodstuffs are to Snasán, the Irish word for polish, like Mr Sheen!
Netherlands. Dag, jonges! Ik woonde eens in Nijmegen, erg lang geleden.

Hoskins House Trust Writer's Residency

Are you a woman?
Are you over 40?
Do you have the legal right to be in the UK? (includes all EU citizens)
Do you write in English?
Have you published significant work on any subject, or to have worked, broadcast, taught, lectured or acted extensively in the English language? (tricky, that one)
Do you have a contract for publication or performance of the work you intend to work on?

This residency may be for you. Live in Warwickshire for between 2 and 12 months. Monthly bursary of £750.
Occupancy of Church Cottage (a small cottage dating from about 1700), adjacent to the churchyard in the village of Clifford Chambers, two miles from Stratford-upon-Avon.

(How will they know? Do they check up?)

Deadline: Monday 12th April 2010
Interviews of shortlisted applicants will take place on Monday 19th April 2010.
See website
Won't many 40 plus women have families, cats, other ties that make it hard to live elsewhere for an extended time?

Wednesday, 17 March 2010

Prices for Readings at Festivals

I was looking at the prices for going to readings at Ennis Book Club Festival (all 10 Euro pretty much except the Paul Durcan/ Thomas Lynch reading 15 and the lunch with Claire Kilroy 18 Euro) There's no lower prices for concessions, wrinklies, students, unemployed (me) and it seems to be that this is pretty expensive. I mean you've had to get to Ennis and stay somewhere and eat and drink in the town then pay 10 Euro for each reading? And will you go all that way just to go to one?

And then Poetry Now comes out with readings costing 18 Euro, 14 concessions, 12 for students or 20/15/12 Euro. Or 14/10/8 Euro. (How do they make up the prices?) A ticket for the whole festival is 80/60/50 Euro.

I would go to three 5 Euro readings rather than one 10 Euro reading. It's not like they're sold out. More audience the better. For 18 Euro I could buy 2 books. Or a pint of gin.

What does anyone else think?

Tuesday, 16 March 2010

Social Media stats - great vid

JESS3 / The State of The Internet from Jesse Thomas on Vimeo.

Harpers Bazaar Short Story Contest

You'll need some kind of a UK address for this one:

They want original, stylish and imaginative writing.

Prize: Three finalists will be selected by the judges to attend a writers' masterclass and lunch at the Sceptre offices in London. The first prize is £1,000 and the publication of your story in Harper's Bazaar. The two runners-up will receive £500 each. All three winners will also receive copies of all the shortlisted books for this year's Orange Prize for Fiction.

1.    An original 2,000 word story on the subject of ‘The face'.
2.    A 200-word autobiography.
3.    A passport photograph (why?) of yourself (not someone else them like someone more Harper's material?) attached to a sheet of A4 paper with your full name, address, telephone number (mobile number where possible), occupation and date of birth.
4.    Send to: Stephen Doig, Features assistant, Harper's Bazaar, National Magazine House, 72 Broadwick Street, London W1F 9EP.

Deadline: 12th April 2010

Judges: This year's judging panel will be chaired by Carole Welch (publishing director of Sceptre, an imprint of Hodder & Stoughton), with judges Kate Mosse (co-founder and honorary director of the Orange Prize for Fiction), novelist Esther Freud, Caroline Michel (c.e.o of PFD talent agency), writer and broadcaster Mariella Frostrup and senior editors from Harper's Bazaar.

Terms and conditions here

Children's Laureate

For some reason they're calling this Laureate na nÓg- probably to put off all children from paying any attention to it...Otherwise, it's very worthy. Look what Michael Murpurgo and Jacqueline Wilson achieved in the UK.

It is set up to recognise the role and importance of literature for children. This unique honour will be awarded to an established and dynamic children's writer or illustrator in May 2010. 

Laureate na nÓg aims to

1.    Introduce high quality children's literature to a new audience of children, young people and adults
2.    Raise the profile of children's literature in Ireland
3.    Increase media attention for children's literature in Ireland and internationally
4.    Bring children's literature into the mainstream conversation about books and literature in Ireland
5.    Build partnership and cooperation among various players in the children's literature sector 

Monday, 15 March 2010

Interesting Links

Strictly Writing talks about recycling at publishers (screamingly funny)

Irish Writers' Centre announce this month's Lonely Voices, reading their short stories, 31st March.

Also this:

Máighréad Medbh and Paula Meehan

Tuesday 16 March @ 7pm

Poetry Ireland in association with The Blue Leaf Gallery and to celebrate the art exhibition 'Wildly Different Things' (New York and Dublin) presents a reading by Máighréad Medbh and Paula Meehan with Theo Dorgan, Seamus Cashman and many others.

The Observatory, 7-11 Sir John Rogerson's Quay, Dublin 2

And this:

Ciaran Carson and Sinéad Morrissey
Tuesday 16 March @ 8pm

The Market Place Theatre celebrates the 10th Anniversary of its opening, and in association with the John Hewitt Society presents a reading with Northern poets Ciaran Carson and Sinéad Morrissey.

Admission: £6/£5 [conc.]

The Market Place Theatre (Studio), Armagh, Co Armagh

O'Shaughnessy Award for Poetry

The 14th O'Shaughnessy Award for Poetry has been awarded to Theo Dorgan, former director of Poetry Ireland/Éigse Éireann.

The $5,000 O'Shaughnessy Award for Poetry, established in 1997, honours Irish poets. The award is named for Lawrence O'Shaughnessy, who taught English at St. Thomas from 1948 to 1950, formerly served on the university's board of trustees and is the retired head of the I A O'Shaughnessy Foundation.

Poets to check out - Brendan Cleary

Brendan does tend to be a bit me, me, me in his poems...but so do I really, if truth be told. He's more Bill Nighy in Love, Actually though.
Listen to this and get hold of Planet Steve if you can.

Sunday, 14 March 2010

Links for poems

Jeanette Winterson has an eclectic collection of poetry on her website. ee cummins, Eavan Boland, Simon Armitige, Stevie Smith, Don Paterson, (close to my own taste if truth be told.)

A couple of good poems by Geraldine Mills from her new collection An Urgency of Stars posted by Susan at The Alchemist's Kitchen

Lightweights  by Jeff Hardin on

What the Mountain Saw by Philip Gross, TS Eliot winner, analysed by Carol Rumens in the Guardian. 

Simon Armitage in online mag Blackbox manifold.

Saturday, 13 March 2010

Some US Poetry Magazines

Lots of poetry magazines in the US are linked to universities. I wonder does that affect the style of poems they accept? All but a handful accept snailmail only but will response internationally by email. I recommend you read some of the sample poems to get the flavour of what they like. MAny do not read year round so doublecheck before sending.

The best resource for American Fiction and Poetry Magazines is Duotrope. This compiles statistics on everything you can think of, response times, payments, if you're published here, try this one, postal/email, most challenging markets. It's a fantastic site. Would that we had similar for UK/Irish magazines. Some are respresented here.

Southern Review is in Savannah, Georgia.

Comstock Review  reads now only 1st January to 15th March. Syracuse, New York

American Poetry Review is a real heavyweight.

Poet Lore is from the Writers' Centre, Bethesda, Maryland

Indiana Review is a challenging market.

The Louisville Review accepts electronic submissions.

Massacheusetts Review They aspire to have a broad appeal; our commitment, in part regional, is not provincial.

Crazyhorse is another tough market. Prefers electronic submission. Charleston, South Carolina

New York Quarterly gets 50,00 submissions a year.

Ploughshares sets high standards

South West Review accepts online submissions for $2.

Southword Deadline - do they pay?

Deadline: March 15th

Online journal Southword 18 is due to be published in July. Fiction editor is Tania Hershman and Poetry editor is James Harpu.

Do Southword pay? Anyone know?

They're a Cork journal so links in the People's Republic are useful but no longer mnadatory.

Online submission details as per the website.

Friday, 12 March 2010

Workshops at the Seanchaí Literary Centre, Listowel

This workshop will deal with beginnings and endings and the bits in-between, along with the rules of the road regarding writing for the stage. Participants may send in their work beforehand for assessment and discussion.

When: 10th & 11th April
Who: Billy Roche

How does the writer of fiction accomplish success? – By presenting the work in such a way that the reader can see, hear, taste, smell, touch it. The reader must be engaged and stimulated through his/her senses. With this in mind, the workshop will incorporate:

1. Characterization:
2. Setting (or) Atmosphere
3. Plot (or) Conflict

When: 17th & 18th April
Who: Leo Cullen

This workshop will focus on the creation of new work through the use of writing exercises and assignments in poetry. Mornings in particular will be devoted to the writing of new work with directed assignments. During the afternoon session we will workshop the new work with constructive criticism.

Workshop participants will also have a chance during the two days for individual one-on-one sessions with Paul to discuss their work, its strength and weaknesses, and strategies for improving their work. Participants may bring some examples of work-in-progress for critique, but the main focus of the two days will be the making of new work while in Listowel.

The workshop will aim to create a supportive environment while investigating and developing the notion of a ‘voice’ for each author. We will also discuss the practicalities of publishing and appropriate ways participants can submit work for publication. The workshop is open to new or experienced writers who want to develop their craft.

When: 24th & 25th April
Who: Paul Perry


As part of the 2010 Spring Workshops Programme all three writers will give a reading from their works on each Saturday evening of the workshop at 8 pm in the Seanchaí Centre. Admission is free for workshop participants, and €5.00 for the general public.

Fee Per Workshop : €130.00

More information on the website

Why am I Blogging?

Why am I blogging?

Why does any individual blog?

Promote their product - if you only promote your product, it's really, really boring, especially if done in a pushy way. I do promote my readings and poetry Pamphlet (buy now, please - link on the sidebar) but the ROI seems minimal. How many sold from the blog? Guess. How many people come to a reading because it's been on my blog? If there are any, they don't comment or come and tell me. Other people's puff pieces - boring. Especially if they only blog the puff, not the failures.

Share the pain - if I ever do a post on failure, I get comments. If I do a post on success, I may get some too. I find it hard to write puff pieces on myself and feel like I'm courting for comfort with the failure ones. Maybe whinging online gets it off my chest. Though I do like to read about other people's failures (more than their successes, my guilty secret)

Write about writing - Chatacters, dialogue, plotting, etc. These posts rarely get any feedback. Are they interesting at all? Useful?

Other links - really I post these for myself. So I can find them again.

Events - There are more events than I can keep a handle on. I tend to post ones that I'm interested in, that I would go to if I could or that I will go to. I don't mind spreading the word, pushing PR for these. The odd time I've been thanked. I've even got a ticket or two. I'm totally jealous of blogs like English Mum who gets free stuff all the time to write about. Positively showered, she is.

Workshops - No thanks at all for posting about workshops run by other people. I only post ones I'd be interested in. Don't know why I bother. I can't afford to go on any.

Grants/Bursaries - This is a maze of in fighting, mutual back scratching, brown paper envelopes, spinning and closed-shopness. I write about these to try and light a fire or two. No idea if it makes any difference. Full disclosure: I received bursaries from South Dublin Co Co and the Arts Council. Small but helpful. Did this blog help? I do mention it in grant applications.

Competitions - again, I only mention competitions I'd recommend and enter if I had the right piece and the money. I never get anything from the organisers. Do they even know I exist. I personally find posting these useful as I can find them with the deadlines. Does anyone else? When I remember, and when I hear, I post the results.

Inspiration - these are rare. Just things that spark my interest. Youtube, photos, whatever. Why bother?

Writing - Occasionally I post some writing. Particularly TFE's Poetry Bus, a fabulous institution/vehicle. The problem Is that once on the the web, it's published. So either it's unpublishable in print (in which case, why read it?) or I take it down later.

Markets - Magazines, publishers etc. For my use again.

Other stuff - what other stuff is there? Book reviews? Contentious stuff about writing and writers and the whole industry? I don't want to blog about ex-boyfriends, bad dates, cooking, funny things my kids said, overheard on bus, celebrity gossip/speciulation or how I will fix Ireland when they make me the benevolent dictator.

So comments, opinions, fluff pieces, freebies, begging. Why should I continue?

This post triggered by not being shortlisted for the bloggers awards. (And some other frankly boring, puffy, whingey, infrequent, badly written and not thought out blogs being on the list.) I'll get over it.

Thursday, 11 March 2010

Clare Arts Act Grant

*The annual Arts Act Grant

Forms are available from the Clare Arts Office. They can be downloaded from or
T: 065 6899091

*Forms for the Tyrone Guthrie Bursary are also available.

*Clare Arts Office – Arts Forum

Clare Arts Office has introduced a new arts forum on its website in which it posts local, national and international opportunities and items of interest in all disciplines. Individuals can also register with the forum and post their own information or comment on posts.

Go to and click on arts forum.

Deadline: Friday, March 19th at 4 p.m.

Workshops and how to use them

I'm going to be contentious now so please don't take it personally. This is a general whinge.

I went to a writing workshop/group meeting the other and read out a piece, a works in progress. By which I mean, I know it's not ready yet. even reading it out loud to an audience showed up deficiances for me.

But the group, who I don't know very well, all said how lovely and which bits they liked particularly and was I going to send it out.

No, I'm not. I know it's not good enough yet. I know there's clunky words, the wrong title, iffy line endings, unnecessary repetition, laziness, wishy-washy sentiments etc etc.

The same happened with the other group members pieces as they read. I could see problems, possible areas to look at again. No one gets a poem or short story or prose piece right first time. But sometimes you're too close to a piece to see what to look at.

Isn't that what workshops are for? What's the point of saying lovely, lovely, next please?

Wednesday, 10 March 2010

Performing in Belfast

This sounds like an opportunity for Belfast writers and poets.

Platform Performances at the Grand Opera House, Belfast

The Grand Opera House is delighted to announce a new exciting opportunity for local artistes to become involved with the theatre, enhancing the community aspect to the entertainment programme.

Platform Performances will take place in Luciano’s Café Bar and expressions of interest from local artistes are being sought.

Aine Dolan, Education & Programme Manager at the theatre explains;

“We want to hear from anyone who’s interested in bringing their work to new audiences. The performances are open to local singers, musicians, playwrights, theatre companies, schools, colleges, literally anyone, who wants an opportunity to perform to a small audience. This could also include any type of performance art (space permitting!)”

The time of performances will be scheduled at a later date and will include daytime and evening performances. There is a small budget to cover some costs.

If you are interested in putting yourself or your group forward to perform, please send a CV, image and performance proposal to The programme will be selected from these applications. Further information is available from Aine Dolan, Education & Programme Manager, Tel: 028 9027 7735.

Tuesday, 9 March 2010

Guest Post from Nollaig Rowan - Dublin Book Festival

Despite great intentions I only got to Sunday's sessions at the Dublin Book Festival. But that was good. An injection of creativity into my sluggish brain. So, which injection gave me the highest high?

I'd have to say it was Pol O'Muiri ... and he's not someone I'd have rushed into town to see. But there you go. That's what's great about festivals. What I liked about O'Muire was his poems about language and him reading in both English and Irish with a smidgin of German.

Now what a pity that the only 'foreigner' on the podium - Enrique Juncosa - did not read in Spanish. I was looking forward to hearing his poems in his native
language (then spoken in English by himself or another) but no, he chose to write and read in English. That did nothing for me.

Nessa O'Mahony read from her verse novel about emigration, written from the point of view of three women. Interesting, lovely sounds "sags and zig-zags ..." I'd like to hear / read more.

Ciaran Carson was perhaps the most unusal reader of the afternoon. Well, he was more than a 'reader'. He played the tin whistle to introduce the idea of "aisling" as in dream and muse. And he sang part of his novel called "The Penfriend" - a love story. It sounded just right for a love story to be partly sung, partly read. If I bought the book would I sing myself to sleep with it at night?

7th March 2010

Monday, 8 March 2010

Poem for the TFE Poetry bus

Here's one for TFE's Poetry bus, theme is trains. This is a Work in Progress and I'll be taking it down later to rework.

(It's taken down for rework)

Sunday, 7 March 2010

Reading Over the Edge, Galway.

Galway audiences come and see me as part of the Over The Edge. I'd love to see a familiar face or two. haven't been to Galway for years.

Over The Edge presents readings by Orla Higgins, Cahal Dallat, Moya Roddy & Kate Dempsey at Sheridan’s Wine Bar, 14-16 Church Yard Street, Galway on Friday, March 12th, 8pm