Friday, 30 July 2010

Six Word Story

Ernest Hemingway said that his best piece of writing was a six word story - 'For sale: baby shoes. Never worn.'

More recently, Dave Eggers wrote: 'Fifteen years since last professional haircut.'

The Arvon Foundation's theme for 2010 is the six word story and they want you to contribute. Throughout the year they will be collecting six word stories on their website.

Send your six word story to

Or if you're on Twitter you can tweet your story to @arvonfoundation.

Deadline: 1 September 2010.

They'll showcase some on the website.

Judge: poet Karen McCarthy.

Prize: The winners will receive a prize of an Arvon week.

Seems to be free to enter! And unlimited number of entries.

Fiona. Friends. Farida. Facebook. Fight. Fallout.
Bernardine Evaristo

Could've. Should've. Would've. Didn't. Didn't. Didn't.
Paul Farley

Top stair. One push. Game over.
Sophie Duffy

Thursday, 29 July 2010

Irelands Own Short Story Competition

Win Euro 2,200 with Ireland's Own: Irelands Own are running competitions in 3 sections 
  • The Open Short Story Section, open to all, with a prize fund of Euro 1,000. 2000 words, be non experimental and reflect the ethos of Ireland's Own.
  • The Beginners Short Story Competition is open to anyone who has never had a short story published before, first prize Euro 400.  2000 words, be non experimental and reflect the ethos of Ireland's Own.
  • The Memories section is for true stories of up to 800 words, and has a first prize of Euro 200. 
All entries should be original and unpublished, submitted in hard copy by post, on one side of A4, double spaced. Include your name/address on each entry, clearly mark envelope which section your entry is for.  
Deadline: 30th Sept

Fee: Euro 6 in cheque or money order.

Details from 2010 Original Writing Competitions, Ireland's Own, Channing House, Rowe St. Wexford, Republic of Ireland, email:

Wednesday, 28 July 2010

Liverpool/The Beatles Story Poetry Competition

(Photo from cuteguyswithcats)

The Beatles Story is looking for the ‘Liverpool Lennon Poet 2010' in 3 categories.

1 - Performance Poet:

Can you not only write, but perform a poem at our Poetry Slam that celebrates the life of John Lennon? The Beatles Story is looking for a Performance Poet worthy to receive the prestigious title of Liverpool Lennon Performance Poet 2010.

Deadline: 5pm Friday 10th September 2010
Poetry slam: Saturday 6th November 2010
Prizes: 1st £1000, 2nd £250, 3rd £100 (that's a lot of money)

2 - Paper Poet

Whether you live in Liverpool, Australia or the North Pole everyone can enter the Paper Poet competition. Capture our judge's imaginations, by writing up to 40 lines of rhyme about the life of John Lennon.

Deadline: 5pm Friday 10th September 2010
Finalists announced: By Friday 8th October 2010
Winner announced: Saturday 6th November (at the Performance Poet event)
Prizes: 1st £100, 2nd £50, 3rd £25 (not quite so much money)

More info on the website

Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Kilkenny Arts Festival - Literature events

(Which one of the writers writes in this room?)

Kilkenny Arts Festival
6-15 August 2010

Joseph O’Connor & Philip King
Fri 6th Aug
Musician and broadcaster Philip King and author Joseph O’Connor explore balladry and fiction in a delightful evening filled with stories and song.

Paul Durcan
Sat 7th Aug
One of the most original voices in modern poetry brings his celebrated reading style to the Watergate.

The Hubert Butler Annual Lecture: Robert Fisk
Sat 7th Aug
Award-winning Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk looks back on his extraordinary career and casts a critical eye over the state of journalism today.

John Boyne & Andrew O’Hagan
Sun 8th Aug
John Boyne, best-selling author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, and Andrew O’Hagan, one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists, take us on a fictional journey from revolutionary Russia to Marilyn Monroe’s bedroom.

Ciaran Carson & Michael Coady
Tue 10th Aug
Two acclaimed Irish poets showcase their latest collections in the intimate setting of the Parade Tower.

John Banville & Hugo Hamilton
Thu 12th Aug
A double bill featuring two of this island’s most distinguished novelists, John Banville and Hugo Hamilton, whose latest work features everything from Greek gods to Serbian immigrants in Dublin.

John Boyne & Andrew O’Hagan
Sun 8th Aug
John Boyne, best-selling author of The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, and Andrew O’Hagan, one of Granta’s Best of Young British Novelists, take us on a fictional journey from revolutionary Russia to Marilyn Monroe’s bedroom.

Joseph O’Connor & Philip King
Fri 6th Aug
Musician and broadcaster Philip King and author Joseph O’Connor explore balladry and fiction in a delightful evening filled with stories and song.

Paul Durcan
Sat 7th Aug
One of the most original voices in modern poetry brings his celebrated reading style to the Watergate.

The Hubert Butler Annual Lecture: Robert Fisk
Sat 7th Aug
Award-winning Middle East correspondent Robert Fisk looks back on his extraordinary career and casts a critical eye over the state of journalism today.

BOX OFFICE 056 7752175

Monday, 26 July 2010

Subjects to Avoid

Advice on subjects to avoid, or at least think very carefully about before writing and/or submitting.

From Staple Magazine on why some perfectly good, professionally presented and perfectly publishable work may be rejected.

For authors of short fiction,
  • relationship break-up stories, 
  • stories where former friends meet and find they no longer have much in common, (I have one of those in my head waiting to be written. It may have to stay in my head now)
  • stories that centre on secrets coming to light, 
  • stories involving car accidents, 
  • stories about estranged children returning home after parents’ deaths, or to visit dying parents, 
  • stories about writers,  
  • stories about people in their twenties just out of university, finding their ways in the world
Jeez, that cuts out a lot, don't it.

I would add Cancer and Alzheimers to that list.

For poets,
  • observations on nature, 
  • reflections on children leaving home, 
  • feelings of spirituality triggered by views of the sea, 
  • recollections of childhood events, 
  • anecdotal poems about events witnessed in ordinary streets, 
  • poems that use standard workshop forms like the sonnet and villanelle, 
  • Poems that take their cues from postcards and paintings, 
  • poems about travel and foreign landscapes and cities;
Hm.  I mean I know there is a lot left (ironing, sex, puppies, war, all four at once) but there's a lot gone.

The Rialto magazine posts about areas to be wary of in poetry.

  • Pets, their births, deaths, loyalty, kittenishness etc. Horses aren’t pets and they interest me.
  • Paintings. I think this may be a Creative Writing Exercise in somebody’s book. They often turn up – they describe the work of art and say how interesting it is and what it reminds the poet of.
  • Postcard poems – what I did and where I went on my holiday. Travel is supposed to broaden the mind, but these poems show little evidence of this. 
  • Boasting poems. These are often by males 
  • Beware the Eternal Verities. Those poems that set out to Explain The Meaning Of Life. There is a useful Creative Writing Maxim which says ‘show don’t tell’. I’m very happy to know life’s meaning, but I’d rather you showed me how you discovered it than bashed me over the head with it.

So that's Puppies gone too.
You won't get many of these subjects in the Poetry Divas 2 pamphlet. Oh no.

Sunday, 25 July 2010

Want the Poetry Divas 2, second ever Poetry Pamphlet?

Do you want your own copy of the Poetry Divas second ever poetry pamphlet, entitled Poetry Divas 2, printed (not published, we reserve the right to publish these poems elsewhere) by Diva Press? Scared we'll sell out before you get to see us?
Want to own this priceless collectors' item now?

Click here. You can choose one of the other pamphlets here too.
5 Euro plus 1 Euro P&P worldwide.

All Pamphlets

and one will soon be winging its way to you for your reading enjoyment.

This one features Poetry Divas, Top Hat Diva, Haiku Diva and me Diva. Especially printed for the fabulous Body and Soul Midsummer Experience. Relive Midsummer with a little bit of Poetry in the comfort and relative safety of your own home. Tiara optional.

Saturday, 24 July 2010

Interesting Links

Macsweeney's on Social Networking.

"I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by brevity, over-connectedness, emotionally starving for attention, dragging themselves through virtual communities at 3 am, surrounded by stale pizza and neglected dreams, looking for angry meaning, any meaning ... 

Significant Objects. Geegaws and Short Stories for sale on ebay. The Guardian digs out an interesting story. You can see all the goods, read all the stories and the amount paid for each listing at Or, if you prefer, you can wait until 2011, when the American publishers Fantagraphics Books are due to bring out an anthology.

Suffering from the Am-I-Crazies? Am-I-Shite? Why is it so hard to tell? From Nathan Bransford

82-year-old lands first book deal. Myrrha Stanford-Smith makes novel debut with The Great Lie with Honno Press in Wales. There's hope for us all. (I hope it's good)

27 Reasons why Eclipse the film is better than Eclipse the Book.

Friday, 23 July 2010

Derry City Of Culture 2013

(Or Londonderry, I swing both ways you know)

Congratulations on being picked UK City of Culture 2013. What a great opportunity it will be. Here's the write up from the Guardian.

the title was a "badge to bring people together". "When people read Derry's bid, it's about acknowledging the past, not shying away from it," one judge said. "If that is not the role of culture, I don't know what is."

And you know what Derry really needs? Poetry Divas!

Thursday, 22 July 2010

Reading at the White House Limerick

Yes, that's me arriving at the White House. Thursday 28th July around 9pm, I'll be featured reader at the White House Bar in Limerick. Please if you're anywhere near, come in and listen. There's an open mic too at the start. And it's free and there's finger food. What else would you do of a Thursday evening?

And just about every Irish poet and lots from further afield has read here over the seven years they've been running. They have loads and loads of videos of poets on YouTube

You could use this as a resource. If a poet is reading and you're wondering whether to go, whether they're a good, engaging reader or if their poetry is your thing, see if they're on the White House YouTube channel.

I'll be selling copies of my poetry pamphlet Good Sherry Trifle and maybe, my last few copies of Poetry Divas 1 and Poetry Divas 2.

Dromineer Literary Festival Poetry Competition


Judge: Dave Lordan

Maximum Number of lines per poem: 40

Entry Fee: 5 euro for first poem plus 3 euro per additional title.

Deadline: 13 August 2010

Website here.

Entries To

Deborah Powell,
Dromineer Literary Festival,
Co. Tipperary.


1st. Prize 500.00
2nd. Prize 350.00
3rd. Prize 150.00

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

End of July Competitions

From my favourite magazine Mslexia and some more from Kudos.

There are a buzzillion competitions with deadlines at the end of July. Here's a list. Google the details yourself or get yourself a copy of Mslexia for full details.

Deadline: 30th July
  • Wasafiri New Writing Prize: Poetry, Fiction and Life Writing. Prize only for the winner so I won't enter. I think you need more of a spread/chance.
  • Essex Poetry Festival 10th Open Poetry Competition. £6 per poem, £20 for 5

Deadline: 31st July
  • Norman MacCaig Centenary Poetry Competition. £5 per poem, £12 for 3
  • Hay-on-Wye Short Story Competition
  • The Slingink Prize: Fiction and Poetry, Adult and Junior Small prizes
  • Aldeburgh first collection has to be published already
  • McLellan Award for Play Writing
  • Narrative Short Story Contest. A US prize goes up to 15,000 words
  • HISSAC Open Short Story Competition
  • Sean O'Faolain Short Story Competition. More here
  • Guildford Book festival Short Story Competition Up to 7,000 words that inspire and uplift. Aimed to be read in full on the train from Guildford to Waterloo. One prize only.
  • The Sussex Playwrights' Club One Act Play Competition
  • SpokenInk Audiostory Competition
  • Sid Chaplin Short Story Competition. Also for junior writers.

Tuesday, 20 July 2010

Novel Writing Workshop with Sean O’Reilly

The Stinging Fly in association with the Irish Writers’ Centre presents a Novel Writing Workshop with Sean O’Reilly, starting in October.

(I have a lot of time for Sean O'Reilly)

The workshop runs over a period of twenty weeks (starting early October) with weekly sessions where participants present and discuss their own work. In addition there will be five day-long sessions with visiting writers.

Eight to ten participants will be selected on the basis of work submitted (before deadline August 20th) and they will be expected to work towards the completion of the first draft of a novel.

The cost is €1500. (that's me out then)

To receive more information on this year’s workshop and the application procedure, send an e-mail to


Five American writers and the English writer David Constantine have made the shortlist for the 2010 Frank O'Connor Short Story Award. Three are début authors. No Irish.

If I Loved You, I Would Tell You This (Picador UK, 2010) by Robin Black
Mattaponi Queen (Graywolf Press, 2010) by Belle Boggs
Wild Child (Bloomsbury, 2010) by TC Boyle
The Shieling (Comma Press, 2009) by David Constantine
Burning Bright (HarperCollins, 2010) by Ron Rash
What the World Will Look Like When All the Water Leaves Us (Dzanc Books, 2009) by Laura van den Berg

More at Munster Lit here
I haven't read any of these. In fact I haven't heard of any of them before either. I hope this competition will increase the publicity for them.

Previous Winners:
  • 2005 - Yiyun Li for A Thousand Years of Good Prayers
  • 2006 - Haruki Murakami for Blind Willow, Sleeping Woman
  • 2007 - Miranda July for No One Belongs Here More than You
  • 2008 - Jhumpa Lahiri for Unaccustomed Earth
  • 2009 - Simon Van Booy for Love Begins in Winter

I read Yiyun Li, which palled a bit on me. The subject matter I felt I'd read before. I also read Miranda July which I adored until the last couple of stories when the voice and the wackiness felt a bit contrived. Maybe I read it too fast though.

Anyone read the others?

Monday, 19 July 2010

Poetry in the National Gallery

(Not so well advertised so give them your support.)

National Gallery Lunchtime Readings | Celia de Fréine
Wednesday 21 July @ 1.05pm

Poetry Ireland in association with the National Gallery of Ireland presents a lunchtime reading with Celia de Fréine.

Wednesday 28 July @ 1.05pm

Poetry Ireland in association with the National Gallery of Ireland presents a lunchtime reading with Theo Dorgan.

National Gallery of Ireland, Merrion Square West, D2

I went last week. Mary O'Malley. No notices at the entrances for drop ins. Mad.
I'm not going this week if it's raining as I'll be on a Dublin Bike

Write your own PFO

From Lighten Up, an online light verse magazine, via the Stammering Poet.

"You are an Editor explaining to a well-known poet, past or present, your reasons for not publishing a poem which he or she has submitted to you.

Entries, no longer than 16 lines and clearly identifying the poet, should be sent by August 10th to, pasted in the body of the email itself - no attachments!

No prizes but the best ones will be published in Issue 10.

The picture is a PFO occluder. I think we all need one of those. Plus it's rather beautiful.

Sunday, 18 July 2010

The Inishbofin Jaunt Poetry Weekend

Write, read and hear poetry on Inishbofin island on the August Bank Holiday weekend! In this weekend course, running Saturday 31 July to the morning of Monday August 2nd, poets and tutors Yvonne Cullen and Sean Lysaght will lead classes for beginners and also for those wishing to strengthen their skills and poetic voices.

Tuition Fee for the weekend is 230 euro. To apply or to receive the course programme please email

ACCOMMODATION: Please note that course fee does not include accomodation or board. Course programme available by email includes accomodation listings ranging from hostel to hotel

COURSE ORGANISER and WRITING TRAIN WRITING WORKSHOP LEADER YVONNE CULLEN: Course organiser and facilitator Yvonne has been leading writing workshops for 18 years. She was described in the Irish Times recently as " That rare thing, a writer who writes beautifully and can pass on the skill." Sean's poetry, it has been said, "brings us not just to the natural world, but also to the environment of the imagination, the environment of language, the environment of literature and of the world's store of legend and tale."

Saturday, 17 July 2010

I Write Like

You know you want to...

Put some of your writing on this website and see in whose style you write. It's designed by software developers Coding Robots, lets you paste in a section of your prose and analyses your vocabulary, sentence-length and punctuation. It then compares this to a list of 40 famous writers, and comes up with the closest comparison to your style.

It's been so popular that Margaret Atwood, one of the authors included in the site's database, was prompted to try it out. Unfortunately, Atwood revealed, she writes like ... Stephen King. A second attempt told her she wrote like James Joyce. The site's creator is now promising to "train the database" with more of her works so it'll be able to recognise her in the future.

This blog is written in the style of David Foster Wallace.
(I confess I've never read him)

My Poetry Collection (currently out for consideration) is in the same style. (Who'd athunk it?)

My novel, I'm gutted to tell you, comes out as Stephen King. Really? Hm.


Sentinel Literature Festival Anthology

The Sentinel Literary Movement aims to showcase poetry, short fiction and drama. Last year they held the first Sentinel Literature Festival Anthology in London, which was a great success and this year they are holding their second festival from October 28th to 31st.

The literary festival venue is Pearson (North east entrance) Lecture Theatre), University College London, Gower Street, London with events beginning promptly at 7pm on Thursday 28th and Friday 29th, and at 5pm on Saturday 30 and Sunday 31st.

This year, the festival is publishing an anthology of short stories, poetry and drama and they are looking for submissions.


Submit previously unpublished poems on any subject or style up to 60 lines long.

Short Stories

Submit previously unpublished stories on any subject or style up to 2,000 words long. They say they are looking for good imaginative writing, and sharp observation and writing that makes the reader think.


Submit previously unpublished short plays on any subject or style up to 8,000 words long. These short plays must be complete pieces and not scenes or excepts from longer plays. We will accept and abridged version of a play, but any reader must get a sense that he has read a complete story.

Deadline is July 31st 2010

There is no cash payment, but every featured author will receive one free contributor’s copy plus a 20% discount on any additional copies purchased.

Please send your submission(s) by email only to

For further information, please visit

Friday, 16 July 2010

Swords Heritage Week/Poet of Fingal

The Swords Heritage Week 2010 has both a short story and Poet of Fingal contest
Deadline: July 30th

Details of the above can be had by dialing 01 8400080 or e-mail

I can't find anything else online.

Over The Edge at Westside Arts festival

It's an Open Mic

WESTSIDE ARTS FESTIVAL: Over The Edge Summer Open Mic
When: Wednesday, July 21st, 2010, 7pm
Where: Westside Library, Seamus Quirke Road Galway

The Westside Library Writers will read from their work. Afterwards the annual Over The Edge Summer Open Mic will take place. Everyone who has a poem or story to share is most welcome to take part. So, if you have if have some writing you’d like to read to an audience this is your opportunity to do so.

MCs for the evening will be Kevin Higgins & Susan Millar DuMars. All are welcome to attend.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

RTE Guide/Penguin Ireland Short Story Competition

Diva-in-the-making, Eimear Ryan points out an interesting sounding competition in the RTE Guide. Pick up a copy (with Kathryn Thomas on the cover, not actually Eimear) for details about a short story competition being held in conjunction with Penguin Ireland.

Maximum word count is 1500 words
Deadline is 6 August.

The prize is attendance at a one-day workshop being held by Penguin and Dublin City Libraries, and publication in the RTE Guide.

Entries can be sent to The Books Competition, RTÉ Guide, RTÉ, Donnybrook, Dublin 4. 

Anyone got any more details? Like the judge? The genre?

Mslexia Poetry Competition

Women poets ONLY. I don't think we're allowed to say poetess anymore more. Like Teacheress, manageress, authoress, doctoress, gardeness, directress, bloggress, hairdress, understress, iconfess, canugess, omygodwhatamess, etc it's died a death.

The closing date for the Mslexia Women’s Poetry Competition is just over a week away

Enter online or by freepost.
Deadline: 26 July 2010.

For full details go to:

If you are stuck for inspiration take a look at the five new poetry workshops on their website:

Judge: Vicki Feaver
1st Prize: £1,000
2nd Prize: £500
3rd Prize: £250
22 other finalists will receive £25 each.

All winning poems will be published in Mslexia.

The entry fee of £5 allows you to enter up to three poems.

I think that's a great idea as 3 poems gives the judge a much better idea of what you have. One poem can be so much down to luck.

Having said that, I've never got in...yet

Wednesday, 14 July 2010

Workshop with Robyn Rowland

When: Saturday September 11th 2010, 10am – 4pm (with a break for lunch)

What: This structured workshop is appropriate for, and has been successfully conducted with, established and early writers; poets and prose writers.

Part 1. Sweet Words: Valuing the Particular.

It is often difficult to find a way into the poem or prose we want to write and to bring to it a sense of the immediate. Beginning in the particular, we can watch an organic growth occur, gaining nurture from colour, scent, sound, taste and touch. In these particulars lie the story, the connection ready to unfold in your writing. This session will help you to uncover it, to shape it, with the aim of gaining immediacy in your work.

Part 2. River and ocean; tear and breath. Great and small; water in flood and famine.

From the smallest droplet to the greatest ocean, water is the building block of life. Inside us - bodies made primarily of water - tears release emotion, water ensures survival. As an image, it flows through the great poetry of Buddhism, the Bible and the poetry of those who connect inner life with nature. This workshop takes the elemental nature of water – its practical and mythical significance – and encourages its various representations in our work.

Each participant is given notes to keep relating to the topic for each part of the workshop, as well as copies of Robyn’s or other poems which exemplify themes. Each part of the workshop involves a talk, a guided meditative moment encouraging participants to attend to the nature of their piece of writing, followed by writing towards the topic. At the end of each part, Robyn will give feedback for each participant in terms of the aim of the workshop.

Cost: 35 euros, (30 concession).

Where: Adare Library, Limerick

Limited numbers. Bookings essential please by Sept 6th, as Robyn is traveling to Limerick do the workshop. Contact Dominic @

Who: Dr Robyn Rowland AO has published ten books. Her work has been awarded a number of prizes. Silence & its tongues (2006) was shortlisted for the 2007 ACT Judith Wright Poetry Prize. Seasons of doubt & burning: New & Selected Poems is just published. Third generation Irish-Australian, Robyn has been reading and teaching in Ireland for 28 years, where she lives part-time in Connemara.

Robyn, an Honorary Fellow, School of Culture and Communication, University of Melbourne, was Deputy Chair of the Board, Australian Poetry Centre (2007-2008), and Professor of Social Inquiry and Women’s Studies at Deakin University, retiring in 1996 with breast cancer and burnout. She was made an Officer in the Order of Australia for her contribution to higher education and women's health in 1996.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010

Belfast Poetry Scene

NEW CUBElfast word slam!!/event.php?eid=121645451196470&ref=ts
Date: Thursday, 15th July 2010
Time: 20:00 - 22:00
Location: Black Box Cafe
(the link here for for June's gig, just to let you know the format of the night- there doesn't seem to an event page for the July gig, but I have been told it's happening!)

Live at the Loft
Date: Friday, 30 July 2010
Time: 20:00 - 23:00
Location: King Street Arts, Belfast

Monday, 12 July 2010

Storymap, Dublin

Tom Rowley is looking for help with Storymap in Dublin
He says:

The basic idea is we'll film people telling stories related to specific places in the city, while in that place (a street, a restaurant, a bar). These 5-10 minute true stories could be historical, personal, romantic, ghostly, comic.. etc. Once filmed they'll be edited, uploaded and integrated into an online map of the city. The idea is that it'll expand each month with a selection of quality stories to include more places and create a 'storymap' - a vision of the city as lived across generations, centuries, nationalities. The aim being to end up with a story for every street in the capital, capturing its essence and personality.

We have the filming equipment and crew, and a range of storytellers on board to get started. Now we're recruiting for a web developer and graphic designer to get the site up and running in time to launch. We were wondering if any of the lovely milk and cookies audience are in this field and would be interested in this. If so, please email with any examples of work/ ideas.

As it's not a commercial venture there'd be no pay available but we're applying for funding which, if granted, would provide money to pay people further on down the line.

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Prose on the Pier - Dun Laoghaire Pier that is

PROSE ON THE PIER is an open submission competition the winners of which will take part in a Showcase Reading, planned for 2pm, Saturday, September 11th, on the newly renovated East Pier Bandstand.

The Brief:

Submissions should be a max of 1,500 and must be inspired by the phrase "Mountains to Sea".

The Catch:

Submissions are only invited from residents of Dun Laoghaire Rathdown who have not previously published a book. Submissions of fiction, non-fiction and memoir are all welcome, so long as they have not been previously published in any form.

The winning entrants will not only get to read their work in the Prose on the Pier event, but will also have their submissions published in a Festival Free Sheet, which will be available throughout the Mountains to Sea dlr Book Festival. Winners also receive a free Festival Pass.

The Mountains to Sea dlr Book Festival runs from September 7th to 12th and will feature acclaimed Irish and international writers.

Judge/event organiser: Katie Donovan is former Writer-in-Residence for Dun Laoghaire Rathdown.

Deadline: August 16th to Tim Carey, Director, Mountains to Sea dlr Book Festival, Dun Laoghaire Rathdown Country Council, Town Hall, Dun Laoghaire.

Friday, 9 July 2010

Kerry writer Neil Brosnan launches first book

The first book by Listowel native Neil Brosnan was launched by writer and publican Billy Keane at the start of June as part of this year’s Listowel Writers’ Week. “Fresh Water and Other Stories” is a collection of twenty short stories penned by Brosnan. The title story won the Bryan MacMahon prize at Writers’ Week in 2004, and a number of other stories have been published in various journals and anthologies.

Brosnan’s craft has been described as “fresh and original” by fellow Kerry writer Tommy Frank O’Connor, and, according to acclaimed Irish writer Leland Bardwell, “has that very necessary talent to bring the reader immediately into the atmosphere of the telling.”

A familiar face in trad music circles, Neil’s All-Ireland and World Fleadh medal-winning songs have been heard from Drumshanbo to Dingle and from Doolin to Dunhill. Of this short story collection, Billy Keane writes in his introduction: “after much persuasion, the songwriter has given us his greatest hits.”

The book will have a second launch in O’Flaherty’s pub in Dingle town on Thursday 29th July at 730pm by acclaimed writer and musician Maidhc Dainín Ó'Sé. Anyone who may be in the area is welcome to come along.

The book is available to buy from at a price of €15.

Further information: Neil Brosnan: e-mail: and 068-23447.

Thursday, 8 July 2010

Critically Acclaimed Books I thought were awful

And some books I didn't even bother to finish. I have a pretty eclectic taste in books. I read widely. I don't read horror or porn but otherwise, pretty much everything else. Here are some books I personally think were pretty awful, overrated or just plain boring.


I've hidden one book in this list that I actually adore. So try and spot it! Sneaky or what?!

The Reader by Bernard Schlink - Bit boring and obvious. Why do people rave about this?

Christine Falls by Benjamin Black - Ultimately unsatisfying thriller set in the 50's (?) from John Banville

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini - Clunky emotionally manipulative writing. Laying it on thick as over wintered paint. Dreadful

The Tea House on Mulberry Street by Sharon Owens - Some call it heart warming - I call it boring and predictable

A Change in Altitude by Anita Shreve - S'all right I suppose. Not mad on it. Wimpy main character difficult to identify with.

Then We Came To The End by Joshua Ferris - Who wants to read a book about office life? And what's with the first person plural anyway?

A Suitable Boy by Vikram Seth - Too cloying, sprawling and same-y Indian saga.

House of Sand And Fog by Andre Dubus III. Again boring. People are mean to me. Life's confusing. So what?

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson - couldn't even get to the end. Who cares what happens?

My Name Is Red by Orhan Pamuk - another rare book I didn't finish. Trying too hard to be clever to give this reader a reason to keep going

Flaubert's Parrot by Julian Barnes - again with the too clever to make me care

Jude the Obscure by Thomas Hardy - why couldn't they get over it and have a nice life? He has to lay on tragedy after tragedy.

Labyrinth by Kate Mosse - I wanted to like it but I found it badly written tripe

The Alchemist by Paolo Coelho - what's with this one? Pseudo deep stuff. Crap

That'll do for now. Try and spot the one I actually loved.

Please feel free to disagree or agree. Add your own worst books in comments and I'll add them to the list.