Saturday, 30 July 2011

Travel Writing - Just Back

If you are interested in travel writing and can make the most mundane trip sound wonderful, enter this Just Back from The Daily Telegraph pay £200 each
week for the best 500 word article.

Although most of the destinations written about are fairly exotic. Peru, Palestine, Arizona, Laos, Tanzania, the Himalayas, Edinburgh...

Thursday, 28 July 2011

Cill Rialaig Residences

The Cill Rialaig Project in south-west Kerry invites applications for residencies for September 2011 to December 2012.
Built out of the ruins of a 1790s pre-famine village atop a cliff face overlooking the Atlantic, Cill Rialaig offers artists and other creative professionals an opportunity to get away from everyday career pressures and the demands of 21st century life in order to focus entirely on their artistic practice. The purpose of Cill Rialaig is to foster creativity and excellence, to provide a place to work and regenerate. To that end it operates a multi-disciplinary residency programme. While residents are primarily visual artists, they also include photographers, writers, poets, screenwriters, applied artists, musicians and composers, architects, and their peers, from Ireland and abroad.

Cill Rialaig is located in a very remote Gaeltacht, or Irish-speaking, area. Its cottages are living-work spaces that provide for residents’ essential work and living needs. They are very simple without modern accoutrements of television, telephones or internet. The remote location means that there are very few distractions other than the landscape; it is a true retreat.
Residencies are offered free of charge, although there is a small service fee for utilities. Residents provide their own transportation, food and supplies. The selection committee meets twice a year.

Deadline: 15 September 2011.
The following deadline is 15 March 2012.
Please contact Mary O’Connell at for information about applying.

Common faults made by Emerging Writers

This post inspired by reading some eBooks by new writers.
Read this post by Louise Wise first. Includes:
  • Boring. Nothing much happens. Doughy prose, stodgy story.
  • Point of View all over the place. Start with one person for a while, leap onto someone else's point of view, then back then... Or start with one person for ages, then leap to another. Disorientating.
  • Characters not showing enough emotion. Show us what they feel even if they're trying to hide it.
  • Minor characters with too much information. If the policeman is minor, don't tell us he's called Gregor.
  • Show, don't tell. This was a revelation to me the first time I heard it. I must have heard it close on to a thousand times now. e.g. The first time she was told, she felt it was an absolutely key piece of advice (telling) When Stuart told her the rule first, she wrote it down in her notebook in capital letters, underlined then tore the page out and stuck it above her writing desk when she got home. (showing)
  • Timeline. Is it winter? Does it matter? How long does it take to get the story from A to Z?
  • Irrelevant detail. Get the character out of the house. Don't show us her breakfast, unless she's going to spew it up all over the love interest later on.
  • Pompous words. OK, I get that if you know the word, archipeligo, you don't have to use it, but if it's the right word...On the other hand, if you mean small, why use diminuative? A thesaurus can be your best friend as long as you don't give into temptation.
  • Speech tags. Use said. Sometimes you can use asked. Don't use enquired, quipped, demanded, requested, queried, laughed, etc etc. It should be obvious from the context what it is. Whispered and shouted can sometimes be an exception.
  • Cliches. Within speech, OK. Otherwise, avoid. But what is a cliche? Your call.
To which I would add
  • If you're going to have vampires, zombies, magic, aliens, a crime, have it soon into your novel so the reader knows what to expect. Having the first sniff of a vampire appear 50% into the story is cruel and unnecessary.
  • Humour. I don't know of a good book that doesn't have a sniff of humour in it.
  • On the subject of humour, don't tell us when to laugh (By having your characters split their sides over some brief joke.)
  • Emotional tunnel. Too much despair, grief, loved-up-ness, anger, greed etc in one go can be too much. Break it up.
  • Description. Give us a little to go on. We don't need to know the layout of the apartment, the garden design or the photofit image but a few little details go a long way to painting a picture in the reader's head.

Wednesday, 27 July 2011

The Subject of Language

Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie via Kalle at The Brown Bread Mixtape

Tuesday, 26 July 2011

Horizon Review Submissions

 Now you may know that I am not a huge fan of online, free magazines but this one is associated with the independent press Salt.

They are reading now until 15th August.

Horizon is an online review of literature and art. We publish poems, stories, essays, articles and memoir, multimedia pieces (but light on the talking heads please), art reviews, photo essays, and other items of cultural interest. Queries are welcome. The review appears twice yearly, in March and September.

Submission highlights:
We accept submissions only by email, at
maximum of six poems or three short stories.
Criticism, memoir and essays should be no more than 3,000 words.
Reviews should be no more than 1,000 words.
75-word biographical note.

If you are not contacted by Salt within 30 days of your submission, your work has not been accepted for publication.

Details here

Monday, 25 July 2011

Poetry Apps

First posted on

Inspired by this piece by the poet and fiction author, Nick Laird in the Guardian (can't be doing without my Saturday Guardian) I've had a look at some of the online poetry tools he mentions.

Wattpad - a website to share your stories and poems. You can perhaps read the most popular (What's Hot) but having a quick scan through showed nothing of interest to me. 1 millions reads? Romance gets a lot of reads here; poetry doesn't. There's an app to read on your mobile too. Wiki here tells you how it all works. I've uploaded an old short story of mine up here and will see what happens.

Portapoet for
  • Easily writing and sharing rhyming poems
  • Finding rhymes for words
Available as an app on iPad etc. Not a huge fan of rhymes for rhyming sake myself.

Another is Erotic Poems where you can, for 99c, once you successfully complete the structured poems in this program, create more complex work, learning to:
-excite all five of your lover's senses
-identify formulas for creating structured forms of poetry
-enjoy the fruits of prewriting and revision
-use figurative language to entice someone special
-create a sustained image to captivate the person of your desires

Right, so.

The Poetry Foundation in America has some apps. It is said to turn your phone into a mobile poetry library. But only if it's an iPhone. I have an HTC. I love my HTC.
Poetry Ireland take note. A great way to promote Irish Poetry. Also the Poetry Society in the UK. Get over yourselves and get out there.

Prose with Bros again for the iPhone, competitive poetry with random words. Each player is given the same 50 words to construct their prose, and after submitting the results, other players vote on which is best over the course of the next 24 hours. As described here, pretty smutty.

On my HTC, if I search Marketplace for Poetry I get 1,046 results, mostly other people's poems for free, people I haven't heard of as well as Bill Shakespeare and his buddy, Goethe.

Refrigerator Poetry is there as an android app and there are rhyming dictionaries too.

Sunday, 24 July 2011

Interview with writer and blogger Nuala Ni Chonchor

This interview first published on

Nuala Ní Chonchúir is a full-time fiction writer and poet. She has published three collections of short fiction, the most recent being Nude by Salt Publishing and three poetry collections, including the bi-lingual Tattoo: Tatu by Arlen House, and most recently one novel, You published by New Island.

Welcome to Could you introduce yourself to the readers please?
I’m a full-time writer from Dublin living in County Galway. I write both fiction and poetry but my heart lies in fiction really. I have three kids and ten hours a week to write so I stuff a lot into those precious ten hours. At the moment I am writing a novel and am at the ‘enjoying it’ stage of that.

How did you get into writing?

I’ve been writing since I was a child, it grew from my love of reading. I came second in a national poetry competition when I was ten and that gave me a boost and a special interest in writing. Michael Hartnett was the judge of that comp and I remember my mother’s awe and reverence when we met him; it rubbed off.

What do you consider the highlights so far?

Winning the Francis MacManus Award in 2003 was brilliant – the money was great and it was just an all round positive experience. My first novel You coming out last year with New Island, after 5 years of schlepping it around publishers, was also a highlight.

Which came first, poetry or fiction?
nudePoetry came first for me, but I fell in love with short fiction after taking a course with Mike McCormack in Galway Arts Centre in the mid nineties. I still love short stories, as both reader and writer.

How do you change from one form to another? Do you feel the poetry helps the fiction and vice versa?

I write everything at the same time, I don’t totally neglect one form for another. So even though I am in the thick of a novel, if a poem or short story occurs to me, I will abandon the novel to write that.

I think poetry and fiction complement each other. Poets pay very close attention to language and individual word choices – that then becomes important in the fiction.

What have you got coming up?
My third full poetry collection The Juno Charm is due out from Salmon Poetry in November, so I am putting the finishing touches to the manuscript at the moment.

Which Irish poets, living or dead, do you recommend people search out and read?

You_-_Nuala_Ni_ChonchuirToo many to mention but here are a few: Patrick Cotter, Mary O’Donnell, Cherry Smyth, Paul Durcan, Matthew Sweeney, Grace Wells.

You can find out more about Nuala at ··and her lovely blog

Saturday, 23 July 2011

Words of Wisdom from Andrea Semple

Andrea Semple, (@AndreaSemple1) the chick lit writer, sends out occasional newsletters. The last one had one piece of wisdom well worth sharing.

WRITE THE BIT YOU ARE READY TO WRITE. There is no law that states you must write your novel in consecutive, chronological order. In fact, I have never started at the beginning and ended at the end in my life. Write the bit that is most ready, most in your head, most fun, if that comes far nearer the end than you are, so be it.

Friday, 22 July 2011

Happenstance Mentoring Project

Happenstance is a well regarded poetry pamphlet press and they are running a mentoring scheme this year. They are working with Writers Forum Magazine (Not my favourite magazine. It's a bit samey every month after a while and aimed squarely at hobby-ist writers)

Monthly competition details here
Entry fee is £5 for the first poem, £3 for subsequent poems in the same entry.
Online or by post.

And then for the mentoring scheme, Happenstance say
All contenders will be drawn from the winning entrants and runners-up in the Writers’ Forum monthly poetry competition, from issues 111 to issues 122 inclusive.

Poetry competition winners and runners-up from these issues will be invited to submit a further five poems, and each will receive feedback from Writers' Forum Poetry Editor Sarah Willans on their six-poem group (including their winning poem), with a view to progressing towards publication.

From these winners, HappenStance editor Helena Nelson will choose four. They will be mentored towards the production of a small set of poems suitable for submission to publishers, competitions or poetry magazines.

Of these four, one will be accepted for publication in the HappenStance Sampler series.

Deadline: October 15th, 2010.

Thursday, 21 July 2011


Not well known this one so the odds may be higher.

Prizes: £200, £100, £50; £25 x 6 Consolation Prizes.
All nine winners will receive a free copy of the Winter issue of Salopeot which will contain all nine winning poems.

Fee: £3, £4/10 (£2 for members). Length: 40 lines.

Judge: Hilary Llewellyn-Williams

Entry form on website, (Where you can browse last year's winners)
or include cover sheet, and
SEND TO: Roger Hoult, 5 Squires Close,
Madeley, Telford, Shropshire, TF7 5RU
Snailmail only

Deadline: 31 August 2011

Wednesday, 20 July 2011

Your Writers Competitions

3 For Young writers - What are you waiting for?
(And if you win something, come back and let me know)

John Betjeman Poetry Competition
Entries are now being accepted for the contest from 10 to 13 year olds in the UK and the Republic of Ireland

Deadline: 31st July.

Each child is invited to send in (by post or online) one poem on the theme of ‘place’. They can choose anywhere that is important to them– from their bedroom to a holiday place or a favourite park or building. The subject could be a city, a garden, a beach or a street; capturing in words what the place means to the child.

Winners of the poetry competition are invited to read their poems aloud to an audience of judges, entrants, teachers and parents as well as sponsors and press, at a prize giving held in October on the concourse of Saint Pancras station, next to the bronze statue of John Betjeman.

The first prize is stg £1000.
There are five runner-up prizes of stg £50 book tokens.
The competition is free to enter.

Full details can be found at the website


The Cool it Schools Annual Poetry Competition
International: for schools and individuals; 5-10s;11-14s;15-18s
Prizes: books from Dorling Kindersley
Fee: £2. Length: 14 lines.

Theme for 2011 International Year of Chemistry ‘Chain Reactions: chemistry is the stuff of life. The world we inhabit and the animals, people and plants in it, are made from atoms and particles. Storms are caused by chemical reactions. Our senses of taste, touch and smell are dependent on chemical responses.

Write a poem that explores chemistry in unusual and imaginative ways.’

NB: font size 22 or more.

Poems can be viewed in the Writing the World ‘Chain Reactions’ showcases.

Entries may be emailed or
SEND TO: PO Box 67860 London SE24 4AT
website here


247tales short story competition

the online writing competition that challenges you to write short stories using 247 words or fewer.

The prize for the winning story is £75 worth of Bloomsbury Children’s books plus a framed copy of your winning story. The winning story will appear on the home page of this website and ten runners-up will receive signed copies of the guest author’s latest book and their stories will appear on the website as well.

The competition is open to anyone aged between 10 and 16 and resident in the UK.

Deadline monthly.
More here


Foyle Young Poets of the Year Award 2011.

This one's from the Poetry Society, the UK’s largest poetry competition for writers between the ages of 11 and 17. They had ‘over a staggering 20,000 poems’ last year, they say.
free to enter

submit only 6 to 8 of their very best poems.

There are two age categories: 11 to 14, and 15 to 17.

Poems can be any length and on any subject.

Deadline: 31 July

Prizes: For winners in the 11 to 14 category - A short residency at your school by 'a leading poet'.
Winners in the 15 to 17 category receive a week-long residential course at one of the prestigious Arvon writing Centres

The fifteen overall winners will have their entries published in the winners’ anthology, while the 85 Commended poets will have their names published.

There are also prizes of books for the schools which inspire the most entries, and there are unspecified prizes and books for all 100 winners, plus Youth Membership and an invite to the prestigious awards ceremony in London.

Click here

Judges: Imtiaz Dharker and Glyn Maxwell

Tuesday, 19 July 2011

Abridged seeking submissions

Abridged, the poetry/art magazine is looking for submissions for its 0 - 23: Desire and Dust issue.

A maximum of 3 poems may be submitted.

Art can be up to A4 size in any media and be at least 300 dpi.

Submissions can be emailed to or
posted to: Abridged c/o The Verbal Arts Centre, Stable Lane and Mall Wall, Bishop Street Within, Derry BT48 6PU, N. Ireland.

Deadlin: 8th September.

Monday, 18 July 2011

20th anniversary of the opening of the Irish Writers Centre

The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Mr Jimmy Deenihan, TD, will visit the Irish Writers’ Centre on Wednesday 20 July at 7.00 pm to unveil a plaque acknowledging the financial support of his Department and celebrating the 20th anniversary of the opening of the Centre. 

The dual celebration will include a special guest reading by Sebastian Barry. It will continue with readings from selected writers and writing groups who have been using the Centre on a regular basis over the past couple of years to meet and develop their work. A reception before and afterwards will ensure that this is going to be an extremely enjoyable occasion, and everyone is invited to join us for this celebration.

The Writers’ Centre opened its door in 1991 and since then has been at the heart of literary activities in Dublin. Over the past few years it has endured difficulties and crisis, but is still determined to be vibrant, still tackling new challenges. For example, the programme of prose readings, the ‘Peregrine Readings’, financed by the Arts Council, has visited every corner of Ireland over the past year.

Sunday, 17 July 2011

Sample Sunday - The Story of Plan B

Sample Sunday, a twitter phenomenon. Search for the hashtag #samplesunday and you can find links to indie authors posting up samples of their eBooks. A painless way to find your next read.

I haven't done it before so here's mine. Enjoy and but my ebook on Smashwords here $2.99 but currently half price for their July Promotion. Or on Amazon here for Irish and US readers and here for UK readers.

Chapter 1

The woman beside me on the bus home was reading a magazine with a photo of Larry Harte on the cover. He was gazing sensually at a pot of yellow tulips. I leaned towards her casually, trying to read the blurb. She edged away. The headline said something about a woman scorned. I was intrigued. I leaned in further and tried to angle my head so I could read it. My neck was starting to ache. The woman turned and glared at me, pursing her lips so tight her pink lipstick was pushed up a wrinkle towards her nose. I rubbed my neck and moved it slowly from side to side, pretending I had been stretching the muscles, pretending and failing. She jammed the magazine in her bag and took out her mobile phone.

He was everywhere I looked, “Flash Larry Harte,” the gorgeous gardener. He was on TV with his own programme, “Flash Gardens,” of course. He popped up on chat shows and on the odd, ill-advised celebrity game show. That phase seemed to have passed, thank goodness. Perhaps he had a new publicist. Now I saw his bronzed face in shop windows, on an advert for environmentally friendly tea, and I’d heard him guest presenting the gardening program on the radio. It was a first for me, tuning in to a radio show on gardening. I wasn’t the only one. Their ratings had been seven times the average listenership that week. I wiped a circle on the steamed up window and went back to staring out at the murky Dublin evening.

My apartment was midway between two bus stops but I got off early and walked the rest for a bit of exercise. The sky, which had been grey all day, was turning blue and the Dublin air smelled fresh. Daffodils were starting to bloom in sheltered spots and everything felt full of potential. My flatmate, Sarah was in the bath when I got home. I felt a tidy phase coming over me so I washed the kitchen floor before the feeling wore off. The kitchen was small but all the same, I bet Flash Larry Harte doesn’t get the mop and bucket out when he gets home and washes his own kitchen floor. I scrubbed at a stubborn but unidentifiable sticky patch by the fridge. I bet Flash Larry Harte doesn’t have to stop at Tesco to buy peanut butter, milk and biodegradable bin bags on his way home from whatever garden he’s been digging that day.

The phone rang as I was putting away the mop. I tiptoed across the clean, damp floor, leaving a trail of grey steps across what had briefly been a pristine, shiny floor. Clean for a grand total of twenty-three seconds. Almost a record.

“Hello?” I said.

“Hello Zoë. How are you keeping?”

It was Mrs Boland, Sarah’s mother. They spoke at least twice a day, always had. And about nothing much, as far as I could gather, although with Sarah’s pending nuptials, they had more than usual to discuss the last year. She was a nice lady, so different to my own mother. I wouldn’t know what to talk to my mother about twice a day. Mrs Boland wore sensible pleated skirts and lace-up shoes, like a nun in civvies. My mother wore hand-woven, loose-draped creations and environmentally-friendly, woven espadrilles. I told her Sarah was in the bath and we chatted about the seating plan for the wedding. She had taken me under her wing when I first arrived in Dublin. She taught me which Irish tea to buy, where to find a good doctor, how to get candle wax out of carpets, that sort of thing. My mother would say something like “Leave it where it is, darling. It’s a sign. What does the shape say to you, Zoë?” And then tell me there was a positive time coming and I would be part of it. Some generality like that. Big into omens, was Georgia. Mrs Boland hung up and I was plumping the cushions when the phone rang again.
“Hello?” I said.

It must have been the evening for motherly calls. This was my mother, Georgia. She lives in an elaborate ranch house on the outskirts of Santa Fé in the Land of Enchantment, as she always calls New Mexico State. We talk more often now than we used to, maybe once a week. But still, sometimes America felt a long way away and I missed her.

“Zoë, Darling,” she gushed down the phone. “I met the most wonderful Shaman last week. He laid his hands on me. It was like a burning warmth surging through me.”

“Hello Mum. Have you been on the cheap tequila again?”

I had learned a long time ago that when my mother was in mid-gush, I could say almost anything in reply. The last time we had spoken, she had spent the whole, expensive phone call, describing some new, holistic water feature in her desert garden. She had hung up without asking how I was. I hadn’t volunteered.

“He just laid his hands on me and I am rejuvenated, totally alive. So I had to do your cards.”

“Oh Mum. Surely I’m not due the cards yet?” Some mothers think that a regular appointment with the dentist is a necessity, some mothers expect their offspring to go to mass/church/temple every week. Some mothers make regular hair appointments for their daughters. Mine makes sure I have a regular card reading. It used to be tarot cards but lately she’s taken up some wacky Native American spirituality. Call me cynical but I couldn’t see much of a difference.

“I know I only did them recently but I had a hunch that something was shifting.”

“A disturbance in the force, is it?”

“I laid out your cards, a simple spread and it’s a good thing I did. Here goes.”

“Mum, I really don’t have time for this. I’m going out in two minutes.” I looked at my watch. I had nearly half an hour before ‘Flash Gardening with Larry’ started on TV but Mum and punctuality didn’t co-exist in the same universe. And I couldn’t tell her I was planning to watch a gardening programme. She’d either laugh at me or not believe me. I didn’t know which was worse.

“Two minutes is all you can spare your mother so far away?” She sniffed slightly.

“We’d barely scratch the surface.”

I sighed. “Five minutes then.” I studied the kitchen floor. There was a blob of something brown under the oven.

“Your present is looking very mixed, sticky,” Mum started.

It was certainly sticky from where I was standing. Had I dropped some Hoi Sin sauce from yesterday’s spare ribs?

“The cards are showing signs of major shake-ups on both the career and personal fronts,” she continued.
“Were you thinking of moving?”


“Ah. What about this one? The job? I see major changes in direction, in creativity and prosperity.”

“Nothing doing there. My contract has months to run and there’s no chance of a raise in the current climate.”

“Maybe so, but keep your mind open, Zoë. I only see changes for the better, though they may not seem so at the time. You were never very good at handling change.”

“I guess not but who is?” I could hear her moving the cards around.

“Yes, drastic changes on the career side.” She said this every time. She didn’t like me nine-to-fiving. “The cards know, Zoë.”

“OK Mum. I’ll bear it in mind. Anything else? What’s the word on the tall, dark handsome stranger?” Mum had often been quite accurate in this quarter. She had predicted my split with my ex, Sam, unless that was just motherly intuition as well, disguised as card reading. Although the actual, devastating details were not predicted and came as a shock to us both. “Is there the wheel of fortune? I always have the wheel of fortune.”

“It’s called ‘The Ring of Tiwa.’ But you don’t have it this time. But I see a new, serious side in the love quarter.” This sounded hopeful. “No, wait. Two love possibilities I see there. Disruption, jealousy, intense light,” she continued. “And water. Lots of it.”

“That’s the rain, Mum. It’s always raining here this time of year. It’s Ireland.”

“Listen Zoë. It’s crossing water and…oh this doesn’t look good at all. There’s going to be an accident of some kind.” That didn’t sound good. “A collision. Be careful, Zoë.”

“I always am.” I had been brought up to walk on the paranoid side of careful. “I know. Forewarned is forearmed, Mum.”

“Really Zoë. You’ll have to choose between two roads.”

I sighed. This card reading had turned out to be a real downer. My earlier bouncy mood had dissolved into glumness. I caught a glimpse of myself in the hall mirror. Dowdy and a bit podgy. I pulled in my stomach and fluffed up my hair. It didn’t make much difference.

I brooded about her predictions and the possible interpretations while I cooked the dinner. I always mean to write them down so I don’t forget the details, to help me make whatever decisions came my way. I have always been bad at making decisions on my own, usually dithering so long that all but one option has expired.

I whizzed up a quick bowl of pasta with a handful of soft, special offer tomatoes. Sarah emerged from her herbal bath. She made a salad with dressing that smelt almost exactly like her shampoo, I opened a bottle of red, retrieved the remote control and we were primed and ready for our weekly, half-hour dose of Larry.

We assumed our customary positions on the sofa, plates balanced on our knees, wine glasses in hand, salad jammed between two cushions and turned on the TV. The starting strains of the jazzy saxophone introduction to ‘Flash Gardens’ were the signal to tuck in.

Larry was wearing his trademark, hand-knitted jumper, sky blue this time. He was holding the hand of an old lady in a wheelchair. All over the city, all over the country, women melted into puddles of hormonal goo. Larry described how he was going to transform her dilapidated garden, in his usual speedy way, to a haven of flowers and shrubs. The lady was a retired entomologist, specialising in butterflies. The camera showed the long hall in her house lined with glass cases full of them, pins through their bodies like insect voodoo dolls. Some were as small as a fingernail, some as large as lettuce leaves. I picked at my salad. They were a bit hairy and too insect-like for my taste.

“Did you wash the leaves?” I asked Sarah, memories of biting an earwig in half when I was twelve flooding back. I had gone off salad for years.

“I did, of course.” She pointed at the TV. “Shush. He’s doing the plants now.”

Larry’s selection of plants was designed to attract butterflies and birds to the lady’s garden.

“No more catching and killing them,” he said. “Just admire them and let them go free.”

The elderly butterfly-killer simpered and pinked under the full heat of his gaze. He started talking about compost, a favourite subject of his and also now of half the country. I ate some more pasta. Just as he was ripping open a large bag of the stuff and plunging his hands inside to check the consistency, the phone rang. I looked at Sarah but she was scrabbling around on the floor after a loose cherry tomato. The call was definitely for her. The phone had been ringing like a teenager’s mobile since she and Jack set the date a year ago. At this stage, I was immune to fielding calls about the endless wedding arrangements and a little fed up. If it wasn’t the caterers calling, it would be the bloody band.

I put my plate on the floor and went over to the phone. I swallowed my mouthful of pasta and stabbed the on button.

“Hello,” I said with a venom-stained voice.

“Hi,” said a transatlantic-accented voice. “This is Carrie Anotoli, Larry Harte’s personal aide calling for Zoë Madison.”

Larry Harte’s aide? “Yeah, right,” I said. Sarah was often pulling elaborate practical jokes, but this one was not one of her best. “Thanks Sarah. And I’m the pope’s girlfriend.” I hung up.

“Thanks for what?” said Sarah, turning round from the sofa.

“You weren’t just on the phone to me?”

“Me? No. Shush. He’s talking.” She turned back to the TV.

I looked down. Sarah’s new all-singing, all-dancing mobile, pink and barely larger than a credit card was charging beside the phone book. It couldn’t have been Sarah calling me. What had I done? Who had I hung up on? I pressed the Caller Display button. It showed a Dublin number I didn’t recognise. I started to breathe a bit too fast. Who had she said it was? Carol someone? Kerry?

The phone rang again as I was close to hyper-ventilating. It was the same Dublin number. I nearly dropped the phone in my hurry to press the connect button.

“Hello, hello?”

“Hello, can you hear me?” The voice was faraway.

“Hello?” I said again. Something was wrong. I looked at the phone. It was upside down. I turned it the right way up. “Hello?” I said for the fourth time. “This is Zoë Madison. Who is this?”


Now buy it on Amazon here for $2.99 for your Kindle or Kindle reader on a PC or mobile phone or on Smashwords here in loads of formats including Kindle, the one for a Nook or Sony Reader, PDF and pure text. For July, it's in the 50% summer read promotion.

Saturday, 16 July 2011

Screenwriting for Beginners

Free Screenwriting for Beginners 8 week course.

When: Sunday mornings 10.15 till 1pm. The course will run for eight weeks. Beginning Sunday July 24th.
Where: Farmleigh House

The sessions will cover the following areas:

  • Character creation: how to create plausible characters
  • Visual writing: learn to write scenes that convey a visual message
  • The Three Act Structure: What is it? How to use it. And the alternatives
  • Plot: Where would we be without one?
  • Narrative Technique: Voiceovers, flashbacks and flash-forwards, broken narrative, multiple narration and other techniques
  • Screenplay Format: How to set out a coherent and readable screenplay
  • Comedy Writing: The hardest thing of all
  • Dialogue: When less is more
  • Genre: Crime thriller, Horror flick, RomCom, Arthouse, Family film, Sci-Fi, Fantasy, Action Adventure....
  • Treatments: The one page or two pager that could sell your film to a producer.

By the end of the eight weeks, the budding screenwriter should have created plausible characters, written several major scenes from their screenplay and developed a treatment for their film (or TV drama) project.

To apply for this FREE course, please send one sample scene or a short prose outline of your movie idea to:

Successful candidates will be notified as soon as possible.
Deadline: Tuesday July 19th.

Class numbers will be strictly limited.

Screenwriting tutor: Ferdia Mac Anna

Poetry - Made in Temple Bar

Part of the Made in Temple Bar Festival (a small part, it has to be said)

21st July

What: Poetry Night presented by The Gutter Bookshop
When: 6:00 PM - 7:15 PM
Where: The Gutter Bookshop, Cow's Lane, Temple Bar, Dublin 2

If you enjoy reading, listening to, or writing your own poetry come along to our Poetry Night. Attendees can read from their own work, or from poets they admire or if you prefer you can simply come along just to listen.

Tickets: Free! No tickets required and everyone welcome to attend.

Poetry Depot by SpiritStore-InkStorm
When: 3:00 PM - 5:00 PM
Where: Irish Landmark Trust, 25 Eustace Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2

Have an award winning poet write you a brand new poem on any subject you can think of! The Poetry Depots are a series of pop-up poetry shops which will be appearing all over Ireland. For Made in Temple Bar, four trained and award-winning writers will sit down with you one to one and engage in a process to write poetry with and for you on the spot.

They will write a poem on absolutely any subject and with any tone, from the ridiculous to the sublime, although they have a special interest in writing the poem that could have a great impact on a persons’ life; it could be declaring love or looking at new revelations or possibilities. Everyone gets to take their poem away with them!

Duration: The process takes 10-20 minutes of conversation, followed by the poet taking a similar amount of time to produce the poem.

Tickets: Free! No booking required, just come along. All are welcome to participate.

What: Poetry Depot Reading
When: 8:00 PM - 9:30 PM
Where: The Culture Box, 12 East Essex Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2

Featuring the Testify Poets: Dave Rock, Laurie Leech, Sarah Griff, plus guest

Collaborative poetry produced during Poetry Depot earlier in the day will be shared by the writers and the individuals they collaborated with to produce the work. This will be followed by a full set from the Flying Testify Poetry Squadron, a high energy, electrifying poetry performance ensemble. The Testify Poets are all both strong writers and major performance slam winners, coming together to give a show of great sweep and sparkle, as well as power.

All welcome!

Tickets: Free Event! No booking required, just come along. All are welcome to attend.

Thursday, 14 July 2011

Caca milis Cabaret comes to Dublin

Get down to Full Moon for the fabulous, eclectic and always worth watching Summer Cabaret.
Where: Pearse Centre Theatre in The Pearse Centre Theatre, 27 Pearse St, beside the Trinity Capitol Hotel.
When: Friday 15 July at 8:30
10 Euro in, includes wine in the garden first

The Cáca Milis Cabaret, usually a monthly event at the Wexford Arts Centre, has been cutting edges round the South-East for over two years now, delivering a monthly evening of the arts dubbed “post-modern vaudeville”. Certainly, with its mix of music, dance, comedy, spoken word, mime, theatre, short film and even, apparently, the proverbial dog act – it’s not far off.

The Cabaret is coordinated by Helena Mulkerns, who sings classic cabaret songs and presents a blend of emerging acts alongside established performers.
A great line up so far in the centre’s bijou theatre, including comedy from Paul Tylack, burlesque fantasy spectacular from Ms. Azaria Starfire, music from Elder Roche and the Poisoned Hearts, Poetry from Patrick Chapman and Sarah Maria Griffen, Claire Dix’s short film “Free Chips Forever,” Irish chanteuse Caitriona O’Leary; Wexford’s Anne Nagle and more.

More Irish Poetry Publications

Here is part 2 of a partial list of publications in Ireland that take poetry. There are quite a few. If you know some I've missed some between this and part 1, please let me know....

I say again, I recommend buying and reading a copy of any magazine you are considering sending out to. Not only to judge if your poetry is a good fit, but also to help these journals keep their heads above the financial waters. I also say again, read the submission guidelines and adhere to them like superglue!

Boyne Berries is published twice a year by the Boyne Writers group with help from the Meath County Council Arts department. A great mix of poetry and prose. Current deadline is mid July for September issue.

Moloch - an online journal of new art and writing, providing a forum for the arts to compliment and enhance each other using a variety of styles and mediums.Superb artwork and a mix of poetry and prose. It's at online mag though.

The Moth Magazine - my new favourite. Highly recommended. It's Cavan based but publishes writers on an international basis and well distributed. Seriously, one to watch. Publishes poetry, short prose, interviews and some lovely art.

The Poetry Bus is a new magazine, based in Wicklow now on issue 2 including a CD of the poets reading their work. Also has some classy art work.

Revival is a Limerick based magazine from the Whitehouse Poets. They have little online presence so watch out for calls for submissions at the Poetry Ireland website under submissions.

The Stony Thursday Book is Limerick based magazine who have published a plethora of writers in its long history. They are looking for submissions. They don't seem to have a web presence so here's the details. Send no more than 6 poems by post (google it) or by email to Current deadline is 12th August.

Note: Just like rain, literary magazines, Irish or otherwise, come and they go. There are other mags out there but check first if they are still running before purchasing or submitting. There are a lot of dead links out there or ones last updated in 2009. This list is the stalwarts (my take, anyway)

Here's a marvellous list of Irish and British magazines maintained by the praise-worthy writer, Tania Hershman.

Wednesday, 13 July 2011

Tullamore Agricultural Show Poetry Competition

Here's a new one from Michael Farry's blog

There are many categories for this show including poultry, livestock, alpacas, inventions, dogs, cooking and craft and needlework. The Art and Photography competition.

Deadline: 22nd July 2011

Each poem must be no more than 40 lines in length.
The entrant may submit an unlimited number of poems. Each poem must be accompanied by a €5 entrance fee.
Cheques and postal orders should be made payable to: Tullamore Show.
Winners will be decided by the judge, Connie Roberts, Adjunct Professor of English, Hofstra University, New York.

Class: 869 Under 17 years - Poem, Any Theme
Sponsor: Fallon’s Bar, Clonaslee
Prizes: 1st ¯ €50, 2nd ¯ €25, 3rd ¯ €15, 4th ¯ €10

Class: 870 Senior Poetry - Any Theme
Sponsor: Noel Recruitment, Newbridge, Co Kildare
Prizes: 1st ¯ €50, 2nd ¯ €25, 3rd ¯ €15, 4th ¯ €10

post your poems to the Show Office, Church Street, Tullamore so as to arrive by 22nd July 2011

Details here

Tuesday, 12 July 2011

One Day Summer Poetry Workshop at Writing Train


Poet Yvonne Cullen will run a One Day Summer Poetry Workshop at Writing Train in Glasthule, this Saturday July 16th.

Designed for a max of 8 students, this will be an intensive workshop day, allowing you in-depth feedback on two poems, plus considerable time for discussion and workshopping of your current practice and technical challenges as poets. As the day will take place in Yvonne Cullen’s home, proceedings will be further enriched by access to Yvonne’s library of poetry and writing on writing. Which is an ornate way of saying that Yvonne imagines she’ll be hopping up and down betimes all through the day fetching you poetry she thinks you really
need to hear and know about!

If you have been writing poetry for some time, whether or not you have been showing it to others and whether or not you have attended a workshop prior to this, there will be much for you in this intensive
poetry day.

And if you are free Saturday evening after our session finishes, the plan is for us to grab some pub grub together before coming back to Yvonne’s house for a WRITING SALOON reading and music night, featuring new songs from wonderful fiddle player Aifric Campbell and her partner, and readings from all and sundry, to a cosy crew of 20 max in-house.

Fee for the day is €90.

Email Yvonne at or phone her on 086 1701418. Just a few places remain for workshop at this point.

There will be a full weekend of poetry workshops and technique intensive sessions with Yvonne at WRITING TRAIN on the weekend of 6 - 7 AUGUST.

And for further poetry workshops and classes with Yvonne, and peaceful time to hear yourself think, WRITING TRAIN goes to INISHBOFIN island in Connemara  for a weekend from 2 - 5 SEPT.

Monday, 11 July 2011

John Hewitt Summer School

If you've a week off and can get to Armagh, this sounds interesting.

Now in its ninth year at the excellent Market Place Theatre in Armagh, the 24th John Hewitt International Summer School brings together well-known writers, artists, actors and musicians to join with academics and critics who will address aspects of this year’s theme which is inspired by these lines by the celebrated Northern poet, from Neither an Elegy Nor a Manifesto:

Bear in mind these dead:
I can find no plainer words.
I dare not risk using that loaded word, Remember,
for your memory is a cruel web
threaded from thorn to thorn across
a hedge of dead bramble...

As we enter a decade of centenaries of formative events in Irish, British and European history, including the events to which we owe the partition of Ireland and the state we’re in, we should be mindful of Hewitt’s caution when he wrote ‘for the people of my province and the rest of Ireland’ in 1972, that ‘Remember’ is a ‘loaded word’.

Commemorations and anniversaries celebrate notable events in our history, but they can be deliberate manipulations of our understanding of the past. We also manipulate our history through omission. So, in a country where remembering a group as heroes or victims can be essential to establishing collective identity yet display insensitivity to those of differing views, all public commemorations of the events of 1911-1920 will have particular resonances. Can we commemorate events without being condemned to relive them? How can writers and artists play their part in acknowledging the past?

We welcome you to JHISS at the Market Place at the end of July – for a week, a day or an individual event or more – to be challenged by the arguments put forward and to be entertained and stimulated by another impressive line-up of writers, artists and performers.

Monday 25 July - Friday 29 July 2011

Programme here includes (poets) Paul Farley, Eilean Ni Chuilleanain, Mimi Khalvati, Harry Clifton, Kei Miller, Theo Dorgan, (fiction) John Boyne, Kevin Barry, Dermot Healy, (lecturers) Patrick Crotty, Fran Brearton, Keith Jeffrey, Nicholas Grene.

Sunday, 10 July 2011

Writing Advice

Another repeat of a blogpost at Poetic License on Applies to all forms.

I really don't like resolutions. I don't like the touchy feely How to Be Really Great! US-style guru books. I don't like being told what to do so here am I telling you what to do!


Make time to write. There is no more and no less time than last year, despite what it may feel like some days. But there is always time to write a little.

Many people say write something everyday. That's wonderfully optimistic but doesn't take account of days when there's no water or the heating blew or the car won't start and you have to jump start in the dark and get to a garage or you are languishing in bed with strep throat and your brain's gone to mush or your child is in a pre-exam panic or ...fill in your own blank there. And these are the type of days where you don't get to write. That's fine. Don't beat yourself up.

But don't let one bad day slide into the next and get to the end of the week, the end of the month and the sole page of writing you've done is a shopping list.

Here it is. This year's sage advice.

Write everyday for 10 minutes. Everyone can find 10 minutes. Cut down on your TV. Stop ironing. Write on the train. Bring a notebook with you everywhere. And a pen. Write waiting in the car. Jot down ideas, overheard conversations, thoughts provoked by radio features, good lines of dialogue from the TV.

Write for 10 minutes everyday and at the end of the 10 minutes, maybe you have to go and put a wash on, chop some onions, bathe your baby, mow the lawn, ring your mother. But maybe you're on a roll, maybe today you have a little more time, you'll keep writing, editing, pruning, wordsmithing. Keep writing. Just 10 minutes.

And this year I'll be doing the same. Honest.

Saturday, 9 July 2011

Interesting Links again

What do you think about this? Unbound, a fund raising platform for authors BEFORE they've finished the book. A bit like fundit for books.

Beta readers for your book at Glass Cases

You know there is a league of literary magazines. Premiership or third division? Check out the (poetry specific) recommendations from Happenstance Press. Irish magazines mentioned are Poetry Ireland Review and The Shop. (What's missing? Stinging Fly for instance.)

Really interesting article with American writer and editor Robert Gottleib at

5 Openings to Avoid from Nathan Bradsford I've seen them all in my time, and also written some! Writers take note.

Poet Meg Peacocke, has her words cut in stone via Padaig O'Morain's blog.
I'd love my words cut in stone, or wood or metal. I can see it now...

Friday, 8 July 2011

NewsFour short story competition

I have never heard of NewsFour but this may be worth looking at, if only because it is free to enter. From

Community newspaper NewsFour invites you to take part in their Third Short Story Competition.

Entries will be accepted that have not previously been broadcast or published and they must be no more than 1,000 words in length.

Fee: free.

Deadline: 31 August 2011.

There will be three prizes: First: €100 Second: €50 Third: €30

Winning entries will be published in NewsFour's print edition and on their website:

Ensure that your name, address and telephone number are on a separate sheet and send your entry to:

Short Story Competition,
Thorncastle Street,
Dublin 4,

Or by email as an attachment to: with 'Short Story' in the subject line.

Independent judge to be announced.

Thursday, 7 July 2011

Creating from Within workshop

This annual workshop on Haiku is scheduled for mid August at Anam Cara.

Due to the demand for an shortened format this year, the “Creating from Within” workshop 2010, led by Kim Richardson and Maeve O'Sullivan (Poetry Diva), will run from Thursday 18th to Sunday 21st August 2011 as a long weekend workshop at the Anam Cara Retreat on the Beara peninsula in West Cork. That format has worked well for us in previous years.

Combining the haiku work with mindfulness practices, the outstanding natural beauty of Ireland's Béara Peninsula and the peace and quiet of Anam Cara Writer's and Artist's Retreat and gardens, our aim is to heighten our levels of awareness, finding a path to the "principle within," which is the true source of our inspiration.

The Workshop Fee of €450 includes:

Workshop (haiku tuition and mindfulness exercises)
Room and full board with your own room and en suite (either at Anam Cara or a nearby B&B; transport to & from B&Bs to Anam Cara provided if needed)
Access to all the amenities at Anam Cara including the common working areas, the movie and music loft, the conservatory, the hot tub overlooking Coulagh Bay, the sauna, and the five acres of garden and riverbank grove with 32+ quiet nooks and crannies
For further information and bookings, e-mail Sue at or call Anam Chara on 027-74441. More details on

Please note that "Creating from Within" is limited to a minimum of six and a maximum of twelve participants, with booking on a first-come, first-served basis.

No previous experience of haiku or mindfulness is required to participate in the workshop.

Wednesday, 6 July 2011

Next Steps to Publish your Beautifully Formatted eBook - The Cover

Book Cover. You need a book cover. Ideally you will make your own, using your graphic design skills. It doesn't have to be fancy, but it does have to look like a book.

Have a look on Amazon at other book covers of the same type you are writing. Don't steal someone's photo from the internet. There are plenty of very reasonably priced photos if you can't make one yourself. You can adapt an existing picture with readily available picture software. I use Corel Photo House but other people use Paint if they don't have Adobe Photoshop.

Put your book title in large letters as the cover will often be quite small as a thumbnail. And it has to have your name or pen name on it too.

My cover isn't any great shakes, frankly and I'm considering redoing it. This picture, by the way, is the warning sign at The Cliffs of Moher.

Check the dimensions of existing covers. Mine is 832 pixels by 1280 pixels and 150 dpi. (Smashwords say 500 by 700 but I thought this looked a bit odd next to thumbnails for paper books.)

The well known blogger Catherine Ryan Howard recommends a cover designer here who, I think does a good job.

Tuesday, 5 July 2011

7 Steps to Format Your eBook

Do you have a masterpiece wilting in a drawer/on your hard disk? Do you have a book ready that is for a small readership? Do you want to share your work? Do you want to make money (actually the last one is not a given, not by a long stretch)

My first novel, The Story of Plan B, was shortlisted for the London Lit Idol but it had been sitting on my hard drive ever since, pretty well. So having seen some other people I knew successfully publish their books as eBooks, I decided it was a waste to keep it just to myself and to share. I published it as an eBook.

Step 1. Start, I think with Smashwords. This site has been going for ages
Smashwords is an ebook publishing and distribution platform, serving authors, publishers, readers and major ebook retailers. Smashwords is ideal for publishing novels, personal memoirs, poetry chapbooks, short and long-form fiction, and non-fiction. If you've written it, we want to help you share it and sell it!
So create an account. At this point you can download or sample loads of other books. Have a look around. There's a whole world of eBooks out there, some wonderful, some less so. How do you tell the difference? Same as paper books. Word of mouth, reviews, popularity and by reading samples.

Step 2. First, and really, really importantly, read through your book looking for typos and grammar errors. Yes, use the spellchecker and grammar checker but that is not enough. There will be typos. Find them. Exterminate them. Ideally use another reader. You can pay a professional. Be ruthless. Even then, there may still be typos. And it's really annoying for your readers and a sign of an indie-publisher.

Step 3. Now format your book. Do what I didn't do at the start and try and use your current version. If you're anything like me, you've been working on it for years. It's been through the mill. It's been rewritten, edited, cut and pasted, different version of Microsoft Word, or whatever your chosen word processor is. You've changed fonts, changed them back.

Step 4. So do what Smashwords call the Nuclear Option. Open a new document. Select all in your current novel. (Ctrl-A) Paste without formatting into the new document.
(This is Word 2007. You're version may look a little different)

Step 5. Now you should go back and correct the formatting.
Use Normal Style for the whole book. There's a big long spiel in the Smashwords style guide on paragraphs, well worth a read if your knowledge of styles in Word is any way shaky. To summarise, use one indent at the start of each paragraph, single line spacing or multiple a max of 1.15, no blank line after each paragraph.

Chapters are different in eBooks. In paper books, a new chapter will start on a fresh page. In an eBook, you don't know how big a 'page' is so each chapter starts after a couple of blank lines from the previous chapter.
“Hello?” I said again. Something was wrong. I looked at the phone. It was upside down. I turned it the right way up. “Hello?” I said for the fourth time. “This is Zoë Madison. Who is this?”


Chapter 2

Two minutes later I sat down on the sofa, my head whirring. Larry Harte was still on the TV, digging steadily through a bed of muddy earth. The muscles of his shoulders moved under his olive-coloured T-Shirt. The hand-knitted jumper was draped over the red wheelbarrow.
I have the Chapter markers in Heading 2.  I have one blank line at the end of Chapter 1. a line of squiggles. Another blank line, Chapter 2, a blank line Then the first paragraph of Chapter 2.

So get rid of all your page breaks, section breaks, whatever. Get rid of all your multiple blank lines. Don't mess with Tabs.

If you need anything more fancy, change those paragraphs individually.

Smashwords recommends using one font (Times New Roman, Helvetica, Verdana, Whichever appeals but is easily readable. Font size doesn't matter, as long as it is consitent. eReaders can modify font size to suit the reader.

This shouldn't take hours to do.

Step 6. The start of your book must have the title, author, "SMASHWORDS EDITION", a copyright notice and may have a brief link to your website or blog. This is mine

The Story of Plan B


Kate Dempsey

Copyright Kate Dempsey 2011


Read more news, views and stories on her wildly popular blog

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each reader. If you are reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

Step 7. And at the end of the book, you should put something about yourself and point the reader in the direction of other books or blogs or whatever.


Kate Dempsey is a writer and poet living in Ireland. Her poetry and fiction is widely published in Ireland, the UK and Europe in magazines and anthologies as well as RTE radio and in the Poolbeg/RTE anthology 'Do The Write Thing.' She has won and been nominated for prizes which include the Hennessy New Irish Writing for Poetry and Short Fiction, Frances MacManus Short Story Award, The Plough Prize and the Cecil Day Lewis Award. reads with the Poetry Divas Collective who love to blur the wobbly boundaries between page and stage and are available to perform at all cool events.

Tweet at PoetryDivas and let her know what you thought of the book.

OK, that's enough to be going on with. Next post addresses the legendary 'meatgrinder' which formats your book for all sorts of platforms and cruel, autovetter errors. Also pricing and coupons.

Monday, 4 July 2011

Learning to Fly

How to get into the Stinging Fly, a series of workshops with a well regarded workshop leader...but at a price.

The Stinging Fly is holding its third 'New Way to Fly' novel workshop in late September at the Irish Writers' Centre, Parnell Square, Dublin 1 and is currently seeking applications from those interested in taking part.

Deadline: Friday, 5th August.

The ‘New Way to Fly’ workshop is aimed at writers who are in the early stages of writing a novel and who feel they will benefit from a relationship with a group of others engaged in the same process. Under the direction of acclaimed novelist and short-story writer Sean O’Reilly, the group will meet once a week in a workshop setting over a six-month period.

The ultimate aim is for each participant to complete (yes!) a strong first draft of his/her novel.

Alongside the workshops, on one Saturday every month, there will be a series of specialist talks on issues around the process of writing and the imagination. Previous guest speakers have included Evelyn Conlon, Mia Gallagher, Michael Harding, Dermot Healy, Christine Dwyer Hickey, Declan Hughes, Mark O’Halloran, Ed O’Loughlin and Peter Sheridan.

Starts: Monday September 26th (introductory session)

Times: Twenty weekly workshops on Monday evenings from 6.30pm–9.30pm at the Irish Writers’ Centre, Parnell Street, Dublin 1.

Cost of workshop: €1500

(A €200 deposit will be payable once a place on the workshop has been offered and accepted. The balance can be paid in two instalments in September 2011 and in January 2012.)

Sunday, 3 July 2011

The legend that is Stephen James Smith

This interview was first published on

Poet and writer Kate Dempsey speaks to the legend that is Stephen James Smith about his journey to poetry and the importance of spoken word.
Stephen James Smith is a Dublin poet. He has a collection called 'Pretending to be Happy?' coming out this year with Maverick Press. His poetry is included on an American University Syllabus and he runs workshops in schools. He is best known as a spoken word champion, winning the Cúirt Literary Grand Slam Champion 2009 and others. Stephen reads at many events and festivals and runs the hugely popular Glór Sessions.

Hello Stephen, welcome to Could you introduce yourself to the readers please?

Hello / Kate, thanks for asking me to take part! I am not sure why, or what I can offer the reader but sure here goes…

As for introducing myself, well I guess or hope I am a relatively simple man. I am from Dublin was born in ’82, I have an interest in poetry and it takes up part of my life on a daily basis. I wrote much more here but just deleted it as it sounded like I was writing something for a dating site….

 How did you get into poetry?
Largely by accident, I didn’t have the same affection for it in school as I do now. Basically I was learning guitar and I wrote a few songs, played them at an open mic; then I ended up writing a poem for a friend of mine. I read it out one night at this open mic session in Slattery’s Rathmines - it seemed to have an effect on the crowd there.  Then I heard of a poetry night, I expected it to be full of weirdoes, it was (!) but it was good fun and they interested me and they were very encouraging.

Next I heard of Rite & Recite which Gerry McNamara ran and I found friendship with guys the same age as me who were into the same things - and poetry wasn’t frowned upon the way it might have been if I chatted to other mates about it. So that was where it started for me, and thankfully I continued as it has brought me strange places and to meet interesting people. Poetry really does make folk act differently to you I find, it is not something I always feel comfortable with, but I can’t complain either.

What do you consider have been the highlights so far?
Poetry has taken me to Slovenia, Poland, all across Ireland and I have just recently been invited to go to New York, so the travel is really cool. I even have had 2 poems included on an American University syllabus, which I find very bizarre - I only agreed to this though as it wasn’t going to be beaten into them in the same way we might have had ‘Soundings’ beaten into us.
The making of new and brilliant friends is a real highlight  -  I have been inspired constantly. Knowing these incredible people (many of whom you know) enriches my life no end. I have won a couple of things too, the Poetry Slam at Cúirt and I won the first Writing for All Slam at The Central Hotel last year. The best thing is the meeting and sharing with others (God this must be exactly what you were expecting! But it is true)

Tell us a bit about the Glór Sessions and how did you get involved?
I have always had an affection for The International Bar (given I had my first pint down there when I was 14.) A friend of mine Jacqueline Tuck used to run an open mic evening  there on a Monday for musicians, for around 7 years. Before Jacqueline, Dave Murphy ran the night. Many famous musicians used to play there like Glen Hansard, Damien Dempsey and Damien Rice to name a few.


So there is a great history to The International Bar nights, and upstairs many Irish comedy greats (and many from abroad) have graced the stage.

So despite some of the madness that is part of The International, great things happen here. Anyway I was waffling there… I took over after Miss. Tuck around two years ago and decided as I was interested in poetry and the spoken word that it should feature on the night too. Thankfully many people with big reputations and egos have popped in along with some fine folks trying it out for the first time.

Glor_Session_posterI decided for want of a better term to brand the night The Glór Sessions, so they could become identifiable and I could take them beyond the confines of The International if needs be. Thus far The Glór Sessions (which means voice, sound or noise) has featured as part of The Electric Picnic, The Dublin Writers’ Festival, The Festival of World Cultures and a few others too - it gives me the chance to showcase some of Dublin’s best spoken word to a different audience.  You can tune in here every Monday at about 9pm Irish time: People all over the world do so and it is great to have that extra interactive element to the proceedings.  Here is a link to some past performances too:

Unfortunately it  remains the only regular weekly night in the capital city where you can find a space for poetry; I hope this changes soon. There are some other great nights that are monthly, like The Brown Bread Mixtape, Nighthawks, Seven Towers and Tongue Box -  you should head along to these too! All the nights have a different energy to them.

What do you think about the perceived split in poetry for the stage and for the page?
I think it is a bit of a myth, poetry is an oral art form - the printing press may have changed things or added to it, but for me a poem should be heard. The magic happens where the lilt of the reader’s voice brings the words to life, this is what excites me.

Some people say I am a performance poet. I find this strange as I never set out to do this, I just wrote poems and recited them in my own way. It may be true that I have my own voice in my head now when I’m writing, and I’m a bit more comfortable in my own skin with my style; I still need to develop massively but I think I am doing ok so far. I don’t care though if someone wants to pigeon hole me like that, once I have their ears in the first place; just as I don’t care what style someone else has with their poetry. At the end of the day any poet or person worth their salt should know when something of worth is being shared; they should have respect for others be they old, young, man or woman. I have heard poems that have brought smiles to my face and tears to my eyes. Therein lies the truth of poetry - not someone being branded a performance poets as they are shouting, or someone a page poet as they read, poets united I say!

What have you got coming up?
I will be reciting or ‘performing’ at a few festivals this summer, I have a CD coming out with old Irish poetry put to music with my friend Enda Reilly. Here is a sample of that:

I will continue with The Glór Sessions and am working on a book, a play and I will be hitting the Big Apple’s  Nuyorican Poets Café. I have also started a monthly night in Cork at The Roundy, on the first Friday of the month -  it will feature musicians and poets. It’s called Mutant Cabaret and is in association with Mutant Space:

I am excited about the future, but I need to get some new poems together too - I think that is the joy and pain of most writers existence, where is the next piece coming from, at least the next piece that is of some use!

Here are some videos of my poems:
The Gardener:
Signing Your Life Away:
Prozac Positivity:

Other links:

I am working on a website that will be lovely and shiny and sexy very soon! But if you must see it in the current state, go to:

Thanks for agreeing to do this.
Thanks for having me; I hope I offered the reader some food for thought. All the best now, and be good. SJS

Saturday, 2 July 2011

UCD Creative Writing Anthology and Competition

The yearly anthology produced by the UCD Creative Writing Masters is one of the highlights of the English department, showcasing the talent of UCD. As part of our fundraising efforts for this year’s anthology, the Creative Writing Masters group is running a competition open to all comers, from inside and outside the university.

One winner will be selected from the short story and another winner from the poetry submissions and their work, along with a quick bio will be included in the anthology.

The contest is open to anyone, domestic and international, including all writers and poets regardless of experience from NOW until September 14, 2011 at 11:59PM.

Short Stories: 1st: €150 & Publication; 2nd: €100; 3rd: €50.
Poetry: 1st: €100 & Publication; Two Honorable Mentions: €50 each.

Judges: Kevin Power - Short Story
Michael O’ Loughlin - Poetry

Short Stories: Stories should be between 2000 and 3000 words in length.
Poems: All poems must be 40 lines or fewer, single or double line spacing. We limit 3 poems per entry fee.
Submission attachments must be in one of the following formats: .doc, .docx, .rtf, .pdf.
Fees must be paid via Paypal and contest entries submitted via email.

Fees: The entry fee is €10 (euro) up to 3 poems and €10 (euro) per short story.

Contact us at or at for complete details.

Update: Details removed and judged anonymously.