Tuesday, 31 January 2012

The Muse Unbidden

This sounds like a blast. There's a lot of material in would-be performance poets.

THE MUSE UNBIDDEN follows the journeys of self-discovery of several would-be poets enrolled in a Performance Poetry Workshop led by a charismatic unconventional Performance Poet.  Using music and dream diaries, the hapless participants  are cajoled into finding and surrendering to their personal Muses.  As their Workshop progresses they travel a rollicking Odyssey of confession and self-expression as they give voice to their obsessions, desires, wit, pain, and memories. For some their uninhibited revelry in self-expression leads to joyous catharsis, for others to grief and loss.   

This innovative musical satire written and directed by Roger Gregg, features a live soundscore performed by a cast of mult-talented actor-musicians including Donncha O’Dea and Noni Stapleton.   Produced by The Jack Burdell Experience as part of their Collaborations Festival, 

THE MUSE UNBIDDEN runs for one week only in the Smock Alley Boys School Theatre from Monday 13 to Saturday 18 Feb., at 9 pm.   

Tickets available through  entertainment.ie or at the door. €12/15 .  Or see  www.thejackburdellexperience.com

If you have a look on youtube you can get an idea of what it's about.

Monday, 30 January 2012

Poets to Check Out - John Keats

Almost as good as John Keats reading his own stuff, Benedict Cumberbatch giving it large.

Sunday, 29 January 2012

The Short Story Club in The Telegraph

Via Valerie Sirr's blog

there's a short story club blog here and forum and details of a competition here

It appears to be open to everybody and there’s a chance to get your story published online in The Telegraph, in Louise Doughty’s column, then be shortlisted for an end-of-year prize which involves some dosh as well as meeting literary agents. Basic details below, more on the link above and by moving around the links on the right of their page.

By Louise Doughty “Entries should be emailed to  storycomp@telegraph.co.uk by the last calendar day of each month.  The  winner will be announced in my column in Telegraph Review as soon as  possible after that date.  Entries should be no longer than 2,000  words.  They can be on any subject but must be your own original work,  not breach anyone else’s copyright etc.  When you enter your story, you  are agreeing to it appearing online here at the Short Story Club for the  duration of 2012.  You are also agreeing that, if you are that month’s  winner, you are automatically on the shortlist for the end-of-year prize  of 500 pounds and publication in Telegraph Review.We’re not looking for any particular sort of story or any one style, just good writing – good luck!

Saturday, 28 January 2012

Interview with Poet, Leeanne Quinn

Hello Leeanne and welcome to emergingwriter. How did you first get into Poetry?

As an adolescent I was very much committed to the idea of being a writer although I had little or no concept of how that was going to be achieved but it was always my answer to the ‘what do you want to be when you grow up’ question. I loved poetry at school and my Soundings copy was well worn but it wasn’t until I came to college that I started to actually concentrate on writing. I began with some very badly written short stories until I had to concede that the form just wasn’t right for me, it wouldn’t yield so to speak, and I suppose gradually I started to realise that the shape I wanted to give to words was suited to verse. Something seemed to click into place for me when I abandoned my attempts at prose and turned to poetry. So I wrote and kept the poems mainly to myself until I gathered up the courage to attend a poetry writing class at the Irish Writers’ Centre with Maggie Smith Hurt, who now co-runs the Big Smoke Writing Factory, and I’ve been writing poetry since.

What did you study in college and where? Were you writing at college or after?

I did Arts in UCD. Initially I studied English, History and Philosophy. In first year I applied for a place in Mode One English which meant I was able to study English solely for my remaining two years. This was brilliant for me because as much as I enjoyed my other subjects, I really wanted the opportunity to focus all my attention on English. I absolutely loved it and was lucky to be part of a very dedicated and talented class. After UCD I did an MA in UCC and wrote a thesis on Virginia Woolf and Wyndham Lewis. I really enjoyed my time in Cork, the UCC campus, the city- it was a great experience.

Then it was back to Dublin for my PhD and it was at Trinity that I really started to concentrate and focus on my poetry. By this stage I think I was running out of steam in terms of the academic side of things. I was writing on the fiction of Philip Roth and was going through the ups and downs of what felt like, and what was, a very long haul. I was reading and reading but seemed to be hitting a wall in the actual writing of the thesis. I think I very much took solace in writing poetry at that time, and the more I wrote the further it took me from the actual academic work of writing the thesis. Shortly after I finished the thesis, I put together a manuscript of about thirty poems and was starting to think about where I could send them.

 What do you remember about your first publication?

I remember it very well, the excitement and in many ways the sense of reward for the hard work and dedication. I was in Trinity at the time and I had sent a poem into West47 online. They accepted the poem and I’m very happy to say that it has made it into the book. It’s called ‘In Paint’ and it was the first poem I wrote that felt different to what I had been writing previously. So it was very nice to have it accepted for publication.

I was very proud of it and it definitely made me more determined to bring my writing to the centre of what I was doing and to take it out of the ‘dabbling’ or ‘hobby’ region.

I think that can be the case for a lot of people. With your first publication you go from a place of being almost embarrassed about the fact that you write to a place of encouragement and reassurance, however slight this may be. I think it’s very important and can be a real boost for someone just starting out.

Can you talk a little about the Faber course, why you chose to do it and what you got out of it?

I saw the Faber course advertised shortly after I submitted my PhD thesis. I sent in an application and a sample of my work and was accepted onto the course. It was a big decision for me as the fee was considerable but I applied thinking that I may not even get the place. When I was accepted, financing it became my biggest worry but I weighed things up and decided to go for it. The course was led by poet Paul Perry and I met a fantastic group of people who were seriously committed to writing. As well as forming creative friendships, I would say the main thing I got from the course was discipline. It was a very productive six months for me.

How did the collection, Before You come about (available to purchase here)?

The collection came about when I started to look at the material I had in terms of a manuscript. I began to see a narrative emerge and worked to bring the poems together in a way that gave them a sense of connectedness, and a continuity of theme. Pat Boran came to speak at the Faber poetry course I was attending. He talked about the business of publication, his role as an editor and what he looks for in poetry. I was very impressed by what he had to say and I was drawn to Dedalus Press as a forward looking press. So I sent off my manuscript and was extremely happy that Pat liked the work. Once it was accepted, I moved from considering what I had as a manuscript to viewing it in terms of a book, which changed in some ways my relationship to the material. I began to look at it as objectively as I could and the decision process started in terms of what stayed and what went.

What advice would you have for writers starting out who don't choose to go the academic route?

I don’t think the academic route is a necessary path to take if you're interested in writing fiction or poetry. I chose to study English because I was drawn to books and reading and probably because I wanted to write and thought this would be the way to go about it but I soon realised that, aside from the fact that you read a lot of books, the disciplines are very different. A creative voice is very different to a critical and analytical voice. In many ways I’m thankful for choosing Philip Roth as a topic- he’s about as far from poetry as you can get! I think regardless of your career path or profession, if you write the commitment required is the same. Read as much as you can, expose yourself to as much poetry as possible, write and rewrite, and try to find fellow writers who you can share your work with in an objective yet nurturing manner.

What magazines do you read and which would you recommend for people new to Poetry?

I read a wide variety of poetry magazines and journals, both print and online. I would recommend The Stinging Fly, The SHOp, Southword, Poetry Ireland Review, and The Moth. I’ve also just been reading the Burning Bush 2 online. Outside of Ireland, I would recommend Poetry magazine and Agenda. Poets.org, Poetry Foundation and The Poetry Archive are also great online poetry resources as of course is writing.ie!

Thanks Leeanne and good luck with your launch in the Irish Writers' Centre in Dublin on February 1st at 7pm.

Friday, 27 January 2012

Dedalus Press Launch of four new titles

4 new books, 2 first collections. Should be a great evening.

Wednesday, 1 February 2012 7pm
The Irish Writer's Centre, 19 Parnell Square, Dublin 1
Different Kinds of Love
by Leland Bardwell (a reissue of her 1987 short story collection)

My Lord Buddha of Carraig Eanna
by Paddy Bushe

Before You
by Leeanne Quinn

The Shadow Owner's Companion
by Eleanor Hooker

Lá Fhéile Bríde
Wednesday February 1 2012 @ 7pm

Refreshments served. All welcome
You can order the books on the Dedalus Press website

Thursday, 26 January 2012

Word In Motion

SfL: Word In Motion Teaser from Smile for London on Vimeo.

Word in Motion have animated poems on the Tube in London.
I've often looked at the empty ad spaces on my train going to work and wished there was poetry there

Wednesday, 25 January 2012

My Some Poems talk at IGNITE Dublin #8

I gave a talk at Ignite Dublin in the Science Gallery about Some Poems and also Poems in public spaces such as IPYPIASM. Enjoy!
I look like a vampire and my hair is a mess. I need sunshine, hair defrizzer and liposuction. Or maybe those pants from Nike...

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Arvon Short Story Competition 2012

win £500, plus a place on an Arvon residential writing course of your choice! 

short story (for adults) of no more than 2,000 words, on the theme of 'identity

email it to shortstorycompetition@bloomsbury.com with 'WAYB12 competition' as the subject line

Deadline for entries is 14th February 2012

Free to enter

Monday, 23 January 2012

Can Can launch

Can Can 2, Wurm im Apfel's poezine, is launched this Wednesday 25th January. 7pm.

Where: Loft Bookshop, Twisted Pepper, 54 Middle Abbey St, Dublin 1

featuring poets from Pondicherry to Kerry and beyond.
Readings by poets, neeps & tatties. Possibly neeps & tatties, definitely poetry.

Can can will be on sale for 2 euro.

Free admission.

Readings by Eleanor Hooker, Alan Jude Moore, David Toms, Michael Corrigan and Fiona Bolger.

website here

Submission guidelines:

  • cancan likes many kinds of writing. open & closed, open & shut, l=a=n=g=u=a=g=e & movement, dance & drama, psychodrama. if you're not sure, hell, send it anyway, emails cost next to nothing & the editor can only say no.
    And check out the font

    Please submit 3-6 poems single-spaced, in courier new 11 point, as an .doc, .odt or .rtf attachment to wurmimapfel@gmail.com
    with "CANCAN submission" as the subject line.  

    contributors will receive a 3-issue subscription to cancan 

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Tribute to Michael Hartnett

The Limerick Writers' Centre in association with Limerick County Council are publishing a special tribute book to the County Limerick poet Michael Hartnett later on this year. The book will contain a number of Hartnett's poems plus a selection of poems written in tribute to the late poet.

They are now seeking submissions of poetry that has been dedicated to Michael Hartnett, if you have written such a poem and would be interested in having it considered for inclusion please email it to limerickwriterscentre@gmail.com with Hartnett in the subject box, together with your biographical details.

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Theatre Trail Writers Competition 2012

The Arundel Festival Theatre Trail, conceived and presented by Drip Action Theatre Company, is now in its twelfth year. It performs at the end of August, on each of the Festival’s eight days, eight short plays at eight different venues all over Arundel – last year, for example, in a living room, a kitchen, an art gallery and a pub. 
Writers are invited to submit plays for the 2012 Theatre Trail.

Plays should be between 30 and 40 minutes long, suitable for day-time performance, with practicable casting and props. All entries should be submitted to:

Drip Action Theatre Trail 2012
c/o SGIS Ltd.
65a High Street
West Sussex
BN18 9AJ

Deadline: 31st January 2012.

One play only per entrant, in hard copy (not e-mail). There is no reading fee.

A reading committee will select the plays that will be performed, with the best submitted script receiving the Joy Goun award of £250 at the Theatre Trail launch in May 2012.

Each successful playwright will receive a £150 writer’s fee.

For further information call 01903 885250 or e-mail dripactioninfo@btinternet.com

Friday, 20 January 2012

Drama Association of Wales

The Drama Association of Wales' One Act Playwriting Competition 2012 has now been launched.  The competition aims to encourage the writing of plays for theatre in English and Welsh. In addition to cash awards, prize-winning plays will be published. Previous prizewinners have been published and performed as a result of promotion through their New Writing Scheme.

Playing Time: 20-50 mins
Minimum cast of two – No monologues

  • Best Play for a Youth Cast (16-25 year olds) * Please note, the plays in this category must not only be for actors between 16 & 25 but must also have characters aged 16-25; in other words, the scripts must be age appropriate
  • Best Play in the Open Category
  • Best Play in the Welsh Language
The winning play in each category will receive a cash prize and will be published.

Deadline: 31st January 2012

To download an entry form and for more information, visit the Drama Association of Wales website.

Thursday, 19 January 2012

Popshot Submissions

I do like Popshot magazine. Haven't had a poem in there yet.

There are just 9 days left to submit to the seventh issue of Popshot Magazine, on the theme of 'Power'.
Deadline: January 25th.

So, if you have a few poems that you think might work with the theme and haven't sent them in yet - now is probably the time!

Head to the submit page at - www.popshotpopshot.com/submit.html - to find out how to send in your scribblings and to make sure that they're 'Popshot material'.

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

Script Writing Festival

360 Script Writing Festival 2012

360º is an annual festival of inspiring and professional workshops offering craft skills and industry knowledge across the different mediums: TV, Screen, Radio and Theatre. The festival is one of the best opportunities through the year to meet likeminded and industry people in Belfast.

Workshops and talks are for people interested in making a living from script writing in TV, Radio, Film or Theatre.

Wednesday 25th until Friday 27th of January 2012.
Workshops and talks will take place during the day.
We have a networking event on Wednesday evening and we are heading to the pub on Thursday evening.

Studio One, Broadcasting House, Ormeau Avenue, Belfast BOOK!
The workshops are free. There is a limited number of places so please book early by contacting Bronagh Taylor on Bronagh.Taylor@bbc.co.uk or call on 02890 338 845.
Please state clearly which workshops you are interested in. When a workshop or talk is full we will keep a waiting list.


11.00 – 1 pm TV TALK (80 places)
6Degrees – A brand new drama series for BBC Northern Ireland
BBC Northern Ireland will launch 6Degrees in February 2012. Over 6 half hour episodes the first series follows six freshers as they arrive from Cork, Derry, Newry, London and Belfast, adapt to their new surroundings and crash through their first term at university. The series gave writers Michael Shannon, Eoin Clelland and Bronagh Taggart their first TV Credits. This will be an opportunity to get a sneak preview of the show and hear from the writers about the process and what is unique about working on a drama series set in Northern Ireland. You will also get the chance to put your questions to the co-creator and producer Colin O’Donnell about the challenges creating a TV series.

2 – 3.30pm FILM TALK (80 places)
Working with truth - Good Vibrations
Writers Glenn Patterson and Colin Carberry discuss their screenplay about the life of Terri Hooley. “It tracks Terri's life from the late sixties right through the whole period of The Troubles. Terri was the person who put out 'Teenage Kicks' by The Undertones and was involved in the punk scene in a big way; it's a brilliant story,” The writers will talk about how they went about taking a real life story and creating a compelling and entertaining movie.

3.45 – 5.15 THEATRE TALK (80 places)
Using Video on Stage with Conan McIvor
The use of video, moving image and technology in stage plays is now happening more frequently. How do we as writers think about the potential of this mixed media when we sit down to shape our ideas for the stage? Video artist Conan McIvor has worked with many theatre companies using video, live relay and other new technologies. Recently he ran the Tinderbox Writers Lab 2011, which explored using video as part of the narrative. Conan will share his experiences from past projects, the Writers Lab and upcoming production Marianne Dreams looking at examples of the use of video on stage as well as exploring its potential.

It’s not what you know it is who you know!
Your chance to meet the industry people on the search for talented writers for TV, Film, theatre and radio. Your chance to meet the following companies - Double Band, Big Fish, Mammoth, Northern Ireland Screen The Abbey Theatre, Kabosh Theatre Co, Tinderbox and more. There will also be freelance script editors and script readers around.


11.00am – 1.00 pm TV TALK (80 places)
In April eight writers will be selected for the BBC Writers Academy

Jenny Robins will give you the lowdown on the BBC Writers Academy, a major initiative aimed at discovering and training the next generation of writers for BBC One’s flagship shows: EastEnders, Casualty, Holby City, and Doctors. Eight writers are selected out of hundreds of applicants to undergo the intensive 15-month programme designed to equip them with all the skills necessary to write successfully for BBC Drama. "You can't teach writing. What you can teach is structure, and if writers master that, it allows them access to their voice - and it is those voices that will keep the industry thriving." - John Yorke, Controller, Drama Production. The online application forms can be completed through the BBC Jobs website - after 11th April 2011. Find out what they will be looking for and further details of what the course entails.

2.00 – 3.30pm Kate Rowland - TV WORKSHOP (NOW FULL)
Getting to the heart of the matter - TV Series Workshop
How do you make a big idea a brilliant idea? What is at the core of the programmes you have loved and cherished? How do you connect to the heart of your story? How do you make your ideas feel fresh and distinctive and avoid stories and TV formats feeling contrived? These are the kind of questions we will be seeking to answer in this TV workshop. By reflecting on shows from the past and present that we have loved and hated and working with your own ideas we will try to get to the ‘heart’ of TV drama.

4.00pm – 5.30pm – Practical TV Workshop (NOW FULL)
Great character writing. TV WORKSHOP
How do you express the essence of a character as quickly as possible? How do you give all your characters their own distinct voice? What will help your audience connect with your characters? Great character writing will give your writing authenticity and in this practical workshop you be analysing examples and will be giving it a go yourself

6.30 onwards PUB


The world (of the play) is your oyster!
When you write a script you are in charge of how the world of the play works. This workshop will look at how and why we might create worlds that work differently from naturalism whether you are writing a fantasy, a musical, a surrealist work or working with metaphor.  Being the master of your universe also comes with responsibilities towards your audiences, your characters and what the play is about. We will explore the possibilities and the consequences of writing a world with a completely new logic, how to shape this new world and how to make it work for you.    A practical workshop with Hanna Slattne, Tinderbox Theatre Company

2 – 3.30pm THEATRE TALK (80 Places)
To Playwright and Produce! With Deirdre Kinahan

Deirdre Kinahan is an award winning writer and the Artistic Director of Tall Tales Theatre Company. She began writing plays in 1999 whilst juggling a young family and an emerging theatre company.  She quickly concluded that writing for theatre without audience or production is pointless and so began to self-produce, creating commissions and finding ways for her plays to be on in theatres in Ireland and abroad. Continually inspired by other writers and passionate about theatre Deirdre will talk about how the contemporary playwright can generate work, make connections and grow artistically.

4.00 – 5.30pm RADIO TALK and WORKSHOP (80 places)

Want to get your short story recorded for BBC R4?
BBC Northern Ireland's Radio Drama department are holding a workshop and Q&A on everything you need to know about writing short stories for radio.  Ian Sansom, author of the Mobile Library detective series, Afternoon Reading writer and Creative Writing Lecturer at Queens University, will be sharing his wisdom and wit alongside Radio Drama Producer Heather Larmour.   They will also be launching an opportunity for students to pen an Afternoon Reading to be recorded and broadcast on R4 in 2012/13 - find out full details on how to submit your story.

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

Over the Edge is Nine Years old

Over The Edge Celebrates Ninth Birthday with Reading by Leanne O’Sullivan, Damian Cunniffe & Dearbhaile Houston  

The first ‘Over The Edge: Open Reading’ of 2012 takes place in Galway City Library on Thursday, January 19th, 6.30-8.00pm. The Featured Readers are Dearbhaile Houston, Damian Cunniffe & Leanne O’Sullivan
This is a very special occasion as it is now exactly nine years since Over The Edge was born in Galway City Library in January 2003.

As usual there will be an open-mic after the Featured Readers have finished. New readers are always most welcome. The MC for the evening will be Susan Millar DuMars. For further details phone 087-6431748.

Poetic Humour Book

This new book of poems is in aid of the Cliona Ring Foundation, edited by Christy O'Donnell and John Carew.

You are invited to attend the White House Bar in O'Connell Street, Limerick, January 18, and/or the Honey Fitz Theatre in Lough Gur, Co. Limerick, February 3, to celebrate the book's official launch.

Christy and John are long-time stalwarts of the White House poetry scene in Limerick, to which they have brought much humour in their verse. They understand that laughter is always needed, and respect it at all levels of poetic ability. For these reasons this book is very important. The fact it is in support of such a worthy endeavour as that of the Cliona Ring Foundation of course multiplies that importance. Special mention must be given to Arts Officer of Limerick, Sheila Deegan, who supported Christy and John on this from the get-go.

If you have any queries about these evenings of poetry, I’m sure they will be happy to receive your contact, Christy at punchy1963@yahoo.co.uk or John at johncarew@gmail.com

Monday, 16 January 2012

Joanna Trollope

DLR libraries often have interesting events.

DLR Library Voices Series presents Joanna Trollope In Conversation with Sinead Gleeson

Joanna Trollope is one of the most popular and successful authors in the world and DLR Libraries are delighted to welcome her to Dun Laoghaire for the first time. She is the author of sixteen bestselling novels, the latest of which, The Soldier’s Wife, deals with the difficulties facing a military wife awaiting her husband’s return from a tour of duty in Afghanistan.

Sinead Gleeson is a wonderfully perceptive interviewer and this promises to be a great night.

Tuesday February 7th at 8.00pm in Pavilion Theatre Tickets

€10 & €8 concessions.

Call (01) 231 2929 or online at www.paviliontheatre.ie

Also look out for readings by Irvine Welsh, Peter Carey and Paul Durcan in April.

Sunday, 15 January 2012

A Melody of Words

Ballymaloe House in East Cork is dipping their toes into the literary lake.

Their first event is a cracker.

Thomas McCarthy and Gerard Smyth
The Grain Store, Ballymaloe House, Shanagarry, Co. Cork
Friday, 24 February 2012 8pm

Join us for a wonderful night of poetry and harp in the beautiful setting of Ballymaloe.

Acclaimed poets Thomas McCarthy and Gerard Smyth will read from their work . Throughout the evening classical harpist Sarah Noonan will perform pieces by J.S. Bach, Grandjany, Weiss, Hasselmans, Tournier, Dussek, O' Carolan and Salzedo.

Tickets €15. Concession €10.

Ballymaloe House are offering an excellent package deal of €60 for early 6pm dinner plus event or €140 for dinner, B&B and entrance to the event!

Ballymaloe pride themselves on offering a warm welcome, tastefully decorated bedrooms and award-winning cuisine which celebrates the best of local, seasonal produce.

For more details please contact The Grainstore - thegrainstore@ballymaloe.ie

This event is in association with Poetry Ireland.

Saturday, 14 January 2012


Knockanstockan independent music festival are looking for all kinds of artists, including performance art.
Blessington Lakes, Co.Wicklow ,Ireland
Friday 27th July to Sunday 29th 2012.

Submissions will be closing on the 4th of May so get them in as soon as you can!!

ALTERNATIVE THERAPIES Alternative Therapies: for Knockanstockan 2012
Holistic massage
Deep tissue/sports massage
Indian head massage
On-site massage
Hopi ear candeling
Thai yoga massage
Tuina (chinese acupressure)

CREATIVE CONCEPTS Creative Concepts: incorporates but is not restricted to all of the following arts. Gardens Graffiti
Installation Art
Land Art
Natural Dwellings
New venue ideas
Performance Art
Recycled Art
Theatrical Performance
Theme Camps
Themed areas
Visual Artists

WORKSHOPS Workshops: in the related area’s
Children’s Workshops
Creative Workshops
Green/Sustainable Workshops
Holistic Workshops

VOLUNTEERS Fancy yourself as a Volunteer?: we are looking for the following…
Production Build & Break
Childcare Worker
Art Team

Website here

Friday, 13 January 2012

Guest Review: Acumen poetry magazine
by Nicole O'Driscoll
When I was asked to be a guest reviewer for writing.ie, it occurred to me that what I feel is more urgent than reviewing new poetry (though I’ll be doing that too) is the need to cut a path through the plethora of poetry magazines that are in circulation in Ireland and the UK. One of the most time-consuming tasks for a new poet looking to get published is having to work through each title on various poetry magazine websites, trying to earmark the best ones to approach.

So the aim of my reviews is to give writing.ie readers an idea of what each magazine is about, and what kind of poetry they typically publish. To do this, I’ll review not just the magazine but some of the poetry it contains too – this will give you an idea of whether your submission is likely to end up in the editor’s rejection pile simply because it doesn’t fit their criteria. Newer magazines seem to take more liberties with publishing more experimental styles of poetry, while longer-standing magazines can have that long-standing reputation to maintain.

For anyone who watches ‘The Apprentice’ it might seem that the meaning of the noun ‘acumen’ has been virtually annihilated by the steady stream of would-be Sugar-ites desperate to big up their ‘business acumen.’ But if there’s one thing that poets love, it’s to take a word back to its root meaning and to choose from whichever incarnation along the way that best fits that particular line.

Such is the case with Acumen, which describes itself as a ‘literary journal,’ though is weighted more in favour of poetry than prose. This might be because of its link with the Torbay Festival of Poetry, organised by the journal’s general editor, Patricia Oxley. So does the magazine have it? Acumen, that is? It does, and in more than one way. It certainly looks for literary confidence and stylistic ability in the poetry that it publishes, but that is not to say that it does not make discerning judgements in favour of new poetry and unpublished poets. In fact, it takes a certain responsibility as a literary journal to publish a limited number of pamphlets each year of contributors who, Patricia Oxley tells me, have been regularly published in Acumen and ‘are worthy of a start on the ladder of publication.’ It is important to bear in mind though that this is by invite only – poets and writers are not encouraged to request that Acumen publish their work.

The 25th anniversary of Acumen in 2010 was marked with an anthology entitled ‘The First Sixty,’ a selection of poetry from the first sixty issues of the journal. Looking through the list of authors (including some very well-known names such as Ruth Padel and U.A. Fanthorpe) there appears to be a fairly even 50-50 ratio of male to female poets. Some issues might fall on one side of the gender divide or the other, but Patricia Oxley feels ‘that this averages out around 50-50 over a year. The journal is lauded by reviewers and critics for its ‘independence’ and ‘opposite of academic’ stance that can do a far more inclusive job than academe of taking quality poetry seriously.

So what else can we expect from it? Something remarkable about Acumen is that it is perfectly paced to provide a satisfying read that one can relish over the four months until the next edition, but that can also be read in one sitting. Despite online journalism and e-booking, we can still find more books, newspapers and magazines teetering in piles around our house for us to finish them off and stack them, shelve them or recycle them. Acumen contains a perfect balance of poems that are loosely grouped around a theme, punctuated by essays, reviews and interviews that engage and challenge our expectations of literature. This is a serious literary journal with a prestigious reputation for pushing poetry and short prose brilliant, sustaining art forms that can be subversive, devastating or exhilarating, but always illuminating. The insight associated with ‘acumen’ comes as much from the published writing itself as it does from the production team behind the journal, all guardians of good judgement.

Nicole simultaneously completed a Ph.D on Samuel Beckett while working as a mental health nurse and staying close to her love of poetry. She has been published in the James Joyce Centenary Collection for her work on Ulysses and has been shortlisted for the Yorkshire Open Poetry competition. Reviews are a particular favourite form of writing for Nicole, who has been commended by established poets for her insightful ability to 'read poetry deeply.' She runs a creative writing group with a Supported Living charitable organisation and works consistently on pushing the boundaries of her own poetry and fiction. Nicole is available for any kind of freelance writing, and loves the fact that the internet allows us to work professionally while sitting in pyjamas beside a portable radiator and a SAD lamp.
Twitter: writerlackeen

Thursday, 12 January 2012

Voices in the Ether

A conference at the RIA on Irish Writing on the Radio.

Unfortunately it's on a Friday so any writer with a full time job can't go. Website here

Venue: Academy House
Date: Friday 3 February

Fee: 25 Euro or 15 for Student/unemployed

9.30am: Registration

10.00am: Welcome

John Bowman (RTE)
Introducing fragments from the RTE Sound Archive: a ‘Who’s Who?’
of Irish writers
11.15am: Coffee

11.45am: Panel:

Gillian McIntosh (QUB)
‘Ulstermen say least when they mean most’: W. R. Rodgers, broadcaster and poet

Hilary Lennon (UCC)
Blacklisted: Frank O’Connor as radio critic

Simon Workman (Carlow College)
‘A mint of golden intonations’: Louis MacNeice and the BBC

Eibhear Walshe (UCC) and Chris Morash (NUI Maynooth)
Voices behind the Glass: Teresa Deevy’s Radio Plays

1.15pm: Lunch (not provided)

2..15pm: Allan Hepburn (McGill University)
Acoustic Modernism: Elizabeth Bowen on the BBC

3.00pm: Coffee

3.15pm: Panel: Producing and Curating Irish Writing:

Doireann ní Bhriain (Radio Producer) (Chair)
Pat Boran (Poetry Ireland)
Anne Devlin (Playwright)
Stephen Douds (BBC NI)
Malachy Moran (RTE)
Clíodhna ní Anluain (RTE)
Anne O’Connor (RTE)

5.00pm: Close

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Poets to Check Out - William Letford

William (Billy) Letford recites his poem 'Be Prepared'.
Knowing his day job is a roofer adds an extra dimension.
Loving the Stirling accent too!

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

2012 Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine

I entered this last year with what I thought/think is a really strong poem and got nowhere. Just saying.

Entries are now open for the 2012 Hippocrates Prize for poetry and medicine, which is for unpublished poems in English.  Judges for the 2012 Hippocrates Awards are New York poet and critic Marilyn Hacker, medical scientist Professor Rod Flower FRS and BBC broadcaster and journalist Martha Kearney. Awards will be presented in London on Saturday May 12th 2012, at the 3rd International Symposium on Poetry and Medicine, to be held at the Wellcome Collection rooms in London. During the 2012 Symposium, there will be readings by Jo Shapcott, Past-President of the Poetry Society, and US poet and 2012 Hippocrates awards judge, Marilyn Hacker

The Hippocrates Awards

With a 1st prize for the winning poem in each category of £5,000, the Hippocrates prize is one of the highest value poetry awards in the world for a single poem. In its first 2 years, the Hippocrates Prize attracted around 3000 entries from 31 countries, from the Americas to Fiji and Finland to Australasia. Awards are in an Open category, which anyone in the world may enter, and an NHS category, which is open to UK National Health Service employees, health students and those working in professional organisations involved in education and training of NHS students and staff.
Co-organizers are poet and translator Michael Hulse and post-doctoral humanities researcher Sorcha Gunne. 

Details here

Monday, 9 January 2012

Silence - Abridged call for submissions

Abridged is a lovely publication. 0-24 was beautifully put together with poems and art. 

To those who have ever known sound, true silence can be but a myth. It is a phantasm, and something to be feared, for in silence we are vulnerable to our own conscience and its persistent echoes of memory, desire and confusion; we lose the means of dismissal and voluntary ignorance and become vulnerable. In silence we are naked, stripped of the sound layers we have used to define ourselves to outside eyes, a defensive muffling of truths. Today we abjure silence, avoiding its solitude. We are in a constant conversation with an ultra-social and info-overdosed humanity repeatedly relaying sculptures of mundane phrases that numb us to the experience of meaning. We dare not lie still enough to stir or coax the phantom film reels of our past from their shadows. Instead we light fires, shouting and stamping our feet to drive back the dark and its inhabitants. It is our fear of the silence of the void, the vacuum. Humanity cannot see nothingness but we run from it, choking the subtle sound of our own breathing with the bustling of contemporary life where everything is virtual and reality utterly abandoned. We convince ourselves we grow by sponging up the noises of the clattering world that engulfs us. In silence we are trapped as we are made to face the cold starkness of what we feel is missing, or the fierce jab of what we long to erase. We stand in silence and we stand in a room of mirrors. A ticking clock is a heartbeat.

Abridged, the poetry/art magazine is looking for submissions for its Silence issue. 
A maximum of 3 poems may be submitted of any length. 
Art can be up to A4 size and can be in any media. It should be at least 300 dpi. 
Submissions can be emailed to abridged@ymail.com or posted to: Abridged c/o The Verbal Arts Centre, Stable Lane and Mall Wall, Bishop Street Within, Derry BT48 6PU. 
Closing date for submission is Jan 14th.
…lay me down the long white line, leave the silence far behind…

Saturday, 7 January 2012

Review of Heaney’s The Human Chain

Review of Heaney’s The Human Chain

By Nicole O'Driscoll

Seamus Heaney explains that his second book, Door into the Dark, was a ‘gesture’ towards our understanding of poetry as a ‘doorway’ between words and submerged feelings. Published in 1969, the title of that volume had a very different resonance with a poet who was forty-one years younger at that time. Human Chain as a title offers reassurance to a much older man who has survived a stroke that he can still explore those doorways, but with connections that draw him back. The line of the human chain and its characters hold onto him, the explorer of ‘the dark,’ ensuring his exit again back into the light of everyday being.

The poems are grouped around a set of themes or links that maintain the sense of the chain running through the collection, unbroken. There is plenty of meditation on the way about how the links do get broken: through loss, tragedy, obscured memory, taciturn communication and the end of old traditions. In ‘Chanson d’Aventure’ Heaney could not feel his wife Marie hold his affected hand in the ambulance on the way to the hospital after his stroke, nor could he see her properly because a drip-line dropped down between them, ‘bisecting’ their view of each other. 

Contemplation and apprehension of death form the backdrop of Human Chain, but one of the ways that Heaney assiduously repairs the links is through his characteristic use of Virgil, focusing this time on the theme of eternally returning home. In ‘The Riverbank Field’ he quotes The Aeneid, in which the ‘spirit troops’ are given second bodies and encouraged to drink from the River Lethe so that they forget that they had ever been to the underworld. Virgil’s conclusion on the subject, which Heaney likes to end the poem on, is that the 

‘soul is longing to dwell in flesh and blood
Under the dome of the sky.’

The poem invokes the possibility of resurrection to life in a way that spares us even the trauma of remembering past lives and deaths.

Heaney sheds the usual light on everyday experience through the ordinary rituals of family and community, and his colloquial use of language to accentuate the atmosphere of being amongst the ‘spirit-troops,’ the unsung heroes of The Human Chain. But much in the style of Seeing Things he also takes those rituals and transcends them beyond the ordinary. In ‘A Mite-box,’ the alms collector pierces a piece of card with a pin for every household that donates ‘A way … to see a way to heaven.’ The whispering tongues will know which household hasn’t made a donation towards their heaven-bound travel expenses – that is the way of the close-knit community. But to Heaney, put alms and charitable missions to one side, and that transcendent view is already our birth-right as long as we are ready to capture the moment. The pinhole of the alms card provides ‘The same as when a pinholed Camera/ Obscura unblinds the sun eclipsed.’ ‘An Old Refrain’ paradoxically sings a new tune about having an unboundaried view from our earthbound place, which we create as our own locale in the way that we name things. 

The theme of ‘father and son’ has long infused the question of death with the pathos of mourning by association rather than by direct reference. Heaney understates his own imminent ageing; rather than patronise his reader, he leaves it to us to make the connection that he is now the most vulnerable link in the chain. In ‘The Butts’ he describes how as a young lad he would reach into his father’s suit-pockets, scavenging for cigarette butts to smoke. The suits had a degree of self-possession – ‘a bit standoffish’ – that was lost to his father in his old age. Young Heaney finds ‘Nothing but chaff cocoons,/ A paperiness not known again until the last days came,’ when his father, frail and underweight, had to be washed and cared for ‘Closer than anybody liked/ But having, for all that,/ To keep working.’

This gentle, unceasing rhythm of caring for a frail elderly person contrasts with the title poem that is all heaving and straining under the weight of the grain-sacks. On the farm they need a chain of at least two people to carry out their labour, though in the first stanza Heaney imagines that this chain is a line of aid-workers feeding a starving crowd, with ‘soldiers firing over the mob.’ Hand-to-mouth existence is no match for these ‘spirit-troops’, who seem to have lost the hang of connectivity.  

The musicality of cooperation and linking that undulates throughout this volume is interrupted in the title poem by a vision of threatened annihilation. And this is the truth that we must all face sometime in our lives: ‘The eye-to-eye, one-two, one-two upswing’ of lifting grain-sacks together in the rhythm of shared life can be back-breaking. The moments of relief, ‘quick unburdening’ of each load’ feel so great that each cannot match the last. Taking a breather from the labour of living feels momentarily freeing, and singular: ‘A letting go which will not come again.’ But if these moments are to end altogether, ‘once. And for all’ the individual’s vision of the human chain slackens. We must then feel prepared to contemplate the finality of our doors into the dark while we adjust to knowing that our senses devour our last summer, like Derek Hill in ‘The Baler’ who

Could bear no longer to watch
The sun going down
And asking please to be put
With his back to the window.’

Creative Writing in Bray Co Wicklow

The lovely Dave Lordan, poet extraordinaire, can also teach.

What: creative writing classes
Where: Bray Institute of Technology
When: Monday January 23rd for beginners
Wednesday 25th January for intermediate.
Intermediate level is suitable for people working or wanting to work on a book project.
Beginners is for those who want to write for a stimulating hobby, who have never written before, who have been away from education for a while etc.

What time: The classes run from 7.30 to 9.30 pm for ten weeks

How much: 120 euro with concession for unwaged, payable to Co Wicklow VEC.

You can register by ringing 012866111 or emailing nightschool@bife.ie. 

Friday, 6 January 2012

Another Writing Workshop at Galway Film Centre

Scene Writing Workshop
What makes a compelling scene?  Is there a way to approach writing, and the all-important rewriting? With the Galway Film Centre/RTÉ Short Script Award deadline fast approaching (approx late Feb/early March 2012) where 2 awards of €9,500 are given to 2 filmmakers to make their films, this practical workshop with script editor, Mark McIlrath, will help you to improve and refine your scene writing skills. These can be applied to shorts or features. Working over 2 days, you will write different sorts of scenes looking at: the dramatic structure; the scene objectives; the beats; the function of the scene; if there is a theme underlying the action (what you’re giving the actors to ‘play’); are you using props and physicalising the conflict through action; whether there is actually anything ‘in play’, or the scene simply seems to lead to a predictable outcome with no sense of anything really being at stake.

Participant Profile: Writers should come with a definite story idea in mind – or better still, a 3 – 8 page Treatment.  You can then pick out scenes from your film story to write during the workshop.

Date: 2 days, Friday 17th & Saturday 18th February, 2012 (9.30am - 5.30pm)

Cost: €120. Please note this workshop is strictly limited to 8 places.

Web: http://www.galwayfilmcentre.ie/training/scene-writing-workshop/

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Some Courses at the Irish Writers Centre

Poetry Writing with Catherine Phil MacCarthy
3rd February to 23rd March: Fridays 11am - 1pm
€220 / €200(members)
Catherine Phil MacCarthy

This eight-week workshop is introduces some  'ways in' to writing that stir both memory and the imagination. It offers a warm and constructive environment to read and gain feedback on recent work and the focus of the workshop is on participants' own poems and on developing a collection for publication. Participants are invited to send poems in advance of the workshop that they are keen to progress.
Writing the Short Story with Sean O'Reilly
17th January to 20th March, Tuesdays 6.30pm-8.30pm, €280/€260 members

Sean O'Reilly
A ten-week course for short story writers seeking to develop their craft in the dynamic context of a group. This is a chance to immerse yourself in the issues around the contemporary short story, to focus on producing drafts of new stories and to have your work discussed in detail by other writers.

Novel Writing with Chris Binchy
17th January to 20th March: Tuesdays 6.30-8.30pm. €280/260 members
chris binchyThis eight-week course is aimed at people who are in the earlystages of writing or planning a novel. The course will provide feedback on participants' submitted work and will focus on identifying their strengths, while discussing narrative structure, character development, pacing and plot.
Finish Your Novel with Conor Kostick 
16th January - 26th March: Monday 6.30-8.30pm. €280/260 members
Conor Kostick
This is a practical course for writers who are already part-way through the writing of a book. The goal of the course is that by the end of it, those attending will have gained sufficient impetus, clarity and enthusiasm for writing that they will go on to complete their books. 

Intermediate Creative Writing with Nessa O'Mahoney
Nessa O'Mahoney 18th January to 7th March: Weds 6.30pm-8.30pm €220/200 members

You've taken your first steps into creative writing; this eight-week course will provide you with the skills and confidence to develop your own voice and experiment with a variety of forms and genres. During the ten weeks, we'll examine poetry, poetic form and imagery, novels and short fiction, screenplays, radio plays, and scriptwriting. The emphasis will be on generating new work, and finding ways to improve existing work.

Beginners' Creative Writing with Alan Jude Moore
19th January to 22nd March: Thursdays 6.30pm to 8.30pm. €280 / €260 members
Alan Jude Moore
This ten-week course is aimed at people getting started as writers.  Through exercises, discussion and advice you will develop your skills as a writer and produce new work. The aim of the workshop will be for participants to go away with an improved sense of their own abilities and how best to use these to further develop their writing.

Feature Writing with Henry McDonald
19th January to 22nd March: Tuesdays 6.30-8.30pm. €280/260 members

Henry McDonald
On this ten-week course Henry McDonald, author and Ireland Correspondent of The Guardian, will cover feature writing techniques for magazines, internet and newspapers, and how these genres differ from the who, what, where, when and how of conventional straight news reporting. Hands-on research and practical writing exercises will form the basis of this dynamic course.

Crime Writing with Cormac Millar (Cormac Ó Cuilleanáin)  
24th January to 13th March: Tuesdays 6.30-8.30pm. €220/200 members
Cormac MillarThis course is suitable for anyone interested in writing crime fiction. Over eight weeks, it explores topics such as finding story ideas, developing plot and structure, genre, characterization, dialogue, description and scene writing, social and political themes, finding the narrative voice, editing and continuity, writing a pitch and a blurb, approaching agents and publishers. 
Poetry Workshop with Enda Wyley
4th February: 10.30am - 4.30pm. Saturday. €80/70 members  Enda Wyley

Have you been writing poetry for a while and would like feedback on your work or are you just beginning to write and hope to be inspired and encouraged? This one-day poetry workshop run by Enda Wyley aims to inspire and encourage participants to study poetry by established poets, create new work and to share their existing work with class members.

Writing Your First Novel with June Considine
4th & 5th February: 10.30am - 4.30pm. Sat & Sun. €150/135 members
June Considine
Whether you are writing your first novel or still contemplating how to begin the opening chapter, Writing your First Novel offers you an opportunity to explore the many elements involved in bringing your work through the construction stage to completion. Step-by-step, from the opening page to the all-important ending, this practical weekend workshop, facilitated by well-known novelist June Considine, will cover character development, plot, dialogue, setting the scene, time scale, building the structure of your novel and discovering the narrative voice.