I Am Dublin: For the birds by Gavin Corbett April 07 2016
Our flash fiction competition 'I am Dublin' during the Five Lamps Festival showcased emerging writers and established writers including Gavin Corbett & Paula McGrath.
We have shared the winning entries on our blog and are delighted to be able to share the stories of Paula and Gavin with you as well. Below is Gavin's story.
For the birds
I’m a romantic, I suppose. I like the shine of the granite and I like the stories. I like BTs’ bed linen for the softness, that’s my indulgence, and I like that I’ll never see the inside of Fitzwilliam Square. I’m a Dublin man. I used to believe that one day Maura’s ring would turn up. Every little squit of doo-doo I’d look for that diamond. The other week, even, in Marks’s rooftop café, I was sitting there with my coffee and my pastry, and a seagull was knocking on the glass, trying to get to me. He was trying to say something. You’re the little gurrier, I said.
I used to believe the ring would just turn up, that’s the truth. Maybe I still do. There’s hope yet, and there’s always hope. It can happen. Things turn up. Some drugs turned up in my shore once, flushed down from Mountjoy prison. But as I say, I’m a romantic, and that’s just foul. But I got a reward.
No; I said to Pat once, your sister will come back to me one day, and it’ll be her ring. That’s how she’ll come back. ‘Yeah,’ he said, and I changed the subject, or so Pat thought. I spoke about seagulls. Pat thinks I’m a weirdo. He’s from Dungarvan, like Maura was, all the Roches; – culchies.
I said there were so many seagulls in the city, that they lived their whole lives here without ever going to sea. Why do you think that is, I said? I said I’d heard it was because of the smell of fish in the air.
Pat said, ‘Fish? But there’s no fish in Dublin. There’s not even a fishmonger. It’s because of the rubbish is all it is. Dublin’s filthy. The seagulls love the dirt.’
But then I heard there was fish in Guinness. And isn’t the air of Dublin saturated with Guinness? Can’t I smell it when the barley’s roasting? And I’m a human, I have a bad sense of smell. Can you imagine what a seagull smells?
I say I heard this but I was actually reading it in an article. They were writing about it because Diageo are taking the fish out of Guinness. Vegetarians putting pressure on Diageo. Diageo, I tell you. Vegetarians. Good night, I said.
I Am Dublin by Paula McGrath April 05 2016
During the Five Lamps Festival the Irish Writers Centre hosted a flash fiction competition 'I am Dublin' which showcased emerging writers along with some established writers including Paula McGrath and Gavin Corbett.
We have shared the winning entries on our blog and are delighted to be able to share the stories of Paula and Gavin with you as well. Below is Paula's story.
From up here, says the bird, it is a city like any other, concrete brick machines glass, a river, a port. And look, over there, on the crest of the bridge, a boy.
From up here, says the boy, it is a port like any other, filled with ships containers warehouses cranes. But it is not any other, it is Dublin. This bridge is Samuel Beckett, and the grey green river is called the Liffey. I asked when I first came.
My English is better now. I make it a game to pass the time. Too much time. I watched the others, closing in, closing down. Down time, free time, free run.
Missing my playground—obstacle course of rubble and scree, a scramble through buildings unfinished or bombed, king of the castle atop roofs of burned out cars—I cracked open the hostel window, crept out along the ledge, dropped to the balcony then the roof below, across the abyss with a leap.
Leap of foot, fleet of foot, leap of faith, this is the game I play. From scaffold, to ancient city wall, to excavation where Luas will run, I run. Parkour, in an other language. Government building iron rail is my tightrope; I balance; I am outside, I am in. Tonight, the boardwalk, Liffey wall, swing on string of Samuel Beckett's harp, to my lookout, my crow's nest. This is where I have come to think about another city, ruined and racked and full of broken things. Tomorrow, in government buildings, I learn which city is mine.
But it grows light. Tomorrow is already here. I grip the rods, manoeuvre to the curve, then slide, and drop to the metal path below, to bollard, to bench, to grey canal bridge, then I leap. In that space, between take-off and landing, I unmake and remake myself; I live, and breathe, and sigh.
From up here, says the bird, it is a boy, not like any other, from up here, he looks like he can fly.
I Am Dublin: The Last Gig by Fionnuala O'Connor March 31 2016
Our final winning entry for the I Am Dublin flash fiction competition was submitted by Fionnuala O’Connor. She has been writing short stories since the 1980s albeit with a gap of about fifteen years. She was born in Dublin and has lived there most of her life, moving in 2004 to Bray.
Dermot takes his saxophone out of its case. It is as beautiful as ever. He hasn’t played for a year, since before he came here.
He puts it to his lips .
This audience looks unresponsive, slumped in their seats, and some asleep even. He’s played a fair few weddings in his time where half the guests were comatose before the band came on. The South City Jazz Band it was called. Originally Jimmy wanted “The Jimmy Devlin Jazz Quintet” but that got shot down pretty quick. Jimmy liked to think of it as “his” band even though he was only the vocalist. The rest of them would have to put him in his box. Dermot used to say to him
“Get back in your cage Jimmy you’re only a canary”
Still, to be fair to him, it was Jimmy who got them together in the first place and he organised most of their gigs.
A woman shouts “stop that noise!”
They got a bit of heckling in the old days too, played some rowdy Pubs . Jimmy could give as good as he got. One time some young gougers started throwing things and big Dan had to come out from behind his drums.
That was before they got a bit of a name for themselves. They had quite a following..
Yes he knows they weren’t masters of jazz, just a bunch of Dublin lads playing in their spare time. Some Music Journalist, as he called himself, once had a go at them for being “not authentic”. Well who’s to say what’s authentic? They loved the music and they played it as well as they could so feck him anyway.
Dermot pauses, then tries Summertime, always popular.
His fingers feel clumsy and slow.
Something is not right. Is it him or the instrument? The tone is wrong. Maybe it’s just that he misses having the others around him.
The old woman shouts again.
He stops. He puts the sax down.
“Just out of practice” he says to himself.
Carefully he places the saxophone back in its case, walks out of the big room with his head down, past the carers and the nurse who had encouraged him to perform today.
He won’t be taking it out again.
I Am Dublin: Killing JB by Laurence Keogh March 29 2016
The recent I am Dublin Flash Fiction Competition was a great success with wonderful talent being showcased. In our third instalment of winning entries you can read Laurence Keogh's entry Killing JB below. Laurence Keogh has lived in Dublin most of his life and is fascinated by its history. He works in marketing and the last book he read was The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo.
I was close enough now – we had stopped at the pedestrian crossing on Abbey Street – to see that his parmesan was of the superior sort. It had that rough, unhewn underside that holds a oily sheen. It would be a pleasure to grate such a cheese, to see it melt onto pasta. It would have that aroma of rich fruit cake. There would be a crunch as your teeth met those tiny deposits of salt crystals in its interior.
Towards the end of his life, the playwright Moliere ate nothing but Parmesan. He believed it had miraculous health-giving qualities; his deathbed was covered in it. The story was a literary one - but too grim to use as an opening conversational gambit. As we approached the Ha’penny Bridge, however, I remembered a particular village mentioned in the Decameron. It is a vision of paradise. Here, says Boccaccio, there is a mountain consisting entirely of grated parmesan. The villagers do nothing but make macaroni. They cook it in chicken stock. They roll it down the mountain so it’s well coated in cheese. And then they eat it. I turned to Banville as the countdown to the green pedestrian lights began. I smiled. I nodded towards the cheese.
‘So, John’, I said, ‘what’s the plan for the Parmesan?’.
I Am Dublin: Joy by Sinead Flynn March 24 2016 2 Comments
In the second post of our showcase of the I am Dublin Flash Fiction Competition winners we have the pleasure of reading Sinead Flynn's winning entry. From County Meath, Sinéad has enjoyed living in Phibsborough for the past few years. She teaches singing, drama and English language to a variety of wonderful people. Apart from writing Sinéad loves mythology and animals – especially dogs.
Mick surveyed the anxious faces of his three children with the most disapproving grimace he could muster.
‘Lads I’m very disappointed in ye.’
Katie and Shane lowered their heads while Keith stared wide eyed at the two guards standing to his left.
‘How many times have I said Mrs O’Reilly’s garden is out of bounds for ye and that bloody dog? Look at the trouble you’ve caused…’
‘But Da we didn’t kick the ball in on purpose. Mrs O’Reilly has it in for us!’ Shane protested.
‘But you shouldn’t have gone in without permission. You should’ve rung her doorbell.’
‘Yeah but…’ Katie had made several attempts to argue their case but the small, grey room and the presence of the guards made her tongue-tied.
‘No buts! Ye didn’t have permission and why the hell was Max running free? You know the rules. He has to be tied or on the lead.’
‘He wanted to play football too!’ Keith piped up.
‘Really? I never knew dogs could talk! When did he tell yis this?’
‘Da’, Katie steadied herself, ‘It was an accident. We can fix up the flowerbeds and pay for the clothes Max chewed with our pocket money.’
‘Your pocket money? You’ll be lucky to get anymore of that! And what about Mrs O? She’s furious! She said if she sees Max again she’ll have him taken away.’
‘No Da’, Keith sobbed.
Katie wanted to run home to protect Max but she knew the doors were locked and she’d never get past the woman at the front desk.
Shane always the calmest shook his head. ‘Da it won’t happen again. We’ll be careful with Max from now on. We’ll say sorry to Mrs O’Reilly. I still have Christmas money so I’ll give it to her for the clothes.’
‘Good man yourself! Be polite with the aul bat. And tell Max not to be goin’ near aul women’s underwear in future!’
They all laughed. With that a guard stepped forward. ‘Visiting time is over’.
‘Okay guard. Right lads…’
Mick stared at each of them. ‘See ye soon.’
He stepped forward but his handcuffs got in the way of a hug. ‘Love ye lads… and lassie’, he winked at Katie. ‘Take care, be good’.
‘See ya soon Da’.
They waved as two guards led Mick back to his cell.
I Am Dublin: Liffey. If He. Dares by Louise Cole March 22 2016
Following the success of our recent showcase of the I am Dublin Flash Fiction Competition with Five Lamps Festival we will be posting each of the four winning entries here for the enjoyment of all.
Entrants were encouraged to channel their inner Anna Livia Plurabelle and to seek inspiration in the charm of our fair city – cracks and all. Our first author is Louise G. Cole, she performs at the Word Corner Café in the Dock, Carrick-on-Shannon, and at pop up shows in the West with the Hermit Collective. She also blogs about writing. Read her winning entry below.
Liffey. If He. Dares.
I make him tremble. The thought of me: I have causality. He is drawn to me. Torn.
More than a tremor. A convulsive shudder and shake. Rock and roll. Slips and slides. Wants to hide. Looks up into the emptiness above, and then down, into my soul, the inviting deepness of me.
Vulnerability bows those broad shoulders, venerable boulders. Hairy, leery atop the worn elbows of a charity shop find three winters ago. Now, he quakes. Shivers. Shows respect for the force that I am.
He doesn’t know I have herons upstream, grey and spike beaked, and herrings grey and quick finned down, streaming into the ocean. Screaming there on the Halfpenny Bridge, gulls and pigeons swoop hopefully low. He has no crumbs left, just a belly full of Costabucks caffeine threatening to reappear with the vodka naggin he quaffed in the gents, quickly and in secret for expediency of effect.
And affected, he thinks not to change his mind. He might exchange it for someone else’s, some bright Trinity student with the world at his feet, disaffected youth with attitude.
Only a vestigial self is his now. Hardly anything remains as I slosh another wave of desperation over him. A splash, a dash, a lash of brackish water, my best. His test: to take a deep breath and step into the unknown.
Beyond is the constant hum of the Luas trammeling the city, black cabs crashing bus lanes, beggars asking for change in ten tongues, shoppers tossing litter in the gutters, nutters tripping sean nós for the tourists, blaggers posing for selfies with the selfish passing by. Passersby. They pass him by.
Pulsing blue lights make this place take on the dark night, play the Dark Knight to his Marvel hero, marvellous heroics at my feet, Siren.
Glad tidings, riptides, tidy, tied. Can you hear me calling him? All he has to do is step forward, tip forward. Jump, fly, soar, score.
He can sleep in my bed forever and a day. Slide into the black mud, red blood flowing. Sink to my depths, I will welcome him here, caress the stress from that brow. Now.
I will swallow his shallow salt lake of grief, his tears, his fears.
Who cares? I do. I will take him to my heart, beating, fleeting, waiting. All he has to do is step my way. Just do it.
Five tips for getting published June 09 2015
As we're taking our Publishing Day series on the road this week as part of the Belfast Book Festival, we've put together a few quick tips for aspiring writers on how to get published:
1. Google Is your Friend
Research each publisher and know who you're submitting to. Read submission guidelines carefully and note whether unsolicited manuscripts are accepted, what genres they publish and what authors are on their lists.
2. A Clean Pair of Eyes
Find someone who will read your work with a keen eye and who is prepared to give you honest feedback before sending out your manuscript. Having a literary editor among your circle of friends isn't essential but is recommended!
3. Spoilers Are Okay
Most publishers will require a synopsis. A synopsis is usually around 300 words and is not a blurb. It should let the editor or agent know about the main characters and how the plot unfolds.
4. Nail your Pitch
An editor or agent may not have much time to spend on your manuscript so be sure to hone that cover letter and synopsis as best you can before submission.
5. Keep the Faith
The path to publication can be tough but trust your own voice and don't give in to publishing trends.
Want to learn more? Join our industry experts like Patsy Horton of Blackstaff Press/Publishing Ireland, arts publicist Stephanie Dickenson and authors Jan Carson and Gavin Corbett who will discuss their own publishing experiences.
Date: Saturday 13 June 2015
Venue: Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast
Cost: £30 / £25* IWC Members & Crescent Arts Centre Writing Groups