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.
Compass Lines: Days by Karl Whitney & Philip Terry March 21 2016
Compass Lines is a writers’ exchange project aiming to establish links between writers and communities in the North and South of Ireland, while additionally examining relationships between the East and West of these islands, through workshops, public discussions, and the commissioning of new collaborative writing.
Compass Lines aims to encourage artistic fusion and integrate a sometimes fragmented audience, geographically and otherwise, through the strategy of combining writers with various concerns and backgrounds. Eschewing their comfort zones and usual patterns of working presents a diversion and a challenge to the writers, and a way of instigating discussions about ideas of process and place that reside in contemporary writing and which are often ignored through traditional views of literature.
Developed by poet, editor and curator Christodoulos Makris in collaboration with the Irish Writers Centre as producing organisation, and with the participation of the Crescent Arts Centre as partner venue, Compass Lines will comprise a series of enterprises, alternately in Dublin and in Belfast, each with the participation of two writers – one with connections to the north of Ireland and one to the south.
Each enterprise consists of three strands, community connection, discussion and new writing which will be specially developed collaborative pieces involving pairs of writers associated with the north and south of Ireland. The first Compass Lines event was on Wednesday 2 March 2016, the first in this series of collaborative pieces is available below.
Days travelling to Ennis.
Days coming events cast their shadows over.
Days when you buy a new pet.
Days walking in Tolleymore.
Days wondering whose thoughts you’re chewing.
Days when you feel as if you had been eaten and spewed.
Days when you bury a pet in the garden.
Days eating orangepeels.
Nights walking home from the 49N.
Nights lit sharply by the moon’s glow.
Some nights you remember, and others you forget. I remember:
Nights, restless nights, spent wheezing ‘til dawn.
Afternoons cycling along the tow-path.
Afternoons making kits.
Afternoons when you believe others’ eyes.
Afternoons watching cartoons after school.
Afternoons following lessons mechanically.
Afternoons walking vaguely through Spanish streets.
Afternoons when you arrive back at Aldergrove Airport, and it is raining.
Hours spent listening to David Bowie records.
Moments watching The Man Who Fell To Earth.
Moments daydreaming in class, gazing out the window, then being brought back to earth by an incomprehensible question.
Moments when you wonder how you got here and where you’re going.
Moments when you realise your coach leaves in an hour for some scrubland desert town.
Moments choosing what to eat at the ‘Say When’ casino in McDermitt, Nevada.
Those moments of possibility that show themselves while writing, or reading, or talking.
Moments dancing with your girlfriend in the kitchen.
Moments that surprise you with their intensity.
Moments hoovering: losing oneself, zen-like in the task.
Moments when you can’t remember if you locked the front door.
Days when you can’t remember what day it is.
Days when you still can’t remember what day it is.
Days when you no longer care what day it is.
Days filled with thoughts of other days.
Hours sitting at a desk in an office: typing, transcribing, redrafting.
Lunch hours when it’s raining out and you sit there with a sandwich, reading Species of Spaces.
Hours without conversation when you’re kept going by the anxious thrum of your thoughts.
Hours awake (there are more of these).
Hours asleep (fewer).
Hours between flights at Chicago O’Hare. You can see the city’s skyline, but don’t have enough time to reach it.
Hours when you have to be somewhere.
Hours when you don’t.
Nights when you spend more time awake than you do asleep.
Afternoons when you’re tired from lack of sleep.
Mornings when you wake to find a cow’s head poking through your window.
Mornings when you wake to find a horse’s head next to you in bed.
Mornings watching Homes Under the Hammer.
Mornings cycling along the seafront.
Mornings sitting on buses, in traffic, watching pedestrians overtake you.
Mornings are like nights, but brighter; in fact, they’re more like days, light-wise.
But mornings can be dark during winter, that’s true.
Moments when things happen quickly.
Moments when time stands still.
Moments thinking up titles of essays you’ll never write, like “Joyce or U2?”
Moments when you notice the rifle trained on your car.
Dull afternoons at the Bibliothèque Nationale lit by the desk lamps’ glow.
Afternoons at the cinema.
Afternoons doing nothing.
Nights in Norway when it doesn’t look like night.
Hours spent walking around Dublin while Molly’s with yer man.
Hours tapped out on the clocks around the city. Who winds them?
Hours before you’ll be back in Eccles Street. You may as well have a sandwich.
Hours watching the Liffey ebb in and out, a throwaway little remarked upon.
Hours writing letters to your aunt, asking questions about the city you left.
The hours you’ve spent on this stretch of the North Circular Road, which lacks a tram service.
Hours you spent thinking, Bloom.
Hours you spent writing Bloom.
Hours walking the streets of Dublin on an empty stomach.
Hours surrounded by coffined thoughts.
Hours walking barefoot on the strand.
Hours in Trieste listening to the babble.
Mornings listening to the soft flop of porter gushing in the pub cellar.
Moments with your nose whiteflattened against the window pane.
Moments remembering the voices of the dead.
Days of rage.
Days when you look at the rising waters and think: this can’t last.
Days walking down Broadway.
Days when you sit on the slow train, looking out across the Meadowlands.
Days spent talking about the 1960s.
Days when you can’t tell wrong from right.
Days you spend as a maths teacher in New Mexico thinking about the Weather Underground.
Afternoons when you put everything off until the following morning.
Hours spent catching up with what you put off yesterday afternoon.
Hours you wasted trying to think of what to write next.
Hours that you can’t account for. What happened between the
Hours of ten and eleven on the morning of the twenty-seventh of February 2013?
Hours that you spent playing guitar.
Hours copying cassettes at double speed on a hi-fi.
Hours spent reading the NME.
Hours browsing through racks of CDs and piles of records.
Hours clearing the attic, throwing out the stuff you accumulated over the years.
Days listening to Joy Division.
Days listening to Warsaw because you’ve run out of Joy Division.
Days listening for signs of Joy Division in New Order.
Mornings when the wind whips wheelie bins along the road.
Mornings when you should have left the house ten minutes ago.
Mornings when your ears are ringing from last night’s gig.
Mornings when the afternoon creeps up on you.
Mornings when the night stays with you, as you piece together your half-remembered dreams.
Mornings spent avoiding the news.
Mornings watching oddly scheduled American sitcoms.
Mornings when the streets are empty and the city seems uninhabited.
Moments you have met before in a dream.
Moments spent thinking of things you’d like to have done, but can no longer do, like visit Seamus Heaney or go drinking with Brendan Behan.
Moments soaking conkers in vinegar to try and make them tougher.
Moments when you find out that soaking conkers in vinegar is pretty useless.
Moments when you swim without armbands for the first time.
Nights in the summer that never really get dark.
Nights when you watch the blinking lights of aircraft circling the city.
Nights worrying if the bogeyman is going to come and get you.
Afternoons when you’re anxious about your deadline.
Hours at airports, anxiously waiting for your flight.
Hours when you wish you hadn’t stayed up all night.
Hours and hours and hours and hours and hours that you can’t account for.
Mornings: routine, unconsciously timetabled.
Mornings when you wake up feeling old.
Mornings that make you think of other mornings.
Mornings grinding coffee, making porridge, taking vitamins.
Mornings when routine collapses, and you’re resigned to being late, so you have another cup of coffee.
Days on the wagon.
Days when my father returns from a trip to Dublin with Bewley’s fudge.
Days chasing ghosts.
About the Authors:
Philip Terry is currently Director of the Centre for Creative Writing at the University of Essex. Among his books are the lipogrammatic novel The Book of Bachelors, the edited story collection Ovid Metamorphosed, a translation of Raymond Queneau’s last book of poems Elementary Morality, and the poetry volumes Oulipoems,Oulipoems 2, Shakespeare’s Sonnets, andAdvanced Immorality. His novel tapestry was shortlisted for the 2013 Goldsmith’s Prize. Dante’s Inferno, which relocates Dante’s action to current day Essex, was published in 2014, as well as a translation of Georges Perec’s I Remember.
Karl Whitney is a writer of non-fiction whose first book, Hidden City: Adventures and Explorations in Dublin was published by Penguin in 2014. In 2013 he received the John Heygate award for travel writing. He has a BA in English and History from University College Dublin, an MA in Modernism from University of East Anglia, and a PhD in History from University College Dublin. He is a Research Associate at the UCD Humanities Institute.
Launch of Wicklow Literature Programme with Words Ireland February 17 2016
Mermaid Arts Centre Thursday 25 February, 2016 at 6pm
Words Ireland is delighted to announce the development of a new literature programme in partnership with Wicklow County Arts Office and supported by the Wicklow Library Service.This programme will involve readings, public events, mentoring schemes, workshops and masterclasses with some of Ireland’s leading writers, poets and illustrators.
It will be launched at Mermaid Arts Centre, Bray on Thursday 25 February at 6pm with guest speakers Michael Nicholson and John Ryan, both of Wicklow County Council (scroll down for full invite details).
Wicklow is home to a wealth of writing talent and this programme will seek to celebrate those who are established, while nurturing the next generation. Wicklow enjoys an extremely rich literary heritage and has inspired celebrated writers such as WB Yeats, Derek Walcott, Mary Lavin and Seamus Heaney, to mention just some. In more recent times, contemporary writers Sebastian Barry, Anne Enright and Paul Howard have found much inspiration in the county.
Thursday 25 February is Wicklow Literature Day when the new programme kicks off with a range of activities: a workshop with local award winning illustrator Marie-Louise Fitzpatrick at Greystones Library in the morning (now sold out), followed by a panel event based around the best-selling children’s book Once Upon a Place, early evening in the Happy Pear, Greystones, and a mentoring showcase featuring local writers at the Mermaid Arts Centre, which will be preceded by a launch at 6pm.
The writers include: Caroline Bracken, Evelyn Conlon, Emer Fallon, Justin McCarthy, Sinéad O’Loughlin, Michelle Read, Philip St. John and Grace Wells.
Wicklow writers and book lovers are encouraged to attend.
Later in the year the programme will feature a writers’ mentoring scheme, a special reading project for children in libraries and a number of live literature events. Highlights will include a masterclass with Ireland Professor of Poetry Paula Meehan at Bray Library, a reading with short story writer Claire Keegan at the Courthouse Arts Centre, Tinahely and a series of workshop and in-conversation events with Wicklow writers including Jane Clarke and Liz McManus in libraries throughout the county.
Director of Services with Wicklow Council Council, Michael Nicholson commented:
'The County Wicklow Literary Development Programme 2016/17 led by Wicklow Arts Office in Partnership with Words Ireland and with support from Wicklow County Library Service - is a significant arts development initiative for the county. It will offer people of all ages, throughout the county, a wide range of options to develop their skills in the craft of writing and to discover the pleasure of reading through an excellent programme of readings, workshops and masterclasses.'
The richness and diversity of literature in Wicklow will be celebrated throughout the county and for all ages. Writers and readers are encouraged to check out their local libraries where they can sign up to be included on the county database and to share their ideas for the programme. The aim of the programme is to provide effective resources for the literature sector and to encourage a passion for writing and reading throughout the county.
Words Ireland is a recently formed grouping of seven literature organisations, which is working collaboratively to provide coordinated professional development and resource services to the literature sector. This three-year partnership with Wicklow County Council will allow us to organise workshops, readings and events across Wicklow for writers, readers, literature professionals and literature enthusiasts.
For more information on Words Ireland see www.wordsireland.ie and for more information on Wicklow County Arts Office please visit www.wicklow.ie/arts-office
Further information from: firstname.lastname@example.org Tel (01) 678 9815
Announcing the recipients of the IWC / Anam Cara bursaries February 17 2016
The Irish Writers Centre and Anam Cara Writer's & Artist's Retreat are delighted to announce that Réaltán Ní Leannáin and Simon Ó Faoláin are the recipients of two one-week residencies to take place later this year.
These residencies will afford the two writers time and space to complete their current creative projects which are being written in the Irish language.
The recipients were selected by a panel comprising writers Anna Heussaff and Jack Harte, and Valerie Bistany of the Irish Writers Centre. Jack Harte commented on the residencies by saying:
'A week in Anam Cara is a huge boost to any writer, and the affirmation that it implies is hugely important too.'
We would also like to thank Sue Booth-Forbes of Anam Cara for her generous patronage of these two writers and wish them an enjoyable and – most importantly – creative stay!
Special Discounted Rate on Selected Courses February 10 2016 1 Comment
If you've missed out on joining a Spring 2016 course, it's not too late to sign up and the course will be discounted accordingly. Offer available for a limited time only.
Although the courses in question have already begun, the course facilitators are confident that those joining in late will be able to catch up on any class work missed. The courses being offered at discounted rates are as follows:
- Historical Fiction with Conor Kostick (Thursday 11th | 6.30pm)
- Essay and Memoir with Henry McDonald (Tuesday 16th | 6.30pm)
- Finding Your Form with Nessa O'Mahony (Tuesday 16th | 11am)
This is a great opportunity to catch-up without breaking the bank. Those interested should contact the Centre on 01-8721302 or email email@example.com
The discount rates are based on how many sessions have been missed. Students will be unable to join courses after the third session.
Announcing the Greenbean Novel Fair 2016 finalists February 01 2016 1 Comment
Announcing the Greenbean Novel Fair 2016 finalists –
as selected by judges Anthony Glavin, Martina Devlin & Margaret Hayes
Twelve aspiring novelists have been selected from almost 275 applicants to participate in the Greenbean Novel Fair 2016, an annual Irish Writers Centre initiative which will take place on Saturday 20 February.
Now in its fifth year, the event aims to introduce up-and-coming writers to top publishers and literary agents, giving novelists the opportunity to bypass the slush pile, pitch their ideas and place their synopsis and sample chapters directly into the hands of publishers and agents.
The judging panel, who have remained anonymous up until today, can now be revealed as writer and editor Anthony Glavin, writer and journalist Martina Devlin and Margaret Hayes, Dublin City Librarian.
Congratulations to this year's winners who have been named as:
Alex Reece Abbott
James Martyn Joyce
There is a diverse range of genres across the novels including literary fiction, historical fiction, crime and dystopian fiction. The 2016 finalists will be travelling from every compass direction; including a UK resident and a former winner who will be trying her luck second time round and making her way from Toronto, Canada.
Ahead of the Fair, the finalists will take part in a Prep Day on Saturday 6 February to hone their skills, practise their pitches and gain expert advice from this year’s judging panel, and former winner Kevin Curran who has just released his second novel Citizens (Liberties Press, 2016) will be offering a winner’s insight.
This is the second year where a longlist of twelve applicants will have their work critiqued, extending the prizes from 12 to 24 winners. The following names will receive individual critiques:
- Guy Le Jeune
- Jane Cassidy
- Majella Cullinane
- Seán Farrell
- Teresa King
- Dawn Lowe
- Marie Lynch
- Eamon Mag Uidhir
- Gillian Nash
- Anne O'Leary
- Jean O'Sullivan
- Cathriona Slammon
We would like to thank each and every applicant for entering and we wish all aspiring novelists the very best in continuing their writing.
About the Fair:
In 2015, Greenbean Coffee Roasters came on board as title sponsors of the Fair, with the Irish Times as media sponsors. The Greenbean Novel Fair presents a unique opportunity to gain face time with some of the most influential people in Irish publishing and has the potential to kick-start a literary career for each year’s winners.
This year’s Fair will welcome representatives from the Irish and UK publishing industries (Penguin Ireland, Hachette Ireland, Transworld Ireland, New Island, O’Brien Press/Brandon, Liberties Press, The Book Bureau, Poolbeg/Ward River, Tramp Press, Marianne Gunne O’Connor Literary Agency, Jonathan Williams Literary Agency, Lisa Richards Agency, Feldstein Agency) and, for the first time, will invite New York based agent Regal Hoffmann & Associates.
Listed below are details of the various publications and success stories to date that have arisen through the Greenbean (formerly Irish Writers Centre) Novel Fair:
- Janet E. Cameron’s novel Cinnamon Toast and the End of the Worldwas published by Hachette in March 2013.
- Niamh Boyce’s novel The Herbalistwas published by Penguin Ireland in June 2013 and is on the longlist for IMPAC 2015.
- Beatsploitation by Kevin Curran was published by Liberties Press in August 2013 and Kevin has just released his second novel Citizens.
- Alan Timmons’ novel Here In No Placewas released by New Island in September 2013.
- The Reluctant Cannibal by Ian Flitcroft was published by Legend Press in October 2013.
- Daniel Seery’s novel A Model Partnerwas published by Liberties Press in spring 2014.
- Susan Lanigan’s White Feathers was published by Brandon in 2014.
- Liberties Press published Eggshells by Caitriona Lally in May 2015.
- Andrea Carter's novel Whitewater Church was published by Constable & Robinson (Little, Brown Book Group) in September 2015.
- Swimming on Dry Land by Helen Blackhurst was published by Seren in November 2015.
And we are eagerly awaiting more updates from former winners!
On Wednesday 13 January 2016 we welcomed the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, in recognition of his patronage which marked the beginning of our 25th year celebrations.
Writers and IWC Ambassadors, Éilis Ní Dhuibhne and Joseph O'Connor read for the President, as well as Sarah Moore Fitzgerald, the recipient of this year's Jack Harte Bursary Award. Musician Colm Mac Con Iomaire debuted his beautiful composition Solasta to a packed room of writers and distinguished guests – and wowed us all. The President addressed attendees with a speech that ranged in content from Bowie and Hot Press to Descartes and civil society...
President Higgins outlined how the Centre is not just a haven but a vortex of creativity:
'In the hallways and stairwells of this old house, frameworks of novels, opening paragraphs of stories, and geneses of poems have been inspired and created. A considerable number may have been completed but perhaps the finest are still in gestation.'
We couldn't have wished for a better start to our 25th anniversary celebrations.
A full transcript of the President's speech is available on our Patron page >>>
In memory of Brian Friel, RIP October 02 2015
– a playwright who gave voice to the heart and the resilience of the Irish spirit
The Irish Writers Centre is deeply saddened to learn of the passing of Brian Friel. Known as one of the greatest Irish playwrights of our times and renowned for Philadelphia, Here I Come, Translations and Dancing at Lughnasa, Friel proved himself to be a versatile writer who was skilled at adaptations and penned two fine short story collections.
His impact has extended beyond the realm of writing, both at home and abroad. While Friel succeeded in bringing the realities of life in rural Ireland to a worldwide audience and placed contemporary Irish theatre at the forefront of international playwriting, he was also instrumental in addressing issues such as identity, language, migration and culture, and gave voice to those on the margins. His works showed the heart and the resilience of the Irish spirit and their enduring legacy are as relevant as ever today.
Brian was known to be generous in spirit and was especially supportive to other writers showing them a genuine kindness. His generosity was enriched with a great sense of humour.
The loss of this unrivalled playwright will reverberate across nations and down through the generations. Our most sincere condolences to Brian’s family and friends.
‘Brian Friel’s plays gave expression to the perennial conundrums of Irish life and identity by holding up a mirror to ourselves with a wit and acumen that made us laugh and cry, and wonder what the future will hold. He is a huge loss and will be sadly missed.’
– Valerie Bistany, Director of the Irish Writers Centre
‘Brian Friel was a foremost writer of his generation. His influence is enormous and his kindness to writers, particularly emerging writers, has been invaluable. May he rest in peace.’
– Liz McManus, Chairperson of the Board of the Irish Writers Centre
Meet our autumn 2015 facilitators: 3. Dave Lordan September 16 2015
The ever popular Dave Lordan is facilitating two courses this autumn at the Irish Writers Centre. The first, Teaching Creative writing, is a practical, intensive course in how and why to teach creative writing in a variety of contexts. The other, Strange Times, Strange Tellers: Experimental Fiction, covers the techniques of formally innovative writers such as Calvino, Cortázar, and Joyce, and movements such as beats, oulipo, surrealist... We caught up with Dave to discuss his own reading and writing, among other subjects.
Irish Writers Centre: What have you been reading over the summer?
Dave Lordan: Johnathan Franzen, Hilary Mantel, and, most enjoyable of all, the mediaeval Japanese epic poem The Tale of The Heike.
IWC: What do you need to be able to write?
DL: A target.
IWC: Who is your favourite living writer?
DL: Eamonn McCann.
IWC: What was your favourite book as a child?
DL: 5000 Interesting Facts.
IWC: What upcoming book are you most looking forward to reading?
DL: Johnathan Franzen's Purity, which I will be review on RTÉ Arena on Monday 21 September.
IWC: If you could work in any other field besides your own, what would it be?
DL: Forest Management.
IWC: What literary magazines/journals do you follow?
DL: I read many, but follow none!
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Dave Lordan is the author of the experimental fiction collection First Book of Frags and is editor of the Young Irelanders fiction anthology. An experienced and popular teacher he has led and designed numerous successful workshops.
Book here for Teaching Creative writing with Dave Lordan >>>
Meet our autumn 2015 facilitators: 2. Nessa O'Mahony September 14 2015
We caught up with poet and creative facilitator Nessa O'Mahony as she prepares to teach her Finding Your Form course here at the Irish Writers Centre. Nessa was kind enough to take some time out of her busy schedule to give us an insight into her reading and creative habits, among other subjects. Places on Finding Your Form are filling up fast, so book now to avoid disappointment.
Irish Writers Centre: When did you start to write?
Nessa O'Mahony: Well, if you don't count the poems in the school magazine, I’d turned 30, would you believe. My parents gave me a birthday present of a creative writing course; I wonder would they have thought twice about that gift had they known I’d ultimately give up full-time, pensionable employment in order to be a full-time writer. I hope not.
IWC: Who is your favourite living writer?
NM: That’s a very hard question to answer. There are writers whose new books I delight in reading, and new writers whose work I’m delighted to discover. But if you do force my hand, Louise Gluck’s poetry is always thrilling, as is Richard Ford’s prose, and Robert Holmes writes the best biographies I’ve come across.
IWC: What do you use to write ?
NM: I have a notebook and an iPhone for first drafts or phrases or images or scraps of anything that might be turned into a poem. I began my novel on the laptop and have kept it going there, though trying not to edit myself as I go along. I’m a great believer in allowing the first draft its full reign before going in with the scalpel, though one has to be brutal when that edit stage happens.
IWC: If you could work in any other field besides your own, what would it be?
NM: I’d love to be a dog whispering antiques shop-owner.
Nessa O’Mahony has published four books, Bar Talk (1999), Trapping a Ghost (2005), In Sight of Home (2009) and Her Father’s Daughter (2014).
Book here for Finding Your Form with Nessa O'Mahony>>>
We are delighted to announce that President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins, has kindly agreed to become the Patron of the Irish Writers Centre.
The President will visit the Centre on 13 January 2016, marking what promises to be a memorable inaugural event in our 25th anniversary celebration year.
We are also thrilled to welcome six new Ambassadors who will act to promote and endorse the Irish Writers Centre over the next three years. They are all key literary figures in Irish literature selected across a range of disciplines and we look forward to working with them in furthering the aims and ambitions of the Irish Writers Centre both at home and abroad.
The Irish Writers Centre Ambassadors are: John Banville, Anne Enright, Roy Foster, Marian Keyes, Éilís Ní Dhuibhne and Joseph O'Connor.
We've been keeping this news under wraps for a while, so now you're in on our amazing secret!
Irish Writers Centre Patron
President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins
Irish Writers Centre Ambassadors
William John Banville was born in Wexford, Ireland. After college John worked as a clerk for Ireland’s national airline, Aer Lingus, before joining The Irish Press as a sub-editor in 1969. Continuing with journalism for over thirty years, John was Literary Editor at The Irish Times from 1988 to 1999. John’s first book, Long Lankin, a collection of short stories and a novella, was published in 1970. His first novel, Nightspawn, came out in 1971. In 2005, John won the Man Booker Prize for The Sea. In 2011 he was awarded the Franz Kafka Prize. In 2013, John was awarded the Irish Pen Award for Outstanding Achievement in Irish Literature.
Anne Enright has published novels, short stories, essays, and one non-fiction book. A Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, her novel The Gathering won the 2007 Man Booker Prize. She has also won the 1991 Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, the 2001 Encore Award and the 2008 Irish Novel of the Year. Anne Enright is the first Laureate for Irish Fiction, a post she currently holds. Anne’s writing explores themes such as family relationships, love and sex, Ireland's difficult past and its modern zeitgeist.
R.F. Foster is an Irish historian and academic. He is the Carroll Builders Professor of Irish History at Hertford College, Oxford in the UK. Originally from Waterford he won a scholarship to attend St. Andrew's School for a year before reading history at Trinity College, Dublin where he was awarded an M.A. and Ph.D. by Trinity College.
Foster is the editor of The Oxford History of Ireland (1989) and author of Modern Ireland: 1600-1972 (1988) as well as several books of essays. More recently, Foster has produced a much acclaimed two part biography of William Butler Yeats which was awarded the James Tait Black Memorial Prize, and also collaborated with Fintan Cullen on a National Portrait Gallery exhibition, 'Conquering England: the Irish in Victorian London'. In 2000 Foster was a judge in the Man Booker Prize.
Marian Keyes was born in Limerick in 1963, and brought up in Cavan, Cork, Galway and Dublin; she spent her twenties in London, but is now living in Dún Laoghaire. She published her first novel Watermelon in 1995 and it was an immediate, runaway success. Its chatty conversational style and whimsical Irish humour appealed to all age groups, and this appeal spread to Britain when Watermelon was picked as a Fresh Talent book. Other countries followed (most notably the US in 1997) and Marian is now published in thirty-three languages. Anybody Out There won the British Book Awards award for popular fiction and the inaugural Melissa Nathan prize for Comedy Romance. This Charming Man won the Irish Book award for popular fiction.
Éilís Ní Dhuibhne
Éilís Ní Dhuibhne was born in Dublin in 1954 and is a graduate of UCD. Éilís studied at UCD, for almost ten years. She focused on literature and narrative studies, studying Pure English for the BA, doing an M Phil in Middle English and Old Irish, and finishing in 1982 with a Ph D in Folklore. From 1978-9 she studied at the Folklore Institute in the University of Copenhagen as a research scholar, while researching her doctoral thesis.
Her first book was published in 1988, Blood and Water, and since then she has written about 24 books, including novels, collections of short stories, several books for children, plays and non-fiction works. She writes in both Irish and English. She was elected to Aosdána, the Irish Association of Artists, in 2004.
Joseph O’Connor was born in Dublin. He is the author of eight novels: Cowboys and Indians (short-listed for the Whitbread Prize), Desperadoes, The Salesman, Inishowen, Star of the Sea, Redemption Falls, Ghost Light and The Thrill of it All, as well as two collections of short stories, True Believers and Where Have You Been? In 2009 he was the Harman Visiting Professor of Creative Writing at Baruch College, City University of New York. In December 2011, he received an honorary Doctorate in Literature from University College Dublin. He received the Irish PEN Award for Outstanding Contribution to Irish Literature in 2012. His latest novel is The Thrill of it All, published in May 2014 by Harvill Secker.
In 2014 he was appointed Frank McCourt Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Limerick.
Meet our autumn 2015 facilitators: 1. Conor Kostick August 25 2015
We caught up with novelist Conor Kostick as he prepares to begin teaching his Finish your Novel course here at the Irish Writers Centre. Over tea and biscuits in the Centre's library, Conor discussed his summer reading, his favourite childhood book and his preference for print over ebooks.
Irish Writers Centre: What have you been reading over the summer?
Conor Kostick: I've been reading David Copperfield by Charles Dickens. I can hardly put it down — best three euro I've ever spent! Everyone says Dickens is a great novelist, but when I read him 20 or 30 years ago I couldn't really see it. He is very different to Austen and Tolstoy in his willingness to push the form and structure of the novel.
IWC: What do you need most in order to be able to write?
CK: Time is the most important thing for me. Writing is not a gift, it’s a craft. The more you read and write the stronger your technical skills become.
IWC: For your own reading, do you prefer e-books or traditional print books?
CK: I prefer print. I do have a Kindle, but I find it a little bit harder to sink into the world of the book when reading from the screen.
IWC: What was your favourite book as a child?
CK: A Wizard of Earthsea by Ursula K. Le Guin.
Conor Kostick is the author of a number of successful books. In 2009, Conor was presented with a Special Merit Award by the Reading Association of Ireland; in 2010 he was the Farmleigh Writer-in-Residence. Conor was president of the Irish jury for the EU Prize for Literature, 2015.
Book here for Finish Your Novel with Conor Kostick >>>.
Conor is also available for One-to-One Mentoring
Expect to e-meet lots more of our facilitators over the coming weeks.
In case you're not signed up to our newsletter (it's never too late to do so: click & scroll down!), we've announced the seven lucky recipients of our Cill Rialaig residencies which will take place over 10 days in October this year:
- Andrea Carter
- Anthony Glavin
- Catherine Dunne
- Lia Mills
- Louise Phillips
- Maria McManus
- Seán Hardie
We're delighted to be partnering with Cill Rialaig for the first time and congratulations to all seven writers.
Cill Rialaig is going to be humming with heavyweight literary activity this autumn. Watch this space!
On Tuesday 23 June 2015, Carlo Gébler launched Here’s Me Here, Further Reflections of a Lapsed Protestant – a collection of writings by Glenn Patterson (published by New Island Books).
Gébler's musings on the evolution of the writer, the human experience and that much sought after concept, truth, are likely to resound with many writers.
'We believe in glasnost. Of course we do. We’re in literature, on Grub Street. Glenn Patterson is my friend, my very good friend. Bear that in mind when you listen to what I have to say.
The ecology of literature contains constants that never ever change and yet at the same time, it is always morphing, it always in a state of flux and the flux stuff (the fluxing if that is a word – is it a word? thank you) the fluxing is usually bad, and always awkward.
Writers, novelists, I use the term interchangeably, need to be protean: they need to adapt, endlessly, indefatigably, tirelessly if they are to survive economically. Or, as others, with a more brutal, less lyrical temperament have put it – in the brothel all services must be offered. To survive we must write, because we are obliged so to do, in many registers, in many forms. It was ever thus.
Glenn is primarily a novelist. Additionally, he is writer of drama for the cinema. And the radio. He is a writer of short stories – or as I have sometimes heard him say when he’s heard this said, he is the writer of a short story (which I am sure by the way isn’t true). He is certainly a writer of memoir. And he is a writer, and he has always been a writer, of prose narratives stroke meditations, non-fiction writing which combines the personal lived experience and his thoughts about the society in which he lives, and so on and so forth. His first collection of such pieces was published under the title Lapsed Protestant (an interesting and revelatory title; remember Mr Freud, ‘There are no jokes’) and Here’s Me Here is a further collections of such writings.
When I look at a book it is, now I am entering advanced middle age, impossible not to think about where it is, and where the author is in the continuum, in the history of literature. Writers have always worked in many forms (they had to, to make a living – that was my protean point) but the registers in which they sang have changed and that is instructive. Three hundred, two hundred, a hundred years ago what was usually demanded of writers of fiction when they wrote non-fiction, was – for want of a better word – colour writing or testimony about place, or persons, or topography, rather than opinion, rhetoric or counsel.
But then, sometime in the last century, the precise date is contested but not the fact, God died, or if he didn’t die, he folded his tent and vacated the universe, disgusted by our endless capacity for stupidity and cruelty and his servants on earth lost their way (assuming they ever knew it, which some would dispute), and thereafter, once He went and the religion went AWOL, what was demanded of writers of fiction, when they sang in the non-fiction register, was no longer testimony about place, or persons, or topography, but analysis and insight, counsel and comfort that would fill the vacuum left by the disappearance of religious practice and spiritual content from our wretched lives. This is not an original idea of mine by the way. Oh no. I’ve stolen it, like all my bon mots. It was an American novelist called Bellow, first name Saul, you may have heard of him, he died recently, who first – to my knowledge – fingered this when he observed some time in the 1960s I think, ‘Now God is dead, novelists have acquired a priestly function.’ I quote from memory so I may have it wrong slightly, word wise, but that’s the gist. ‘Now God is dead, novelists have acquired a priestly function.’
And Mr Bellow was absolutely right. Just look around north, south, east, or west, and you will see novelists everywhere, in their droves, stomping around, speaking the truth about the past, the present, the future, the planet, politics, everything, and offering consolation, insight, understanding to us poor mortals abandoned by our maker and his helpmates. It’s a very interesting phenomenon and this book Here’s Me Here is part of that.
So, are the priestly constructs of my lapsed Protestant friend any good? Well, I can tell you this. The writing is sharp, precise, lean, and ludic. It will make you laugh. And I hope nobody will be offended if I go on to make the observation that sharpness, precision, leanness and laughter inducement are not what one traditionally associates with the utterances of most men of the cloth. However, and you knew there was a however coming, I know you did, exceptional literary burnish ain’t enough. You need more. The writing of authors fulfilling a priestly function needs more than style, though style is vital because it gives such pleasure. Writing when it’s in this register, needs to describe experience that is recognisably human and it needs to make sense of that human experience in a way that makes sense to other human beings.
This is very difficult: one, because language is a false friend, and two, because we are saturated and infected by the values of the society in which we exist through its control mechanism, the mass media. In other words, and this is my opinion, it ain’t everyone’s but I’ve got the conch tonight, and I’m not letting go, the sense we make of the madness around us rarely if ever reflects our actual authentic feelings or our deeply held beliefs and usually reflects, though without us being aware that this is the case, an interpretation or an understanding or version that is pre-determined, pre-authored if you like, by the culture in which we nest.
But what you encounter in Here’s Me Here is not that but an intelligence that in every word, sentence, paragraph and page has separated itself from the formulaic, the proscribed, the agreed, the traditional, the standard, and sees life and human experience as it actually is (or tries to any rate). Our political culture – the whole shebang, left to right, Orange to Green, Loyalist to Republican, et cetera, is oppressive, and our collective culture (vaguely socially democratic, light touch capitalist, big on rhetoric, very short on kindness and delinquent on love) is tyrannical, though naturally this is hidden. We need truth tellers who bear witness to this otherwise we ain’t going to survive, and we are most fortunate on this island with its two Irelands (Irelands which are, well, different to say the least) to have a writer who has volunteered for this vital but also thankless task, with Here’s Me Here the proof of that.
Ladies and gentlemen, Mr Glenn Patterson.'
Tuesday 23 June 2015Irish Writers Centre,
19 Parnell Sq.
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
Donal is one of the panelists at our Second Book Syndrome event which takes place on Thursday 21 May.
Broadcaster Pat Kenny will be interviewing Donal, along with Kathleen MacMahon and Liz McManus about the challenges of writing that second novel. We'll be listening out for that Irvine Welsh reference on the night!
Click on the link for more information and booking details on Second Book Syndrome – a must for readers and writers!
Top picks at this year's International Literature Festival Dublin – 2. Kathleen MacMahon May 12 2015
It's Day 2 of International Literature Festival Dublin highlights and today it's the turn of Kathleen MacMahon who told us what she's most looking forward to:
- Jon Ronson in conversation – my new novel The Long Hot Summer (out 21 May) features a politician who finds himself at the centre of a social media storm, so I'll be fascinated to hear Jon Ronson's take on politics and social media.
- Dermot Bolger and Christine Dwyer Hickey in conversation – I'm also looking forward to seeing these two authors in action. They're both authors of books I have absolutely loved.
- Deirdre Madden, Eoin McNamee & Selina Guinness: Irish Short Stories – I'm a huge fan of Eoin McNamee so I will interested in hearing him talk short stories with Deirdre Madden and Selina Guinness.
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Kathleen is one of the panelists at our Second Book Syndrome event which takes place on Thursday 21 May. Broadcaster Pat Kenny will be interviewing Kathleen, along with Donal Ryan and Liz McManus about the challenges of writing that second novel.
Click on the link for more information and booking details on Second Book Syndrome – a must for readers and writers!
We're gearing up for International Literature Festival Dublin this week and have asked some writers who will be passing through our doors what they're most looking forward to – aside from their own events, of course!
Anthony Glavin is first up and has assembled a smorgasbord of what the festival has to offer with a mix of contemporary theatre, up-and-coming poets and two seasoned Irish writers:
- The Only Jealousy of Emer – Yeats meets Japanese Noh theatre from 16–18 May
- Poetry Ireland Introductions – a showcase of new voices at the Irish Writers Centre on 18 & 19 May
- Dermot Bolger and Christine Dwyer Hickey in conversation at Smock Alley on 24 May
Anthony is also facilitating a Craft of Fiction seminar along with Christine Montalbetti this Saturday 16 May. Aimed at seasoned writers and curious readers, Glavin will look at 'Sychronicity as a Dimension of Beauty: The Role Chance Plays in the Stories We Tell' and Montalbetti will delve into 'Digression'.
Click on the link for more information and booking details on the Craft of Fiction seminars.
The Irish Writers Centre is hiring! April 28 2015The Irish Writers Centre is looking to appoint a new full-time General Manager, commencing 22 June 2015.
Reporting to and working directly with the Director, the General Manager is a core member of the team, responsible for the administrative, educational and financial operations of Ireland’s national literature resource and support organisation for writers. While key areas of responsibility include administration and educational programming, the General Manager also acts as the public face of the Irish Writers Centre.
We want to hear why you would make a good addition to our staff which, although small, is vibrant, hard-working and creative.
Full details on the role can be viewed in the Staff Vacancies section and please note the closing date of Thursday 7 May at 5pm.
We look forward to hearing from you!