XBORDERS: Transition Project - Call for participants

XBORDERS: Transition Project - Call for participants

We never look at just one thing; we are always looking at the relation between things and ourselves.
John Berger

Call for XBorders: Transition Project 2019

On foot of the exceptional success of the XBorders project over the last two years, we are delighted that ACNI is supporting us to run it again in 2019. As with previous year’s projects, ways of seeing and thinking about borders, physical or inter-personal, their potential for art, and in particular, writing, will be explored. This year, the theme looks beyond borders and conflict to states of change and transition.

The process unfolds by way of seminars with artists, academics and professionals in the field, immediately followed by intensive workshops facilitated by Maria McManus.  Maria will also act as mentor to the group, and will provide one on one mentorship to the participants.

On completion of this research period the writers will attend a workshop on the editing process led by Patsy Horton with a view to preparing their work for online or print publication.  We will also aim to connect the writers with literary journals and magazines as sources of publication if possible, once the process is at an end.


In 2017, we initiated the first XBorders, which was the first literary collaborative intervention ever offered in bringing emerging writers together to explore and write about borders through fiction or non-fiction. This was followed by XBorders: Accord in 2018.  As part of the Irish Writers Centre’s Northern Irish programme, one of our goals was to bring together writers from North and South Ireland to workshop on the theme of borders in both a national and international context.

This process was facilitated and mentored by Maria McManus throughout, and also by Patsy Horton who, in addition to a bespoke editing session, gave written critiques of the written pieces as well as some one on one clinics.

Who is it for? 

We will be selecting up to 20 emerging writers from all genres, namely, those who have had some measure of success with their writing but have not yet been published with a recognised publisher, or who may have had one book published. The participants will be selected on the basis of a call for writers who are resident on the island of Ireland. Candidates must sign up to participating in all aspects of the programme as part of the application process, as a condition of offer. You need to demonstrate that you have a track record as a writer – please see our Professional Membership criteria as a guide. 

You do not need to have published a book but do need to demonstrate your seriousness of intent as a writer. IWC Professional members are encouraged to apply.

What does the programme look like? 

Using the theme of borders and transition as a starting point, two seminars will focus on different ways of seeing and thinking about borders and the reasons they exist.  The speakers will explore the challenges of conflict situations and the methods employed to reach agreement. The process is about bringing the writers through an information, research and editing process to refine their ideas and writing respectively, with the support of experts in their field.

Seminars: The participants will attend three seminars. Two will be led by artists/academics/professionals in the field with experience and/or expertise in borders and transitioning processes. The aim will be to address borders in both national, international and interpersonal contexts. The final seminar will be on editing the work, led by Patsy Horton, managing editor of Blackstaff Press.

The first two seminars will be open to the public, will last approximately an hour and a quarter (including a generous Q & A session) will be chaired by the facilitator.

In the 2019 there will also be an XBorders Alumni event, bringing together all past participants of the project.

Workshops:  The seminar events will be followed by workshops by Maria, exclusively for the selected writers, to help them to bind as a group and to support them in all aspects of their writing, in particular to help them to formulate ideas from the seminars to form the bones of an essay or short story.

Length of sessions: half day sessions in each location – generally between 1-5pm.

Showcase Event:  At the end of the process there will be a separate showcase event in the IWC where participants will be offered the opportunity to read extracts from their essays/poems/short stories to a public audience.

Where is the programme taking place?  

Belfast, Armagh, and Dublin in partner venues. Attendance at all three sessions is mandatory.

How long is the whole project? 

Once the participants have been selected and the project will start in November 2018 and will roll out over a 5 month-period, finishing by the end of May 2019.

Project dates in 2018/2019 are:

Seminars: Saturdays 10 November in Dublin, 1 December in Armagh, 26 January in Belfast

Showcase event: Thursday 28 March at 6.30pm in Dublin 

XBorders Alumni event: September 2019 TBC

Applicants much commit in writing to being available for all dates, and to attend for the full duration of each session, without exception.

Is there a subsidy for travel expenses available for participation in the project? 

Participants will receive a contribution of at least €50 towards expenses, pending travel receipts.

What is the outcome of this process?

Up to 20 fiction or non-fiction essays, 8-12 poems and/or short stories of feature length (2,000 – 2,500 words) which will be published online by the IWC under a special project designation on our website.  We will also facilitate a process for participants to pitch to online and print magazine, to extend the possibilities of publication across different platforms.

When is the deadline for application to the Call? 

Thursday 13 September 2018 at 5pm.

The successful applicants will be informed no later than Friday 5 October 2018 - all other applicants will be contacted thereafter.

How do I apply? 

Send the following to Valerie Bistany at opportunities@writerscentre.ie.

  • A cover letter stating why you would like to participate in XBorders and your expectations of the project
  • A CV
  • One sample of your work (up to 500 words or 1 A4 page maximum)

Please ensure you put XBorders: Transition in the subject line and place all your documents into one attachment. You must also confirm that you are available to attend all sessions of the programme and that you are willing to travel to the designated locations.  If you cannot commit fully to this project at the application stage, then we will not be able to consider you as a participant.

XBorders is an Irish Writers Centre initiative supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Arts Council of Ireland.