Residencies, Retreats & Opportunities
Evolution Programme 2023 – 2024
July 26, 2023 at 5:00pm
Following on from the success of the two previous Evolution programmes the Irish Writers Centre (IWC), and in keeping with Goal 1 of our 2022-2026 Strategy, is delighted to announce the return of the Evolution Programme for 2023-2024. This programme will provide support for professional writers to advance their craft and career with confidence and resilience.
The Evolution Programme (EP) is an opportunity for published writers resident on the island of Ireland to avail of a series of sustained supports, which are partly tailored to their specific needs. The suite of supports will include bespoke career development with professional editorial, practical or creative support by way of a mentor. Attendance and/or participation clinics, literary events and self-selected IWC writing courses are further options. The 10 successful writers will participate in a monthly knowledge-sharing peer support forum and be allocated an IWC team liaison person to support them individually in building their own programme of supports.
While we have provided a range of opportunities in teaching, mentoring, training and event participation for published writers in the past, this programme aims to ease the difficult journey of published writers who have one or two books under their belt, and nourish them in their articulated needs at a crucial stage of their careers. The Evolution Programme aspires to assist them to sustain themselves (and each other) as practising artists, and to grow professionally and creatively.
In this programme, we are partnering with the School of English and Creative Arts in the University of Galway who are kindly offering three EP3 writers the opportunity to teach on the Creative Writing undergraduate course as part of a paid internship. This unique EP opportunity was co-created with IWC Ambassador Mike McCormack and Dr. John Kenny, Director of the BA in English and Creative Writing as part of the pilot programme, which provided an extraordinary experience for the selected writers. We are hugely grateful to IWC Ambassador Marian Keyes for her continuing support in partially sponsoring fees for the selected writers on the internship. We also acknowledge and thank the Arts Council of Ireland as a key funder who offers us core support for the delivery of all of our programmes.
Who is it for?
Evolution is a programme aimed specifically at writers whom we would consider a professional writer (see professional membership for a list of criteria) and who have published at least one book. A writer who has secured a publishing deal with a recognised publisher and whose book is scheduled to be launched in spring/summer 2024 is eligible for this programme. Writers from all genres are invited to apply. Writers must be over the age of 18 and resident on the island of Ireland.
EDI dedicated places: We particularly encourage applications from Black, POC (person of colour), Traveller, Roma, LGBT+, disabled and working class writers, and those who consider themselves to be within the groups described in the EDI statement on our website. A minimum of three places will be reserved for writers who identify as belonging to one or more of the above categories.
Writers from the North of Ireland: With dedicated ACNI funding we will reserve three places for professional writers born and living in the North of Ireland or those born in the North of Ireland and residing in the Republic of Ireland.
Irish Language writers: The IWC is committed to supporting the development of Irish language writers. While not all of the supports will be available as Gaeilge, some bespoke elements of the programme can be organised in Irish.
All-island: We welcome applications from writers from across the island of Ireland. It is an aim of the scheme to have cross-border and geographical representation in the final group of writers selected.
What is the timeline and format?
The timeline for this programme is six months from October 2023 to March 2024, with all EP writers completing their programme by the end of March.
This programme will be delivered both online and in-person.
How Does it Work?
In the first instance, successful applicants will meet with their IWC designated team member to discuss and design their ideal suite of supports, as identified in their application, and within our financial budget for the scheme. Their bespoke programme will cover all three elements of the scheme which are:
1. Training: to give Evolution Programme (EP) writers opportunities to upskill professionally and creatively.
2. One-to-One Support: to deepen and nourish EP writers’ creative practice on a bespoke basis.
3. Collaboration/Knowledge Sharing: to support EP writers to create a supportive peer group over the lifetime of the scheme by way of a collaborative monthly forum (as a first measure) which is supported by the IWC, but which encourages group ownership.
The level of support available is dependent on the combination of supports selected from the choices offered within the framework below.
If you are awarded a place, you will have access to all supports in LIST A
|LIST A – Collaborative Practice Support
In addition, you will select 2 options from LIST B and 2 options from LIST C, a maximum of 4 options combined.
LIST B – Training & Performance Support
- Access to Programmed IWC Courses (or another course, by negotiation)
- Access to IWC team for specified purpose. (eg. advice with grant writing; social media skills support; putting an event together.)
- Participation or inclusion at events/webinars hosted by IWC or partners
- Shadowing a selection panel
LIST C – Creative or Teaching Support
- One-off Clinic with a professional of choice for specified purpose. e.g. Editor/publisher or marketing professional
- Mentor – for creative or professional development purposes – preferred name and timeline to be negotiated.
- Paid teaching internship to teach in person on the B.A. in English and Creative Writing programme with University of Galway in autumn 2023 (this option will be limited to three writers, with selection by interview)
- Opportunity to shadow writer-facilitators in IWC course teaching.
Criteria for Selection
In the first instance, you must be resident on the island of Ireland and over 18 years of age.
1. Check whether you fit in with our professional member criteria.
2. Confirm that you are published by a reputable publisher and can provide an ISBN.
3. Have a clear, well-expressed rationale a) making your case for inclusion on the Evolution Scheme and b) explaining how you can support the EP Collaborative Peer Forum. Please list areas of expertise and experience which you would be willing to share with the other EP writers.
In your cover letter, you will need to confirm you attendance at the remote (online) monthly forum meetings which will take place from 4pm to 5pm on Monday 2 October, Monday 13 November and Monday 11 December 2023 and Monday 15 January, Monday 12 February and Monday 11 March 2024.
We will accept applications from a writer who has secured a deal with a recognised publisher, and whose book is scheduled for publication no later than July 2024. The writer needs to provide a PDF from their publisher stating the publication date as evidence of their claim.
Writers will be selected according to these criteria in equal measure:
- Stated need and case made for the anticipated supports (see a) and b) above)
- Eligibility and track record.
- Creative samples of work.
- (Letter from publisher (in PDF form) with future publication date – as necessary.)
All creative samples will be given blind readings by a professional writer on the selection panel, as part of the selection process. Please ensure that your creative samples do not include your name.
How to Apply
Please send the following in one attachment (Word doc or pdf) to firstname.lastname@example.org no later than Wednesday 26 July 2023 at 5pm, ensuring that you put Evolution Programme 2023 application in the subject line.
- A cover letter of intent, saying why you would like to be on the programme, having given thought to which supports you need and how you could benefit, and expressing how you could contribute to collaborative practice with your peers on the scheme. (max. 800 words.)
- A Writer’s CV (max. 2 pages of A4) which includes your year of birth, postal address, Eircode and email and mobile number. Also include publisher names and ISBNs for existing publications.
- Two short samples of no more than 600 words each: one published work; one work-in-progress ensuring that your name is not on them. (These will be sent for blind readings.)
Note: Please compile all relevant documentation into a single Word doc or PDF attachment. (Incorrect collation may result in ineligibility.)
If you have any questions, please write to the above address. We look forward to receiving your application.
Wednesday 26 July 2023 at 5pm.
No late applications will be considered. Applications will be acknowledged by email on receipt.
We will award 10 places to eligible writers who will be known as EP3 writers. Selection will be made by a panel of IWC team members and professional writers on the basis of eligibility and suitability based on the elements, aspirations and priorities of the scheme. We will also consider the dynamic of the EP3 writers in a group setting.
Previous Selected Writers
IWC Evolution Programme 2021
Arnold Thomas Fanning, Deirdre Cartmill, Kevin Curran, Maeve Galvin, Máire T. Robinson, Melatu-Uche Okorie, Michelle Gallen, Liz Quirke, Olivia Fitzsimons, Sheila Armstrong, Sue Divin and Helen Blackhurst.
IWC Evolution Programme 2022
Aingeala Flannery, Alice Kinsella, Amanda Geard, Christopher Linforth, Debbie McCune, Fiona Sherlock, Hilary McCollum, Megan Wynne, Rachel Coventry and Stephanie Conn.
“A brilliant programme that offers sustenance to writers. I came away with a network of supportive and talented writers. The courses and talks offered during the programme were inspiring. Having the opportunity to question what I needed as a writer was invaluable.” – Helen Blackhurst EP1 Writer
“When I started the Evolution Programme I was lost and disheartened. As a direct result of the skills, guidance and support I received, my third poetry collection The Wind Stills to Listen has been published by Arlen House, I received a seed commission from Belfast’s Lyric Theatre, and I’ve successfully pitched to several literary festivals. It rebuilt my confidence and got my career back on track. I can’t recommend it enough.” – Deirdre Cartmill, EP1 Writer
“The Evolution Programme gave me the opportunity to meet and chat with other writers – some of whom I’ve since stayed in touch with, and become friends with – which is something I’ll always be thankful for.” – Kevin Curran, EP1 Writer
“Evolution was great in providing me access to mentoring but also to professional development, building my confidence to deliver creative writing courses and to become a mentor myself.” – Sue Divin, EP1 Writer
“The Evolution Programme connected me to a cohort of writers with whom I could share my experiences and learn from. It was a great experience, and an important element in strengthening my writing practice and support network.” – Michelle Gallen, EP1 Writer
Through the evolution programme, I was able to have two wonderful experiences – teach at the University of Galway and make professional writer friends with whom great collaborations have happened. – Melatu-Uche Okorie, EP1 Writer
I was lucky enough to be one of the Evolution writers for 2022-23. I highly recommend the tailored programme, meaningful support and the sense of community fostered. My fellow writers were a fantastic bunch – great writers, great people. This programme effectively supports those writers who are in it for the ‘long haul’. – Stephanie Conn, EP2 Writer
“I had a fantastic experience on the EP. I polished my writing, pitched to events, built my confidence through a teaching internship, and learned that a talented and supportive group of writers and mentors is more valuable to an author than any treasure. I’m so grateful to the IWC for this brilliant opportunity, and I encourage you to apply!” – Amanda Geard, EP2 Writer
“Evolution was a wonderful opportunity to connect with other writers I would never have otherwise met. I loved my time teaching undergrads at the University of Galway as an Evolution Creative Writing Intern. Such a welcoming and vibrant community! What’s great about Evolution is that you can choose specific supports to meet your individual needs as writer.” – Aingeala Flannery, EP2 Writer
“The Evolution Programme couldn’t have arrived at a better time for me. I loved teaching in the University of Galway, and learning about the industry from professionals. Above all, having a group of writers who understand the ups and downs of writing and publication was invaluable.” – Alice Kinsella, EP2 Writer
“I got so much out of being part of Irish Writers Centre’s 2022-23 evolution programme. One to one support from my mentor, Michelle Gallen, training on issues from promoting your work to self-care to chairing a panel, and advice and encouragement from other writers on the programme and Irish Writers Centre staff. I’d really recommend it.” –Hilary McCollum, EP2 Writer
About the Irish Writers Centre
As the leading support and development organisation for writers since 1991, the Irish Writers Centre carries out its work, online and in person, on an all island basis. We work with writers of all types and talents, and actively encourage writers from all communities to engage in creative writing. We provide many ways and means for them to develop their skill, advance their ambitions and join a vibrant and diverse community of people who share their passion and purpose.
We are also a membership organisation, always seeking new opportunities for members to grow as writers and to connect with each other through IWC programmes and supports.