Online Spoken Word: Inspiring Memoir via 'Coming-of-Age Literature' with Berni Dwan

Online Spoken Word: Inspiring Memoir via 'Coming-of-Age Literature' with Berni Dwan

Dates: Tues 16 Mar 2021
Time: 6.30 - 8.30 pm
Duration: 6 weeks
Cost: €150/€135 members

Course Level: Beginner

All remote Irish Writers Centre courses take place on Irish Standard Time (GMT)

Course Summary: 

Relive your younger years through writing memoir in this innovative course which mixes prose, poetry and performance.  Write a few formative episodes in poetry or prose and perform them at the popular Irish Writers Centre Takin’ the Mic, where beginner and emerging writers speak (or sing or recite) their work in an atmosphere of mutual respect.

Following 4 weeks of tuition by Berni Dwan, on Week 5, participants will perform their work within the virtual classroom setting receiving peer feedback as well as feedback from Berni, while on Week 6, performances will be broadcast publicly via Zoom.

Course Outline:

Early years' vignettes are worth recording as a cross between oral history and literary recollection. Pique your memory with a selection of Irish-based 'coming-of-age' short stories and novel excerpts. Your inspiration might be the classroom you sat in when you were ten, the local shop you ran to for bread and milk, the colourful passengers on the bus, the regulars in the local pubs, the local gossip, the creepy guy in the park, the faded beauty, the delusional beau monde – you get the idea.

You will read a selection of coming of age short stories and novel excerpts between classes and you will learn which is your preferred mode of Spoken Word delivery – a strongly spoken stage performance, or a more gently spoken radio broadcast?

Will participants be expected to produce work and if so, how often? 

Yes, before second, third and fourth classes, but only if they want to; there is no pressure to produce. Oftentimes, participants just want to actively listen and engage, and carry something away that they can use afterwards in their own time. Participants will also be encouraged to record their work on Audacity, a free audio recording and editing software. They will also have a chance to perform their work at a Takin’ the Mic event.

Course Outcomes: Participants will take away four things from this course:

A ‘coming-of -age’ memoir writing voice

 'coming-of-age' performing voice

A broad perspective on 'coming-of-age'

The opportunity to perform a memoir piece at Takin' the Mic

Berni Dwan broadcasts about literature and history on Near FM 90.3. Her poems have appeared in Poetry Ireland Review, Cránnog, Irish Times New Irish Writing, The Blue Nib, The Galway Review, Southword, Crossways and Stepaway among others. Her Smock Alley Theatre shows Unrhymed Dublin (2016) and The Seven Ages; Like It or Not (2020) are observational. Her first poetry collection, Frankly Baby, was published by Lapwing Press in 2018. Berni came second in the Johnathan Swift Awards and was shortlisted for the Anthony Cronin International Poetry Award. She is the recipient of two grants from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland – one for a collaborative radio drama and one for an eight-part series on the coming of age novel.

 Review of  Berni Dwan’s work:

Review of Berni’s first collection Frankly, baby, in Crossways literary magazine:


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