XBORDERS: Accord Project - Call for participants

XBORDERS: Accord 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: Accord Project 2018

On foot of the exceptional success of the inaugural XBorders project this year, we are delighted that ACNI is supporting us to run it again in 2018. As with last year’s project, ways of seeing and thinking about borders, their potential for art, and in particular, writing, will be explored. This year, however, the theme has been altered in so far as we are now focusing on ways of addressing conflict through various conflict-resolution means, such as negotiation, mediation, peace-building and political discourse towards building an accord. The notion of borders may be loosely interpreted in the act of writing, and can reflect inter-personal as well as concrete boundaries.

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 XBorders, an exciting new cross-border project bringing emerging writers together to explore and write about borders through fiction or non-fiction.  As part of the Irish Writers Centre’s Northern Irish programme, one of the goals of this project 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.

18 writers were selected, attended and participated in the project and wrote feature length pieces as a result. The process was celebrated in a showcase event, where each of the writers were given the opportunity to read from the work produced during the intervention period.  DIT came on board an offered to publish their work in a special Borders edition (inspired by the project) in their 2018 In/Print publication.  The work will also be available online with open forum access.


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 will sign up to participating in all aspects of the programme as part of the application process. You must be able 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 accord as a starting point the two seminars presentations 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 3 presentations led by artists/academics/professionals in the field with experience and/or expertise in border relations and/or in negotiation/mediation. The aim will be to address borders in both national and international contexts, looking to the Irish Troubles and current global politics. The final seminar will be on editing the work, led by Patsy Horton, managing editor of Blackstaff Press.

These seminars which 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.

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, Derry, and Dublin in partner venues. Attendance at all three sessions is essential.


How long is the whole project? 

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


Project dates in 2018 are:

Seminars: Saturdays 20 January in Dublin; 24 February in Derry/Londonderry;

24 March in Belfast

Showcase event: Thursday 3 May at 7pm in Dublin

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? 

Unfortunately, there is not.


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? 

Friday 15 December at 5pm.


How do I apply? 

Send in a CV and a cover letter saying why you would like to participate in XBorders, and one sample of your work (up to 500 words or 1 A4 page maximum) to Valerie Bistany at director@writerscentre.ie.

Please ensure you put XBorders: Accord 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