Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Cafe Writers Poetry Competition

Deadline very close for this poetry competition

Deadline 30th Nov 2015

1ST  £1000       
2nd £300 3rd £200  
Six Commended Prizes of £50
Funniest Poem not winning another prize £100

The sole judge this year is Tiffany Atkinson.  There is no sifting.    
Entry Fee
£4 per poem; or £10 for 3 poems and £2.00 per poem thereafter
Enter and pay online at .  You can download an entry form direct from the link if you prefer to send your entry by post.  

  • Maximum of 40 lines (excluding title) on one side of A4.

The competition funds our programme and allows us to pay writers properly. Café Writers is a Norwich based grass-roots writers’ network supporting and showcasing work by established writers in all genres.  It also encourages and champions new work by emerging writers.  It is run entirely by volunteers that are passionate about encouraging wider participation and excellence in literature. 

Monday, 23 November 2015

Hennessy New Irish Writing Award

How to Enter for The Hennessy New Irish Writing Award
All stories and poems published in Hennessy New Irish Writing will be eligible for the 2015 Hennessy Literary Awards.  The winner of each category will receive a Hennessy trophy and €1,500. A Hennessy New Irish Writer of the Year, chosen from the winners of the three categories, will receive an additional prize of €2,500 and a trophy.

Stories submitted to Hennessy New Irish Writing should not exceed 2,200 words. 
There is no entry fee. 
Writers whose work is selected for publication will receive €130 for fiction and €65 for poetry. 
You can email your entry to or post it (with a stamped addressed envelope) to Ciaran Carty, Hennessy New Irish Writing, The Irish Times, 24-28 Tara Street, Dublin 2. 

A story and poems are printed once a month in the Saturday Irish Times, a must read.

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Interview with Dublin Book Festival

I thought you might be interested to read the interview I did with the lovely people at the Dublin Book Festival before I took part in RTE Arena live radio programme talking about my poetry book, The Space Between, available to buy direct from the publisher here.

Q: How long have you been writing and was it always poetry towards which you were drawn?
I started writing as a New Year’s resolution for 1999 and haven’t stopped. After struggling on my own for a while with stories, I joined an evening class in Lucan where the writer Stuart Lane, led us, not always gently, into the unchartered territory of character creation, plays and poetry.
So I have had some fiction and non-fiction published and broadcast on RTE Radio. I also had a short play performed by Red Kettle theatre at the Waterford Royal Theatre. A couple of years ago I had a piece of satire included in the “New Planet Cabaret” Anthology that started on RTE Arena but in the last few years, 95% of my writing has been poetry.
Partly I think because it’s the poetry muscle I am exercising, so that’s how my brain is working but partly because I went back to working outside the home full time around then and found poetry easier to fit into the spaces between working and family life. I write on the train commuting in and out of Dublin and in the evening and at weekends, I rewrite.
Q: The Space Between (Doire Press), your debut full-length collection, has just been published: how long have you been working on the poems that make up the collection? Were they written with a collection in mind?
The collection changed its title umpteen times in the last few years. The Space Between is a line from one of my poems, “Reaching Agreement”
Your lips move but I’m hearing
the way you taste the space between your words,
phrasing so there’s something more than silence,
an emphasis pregnant with promise.
Once I’d settled on that, I realised that there are lots of spaces of different kinds that are touched on, in one way or another in the poems. There is a space between a poet and the reader or listener, and also a space between the voice of the poet and the person who is the poet. So between the ‘I’ in a poem and the ‘I’ of the poet, which are not the same. That’s what I wanted to show with the picture of a Venetian plague doctor mask I chose as the cover, a mixture of performance, laughter and death. I think it’s a striking image but I also like that it indicates the performer and the audience and the space between them.
I’m from Coventry but I’ve been living in Ireland for more than 20 years now but I still see a space between Ireland and Britain, between Irish and British people. Between people, friends, family. I have a Physics degree and have been working in IT for years so inevitably my love and fascination for Science shows through in some poems. I like to think of The Space Between stars and galaxies as well on the smaller scale, between sub-atomic particles. I’ve read at the Science Gallery before and I was Poet in Residence at Science Hack Day Dublin this month, which was a first.
In the collection, the oldest poem is from 2000, my first published poem from Poetry Ireland review. It’s about changing the toilet roll, among other things, and it has been used as an example in creative writing workshops that you can write a poem about anything! The most recent poem is "Unintentional Installation," a riff on the William Carlos Williams poem “The Red Wheelbarrow.” I was in Dingle last year with good friends and fellow poets Triona Walsh and Maeve O’Sullivan who together with Barbara Smith make up The Poetry Divas. We had a gig at Feile na Bealtaine there. (Brilliant festival and fantastic destination) Triona and I went for a walk in the rain to at Art Exhibition and there was this wheelbarrow…
Q: Tell us a little about the Poetry Divas. What inspired it?
The Poetry Divas are a collective of women poets. We read our own poems at events and festivals all over Ireland, blurring the wobbly boundary between page and stage. We tailor each show to the occasion and audience and aim to give a deliciously infectious show that’s bound to touch a nerve. Events have included Dromineer Literary Festival, Dundalk Book Festival, Electric Picnic, Caca Milis Cabaret, Flat Lake, Leonard Cohen festival, Kildare Readers Festival and Allingham Festival.
What inspired it was that I wanted to go to Electric Picnic but the tickets were too expensive so I applied to be a wandering troupe of poets in Body and Soul. And they said yes, what are you called?, so I had to think up a name on the spot.
Divas have a reputation for being temperamental but I prefer the definition that implies glamorous, successful, confident and independent women. Some spoken word and literary events can be unbalanced, not only for gender but also for generation so we like to tip the scales a little. We get a great kick out of performing for audiences who rarely come across poetry and the best feedback is when someone comes up after and says “I don’t like poetry but I like yours.”
There's lots of other interesting interviews here.

Thursday, 19 November 2015

Interview with Poet Jessica Traynor

Hi Jessica and welcome to emergingwriter. Thanks for letting me interview you. How did you first get into poetry?

Poetry was always something that was around, and part of family life. My grandmother was a big influence – she loved literature. She had to leave the civil service when she married and after having seven children, decided to study at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London.   She was the first Irish woman to graduate from Central, and she came back to Dublin and began teaching speech and drama in schools in the inner city. By the time I came along, she was retired, but her house was full of old speech and drama primers that had rhymes like ‘I Do Not Love Thee Doctor Fell’ and ‘Antigonish’ in them.

I had a difficult start when it came to school and reading. I started young, having just turned four, in a class of much older children and was told by the teachers that I was stupid. My mum had to teach me to read at home, but once I got started, I devoured everything I could get my hands on, including all those speech and drama primers (skipping past the boring elocution bits to the gorgeous, mysterious rhymes). I got really hooked when we started reading poets like Robert Frost and Walter de la Mare in primary school – it was the atmosphere of this kind of work that really appealed to me, that sense of reaching towards something unspoken or unsayable. I was so excited by these poems that I depressed everyone at a big family party at age eight by replacing my usual (hated) party piece, ‘Somewhere over the Rainbow’ with a poem about a man who comes back to a house full of Unseen Listeners in a Yellow Wood after a long absence. The Listeners.

The Listeners is a poem that many people found inspiring. I remember it vividly  and the picture on the page of the poetry book. Then you started writing?

I then started writing seriously bad teenage poetry at about age sixteen, and sharing the poems with a boyfriend, also an aspiring writer, who thankfully had the sense to tell me how terrible they were. This actually kept me going, as without the challenge I might have lost interest. I wrote all the way through college and then started sending stuff out after I finished my Creative Writing MA in UCD.

Tell me about the Creative Writing MA? Did you go straight there from college? How did you find it? What did you find hard? Most surprising?

I studied English with History at Trinity and then applied for a couple of Creative Writing MAs when I finished up. I’d developed a small portfolio over the years with the visiting Writers in Residence in Trinity (Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, Paul Durcan) and it got me accepted onto the Creative Writing MA in UCD, where I worked with Éilís, Harry Clifton and James Ryan. There’s a lot of controversy over Creative Writing MAs – people seem to think writing is this absolutely inherent talent that you either have or you don’t – but I think that makes about as much sense as trying to play a piano concerto without ever taking a lesson. Talent is essential of course, but craft is important. Many writers with great talent who never have access to a programme which helps them find their own writing structure and discipline don’t manage to stay the course. I’ve also heard people say that these programmes churn out writers with no individual voice, but I would say that aping the voices of others is a part of the process of learning – you either get through it and transition to the next level or you don’t. And people are going to tap into a zeitgeist simply by reading what’s popular and successful at the moment in any case.

The Creative Writing MA was a fantastic time. I won’t claim that these courses will make you a writer, but when else will you have the space and time to spend a year reading and writing purely for your own development in the company of intelligent, successful and generous writers? I was lucky enough to get into my MA just before fourth level grants disappeared, so it was a win-win situation for me. I feel I learned a lot and would recommend a Creative Writing MA to any aspiring writer. It’s also a first step in creating a writing community for yourself – meeting likeminded people in the writing world who you can share ideas with. This community is such an important thing for any aspiring writer – not because you sit around praising each other’s dodgy poems, but because you are all at the same stage and can (and should) be honest with each other.

The most difficult part of the MA is the leaving of it – getting back to reality. But then, the onus is on you to keep writing and stay a part of some kind of writing community. It’s this mixture of hard work and self-motivation that seems to keep most writers going in the face of countless rejections. 

Do you remember your first published poem?

I do indeed. I had two poems accepted around the same time. I can’t remember which was published first but they were ‘Moon Snake’, published in the Western Writers Centre newsletter, and ‘Black Horse of the Liberties’, published in the Stinging Fly. Both would have been late 2007, I think. It was really exciting to see them in print. They became these strange artefacts that seemed to hold some intrinsic value bestowed on them by someone else’s decision that they were worthy of publication – I think that’s the feeling you get when you first publish. It’s a high you keep chasing.  Both of the poems made their way into my thesis for my MA which I take out and cringe over whenever I’m feeling too big for my boots!

Oh well that demands a why (the cringing)

I think most of us look back on early work with some sense of embarrassment. Although I did take out my MA poetry thesis after I submitted the final draft of the manuscript of Liffey Swim to Dedalus and had a look over the poems. What was interesting was that I could see that I was trying to tackle similar themes in the poems I'd written in my early twenties, but in what was probably a very artless manner. It's good to still have those poems as a reminder that your voice may develop as a writer, but many of your preoccupations stay broadly the same.

That’s very interesting. I’ll have to go back and read some of my early poems.
So, next question. When I was struggling to choose which poems to put in my collection and which to leave out, someone said to look at each poem, and decide that if someone selected this poem as the one to remember from the whole, collection, would you be OK with it? Which poem from your collection, Liffey Swim, would you choose to be the one you would be happy to be the only one that someone would remember?

That’s a tough one. One of the most surprising parts of having the collection out there has been the reaction to certain poems. One in particular – Egrets in the Tolka - that’s been singled out for praise in every review is one I was sure wouldn’t make the cut and was editing up to the last minute. Others have been criticised in one review and praised in the next, which is always interesting. I think the poem that’s my personal favourite, that feels the most successful to me is Scenes from a Poor Town. It may not go down a storm at readings, but I think it’s the poem in which I’ve got closest to presenting something imagistic, something without authorial commentary. Of course, the choice of words and images are essentially comments in and of themselves, but there’s less white noise here, if that makes sense.

Yes, I can’t always tell which poems will go down well at a reading and which won’t. I’ve a couple of poems I love that just don’t work out loud. Having said that, some poems will work well in one environment and not at all in another. The audience makes such a difference. I suppose that’s why actors can do the same play every night and it come out different. So what do you have coming up?

Well I'm currently working on my 2016 commission for A Poet's Rising, a project led by the Irish Writers Centre.  I'm writing about Dr Kathleen Lynn, a fascinating woman whose positive influence on the development of our state extends far beyond her involvement in the Easter Rising. I want to make sure that my poem reflects her legacy as well as her actions at City Hall. All of the poems will be filmed and will be part of an app, so that'll be an interesting new experience. And of course the calibre of the other poets involved - Eilean Ni Chuillinean,  Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill,  Thomas McCarthy,  Theo Dorgan and Paul Muldoon - makes it a daunting challenge,  but one the I'm excited about nonetheless.

That sounds like a fascinating project, but hard. I find it very tough to write a poem to order. Even to a theme, unless I can adapt an existing poem.

Yes, it’s been a real challenge. I’m having to take a really different approach to the work, and I think the poem I come up with will be quite different from anything I’ve written before. I want to try and tell a story that’s a little more complex than revolutionary glory, and yet I want to write something accessible and communicative. There’s a first draft in existence, but it needs a lot of work.

The next few events on the horizon after that are readings at the Allingham Festival in November and at the Troubadour in London early next year.

Angela Carr, Dave Lordan and myself are also in the middle of our Autumn series of Double Shot at Books Upstairs. We're delighted to be partnering with O Bheal and Over the Edge this series, and we even have some great guests lined up already for next Spring. The September event will be announced next week, so keep an eye on our Facebook page.

Tell me about Double Shot. What’s the thinking behind it?

The idea was to try and create a regular reading opportunity in Dublin for poets who may get fewer opportunities to read here. There are lots of regular gigs in Dublin for spoken word, acoustic music, performance poetry and this is a great indication of the health of the Dublin scene, but I felt we were missing the chance to see poets read for a little longer outside of book launches and festival appearances. There's a bit of a gap there that we're hoping to fill.

Dave Lordan had originally approached me about setting up a reading series, and now I curate and he MCs. After the first series Angela Carr came on board and does brilliant Web and PR stuff for us. It's been great fun so far and we've some really excellent readers lined up for Autumn and next Spring. As we're all pretty busy we only do seven readings a year - three in Spring, three in Autumn and a special Summer event - so we haven't been able to say yes to everyone's requests to read, but we're hoping to create a reading  series with longevity, so we'll get there in the end.

What do you personally get out of attending poetry readings?

What I get is a totally different insight into a poet's work. No matter how closely you've read the work in question, hearing it aloud will bring some different aspect to the fore - a tonal quirk you hadn't noticed, a music you hadn't quite caught on the page. And readings are important for poets too - that unmissable chance to demonstrate the intended tone and pitch of the work, to give your lines life and emotion.

Where do you write mostly? 

I would love to tell you that I have a beautiful dedicated writing space complete with desk surrounded by bookshelves stocked with nothing but obscure contemporary classics, but in actuality I have my sofa and a banjaxed laptop (I spilled coffee on it) which me and my husband share. So I often fit my poetry writing in around sports live streaming or work away with the TV on in the background. We’re thinking of trying to convert our attic, but honestly I imagine I’d get lonely up there and would still spend most of my time on the sofa. And we’d probably still only have the one banjaxed laptop in any case.

In the photo you can probably just about make out some of the books I’m reading at the moment balanced on the arm of the sofa – Shirley McClure’s gorgeous Stone Dress is on the top of the pile at the moment.. There are also a few plays in development there that I’m reading for work.

I too write on a sofa, curled up unergonomically. For a change of perspective I sometimes sit on the other sofa.

The other sofa is my napping sofa so not sure how much work I'd get done there!

Thanks Jess, I think we’ll leave you there on your sofa, reading, writing and napping. 

The Lyrebird

All day I have been practicing
small sounds of annihilation.

In the forest, not only the axe-men
hear the sound of falling trees –

me and the lyrebird stand in a clearing
mimicking the dok-dok of hatchets,

the banshee-wail of chainsaws,
speaking their words back to them

in our mangled patois,
because when the end comes,

isn’t some kind of conversation
the best we can hope for?

Jessica Traynor’s first collection Liffey Swim was published by Dedalus Press in 2014 and shortlisted for the 2015 Strong/Shine Award. She has been engaged by the Irish Writers Centre to write a poem on Dr Kathleen Lynne as part of ‘A Poet’s Rising’, one of the Arts Council’s 2016 commissions. Poems have recently appeared or are forthcoming in Abridged, The Penny Dreadful, Poetry Ireland Review, The Irish Times and in the anthologies Hallelujah for Fifty Foot Women (Bloodaxe) and If Ever You Go (Dedalus Press). Her poems have been translated into Polish, Irish, Czech and Italian.
She was awarded the Ireland Chair of Poetry Bursary in 2014, and was named New Irish Writer of the Year at the 2013 Hennessy Awards. She works as Literary Manager of the Abbey Theatre. She blogs at

Wednesday, 18 November 2015

Crannog Submissions

Get your submissions in for Crannog magazine from Galway.

Submissions for Crannóg February 2015 issue are accepted all through November. They have reduced the submission time for each issue to one month which means submissions are not tied up for long and a decision will be reached quickly. 

Deadline: 30th November 2015

Writers selected to appear in Crannóg will receive:
* A contributor's copy and €30 per story, €20 per poem.
 * An invitation to attend/read at the launch of Crannóg at The Crane Bar, Galway, Ireland.

Please read full submission rules HERE first!

Monday, 16 November 2015

Book Launch of my Debut Poetry Collection, The Space Between

Mark your diaries! Please come along to my launch. I'd love to see you all there.

Where: Irish Writers Centre, Parnell Square, Dublin 1
Beautiful Georgian Building overlooking the Garden of Remembrance.

When: Monday 23rd November 6.30pm
Dark chilly evening outside, warm, welcoming evening inside.

Who: Launched by writer and journalist Gerard Smyth
Publisher: Doire Press

There will be wine and stuff.

Please come. I have a horror that it will just be me and my family. All welcome.

If you're a long way away, you can order here. Free P&P worldwide for all Doire Press books. And Christmas is just around the corner... 

Sunday, 15 November 2015

Science Hack Day Dublin Haiku

Science Hack Day Dublin Haiku

Make art with sensors
with clocks, wires, threads, LEDS,
science and pancakes

I believe in time
its future uncertainties
I’m sorry Einstein

You’ll wear EEGs
when the brainwaves tumble down
I’ll pause – let you think

Packet data passed
phone to phone, not mast to mast
the more the stronger

Computers don’t think
they apply rules we gave them
who writes the boundaries

What’s in this photo
illustration, mask, disguise
people, humour, art

It’s been amazing
the clock is running slower -
see? My brain is fried