Monday, 26 September 2016

Interview with poet Shirley McClure

I was deeply saddened to hear of the death of the poet Shirley McClure. I was lucky enough to know her and interviewed her last year. In a tribute to her warmth and wit, I'm republishing the interview. My condolences her family and her many friends. Now go off and read her poems.
Hi Shirley and welcome to emergingwriter. I enjoyed the launch recently of your new poetry collection, Stone Dress and I devoured the book on the way home.
First question. How did you first get into poetry?

The poems I wrote as a child bear a strong metrical resemblance to the hymns we sang in St Patrick's Presbyterian church in Waterford. I think that was my most likely influence, although we did read, and hear poetry read aloud at home. My mother was a primary school teacher and made sure we read more than Enid Blyton. In return I gave her carefully bound editions of 'My Poems'. This is beginning to remind me of Billy Collins' 'The Lanyard'...



Billy Collins - The Lanyard.
Does the carefully bound edition of “My Poems” still survive?

Probably, I shall look.

Would you want to go back and read your childhood poems? Have you? I’m not sure I would. In my memory they are brilliant, but probably with my world weary eye now they would appear less shiny.


I found my old poems!
But I am more amused by these than anything.

Did you continue writing through adolescence and on to early adulthood? How did school affect that?
I continued writing whilst at school, devoured the poetry sections of English text books and wrote for the school magazine. Teachers encouraged my writing. A couple of friends tried putting my poems to music, strumming away on their guitars on summer afternoons by the school pond. (Winter afternoons on their dorm beds?) Leslie Dowdall came to our school in fifth year, and did me the honour of singing one of my poem/songs at a school concert. (Already we could see she was good).
In college I did English & Spanish, read a lot and still wrote a bit, but it all kind of fizzled out as the years went by, with a kind of small revival when I got to forty.

Do you remember your first published poem as an adult? 
Getting published is always a thrill! Although one of my poems appeared in our college magazine, Icarus(1982), and a translation of mine from Spanish to English showed up in Poetry Ireland Review, I think I was most excited when in 1992, after a long 'sleep', one of my poems was selected to appear in Women's Work, an anthology of poems brought out by a Wexford-based community arts group. We were invited to read our poems, and my partner and I went to Wexford for the night. There I tasted the thrill of reading 'live', a pleasure I rediscovered fifteen years later after another long pause in my writing career. I remember the night so well, and the excitement of meeting other women who wrote. It makes me wonder why I stopped writing, or why I wrote so little really between the ages of 20 and 40. I suppose I was doing other things. Once I got into writing proper, I discovered the equally strong emotion of disappointment each time poems were rejected. Not funny.

So there’s hope for every lapsed writer! What brought you back into poetry, do you think?
A friend threw a 40th birthday party for me, where people performed and sang. Very enjoyable, except that they had dug out a few of my old poems and these were read, to my deep embarrassment! It made me think, though, and soon afterwards I attended a weekend writing workshop which really inspired me. At another workshop I met James Conway, who runs Rathmines Writers' Workshop, a long-standing group which meets weekly. I joined the group and the challenge to produce a new poem every week got me going. I would encourage anybody who is starting out or re-starting to attend courses/workshops, and to join a group where you get helpful feedback. Since then I have always been part of a work-shopping group: I spent about 5 years each in Rathmines and then Airfield Writers, then set up a small peer group with my friend Jane Clarke and three others. The group keeps my focus whenever I lose it. We do 2 poems each and stick to a strictish half hour per person arrangement, after which we all need to go home!
How did your first poetry collection come about?
I was preparing my first manuscript to send out when I saw an ad for the Cork Literary Review/ Bradshaw Books manuscript competition. So I sent my collection,Whose Counting there and was very lucky to win in 2009. Tina Pisco was writer in residence at Tigh Fili/ Bradshaw Books at that time, and she and Maura Bradshaw were very encouraging to me in getting the book out. They got me down to Cork to do a few readings which was a big help.   

And what about your most recent collection?
Bradshaw Books encouraged me to move on as they prefer to publish new writers, so for my second collection I did have to decide where best to send my work. Again I was lucky in that Arlen House does not accept unsolicited manuscripts, but a fellow writer who knew my work suggested they have a look at it. Alan Hayes and I exchanged edited versions of the manuscript and met to agree on final changes. He pointed out that I am over-fond of italics, so I will watch out for that in future! Apart from that, we tended to be in agreement about the changes to be made, so it progressed quickly. The book was launched in Dublin in July, and I'll be taking it on tour from next week (Kilkenny on 27th August) with Jane Clarke, who is promoting her new book, The River.

What do you have coming up?

Stone House Books, Kilkenny
The Kilkenny launch of Spanish Affair and Jane Clarke's The River is in Stone House Books on Thursday 27th August at 7pm. Music by Eamon Sweeney, whose Spanish guitar is featured on the CD Spanish Affair.

Café Fusion, Wexford
Shirley and Jane read at Café Fusion on Friday 4th September at 8pm.

Courthouse Arts Centre, Tinahely, Co. Wicklow
Shirley McClure, Jane Clarke, and classical guitarist, Eamon Sweeny, will give a performance of poetry and music on Thursday 24th September at 8.30pm.

Bray Arts, Bray
A performance of poetry and music from Spanish Affair with Eamon Sweeney, Katie Donovan, Jane Clarke, Lizzy Morrissey and Shirley McClure, Monday 5th October at the Martello Hotel, Strand Road, Bray. 8 pm.

No Alibis Bookshop, Belfast
Poet Paula Cunningham will launch Jane Clarke's The River & Shirley McClure's Stone Dress on Thursday, October 8th at 6.30 pm.

Imagine Festival, Waterford
A reading by Shirley McClure and Jane Clarke at Waterford Book Centre, as part of the Imagine Festival. 3 pm on Sunday 25th October.

Books Upstairs Cafe & Bookshop, Dublin
A reading by poets Paula Cunningham, Rosy Shepperd, Jane Clarke & Shirley McClure on Thursday 26th November at 7 pm.

Thanks Shirley. Good luck with your upcoming readings with Jane. Here’s a poem from Shirley’s second collection, Stone Dress published by Arlen House, available to buy online from Kenny’s bookshop.

Groomed

Today she has been clipped, primped, squeezed,
handed back with a pink bow, she's a smooth black angel
beneath whose sleek chops, butter wouldn't melt.

Tonight is warm, the garden wild with possibility.
Suddenly the bellows of her belly surge, her body spasms
to expel the rare meat struggling in her mouth.

On the grass the hedgehog still breathes, but somehow
she has opened him, got right in without incurring
a single spine on her perfectly barbered snout.

Bio:

Shirley McClure's new collection, 'Stone Dress', is published by Arlen House in August 2015. Her CD Spanish Affair, with her own poems plus poetry and music from invited guests, was launched in June. All proceeds from the CD go to Arklow Cancer Support Group, where she facilitates a writers' group. Her first poetry collection, Who's Counting? (Bradshaw Books) won Cork Literary Review's Manuscript  Competition 2009. She won Listowel Writers' Week Originals Poetry Competition 2014. Shirley lives in Bray, Co. Wicklow. 
Shirley’s website is here: www.thepoetryvein.com

Sunday, 11 September 2016

Shorelines Art Festival

The Shorelines Arts festival is this coming weekend in Portumna. The line up is excellent so if you're anywhere near, do try and catch something.

In particular I'm excited to be reading with a stellar line up of writers at a Literary Lunch. 12.30pm Modena Restaurant, Portumna.

ADMISSION €15 - includes lunch (main course and tea/coffee)

Guests and readers are Donal Ryan, Alan McMonagle, Mary Turley McGrath, Kate Dempsey & David McEntee.

Link here

The smaller town festivals all get great support from local sponsors.

I might do a poem or two about drinking and DIY (but not at the same time!)

Event Sponsors
An Caisleán Bar; D. Lynch & Sons Ltd.

Tuesday, 6 September 2016

The Blue Nib

www.thebluenib.com is accepting submissions of poetry, fiction, essays & short stories.

Submission URL thebluenib.com/submissions/

Poems: Please submit a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 10 pieces of work, ensure that you have
edited and formatted as you wish to see your work published

Fiction: The Blue Nib will publish new fiction of up to 10,000 words, please submit no more than one piece at a time.

Short Stories: Please submit a minimum of three and a maximum of 5 pieces of work, please ensure
the work has been edited and that spelling and grammar have been checked.

Essays: original essays of no more than 5000 words.

The following contests are also open and finalists in each category will be included in the Winter Anthology which will be published on-line and as a download in December 2016

International Original Fiction Contest. €250.00 Prize Fund
The contest is open to original fiction of no more than 12,000 words

International Essay Contest. €150.00 Prize Fund
The contest is open to original essays of no more than 2000 words

International Short Story Contest. €150.00 Prize Fund
The contest is open to original short stories of no more than 3500 words

International Poetry Contest. €150.00 Prize Fund
The contest is open to poetry in all forms other than extreme brevity

All Open to all writers over the age of 18 years as at 1st November 2016

Deadline: 31st October 2016

Entry fee for each is €5.00

Sunday, 4 September 2016

The Caterpillar Short Story for Children Prize

The Caterpillar magazine prize is open . They say:

Last year’s inaugural winner, Richard J. Jones, received €1,000 for his story 'Let's Say I Am', which was published in the winter issue of The Caterpillar. You can also read it in the Irish Times.
 
This year, we’ve decided to share the love, and to that end we have three prizes:
 
1st prize €500 plus a 2-week stay at The Moth’s Artists’ Residence
2nd prize €300
3rd prize €200
 
All three winning stories will appear in the winter 2016 issue of The Caterpillar.

We're also very excited to announce that the fabulously talented and award-winning author of The Jam Doughnut that Ruined My LifePants are Everything and Socks are Not EnoughMark Lowery, will be judging this year's prize.
All you need do to apply is send us your original, unpublished story of no more than 1,500 words – on any theme or subject, as long as it is appropriate for 7–11 year olds.
 
You can ENTER ONLINE or download an ENTRY FORM and send it along with your story to: The Caterpillar, Ardan Grange, Milltown, Belturbet, Co. Cavan, Ireland
 
The entry fee is €12 per story, and you can enter as many stories as you like.
 
CLOSING DATE 30 SEPTEMBER 2016
 
Don’t forget to READ THE RULES before you enter!
 
Click here if you would like to sign up to our newsletters about prizes, publications and more. 

Friday, 2 September 2016

Stanzas Seeks Submissions

Solstice Sounds is an online magazine. It's open until 31st October for submissions of Music, Poetry, Spoken Word and Experimental Sounds.

Find out more at stanzas.ie/solstice

Stanzas also do chapbooks, more experimental than many. They say
"Our Chapbooks this month are going to be a little different. We're taking the idea of Washed Up to its logical extreme and are literally going to make it look washed up!

"So to be a part of this mad endeavour, send your poetry, prose or artwork to stanzas.limerick@gmail.com.

Deadline 7th September

Keep an eye on their facebookinstagram and twitter for more

Wednesday, 31 August 2016

18th. Francis Ledwidge Poetry Award

Trophy and Cash Prizes
1st Prize is the Ledwidge plaque (a keepsake) inscribed with the winner’s name & cash prize. Cash prizes and books for Second and Third and merit certificates for finalists.

The first 3 poems will be entered in the Forward Prize UK
In addition, the winner will be invited to read at the annual Francis Ledwidge Commemoration at the National War Memorial Gardens in July 2017

Rules
Poems must be the competitor’s own work
not previously published or broadcast.
Poems should not exceed 40 lines of type
Entry fee: €4 per poem, 3 for €10.
Max. 6 poems (€20) payable to the Inchicore Ledwidge Society

Name and address and telephone number on a separate sheet.

Deadline: 5th November 2016 

The Francis Ledwidge International Poetry Award 2016,
C/o 20, Emmet Crescent.
Inchicore, Dublin 8

Winners will be notified and results will be announced at our annual awards night 
Check out the Facebook page: InchicoreLedwidge Society

Monday, 29 August 2016

New writing courses

There's a new term on the horizon and the whiff of back to school is in the air. It's always worth checking out what's going on in your local community school or library. Or check at your library.

The Irish Writers' Centre always has an innovative catalogue that covers a wide range. And there's the Big Smoke Writing Factory.

Recently I was told of a new course given by writer David Keane at SEDA College, Capel Street. Here's the blurb

This Creative Writing Course is for those who are ready to begin their journey of creative writing in fiction and need a little guidance. If you don’t know where to begin or don’t know what to do next then this is the course for you.

The course will focus on starting points, characters, structure, plot, theme, and point of view as well as many other aspects of writing fiction. Over the six week period participants will be encouraged to develop their writing skills based on coursework.

This course is for adults only and is facilitated in a positive and encouraging manner. All participants will be invited to share their work. This is not compulsory but is recommend in order to gain the most benefit out of the course. A textbook will be provided for each participant- this will be a guide and reference point, as well as a good read. The course will help build your writer’s toolbox and develop your existing skills.


Classes last 90 minutes and participants are also expected to make time to write during the week.

Date: Starts 13 September 2016 @ 7pm. Runs every Tuesday for 6 consecutive weeks.

Venue: SEDA College, Capel Street, Dublin 1.
Capacity: 12 maximum.
Fee: € 75 (includes textbook).
Info & Booking: www.davidkeane.net/creative-writing-course/

David Keane is a Dublin based writer. He is currently involved in several areas of writing, including fiction, poetry, and scriptwriting. These include several scripts (stage and screen) and a novel. His short screenplay, Lacewing, was runner up at the Waterford Film Festival 2015 and his treatment for a contemporary Irish screenplay, Grand, won him a place on a script development workshop run by Working Title Films. He has been included in several writing anthologies and came runner up in the unpublished poet category in the Poetry Ireland/Trócaire Poetry Competition 2016.