Monday, 31 January 2011

Very Belated Review of the Year 2010

(Only a month late)

A few poems, two short stories, one article and one non-fiction piece published or broadcast. A good few readings (some even paid), 2 grants (to pay for the non-paid stuff and residencies) and loads of rejections.

Productive week in Annaghmakerrig in a cottage. Loads of poems started, short story struggle and more of the novel.
Read at Glor, International Bar

Taught a workshop at the Hugh Lane Gallery.
Reading at the Locke Bar, Limerick.
Reading with Poetry Divas at Glor, International Bar and CFCP

Travel piece in The Irish Times
Reading in O'Bheal, Cork.
Reading at Ignite, Science Gallery
Reading in Galway Over The Edge
Poem published in Revival
Great Poetry Now festival

Started working full time
Shortlisted to Hennessy New Irish Writers Short Story
Reading in Trim, Co Meath

Read with Poetry Divas at Festival of the Fires, Bealtain at Hill os Uisneach
Taught a workshop at the Hugh Lane Gallery.
Read at Glor, International Bar
Read at Caca Milis, Wexford
Short story recorded as part of Kildare Writers

Great time volunteering at Dublin Writers' Festival
Read with Poetry Divas at Body and Soul Solstice Festival

Read at The Whitehouse, Limerick

Read with Poetry Divas at Carlow Indie-go festival before it folded
Poem read out on Spin 103.8

Delicious appearances of the Poetry Diva Collective at Electric Picnic, literary stage and in the Cabaret tent
Poem published in The Moth Magazine
Read at the Winding Stair for The Moth Magazine launch
Read at the Spoken Word, Paris
Read as part of Culture Night
Poetry Workshop in Kilkenny with Dave Lordan

Read in Dundalk for National Poetry Day
Poem published in Magma
Poem published in Crannog
Read in Galway, for Crannog launch

Poem in the Poetry Bus Magazine
Read at Glor, International Bar

Poem published in New Leaf

Popshot, Stingy Fly (yet again), Strokestown (yet again) Mslexia short story and poems (again) Southword (again) Kildare County Council, Poetry Ireland Review, Listowel Poetry Collection, Dromineer, Poetry Can (UK,) Patrick Kavanagh (again) Picador Poetry Prize, Gallery Press, Francis MacManus, Dope Magazine, Cuirt, inkspotters, Contrary, Cinnamon, Listowel

What I said last year in particular was Pimp for more readings which I did quite well.

Do get in touch if you have a slot at a regular event or festival. Particularly if you want The Poetry Diva Collective. We are fabulous.

This year. Um. Finish the Novel and get a Poetry Collection published. Stretch??

Modern Ireland has Nothing to Inspire Modern Writing

Or has it?
I don't know what we're expected to write about if we're not to be part of Modern Ireland...

On Wednesday 2nd February the Irish Writers' Centre presents an open panel discussion on how the current economic climate is affecting modern writing in Ireland. Panellists from many areas across the Arts Sector will join together under one roof to discuss the impending budget and its possible effect on modern and aspiring writers as well as the dwindling number of arts organisations across the country.

The discussion will be chaired by poet Michael O' Loughlin, co-founder of Raven Arts Press. O’ Loughlin will be joined by The Sunday Business Post’s Books and Arts Editor Nadine O’Regan, Sean Love, co-founder of Fighting Words and former Amnesty Ireland director, author Claire Kilroy and Gerry Smyth, Managing Editor of the Irish Times and celebrated poet.

The discussion will begin at 7pm and is open to the general public.

Sunday, 30 January 2011

I'm a winner!

Yes it's true. As the super sleuth team of Peter Goulding and Michael Farry have already found, I have won the Plough Poetry Prize in the short category. I am absolutely delighted.

See my poem, Amsterdam Otto Recommends and others here. Congrats to Peter for being longlisted also in the short poem category and storming through the children's poems too.

Unfortunately I have a clash on dates and won't be able to make it to Devon to pick up the cheque in person.

What I found most interesting was the judge's comments. Dalgit Nagra (of whom I am an instant fan) read a lot of levels into the poem. Fascinating.

Some background on the poem. My beloved and I got engaged while we were living in the Netherlands so we went to Amsterdam to get a ring. Our diamond seller of choice was the campest diamond seller in the whole world, Norwegian Otto of the title. The wealth of diamonds scattered was, I suppose, like the proposed wealth on offer during the years of the Celtic Tiger.

Write about Italy

Ever been to Italy? Here's a competition for creative writing, the Posara Prize set up to to encourage fine writing about the country.

and it's free to enter

We're looking for original, unpublished pieces of no more than 2,000 words, with the underlying theme of 'A Foreigner in Italy'. The work can be fiction or non-fiction: the important thing is to capture the emotion of Italy, as seen through an outsider's eyes.

You can write about the people, the countryside, art, architecture, food and wine – in fact, anything that makes Italy interesting, inspiring, exasperating or even frightening.

Deadline: midnight on Monday 28 February 2011.

No more than one entry per person is allowed.
The piece must be no longer than 2000 words.

From all the entries a shortlist of 10 will be drawn up by Lois and Bill Breckon, and Elizabeth Garrett. The shortlist will be announced on the mill website on Monday 21 March 2011.

The winning entry will be will be selected by a panel of judges comprising best-selling authors Jessica Hart, Sharon Kendrick and Anita Burgh.

The winner will be announced on Tuesday 5 April 2011.

The winner will receive a prize of £1,000.

Friday, 28 January 2011

From The Well Short Story Competition 2011

Are you in Cork or have you just moved there? One for you.

The Cork County Library and Arts Service have just launched their new short story competition “From The Well”

The competition is open to people aged 18 or over, who are registered library members. The stories must be fiction and must not be more than 2,000 words.

Entrants may submit an unlimited number of Short Stories. (Asking for trouble there I think)

Stories must be the original work of the author and must not have been previously published or, accepted for future publication elsewhere.

20 stories will be shortlisted by a panel of judges. Winning entries to be announced in March/April.

The winning prize will be a place on a week long writing workshop at the West Cork Literary Festival July 2011 in Bantry plus accommodation

Apply to: your local library in County Cork or the County Arts Office, County Hall, Cork

Deadline: Friday 18th February 2011

Thursday, 27 January 2011

Dublin Book Festival

2nd March to 6th March 2011

Dublin Book Festival line up will be released soon.

Meanwhile, they've a competition for young writers.

Calling all budding authors aged between 12 – 14 years! Write a story and be in with a chance to win a creative writing workshop with the legendary Roddy Doyle!

The Dublin Book Festival calls all budding authors aged between 12 – 14 years to send us their story for this year's Young Adult Writing Competition. Our judges will choose eight winners who will win a place in a creative writing workshop run by Roddy Doyle on the 26th February 2011.

Story Type: Submit any story of any theme - scary, funny, sad whatever you like!
Word Count: Between 500 – 1,000 words

Deadline: 11th February 2011

Prize: Creative Writing Workshop on the 26th February 2011 with Roddy Doyle at the Fighting Words Centre, Dublin

Entries should be sent to:
Dublin Book Festival Writing Competition
Publishing Ireland
Guinness Enterprise Centre, Taylor's Lane, Dublin 8

Publishing Ireland is delighted to announce an extended programme at this year’s Dublin Book Festival. Author events will be held from Wednesday, 2nd March – Sunday, 6th March 2011, in a variety of venues throughout Dublin City including the National Library of Ireland, The Gutter Bookshop, The Project Arts Theatre, Dublin City Libraries and as with previous years, Dublin’s City Hall.

Dublin Book Festival brings together the best of Irish published authors, offering a chance for the voices of both established and up and coming authors to be heard. Our poets and authors will gather to celebrate Dublin’s designation as a UNESCO City of Literature.

Wednesday, 26 January 2011

Hearing Heaney in Drumcondra

Hearing Heaney is the title of the 2011 Seamus Heaney Lecture series at St Patrick’s College, Drumcondra, D9.

The venue is the Auditorium in St Patrick's College, and each lecture commences at 8pm on a Monday.

The list of speakers and topics is as follows:

31 January: Olivia O’Leary:
Seamus Heaney: Part Of What We Are

7 February: Vona Groarke:
Between the lines: the Writer's Heaney

14 February: Michael Cronin:
Translation Island: Language, Culture & Crisis

21 February: Pauric Travers:
Crossing Borders: Heaney and the Ulster 'Thing'

28 February: JJ Lee:
'Hope and history rhyme': Heaney and History

7 March: Harry Clifton:
The Physical World of Seamus Heaney

For further details, go to or e-mail

Tuesday, 25 January 2011

Gardeners' World Poetry Competition

The subject of gardens has inspired writers for centuries. William Shakespeare, John Keats and Robert Burns are just some of the poets who have felt moved to write by the beauty of nature.

We're now inviting you to put pen to paper, and to send us your own garden-themed verse.

The Gardeners' World Magazine Poetry Competition is open until 28 February 2011 and the lucky winner will receive tickets to Gardeners' World Live 2011, where their poem will be read out by Alan Titchmarsh. The winner will also receive £250 of National Garden Gift Vouchers.

There is also a second prize of £150 and a third prize of £100 in National Garden Vouchers, and six runners-up will each receive £50 in National Garden Vouchers and a signed copy of Tales from the Woods by Felix Dennis.

More here

The judges

Your poems will be judged by an expert panel, including Roger McGough, an award-winning poet and presenter of the Radio 4 programme Poetry Please, the poet Matt Harvey and Sarah Langan, who is a poetry and readings producer for Radio 4.

Monday, 24 January 2011

Wild Geese

Fancy Strangford, Co. Down?

Wild Geese Festival 2011
Poetry, Story & Song
5 February

Some new names here for me. But Maggie's always worth a listen as is Sinead Morrisey.

Write! Down welcomes all visitors to Strangford on Saturday, 5th February to celebrate writing in all its forms at our fifth Wild Geese Festival.

Programme: Saturday 5th February 2011

Inverbrena Hall, Kildare Street, Strangford (except for concert)
11.00 Welcome
11.15 1st Annual Wild Geese Lecture – ‘On Flight’ Damian Smyth
12.00 Launches – ‘I am a Horse’ Kate Newmann; ‘Purse of Shadows’ Heather Newcombe;
‘Secret of the Mince Pies’ Monica Haughey
1.00 Break

2.30pm-4.00pm – Writing Workshops
Take a writing workshop.. Book a place with your preferred facilitator IN ADVANCE – email (please indicate if you wish to attend the evening event as tickets are limited and a number are held for workshop participants and, if you can, we’d request a voluntary contribution of £10 on the day).

Choose from:
Paul Maddern - Creative Writing
Ruth Carr - Creative Writing
Hannah Slattne – Scriptwriting
Brigid O’Neill - Singing Workshop

4.30pm-6.30pm – Readings
Shared readings from workshops
Templar readings – Jane Weir, Maggie O Dwyer, Paul Maddern, Olive Broderick

8.30pm – Concert, The Church, Old Court, Strangford
Evening Event of spectacular poetry, music and song in the historic and beautifully situated Church at Old Court. Featuring poet Sinead Morrissey and Seamie O Dowd, music and more. The church is a small space which will hold a maximum of 120, so book early. Tickets, priced £10/conc £8, are available at Kevin Óg’s, The Square, Strangford. Phone 00 44 (0)28 4488 1377.
Workshop participants please indicate whether you will be attending the evening event when booking your workshop.

The festival is supported by the Down Arts Centre and Poetry Ireland, and is one of a necklace of festivals of literature in the north of Ireland, which links Strangford to the Let me take you to the island Festival in Rathlin Island, the Donegal Bay and Bluestacks Festival at the Summer Palace in Kilcar.

Sunday, 23 January 2011

Culture Ireland Grants

Culture Ireland's principal funding scheme is designed to support the presentation and promotion of Irish arts internationally. Their tagline is Promoting Irish Arts Worldwide.

So if anyone wants me to read abroad May onwards, let me know now!

There are four funding rounds each year, with deadlines as follows:
Funding rounds per year
Application deadline Timing of projects/events Decision
15 February May onwards March
15 May August onwards June
15 August November onwards September
15 November February onwards December

Culture Ireland also operates "See Here" a scheme to support Irish Artists and arts organisations to invite international programmers, presenters, curators, promoters or critics to see new Irish work with a view to subsequent international presentation. Applications under this scheme are accepted on an ongoing basis.

See here

Interesting Links

Absolutely fabulous street photos here and an even more fabulous story of their origin and recent history. Vivian Maier.

Various TS Eliot shortlistees read their poems here.Who do you fancy?

Don Peterson on poets and publicity in the Guardian
"any middle-aged editor who doesn't talk to poets in their 20s about the contemporaries they're reading is in danger of publishing only young poets who sound like the now-middle-aged ones they grew up with."

Friday, 21 January 2011

Poets to Check Out - Adrian Mitchell

I'd never come across this poem by Adrian Mitchell before. Ten Ways to Avoid Lending Your Wheelbarrow to Anybody. Superb! Thanks to the astute, dashingly handsome and well-read Michael Farry.

And if you haven't come across Adrian Mitchell before, do yourself a favour and watch this amazing recording.

To Whom It May Concern

Thursday, 20 January 2011

New courses starting soon at Yvonne Cullen's Writing Train include Start To Write, Monday Feb 7th, 8 weeks, €220, Intermediate Writing Train,starts Tuesday Feb 1st,  Wednesday daytime Writing Train writing workshops starting on Feb 9th, Advanced Writing Train Thursdays starting Feb 3rd, FORTNIGHTLY advanced Writing Train starting Weds Feb 9th, plus weekly and fortnightly classes starting in Feb in South County Dublin and Bray. On the poetry side of things, The Developing Poet 12-week Saturday course will be starting on Saturday 29th January.

For people interested in an introduction to Yvonne's teaching style, a One-Day Start to Write course will take place on Sunday 30th January at Yvonne's lovely book-filled ( strewn?) cottage in Glasthule, with a second Intensive Poetry Day planned for early March.
updates on these and full info on all of Yvonne's Writing Train courses at the link above and at
or here's the brochure

Wednesday, 19 January 2011

Floor Show Nights

The lovely people at the Irish Writers Centre continue to try new things. Give them your support.

When: Sunday 23rd January at 8pm

Where: Irish Writers Centre, 19 Parnell Sq Dublin

They say:
We're looking for poets, storytellers, singers, comedians - all kinds of creative people basically to come along and contribute. If you are interested in performing please drop us a line to All are welcome!

Tuesday, 18 January 2011


This fund provides funding to individual professional artists based in Westmeath who earn a proportion of their annual income through their artistic endevours. Westmeath County Council will offer bursaries, each year, in respect of the professional development of individual professional artists practicing in any of the artistic disciplines outlined in the County Arts plan.

Examples of professional development include:
  • Opportunities to facilitate a shift in direction of work
  • Opportunities to create a new body of work
  •  Further educational or training opportunities
  •  Development opportunities in other countries
  •  Opportunities to be professionally mentored
  •  Funding for Materials or Equipment
  •  Opportunities to apply directly to the Tyrone Guthrie Centre for a residential.
Bursaries will be awarded on the basis of artistic or cultural merit over any other factors.

Individual Bursaries will not exceed €500

Deadline for the receipt of completed applications is Friday 25th February 2011.

Info here

Monday, 17 January 2011

Moths, wine and canapes

The Moth Poetry Party

When : Thursday 27th January 7:30pm

I hope everyone within reach of Cavan will make their way over to this jolly evening. There'a some lovely wine and other canapes plus some poetry, so much quaffing and nibbling. Should be a lovely evening. This is the rescheduled evening after the first was cancelled do to snow and treacherous roads.

To celebrate the winter issue of The Moth, there will be an evening of wine tasting
from the Castillo Perelada Winery in Spain, canapés and the opportunity to listen to some poetry from Kate Dempsey, Tommy Murray and Seamus O'Rourke.

Where: Delish, Abbey Street, Cavan
When: 7.30pm
Space is limited, so if you would like to buy a ticket get in touch with editor Rebecca O'Connor,, as soon as you can. Tickets are €10.

Book now and book often. Tell your friends.

link here

We have an upstairs/downstairs situation

The evening will commence with a cava reception, and then once we've gotten everyone seated and done our introductions, etc., we'll have one poetry reading, followed by a wine-tasting, then the next poetry reading, followed by a wine-tasting, and so on ...

Sunday, 16 January 2011

Breathing on the Poetry Bus

I huff on board. TFE at the wheel this week. Original prompt here.
Other passengers here.

Removed now for rework

Challenge Short Story

It's in a good cause.
From 120 Socks blog.

Judge: Lord Robert Winston, leading writer, scientist and television personality.

Prizes: First prize: £300 + a premium Parker/Waterman pen & handcrafted Italian leather journal.
Second prize: £150 plus pen and journal as before
Third prize: £50 plus pen and journal as before
Shortlisted entrants will receive a Parker Jotter pen.
All prizes are sponsored by

Theme:Challenge. To be interpreted as freely as possible but at least one female character must be included.

Details: Short story of 2000 words. All entries to be typed on single-sided A4 paper and double spaced. Manuscripts should have only the title shown and not the author’s name. A cover sheet should be included with story title, author’s name, contact details and word count. If you include an email address, we will email you to say that we have received your manuscript safely.

Entry fee: £5 per entry. 100% of all entry fees will go to the Cycle China challenge and Women for Women. Cheques should be made payable to The Institute Trust Fund.

Send to: Challenge Writing short story competition
17 Rosehill Drive
WV16 5BP

Deadline:Feb 12th 2011

All winners will be notified by email/post by the end of May 2011. The names of winners will be published on this website along with the three winning stories. Right of ownership of the stories stays with the author.

Saturday, 15 January 2011

Molly Keane

For the 13th year the Arts Office of Waterford County Council is pleased to announce details of this award.

The late writer who lived until her death in 1996 in Ardmore, Co. Waterford started writing at a young age to ‘supplement her dress allowance’.

This is an open competition for those on the island of Ireland for a short story. The selection process will be from entries which have been previously unpublished or printed. Entries, which have received awards in other competitions, are also ineligible.

Deadline: Thursday 24th March 2011

The limit for each piece is 2000 words. The exact word count should be typed at the end of the final page.

There is no entry fee. No more than one entry should be submitted by any individual.

The author’s details are to be given on the official entry form and attached to the entry.

€650 & a commemorative scroll will be awarded to the winner.

It is a condition of entry that the winner will be required to attend a presentation ceremony during the IMMRAMA Literary Festival in Lismore, Co. Waterford (10th – 13th June 2010).

More details here although it does say that the form is for 2010???

Entries are to be sent to:

Creative Writing Award,
Margaret Organ- Arts Officer,
Waterford County Council,
Civic Offices, Dungarvan, Co. Waterford.

Hippocrates Prize for Poetry and Medicine.

This one from the Stammering Poet blog. 

Have you a poem on a medical subject? This is a lucrative prize in its second year. The winner last year in the ‘open’ category for 2010 was New Zealand poet CK Stead (so it's a pretty high standard. Personally I'm aiming at the commended)

Link here 

Open International awards
£5000  1st prize   
£1000  2nd prize  
£ 500  3rd prize
Twenty commended entries - £ 50  

The 2011 judging panel includes

Gwyneth Lewis who is Wales’ first National Poet.
Professor Steve Field CBE, Chairman of the Council of the Royal College of General Practitioners from 2007-2010. 

Deadline: 31st January 2011

‘Medical’ is to be interpreted in the widest sense, including the nature of the body, and anatomy; the history, evolution, current and future state of medical science; the nature and experience of tests; the experience of doctors, nurses and other staff in hospitals and in the community; the experience of patients, families, friends and carers in these situations; the experiences of acute and long-term illness and dying, of birth, of cure and convalescence; the patient journey; the nature and experience of treatment with herbs, chemicals and devices used in medicine.  

All winning and commended poems will be published in a book of 46 poems. The highest ranked 300 entries will also be published electronically.  

Poems entered must be of no more than 50 lines not including title or blank lines. 

There's also a section for NHS employees.


Hidden away in the small print, fee £6 per poem

Seán Dunne Young Writers’ Awards 2011

Are you young, like under 30?

The Waterford City Council Seán Dunne Young Writers’ Awards are a long-term commemorative tribute to the memory of Waterford writer Seán Dunne. The awards aim to encourage and support young writers.

More info here

Waterford City Council offers an award of €2,000 for a creative work in Irish or English to the overall nation-wide winner, €750 for the overall local Waterford winner and €300 as a nation-wide junior award.

Extracts of the winning entries may be read during the Waterford Writers’ Festival in March. Each entrant is invited to the presentation of the Waterford City Council Seán Dunne Young Writers’ Awards in Garter Lane on March 18, 2011

The Categories are:
Poetry (Maximum 40 lines and 1000 words)
Prose (Fiction/Non-fiction, Maximum 2000 words)
Drama/Screenplays (Maximum 5000 words)
There is no entry fee, but no more than two pieces can be submitted by any individual.

Deadline: January 20, 2011.

Local Entries
Entries will be accepted from writers who are 21 years or under on January 31, 2011 and who were born, or are resident in, the Waterford City and County area.

National Entries (Senior)
For the nation-wide awards entries will be accepted from writers who are 30 years or under on January 31, 2011 and who were born or are resident in Ireland.

National Entries (Junior)
For the National Junior Sean Dunne Young Writers’ Awards, entries will be accepted from writers who are between the ages of 12 and 16 years by January 31, 2011 and who were born, or are resident in, Ireland.

In the event of a writer being eligible for more than one award it is important to note that a separate piece/s of writing must be submitted for each award.

Postal address for entries:

Seán Dunne Young Writers’ Awards,
The Arts Office,
Waterford City Council,
City Hall,

Friday, 14 January 2011

Dublin City Artists Panel

The Dublin City Council Arts Office is currently accepting applications for the Artists Panel 2011.

They will consider applications from artists from all arts disciplines – architecture, circus, dance, literature, film, music, opera, theatre, visual arts, traditional arts and animation – to work in a range of different settings in all areas of the city which will include once off and medium term projects with people of all ages in many different contexts including Children’s Art in Libraries Programme, Dublin City Council’s arts programme as part of the Bealtaine Festival (national Festival celebrating creativity in older age), arts in schools, youth/ Community/ neighbourhood festivals and events, the Red Stables Summer and Christmas Arts Programmes, the LAB Gallery Arts Programme.

Artists are asked to submit the following:

Application Form which is, along with Guidelines available on request from Victoria Kearney, Dublin City Arts Office T. 01 222 7843

Documentation of work (up to 3 projects)

Any special requirements, for example in terms of Access.

-The Panel is primarily for use by the Arts Office, but may also be extended for use by other divisions of Dublin City Council as requirements arise

Deadline for applications is Monday 31st January 2011

Send to: Artists’ Panel Application 2011,

Dublin City Council Arts Office, The LAB, Foley Street, Dublin 1.

Thursday, 13 January 2011

Meath County Council Grants and Bursaries

Do you live in Meath? Could you use some dosh?
All deadlines: 5pm Friday 11th February 2011

  • Festival Grant Scheme
  • Professional Artists Development Fund
  • Tyrone Guthrie Centre Award
  • Bi- Annual Arts Grant Scheme Phase I
  • Community Arts Award

This scheme is intended to support professional arts practitioners in County Meath in the delivery of their work and in particular the development of new works.
Individuals or companies applying for this fund must be practicing professional artists.

All details here

Wednesday, 12 January 2011

Currently Reading

New Year, New me.

Decided to note what I'm reading. This list includes some from 2010.

The Thousand Autumns of Jacob De Zoet
David Mitchell (Hardcover - May 13, 2010)
Brilliantly written. Great story. Makes me want to give up writing.

The Reader
Bernhard Schlink (Paperback - Dec 1, 2008)
Bit boring and obvious. Why do people rave about this?

The Savage Garden
Mark Mills (Paperback - Jul 2, 2007)
Enjoying this 1950's mystery though a little slow.

Mrs Tim of the Regiment (The Bloomsbury Group)
D. E. Stevenson (Paperback - Nov 2, 2009)
Delightful, witty early 20th century fun.

The Torment of Others
Val McDermid (Paperback - Mar 7, 2005)
Always love a good thriller. Val's one of the best crime writers around.

The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao
Junot Diaz (Paperback - Feb 5, 2009)
Not getting on with this. Too much on Trujillo, not enough story

Started Early, Took My Dog
Kate Atkinson (Hardcover - Aug 19, 2010)
Love Kate's writing. Parallel stories interwoven and witty

Warbreaker (Tor Fantasy)
Brandon Sanderson (Mass Market Paperback - Mar 30, 2010)
Wonderful fantasy book, believable built world, super characters

The Fry Chronicles
Stephen Fry (Hardcover - Sep 13, 2010)
Excellent. You feel you know him (though you don't) clever, curmodgenly and geeky though he is.

Tuesday, 11 January 2011

Advice on Crime (writing)

The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
2007 winner of the Debut Dagger award, Canadian, Alan Bradley, came up with the idea of making his main protagonist an 11 year old girl with a taste for poisons.

Psst! Want to know a secret, sure-fire way of winning the Debut Dagger Award?
It may not be as difficult as you think.
First of all, come up with an absolute killer concept, and then outline it in a snappy 500 to 1000-word synopsis, which will become part of your entry. Remember that the synopsis is every bit as important as your 3000-word excerpt.
Make your entry stand out from the others. With 1000 or more entries to read, the judges are looking for the ones that leap off the page and grab them by the throats. It sounds painful but it’s true. Difference makes the difference, and I’ve heard by the grapevine that the last thing some judges are looking for is another horribly mutilated corpse.
The opening words are the most important you’ll ever write in your life. Don’t waste them. Your concept is vitally important but the execution of it is crucial.
Make every word, every sentence, every paragraph lead to the next. Polish your work until it sings: read it aloud (or have someone read it to you), check your spelling and check it again. Make sure it’s properly formatted (no funny fonts, no white-out, no hand-written corrections, no food stains, no coloured marker with hearts saying “Pick me!”). These are busy people who are working free of charge, and they’re just looking for a reason to chuck a sloppy manuscript over their shoulder.
Remember that written dialogue is only a simulation real life conversation; it’s a kind of shorthand. Look at the rhythms of written dialogue; make it snap with electricity.
Don’t say things like “I forbid you!” he expostulated” or “Set me free,” she implored.”
Edit, edit, and edit again.
Unless they’re intentional, wipe out clichés. Don’t write, “Isn’t that odd…she thought to herself”. Who else would she think to?
Blood and guts are not the only way to go. There are other fluids and solids that are far more interesting and much less hackneyed.
Use snappy Anglo-Saxon words like “crackled” instead of Latin-derived words like ‘crepitated”.
But when you come right down to it, it’s just 3000 words on a couple of sheets of paper. Make every one of them count.
If you were a Dagger judge, which of these openings would you choose?
A: “It was raining outside.”
B: “How long can I live with an arrow in my eye?”
My point exactly!

Alan won with The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie. Since then the book has gone on to win the Agatha Award, the Dilys Award, the Barry Award, the Arthur Ellis Award and the Macavity Award. It has been translated into 31 languages. It and its sequel (The Weed that Strings the Hangman’s Bag) have been on the bestseller lists in Canada, the US, Germany and Taiwan.

Monday, 10 January 2011

Cork Spring Literary Festival

If you find yourself in the People's Republic this February then get this is smashing festival.
Website here
16 - 19 February 2011 (Bolds are my personal suggestions.)

Wednesday, 16th February
Reception for the winner of the Gregory O’Donoghue Prize and launch of A Boat to
Heaven, a new Southword Editions title by Chinese poet Zhao Lihong.
Where: Douglas Vance Room, The Metropole Hotel.
When 7.15pm.

Tomas Lieske, William Wall & James Harpur – a reading
Where: Douglas Vance Room, The Metropole Hotel.
When 9pm.

Ian Wild, Alan Garvey & Pat Boran – a reading
Where: Douglas Vance Room, The Metropole Hotel.
When 7.15pm.

Silke Scheuermann, Kristiina Ehin & Gabriel Rosenstock
Where: Douglas Vance Room, The Metropole Hotel.
When 9pm.

Catherine Smith, Matthew Sweeney & Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh – a reading
Where: Douglas Vance Room, The Metropole Hotel.
When 7.15pm.

Valérie Rouzeau, Lory Manrique-Hyland & Ian Duhig - a reading
Where: Douglas Vance Room, The Metropole Hotel.
When 9pm.

Catch the Moon
An ensemble reading: “Four women, Four Themes, Four Stories, Four Voices”.
Jane Clarke, Kathy D’Arcy, Shirley McClure, Tina Pisco.
During a performance each poet introduces one of the four themes, which vary depending on the venue, the audience and the season. Each poet then reads two poems linked to the theme, explaining a bit about each reading. This format is designed to keep the listeners’ interest and highlight differences as well as resonances between very different poems. The result is an intimate and entertaining exchange between the poets and the audience. Catch the Moon intends to continue to develop and grow so as to include other women poets and musicians as
well as projections in future events.
Where: Douglas Vance Room, The Metropole Hotel.
When 3.30 pm.
I think these ladies should get together with the Poetry Divas. Really. Email me.

Gerry Murphy, Dave Lordan & Julijana Velichkovska – a reading
Where: Douglas Vance Room, The Metropole Hotel.
When 7.15pm.

Maram al-Massri, Leanne O’Sullivan & Patrick Cotter – a reading
Where: Douglas Vance Room, The Metropole Hotel.
When: 9pm.

A suggested donation of €5 is requested for each of the evening events, but no one will be turned away for lack of funds and larger donations are also welcome.

Also Workshops
Haiku Master Class

A ginko or compositional stroll usually precedes Rosenstock’s haiku workshops.
Participants may bring along a maximum of 10 nature-centred haiku to be workshopped, 5-7-5 style or free form.

Gabriel Rosenstock is a member of several international haiku associations and is an associate founder of the Haiku Foundation. He is a frequent contributor to World Haiku Review. Cambridge Scholars Publishing brought out two major works by him on haiku as a way of life, Haiku Enlightenment and Haiku, the Gentle Art of Disappearing. These are available from Amazon. Participants in the workshop are expected to have read these books. (complimentary electronic copies will be made available to participants in advance) Rosenstock hopes that participants will have prepared questions, comments, queries about the contents of these two books.

Maximum places 8
Cost: €30 each

To reserve a workshop space please phone the Munster Literature Centre on
021-4312955 or email

Website here

Sunday, 9 January 2011

Poetry Bus - Get on board

OK, the Poetry Bus is finally out of the garage. Bit of a problem with the old spark plugs if you know what I mean.

Original prompt here

I took on the beat poem, but it proved too big a task for the time I had. Here's the first part. (The lines are long but get folded over in the blog. Sorry.


In a posh restaurant, you know the type, contemporary sludge coloured velvet,
uncomfortable chairs, this before the chef ran off with the artwork
and the maitre D.
It’s a big deal work do, himself, the chief, me, the squaw.

Our friend Ted’s there - sound chap - with his wife at the table, square plates and round glasses.
And the honoured guest, some bigwig, loud, wide shoulders, bursting out of his pink shirt,
holding forth on the rising economy, the falling Yen, trade prospects and the corporate tax rate.
He slugs Rioja into the spherical glasses, shakes my hand, eyes gliding over me
as of no consequence, no threat. Karl’s his name, After Marx? I say
triggering a belly laugh and a slap on the back that would floor a gorilla.
Himself does that ‘be good’ look at me.
And I try.

But Karl’s not trying. He slurps soup and ticks boxes. Merc. Tick. Rolex. Tick. Race Horse. Tick.
Second wife, blonde, tick, with admirable assets. Tick, tick.
I rearrange mine and bite my lip.
We weave around the conversational sinkholes, as he moves on to his half a bloody cow,
masticating as if we all want to share the experience, his nose now as red as the replenished wine.
They’ve moved on to rugby and he’s in the corporate boxes every match,
It’s all about who you know, he says. Scratch my back, baby and maybe, who knows. Do you scratch?

My back is itching now but I’d rather, I say, watch wood warp than thirty brickhouse men
run around with a ball from a distance. He does that backslap again
and I cough up some peas across the table at Himself who does that look again and changes tack
back to stock on the rise and the price of houses.
He has real estate in Budapest, Leeds and the prices are through the roof
and the roof isn’t on yet but he’s sitting happy waiting to flip them
on some poor sod who wants to retire there.

The talk’s of leverage and the Euribor and bore is what he is.
My cheeks are aching with not yawning but I bury my grievances in more Berry Pavlova
and when he shoulders his way outside for a cigarette, I gripe to Himself and ignore his chides
which slide off me like cream on very hot tart.
We all order an Irish coffees and Karl sweeps back flashing a phone as cool as the night.

Have to keep Herself at bay – he says and click-clicks the apps
to zoom in on their flats on Google maps
and to track his stock on the Iseq and the unemployment rate and all manner of things
that I don’t want or need.
It’s time to shed all the deadwood – he says – send them back to Brazzaville and Riga
and I confess I have to Google Brazzaville (it’s The Congo) but it’s obvious it’s Africa
and he’s all for diversity as long as his waitress speaks English with no accent

Like no one from Cork? - I say – or Birmingham or Dundee?
- That’s different. My wife’s from Surrey – he says
– not her fault – I say - How about Sydney or Cape Town or Quebec or Tennessee?
- That’s fine – So where’s the line? Hong Kong or Singapore? Nairobi or Delhi?
I’m on a roll here and he’s all bluster. I exert all self-control I can muster
And shut up.

Add a comment with your own blog post and I'll add the links. Remember to drop by the other passengers' tickets.

  • First on board, somewhat earlier in the week was Kat. Thanks very much for helping with the spark plug issue, Kat. Couldn't have started without you. Kat took on a legend from primary school.
  • Then a surprised (by herself) Rachel. Also early so she took on the task of cleaning the backseat. Everyone's favourite job. It must be to do with the rubber gloves. Rachel's poem takes on critics. She's not bitter and she's NEVER boring.
  • Next on board. 120socks who swallowed or was swallowed by revenge on the critic. 120socks kindly looked at the sticky problem with the emergency exit. An absolute whizz with an adjustable wrench. There is mention of murmurings in the poem that reminded me I had a critic poem I'll post here.

Monaghan Mosquitoes

There are mosquitoes in Monaghan the size of bats,
but easier to kill
and leave a telltale splat that swamps the bed.
But where there’s one, there’s more,
their whines as heavy as the dentist’s drill.
They can suck the lifeblood out of a woman
in 8.2 seconds flat.

At night, they crouch on my pillow
and chase me through my dreams,
whispering homespun criticism.
All those words -
it’s not very good, is it?
We’ve read it and it’s rubbish;
there’s no spark, nothing special.
We’ve read it all. Why do you bother?
Give it up, give it up.

  • Next on board, Dave King here, who wasn't, then he was. He chose L'esprit d'escalier and comes on board pursued by (scary) bishop.
  • Bishop pursued now by Niamh at Various Cushions taking it out on a lady with famous friends (or maybe acquaintances). 
  • Welcome on board Dick at Patteran who is getting down and dirty with envelopes.
  • Leaping onto the bottom step is at Nuts4fruits who is Done with Mr Done.
  • Next is Helen at Poetry Matters who takes on Dumb and Mr Dumber.
  • Jeanne Iris boards at Revolutionary Revelry with a dreamy bluebird.
  • Triona at Domestic Oubliette jumps on board with a sad revenge poem.
  • Kipling leaps on board here kicking out
  • Welcome Conversing here on writing and waiting
  • Padhraig hops onboard up the stairs of wit with some fab vocab.
  • TFE leaps on muttering something about toads and bare feet here
  • Ann T hares along the road for a late ticket at Hathaway with her outspoken Gran in tow
  • Don't Feed The Pixies gets on. Exact change please. A triple ticket here
  • Titus scrambles through the rear doors when the driver's attention was on a crowd of penguins crossing the road. She's very fruity this ride. Offensive language in public is still a statutory offence in England and Wales but you're OK on this bus.
  • Another bus stop for Argent at Delusions of Adequacy toasting Miss Chapman, the late Miss Chapman
Any more passengers?
Enjoy the ride!

Saturday, 8 January 2011

London Theatre Project for Writers

Little Episodes and Circalit Launch London Theatre Project for Writers

Little Episodes, an organisation that promotes the arts as a therapeutic tool, has today announced the 2011 ‘Six Little Episodes’ scriptwriting competition. Six new scripts from emerging UK playwrights will be showcased in a London theatre during 2011. These performances will run for a week and the six produced finalists will be judged by a panel of industry experts.

The competition is hosted at Circalit, a social-networking site for writers, where the public can read submissions, write reviews, and vote for their favourites. The competition is free to enter and the six finalists will be chosen by Little Episodes.

The deadline for entries is 31st January 2011 and entrants must be based in the UK and Eire. For more information or to submit a script please visit

For more information on Little Episodes you can visit:

Robert Tucker
Director of Communications

Friday, 7 January 2011

Wellcome Trust Arts Grants

Arts Awards support imaginative and experimental arts projects that investigate biomedical science.
The scheme aims to:
  • stimulate interest, excitement and debate about biomedical science through the arts
  • examine the social, cultural, and ethical impact of biomedical science
  • support formal and informal learning
  • encourage new ways of thinking
  • encourage high quality interdisciplinary practice and collaborative partnerships in arts, science and/or education practice.
All art forms are covered by the programme: dance, drama, performance arts, visual arts, music, film, craft, photography, creative writing or digital media. The Trust invites applications for projects which engage adult audiences and/or young people.

The scheme is open to a wide range of people including, among others, artists, scientists, curators, filmmakers, writers, producers, directors, academics, science communicators, teachers, arts workers and education officers.

Applicants must be based in the UK or the Republic of Ireland and the activity must take place in the UK or the Republic of Ireland.

Applicants are usually affiliated to organisations, but can apply as individuals.
Organisations might include: museums and other cultural attractions; arts agencies; production companies; arts venues; broadcast media; schools; local education authorities; universities and colleges; youth clubs; community groups; research institutes; the NHS; and science centres.

Partnership projects (between different people and organisations, e.g. scientists and ethicists, educators and artists) are welcomed.

For small to medium-sized projects (up to and including £30 000) upcoming deadlines are:
  • 28 January 2011
  • 28 April 2011
Decisions will be made approximately three months after the relevant deadline.
For large projects (above £30 000) the deadline for 2011 is 25 March 2011.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

Magical Realism in Poetry Course

It's all happening in Cork.
(Or is it)

When: Monday 10 January · 19:00 - 22:00
Where: The Long Valley (Hayloft) in Winthrop Street, Cork

O'Bheal: Cork's Weekly Poetry Event

This practical workshop will look at how to set off Dali-esque flights of fancy and explore treatments for the ideas that emerge. The workshop will focus on the idea that the strange and surreal in poetry can make us look at reality afresh.

Ian Wild is a poet, writer, composer and theatre worker from Enniskean, Co. Cork, Ireland. In 2009 he won the Fish International Short Story Prize and received a literature bursary from the Irish Arts Council. His publications and broadcast work include Way Out West – a comedy series for RTE Radio One; The Great Moodini and other stories – 20 children’s stories also broadcast on RTE’s Radio One. He has a collection of short stories published by Fish: The Woman Who Swallowed The Book Of Kells and also a volume of poetry entitled Intercourse With Cacti (Bradshaw Books.)

Cost: €15 (€12 concession)

Places limited.

For further details contact Paul on 085 712 6299 or email Ó Bhéal

Wednesday, 5 January 2011

Driving the Poetry Bus - My Turn

I was gently reminded earlier of my imminent driving job for the Poetry Bus this Sunday/Monday.

Actually it wasn't gentle at all. He shouted really, really loudly. There was screaming involved (mine) and spittle (his) and also that white stuff that appears at the corner of the mouth when venting (his) and no small amount of teeth-gnashing, hair-pulling out, nose-picking and teeth-brushing (mine) You'd think I had forgotten or thought it was next week or something...


I have had loads of absolutely top notch, brilliant ideas over the last year for great, superb and down-right sparkly prompts for the Poetry Bus, but they have gone the way of all single earrings, important wires and PIN numbers and I can't find them.

So here's a couple of ideas for you. Add your comment when you've something posted. I'll post up the passengers on Sunday/Monday. Enjoy the ride!

Prompt 1
I've just been watching the fabulous, funny, witty, insightful, dashingly handsome (in case he's reading) and very silly Tim Minchin, a Aussie comedian/songwriter who touches a nerve and says many things I've been thinking for years, but he says them out loud.

Here's one he did as a forgiveness/revenge song. Watch the video (the song starts at about 1:30 but the intro's worth watching) and write your own. Is it a critic? An ex-lover, a current lover, a parent, a teacher, a blog commentor, a boss, your best friend at school, the man in the newsagents, a workshop participant, your hairdresser, a woman in a boutique, the milkman, another poet, whatever. Who made you feel small? Write it out. Get your own back now.

Prompt 2
In case you're perfect or not bitter enough. Another Tim Minchin writing prompt. A 9 minute, beat poem. Called Storm

OK. Great, eh? Now write a poem (doesn't have to be a beat poem)

EITHER as a Tim Minchin-like person about someone in touch with their inner angel, homeopathic-loving, reiki-trained Storm-like person

OR (as I know some of you lean a little to the reiki side of lovely)

as a spiritually awakened, nature-loving, Storm-like person about a skeptical, unbelieving, opinionated Tim Minchin-like person.

Exaggerate to taste.

Prompt 3
One thing Tim Minchin did make mention of was L'esprit d'escalier - or Wit of the staircase. You know, when you think of an absolute kick-ass response or retort or argument or answer or insult or joke, but too late. Sometimes much, much too late.

So write a poem about one of yours. Now's your chance to say it.

Interesting Links

How geeky are you? Even a little bit? You'll like this Why did no one tell me about this before? Hover over the images for more...

Death to The Death of Poetry from Harper Magazine. Everybody today knows that poetry is "useless and completely out of date"--as Flaubert put it in Bouvard and Pécuchet a century ago.

Fascinating essay at Magma on words out of fashion in poetry. Shards? Gossamer wings. Nominations please?

Why it's worth checking amazon for your proposed book title - Similar Titles at She Reads and Reads

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

Conall Morrison has recently been appointed as Theatre Artist-in-Residence at the Pavilion Theatre, Dún Laoghaire, funded by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council and the Arts Council.

As part of his residency Conall will be starting up a playwrights' scriptwriting group based in the Pavilion Theatre from the end of January, which will run for the duration of the residency.

Places in the group are strictly limited, so if you are interested please submit a finished play or substantial extract from a work in progress for consideration to:

Conall Morrison, Theatre Artist in Residence, Pavilion Theatre, Marine Road, Dún Laoghaire.

There is no fee for participants, but there may be some photocopying costs. Please refer any queries to

Please note extended closing date for submissions:Friday 14th January 2011 @ 5.30pm