Thursday, October 13, 2011

Windows Publications National Poetry Competition

“Magic,” says Noel Monahan explaining what he’s looking for from a poem as Windows Publications open their 2012 poetry competition to celebrate 20 years.

“In one word, magic. Because it has to jump off the page. So many people just use the stale metaphor, or hackneyed words. We are looking for something that’s totally new. It is very easy to decide on a good poem. They just stand out.”

Does that come from authenticity? “Absolutely, someone who has the creative gift and they are saying something new. Otherwise they can have the old hackneyed idea. You get a lot of poems about daffodils or nature - it just looks as if they are writing poems about poems as opposed to writing a new poem.”

Fortunately there seems to be plenty of magicians in Cavan and further afield, and this has kept the anthology, under the direction of Noel, a poet and playwright, Canadian born poet Heather Brett and Romanian novelist Simion Dumitrache, going strong for two decades.

Windows held its first student poetry competition in Cavan in 1992 attracting about 100 entries. Today that same competition is one of the biggest, sponsored by Cavan Crystal and attracts up to 2,000 entries from all over Ireland.

“Since Rebecca O’Connor (now editor of Moth magazine) won the first Windows Student Poetry Competition in 1992,” says Heather, “Windows has published in excess of 500 Cavan students, encouraging many local children to consider English as a career option in college and explore their potential with creative writing; for example Holly Byrne - a winner for many years, continues to write poetry.”

“Many of the writers we have nurtured are established writers today,” enthused Noel. “You take a person like Joe Woods, he’s the director of Poetry Ireland and has published quite a number of poetry books himself and (poet) Nessa O’Mahoney - they are just two who jump out straight away.”

Of course for some it is an ambition just to get published in Windows, let alone pursue a writing career. “It is hard these days to get published in a quality publication,” agrees Heather.
When possible Heather Brett edits and publishes the work of top winners and highly commended students. Their last book was entitled ‘Towards a Wilderness’ which ‘Books Ireland’ hailed as a “delightful collection” brimming with “marvellous and heart warming, with infectious fun or deep thought sincerity”.

Heather also hopes to publish two anthologies, one to celebrate 20 years of the best contemporary writings and artwork (adult) and the other with winning student work. Windows relies on sponsorship and grants to publish these books and they would like to take this opportunity to thank the grant bodies, businesses and individuals who have supported them throughout the 20 years.

Windows has also provided opportunities for poets to gain a live audience for their work. Over the years they travelled the length and breadth of Ireland visiting places like The Blasket Centre, Dun Chaoin, Hope Castle, Castleblaney, Bewley’s Café, Dublin, The Irish Writers Centre, Dublin, Verbal Arts Centre, Derry and in keeping with their commitment to the Irish language, Windows have published many writers in the native tongue.

The Windows Publications 20th National Poetry Competition (including adults) opens on Monday October 17 and closes on Friday, December 16. The winners will be notified by April 2012 and must appear at the awards ceremony on Sunday, May 13 in Cavan Crystal Hotel.

Anyone who wishes to submit poetry, short stories, prose or artwork to Windows Publications for their next Authors & Artists Introduction Series 10 in 2012, can send up to 12 poems or two short stories or pieces or prose (maximum 3,000 words each) and up to 10 images of artwork to by December 16.

Noel and Heather are part of the Poetry Ireland Writers-in-Schools Scheme and are available to provide workshops and readings in national and secondary schools and to private groups. For further information 0860650908

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