Saturday, December 31, 2011

Poem for the New Year

Somehow Thomas Hardy's pessimism with just a dash of unrealistic optimism seems right for this New Year.
Welcome 2012!

To commemorate the end of the nineteenth century Hardy composed a poem originally titled By the Century's Deathbed later renamed The Darkling Thrush. Though written several weeks earlier, it is dated 31 December 1900.

His bleak wintry take on the nineteenth century is interrupted by the cheerful song of a thrush and the poem ends with a hint of hope:

So little cause for carolings
0000Of such ecstatic sound
Was written on terrestrial things

0000Afar or nigh around,
That I could think there trembled through
0000His happy good-night air
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew

0000And I was unaware.

Friday, December 30, 2011

Text Readability Tests

This website has a readability test which can be fun to use. You copy and paste a section of your text and it calculates its readability and gives scores on the Gunning Fog Index and Flesch Reading Ease.

The first estimates the years of formal education needed to understand the text on a first reading. A Fog index of 12 requires the reading level of a U.S. high school senior (around 18 years old). A paragraph from my history book measured 14.84 on this scale so it's beyond most American 18 year olds.

The Flesch measures textual difficulty which indicates how easy a text is to read, on a scale of 0 = very difficult, to 100 = very easy. My piece came out at 46.97 which seems bang in the middle.

Hours of holiday fun!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Your Object - The Model, Sligo

This seems like a good idea and has the potential for a very interesting exhibition.

Your Object is an exhibition, planned to take place in spring 2012, to mark the 150th anniversary of The Model Building in Sligo. This exhibition will consist of people’s treasured objects to reflect the cultural region today. Everyone is invited to submit an image of his or her most treasured object to The Model with a short paragraph explaining why they value this object.

You are invited to submit images of photos, antiques, household items, clothing, family heirlooms, but we ask you to not send original items; an image and explanation is all that is required at this stage. Closing date is 6 January.

The Model, home of The Niland Collection, is one of Ireland’s leading contemporary arts centres. Built in 1862 as a Model School, the present building has been extended twice. The first extension was in 2000 when it was completely refurbished and extended by McCullough Mulvin Architects. The building was redeveloped again by architects Sheridan Woods in 2010, whose extension to The Model has increased the building by a third in size to create a world-class visitor centre.

Saturday, December 24, 2011

Happy Christmas

Lost Christmas

He is alone, it is Christmas.
Up the hill go three trees, the three kings.
There is a star also
Over the dark manger. But where is the Child?

Pity him. He has come far
Like the trees, matching their patience
With his. But the mind was before
Him on the long road. The manger is empty.

R. S. Thomas, Young and Old (1972).

A happy and a peaceful Christmas to all who stumble this way.

The crib is in St Joseph's Church, Rockfield, Coolaney, Co Sligo.

The poem is by Welsh poet and Minister, R.S. Thomas, whose simple, spare poetry has a strange mixture of the devout and the questioning. During last summer I visited his resting place, beside St. John's Church, Porthmadog, North Wales.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Toy Sale 1923

One of the fascinating things about researching in old newspapers is how easy it is to get sidetracked into reading stuff which is interesting but irrelevant. The advertisement above is from the Irish Independent front page, Christmas Eve 1923.

Read the list of lovely toys on offer. Can I have a clock-work train please? No toy guns mentioned, the civil war was just over and the rebuilding was just started.
Also no Santa Claus, instead a Queen in Fairyland.

Anyone getting Mah-Jongg this Christmas?

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Rolls Royce Armoured Cars

A feature of the recent War Dead book launch in Trim was the presence of some World War 1 re-enactors from Lord Edward's Own Historical Re-enactment group, Athy and the Irish military war museum, Drogheda. Some were dressed in uniforms of the time and had rifles, pistols, grenades, kit on display.

I was intrigued by the lot, especially by the guns and especially especially by the Vickers machine gun pictured above. You can research and write history which involves weapons and their deadly use often without ever really knowing what the weapons looked like.

One of the many fascinating characters featured in my book is the Rolls Royce armoured car The Ballinalee which spent quite a while in Sligo, was taken by the anti-Treaty forces (republicans, irregulars, IRA - what to call them is often a problem). It was used against the Free State troops for a few months until it was recaptured. The anti-Treaty forces put it out of action before it was taken and it was not used again in the war.

Anyway the armoured car's main weapon was a Vickers gun and I had never seen one until Noel French's launch. An impressive weapon firing 450 to 500 round of .303 per minute, with an effective range of 2,000 metres. The republicans took the machine gun out of the Ballinalee before they abandoned it.

The most famous of the 14 or so Rolls Royce armoured cars used by the Free State is the Sliabh na mBan beside which Michael Collins died during the Civil War. It has just been fully restored by the army and is in the Curragh, Kildare. More here , here and here.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Christmas Poems

The Boyne Writers readings for the residents in Knightsbridge Home have been going on now for two years I think and have been very enjoyable and successful as well judging by the number of attendees. We have also succeeded in involving many of the residents in reading, reciting or singing themselves which adds considerably to the enjoyment.

I've been looking for poems to read this Wednesday on the theme of Christmas. They have to be well written with a good rhythm to aid reading and help keep attention. A bit a humour here and there helps as does clever rhymes. Simple and serious is also a good combination.

I found a discussion thread on this very topic and followed some of the links to poems, some I might use. I always feel free to shorten poems I read or indeed sometimes to change words.

Anyway here is my tentative set list for Wednesday. The number I read will depend on how many residents want to contribute, I may read as little as four or as many as seven, so better be prepared. Last week we had a request for A Christmas Childhood by Kavanagh but I didn't have the poem in any of the regular books I carry with me.

Advent - John Betjeman

The Boy Who Laughed at Santa Claus - Ogden Nash

Talking Turkeys - Benjamin Zephaniah

Prayer For a New Mother - Dorothy Parker

Goodwill To Men - Give Us Your Money - Pam Ayres

Christmas Bells - Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

A Christmas Childhood - Patrick Kavanagh

Any other suggestions?

Sunday, December 18, 2011

LitLab at Crannóg, Cavan

The Cavan branch of the Cavan/Meath LitLab was well represented at Saturday's,celebration in Crannóg Bookshop, Cavan when owner, John McEvoy, was presented with the Bord Gais Energy Bookshop of the Year Award. Three of our members , Honor Duff, Mairéad Donnellan and Paddy Halligan, read there at noon by special invitation and made a great impression on shoppers and fellow-celebrants.

They read three poems each, Paddy read from his "exotic journeys" poems partly based on experience and partly fiction in the proper proportions. Honor's set included a recent one based on a flooded Cavan field visited by optimistic water fowl and Mairéad read her hilarious "They're only here for Heaney" poem which usually goes down very well with its self effacing humour.

Other notable writers, Noel Monahan, Shane Connaughton, Dermot Healy and Michael Harding were reading at the venue during the day.

Mulled wine, good company, good prose and poetry and a positive bookshop story - a perfect start to the Christmas season. Well done LitLab!

Saturday, December 17, 2011

Bord Gais Energy Bookshop of the Year 2011

Crannog bookshop, Church St., Cavan has been named Bord Gais Energy Bookshop of the Year 2011.

"Proprietors John McEvoy and Anne Connolly were thrilled to be named as the winning recipient of this honour and to receive their award trophy together with the prize of €5,000 worth of free electricity from Bord Gáis Energy.

As any visitor to The Crannóg can see, this is a bookshop with a distinct identity; a warm embracing physical space filled with a broad and eclectic range of titles so rarely seen in bigger shops. From a class field of excellent bookshops from all over the country, The Crannóg emerged as a worthy winner."

John believes a bookshop is an integral part of the community and ‘reflects the community it’s in’ and was keen to thank customers and staff, ‘without our customers we wouldn’t be what we are’ he said. ‘We are also very proud of the staff who work here; it’s a nice reward for them as well.’

The award is being celebrated in the bookshop all day today Saturday 17th December. A number of national authors will attend during the day and local authors are welcome to come in and informally read a couple of poems or extract form a novel or whatever at some point throughout the day.

A number of our LitLab members will be there and will read.

Friday, December 16, 2011

Taoiseach Enda Kenny Launches War Dead Book

The Taoiseach launched Noel French's book The Meath War Dead in Trim last evening. He did the book and the dead proud delivering a speech which acknowledged their sacrifice, the country's lack of appreciation in the past and the plans to have the coming centenaries respectful of all traditions.

He spoke of the pain of the families whose relatives had been killed in the war and of those survivors who returned to a changed Ireland where their sacrifices were not valued or acknowledged.

Things have changed, he said, and spoke of the Irish President and the Queen visiting the Garden of Remembrance and the War Memorial at Islandbridge earlier this year. He promised that the coming centenary celebrations would be inclusive with mutual respect a central element.

(Photo from this website)

This made me wonder about my own book, does it fit the bill? I think so. The first world war looms large in the early part and the contribution and opinions of the non-Catholic population of Sligo are well dealt with, I think. We'll see.

A feature of the Taoiseach's speech was the amount of poetry included - Owen, Ledwidge, Robert Graves. Maybe not what you might expect from a Fine Gael Taoiseach! But then Enda is a west of Ireland man where poetry has always been valued and educated in St Patrick's College, Drumcondra as a primary teacher. So he knew some of the poems by heart, either from teaching them or being taught them.

He quoted from the well known Lament for Thomas McDonagh by Francis Ledwidge but also a verse from his less well-known The Irish in Gallipolli

Neither for lust of glory nor new throne
This thunder and this lightning of our wrath
Waken these frantic echoes, not for these
Our cross with England’s mingle, to be blown
On Mammon’s threshold; we but war when war
Serves Liberty and Justice, Love and Peace.

And finally An Taoiseach mentioned the ending of the war in Iraq and the futility of the "war to end wars" quoting from Robert Graves' poem Armistice Day 1918

When the days of rejoicing are over,
When the flags are stowed safely away,
They will dream of another wild 'War to End Wars'
And another wild Armistice day.

A well organised night, a great speech and an excellent launch for what is the fourth in a series of such volumes on Irish counties by the History Press.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

The Meath War Dead

As regards centenaries and the upcoming remembrance of the Irish Revolution this goes hand in hand with the centenary of the Great War 1914-1918. The commemoration of the Irish dead of that war has been problematic over the years but is now an accepted part of the national story.

Over five hundred men from Meath died in the Great War. Their lives and those of their families are recorded in a new book, The Meath War Dead, by Trim author Noel French. Noel has been director of the Meath Heritage Centre, Trim since 1987 and has written twelve local histories and has had a number of articles published in Riocht na Midhe.

The book is being launched by An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, in the Knightsbrook Hotel, Trim at 7pm on this Thursday, 15 December. It is published by the History Press.

These Meath war dead lie in graveyards from Basra to Bermuda, from Jerusalem to Gallipoli, from Ypres to Teltown and everywhere in between. This new book contains a comprehensive record of those men and includes those who died at sea. One hundred men from Navan and district died in the war. Twenty families lost more than one member in the war. The poet, Francis Ledwidge, is the most well-known of the Meath causalities of the war.

Not only are the dates and places of deaths of each man recorded but the author attempts to give some background details including parents, dates of baptisms, occupations of their parents and their own occupations. The present families of the men who died provided photographs and never before seen correspondence for this publication.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

The Irish Revolution 1912-1923 - County Sligo

Many of you, for various reasons, boredom included, will be delighted to hear that I sent off the final draft of my history book earlier this week. I edited it down to 70,762 words - that includes footnotes and bibliography - so it's finished.

More or less. The editors will now look it over, possibly make a few corrections and suggestions which will be finalised by the end of March. And then Four Courts Press will publish it at the end of 2012 as the first volume in its series on the Irish counties 1912-1923.

Great to get in early! Already you can see the build up of publications of that period. The centenary is going to see many more such publications and by the time 2023 arrives we'll all be tired of centenaries.

I still have to finalise (Four Courts Press house style would demand finalize) the photographs to be included. I found quite a number of the period which are previously unpublished and they should add a lot to the book.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Book Auction Kells

I spent a few hours this afternoon viewing books in a second-hand book auction in Usher's Auction House, Kells - lot of lots of books. This is the second part of the sale of the collection of William Battersby, late of Cannon Row, Navan, Co. Meath, who passed away in the Autumn 2010.

This appears to have been a large and eclectic collection and includes newspapers, pamphlets, posters, stamps, postcards as well as books that cover topics from Irish language to religion, art & design to agriculture, history, drama, poetry, mythology, archaeology and travel. There are lots such as "A shelf of poetry books" and "Books about Jonathan Swift".

There are also papers from the north County Dublin HolmPatrick Estate, Headfort Estate in Kells, advertising memorabilia, theatre programmes, old receipts and log books.

William Battersby wrote a number of books including ‘The Age of Newgrange’ (1997), ‘The Hospitallers at Kilmainham, Kells’ (1996), and ‘The Book of Kells, A New Look’ (1995) a selection of which will also feature in the sale.

I think there is also a third sale to be held in January. An article about the previous sale by Des Kenny here. The current sale starts tomorrow, Monday 12 December, at 11am and will probably last all day.

It's a strange experience to wander through stuff that someone has collected over a lifetime now spread out to be dispersed among the curious and the interested - a bit like a person's life spread out for the public gaze.

Did I see anything interesting? A few but I doubt if I'll buy anything. I already have quite a lot of books etc, not enough I think to make three sales, but one? Maybe.

Friday, December 9, 2011

T.S. Eliot Poetry Award Controversy

The Australian poet I mentioned a few times recently, John Kinsella, is in the news again. His collection, Armour, was one of a shortlist of ten for the £15,000 TS Eliot prize announced in October.

Since then award-winning poet Alice Oswald, who was shortlisted for her new collection Memorial, a retelling of the Iliad focusing on the ordinary soldiers who died, pulled out in protest at its sponsorship by an investment company. Oswald said she believes that "poetry should be questioning not endorsing such institutions".

The Poetry Book Society, which runs the award loses its Arts Council funding next year and it announced a new three-year sponsorship for the prize from private investment management firm Aurum Funds at the same time as it revealed its shortlist in October.

Oswald's withdrawal was followed later this week by that of Kinsella. 'The business of Aurum does not sit with my personal politics and ethics', he said, 'hedge funds are at the very pointy end of capitalism'.

I'm not sure how I feel about this. I admire their stands of course but I like the idea of someone like Kinsella, whose poetry leaves no room for doubt about his attitude, taking money from an outfit like Aurum and getting publicity from them - subversion rather than endorsing.

Eight poets remain in the running for the TS Eliot prize, one of the most prestigious in poetry: John Burnside, Carol Ann Duffy, David Harsent, Esther Morgan, Daljit Nagra, Sean O'Brien and Irish poets, Leontia Flynn for Profit and Loss and Bernard O'Donoghue for Farmer's Cross.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Greg Hastings Exhibition

Greg Hastings, who does our Boyne Berries cover illustrations, is having an exhibition of his imaging work at Trim Library from this Saturday 10th Dec until 17th Dec 2011.

He will be in attendance during that period and will be delighted to meet and talk to visitors. All images will be on sale - great Christmas presents!

Images displayed on this Facebook page represent a selection of his work. These fine art images are carefully printed on 300gsm 'Fine Art Paper'. Each print is individually done and carefully controlled to be colour faithful and rendered properly.

Greg's cover for the first ever Boyne Berries.

Monday, December 5, 2011

W.B. Yeats - Athlete

Spent the day in the National Library. Am I finished there now? Well it all depends on what you mean by finished. I found what I needed - a great quote from Bishop Morrisroe of Achonry to finish my book and match his great quote I open the book with. And some information on the Royal Irish Constabulary in Sligo.

But finished? Well. I popped down to visit W.B. Yeats while there. It's a wonderful exhibition, something new to notice each visit. Nice online presence also. I looked at the lovely cup (picture right) W.B. won in 1879 at the age of 14, for winning the half-mile race at the Godolphin School in Hammersmith, London.

Now if he had only kept up the athletics and forgot about that ould poetry he could have represented his country at the 1896 Olympic Games at the age of 30 more or less. A gold medal maybe!

Anyway W.B. was a great man for revising his poems even after they had been published so he would appreciate how difficult it is to say that something is finished.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Anne Crinion - Trim Photographs

Anne Crinion's book, 50 Years through the Eye of the Camera, containing photographs from Trim and surrounding areas was launched last night. A large crowd attended.

The book contains a large number of photographs of events, shows, drama, musicals, local happenings, official opening etc from the early 1960s. Many familiar faces there some now also no longer with us. The book is available in local outlets in Trim.

I arrived in Trim for the first time in 1970 and stayed in lodgings with Anne's mother for ten years so I know a lot of people in the book.

I feature in the book in a photo from the early seventies when I was in a drama group in Boardsmill. We did Sean O'Casey's Shadow of a Gunman set during the war of independence. I played Donal Davoren, the poet (a very bad poet) who is mistaken for a gunman. War of independence, poetry seem to have haunted me.

Anyway I remember it as being very enjoyable and carefree. We didn't worry too much about accents or method acting or any of that fancy stuff - the height of our ambition was to learn the lines and deliver them on stage. Sadly some of those in the picture have passed away.

And me? I'm the fellow on the left with lots of hair and bare feet.


Friday, December 2, 2011

Boyne Writers Publications

More congratulations to Boyne Writers Group members, to Anne Crinion whose book of photographs of Trim and surrounding areas is being published tonight, Friday, in Trim Castle Hotel. This book contains a selection of photographs taken by Anne over the last thirty years or so and features many Trim people and events. A great Christmas present!

And on this Saturday the Irish Daily Mail are publishing The Holly Gatherers by member Caroline Finn in their glossy magazine. This piece was included in RTE's most recent Sunday Miscellany Anthology. I think there may even be a photograph of Caroline in the magazine, with holly as well!

There's no keeping up with this crowd!

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Francis Ledwidge International Poetry Awards

Blogger, Peter Goulding, has posted the results of the Francis Ledwidge International Poetry Awards here. He himself came second this year, well done Peter! (Though possibly it's time to drop this "What a suprise - there must be some mistake!" attitude to your numerous winnings and commendations and publishing credits Peter.)

Some other familiar names in the winners and commended lists. Two members of our Meath/Cavan LitLab group are there, Andrew Jones and Patrick Devaney (Andy and Pat to us) as is Boyne Writers Group member Evan Costigan. Well done lads!

The awards ceremony, always a friendly event, will take place at ‘Donoghues’ The Glen of Aherlow, 29 Emmet Road, Inchicore, Dublin, on Wednesday, 14th December, 2011 at 8.00 pm. All are welcome.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Creative Writing Workshop - Finding Inspiration

Last year or maybe the year before I attended a poetry workshop conducted by Dave Lordan at the Dromineer Festival. I really enjoyed it. Dave is a well known poet with a particular style of writing and delivery. Sometimes people get the idea that if a poet has a particular style he/she will teach the style in a workshop. not true in my experience and certainly not true about Dave.

I mention this because Dave Lordan is giving a workshop entitled Finding Inspiration in the Hotspot Cafe, Greystones on this Friday December 2nd. 7.30 to 9pm. One could do worse than attend.

Topics covered:

Where do stories and creative ideas come from?
How can we make creative use of our own vast store of stories and experiences?
How can we jump-start our imaginations when we just aren't feeling up to it?
How do we draw inspiration from our every day lives?
How do we make time in our busy lives for inspiration and creativity?

The cost will be 10 euro, including admission to the fabulous Speakeasy Cabaret later on that evening. Booking is advised. To book a place phone dave on 0870921117, or e-mail at

Read more about Dave at his website.

Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Bedtime Short Story Competition

Actress and writer Pauline McLynn is encouraging burgeoning authors to get writing and enter A. Vogel's national short story writing competition, which will run over the next five months.
It is aimed at encouraging the creative people of Ireland to write the perfect bedtime story to help you on your way to the Land of Nod.

Pauline, the author of eight published novels comments on the power of a good bedtime story, and why she is happy to launch the competition and act as a judge for the overall winning entry;

"The written word holds so much therapeutic power, whether you are writing the words or reading them. I think we have all experienced the simple luxury of settling into a good story after a long day, and the ability of words to transport the reader to a different place or state of mind never ceases to amaze me, it is part of the reason that I love my job as a writer so much.

I think the challenge of asking people to write a story specifically for bedtime is a really nice creative one, so I am encouraging everybody out there who has a story to tell, to download or pick up an entry form and get writing! I look forward to a winter cosying up with some of the great bedtime stories from the competition".

The competition is free to enter, running from November 2011 to May 2012, and three prizes will be awarded (1st: €500, 2nd: €300, 3rd: €100) chosen by Pauline McLynn and Nadine O'Regan (Sunday Business Post Books and Arts Editor). You can also check out our top five stories on our Facebook page ( every month and vote for your favourite. Entry forms can be downloaded from the website.

Sunday, November 27, 2011

John Kinsella - The Ambassadors

I mentioned the Western Australian poet John Kinsella in a blog from Perth. The Guardian yesterday published a poem of his, The Ambassadors. This is a wonderfully complex take on an Australian in London, standing before the famous painting by Holbein of the same name in the National Gallery, London imagining himself as an Australian ambassador.

The poem is dedicated to the late Australian-born poet Peter Porter. Obit here, poems here.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

The Irish Revolution, 1912-23 Series - Sligo

Things are moving fast as regards my history book for Four Courts Press. I submitted a draft manuscript before going to Australia. One of my editors has read it and returned it with an amount of praise and a small number of suggestions as regards improvements.

He has also made quite a number of corrections, imposition of the publisher's house style etc and has cut about 1,500 words. This is great! I'm now doing the final (well probably penultimate) editing, adopting the editor's changes, dealing with his suggestions and cutting where I can.

Maps are being prepared and the image for the cover has been chosen. Pictures to include are being finalised (sorry, Four Courts Press house style insists on z -) finalized.

We expect the process to be completed by March 2012 and the book to be published as planned in winter 2012. My volume on Sligo will be the first in this important series and I'll be thrilled to see it published!

Word count at the moment: 71,104. Target: 70,000.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Maynooth Poetry Launch

A great launch last evening in the cosy, comfortable Contemporary Arts Centre in Maynooth. A good audience, old and young, members of Maynooth writers group, some NUI Maynooth students, friends and relations, a couple of Poetry Divas, a man with a guitar who could sing, at least three bloggers, one Shelbourne supporter and the lady herself Kate Dempsey.

She read six poems from her collection and gave her usual polished performance as one might expect from a diva. She even got audience participation - she had us blowing bubbles as her read her great poem, What To Do With My Ashes - (Use your imagination!).

Kate's dinky book Some Poems can be bought online here.

Above: Kate Dempsey and Peter Goulding sharing a joke.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Kate Dempsey’s Some Poems - Launch

This evening sees the launch in Maynooth of Kate Dempsey’s book of poetry Some Poems one of the new series of dinky poetry books published by The Moth.

The Moth Editions are small, really small (10cm high and 32 pages long). They will get lost on a bookshelf but are perfect for your handbag. Handbag? OK also for your inside pocket or briefcase or wallet or even to keep beside your computer.

The book has 32 pages and includes many of Kate's greatest hits including the poem which won the Plough Prize this year, Amsterdam Otto Recommends, and While it Lasted, Lump and Verbatim. Kate read twice at our Boyne Readings over the last two years.

The aim of the series is to present new work by up-and-coming writers and selected work by already established writers ‒ from Ireland and abroad. The first four titles in the series are Some Poems by Dermot Healy, Ciarán O’Rourke, Kate Dempsey and Ted McCarthy.

The series is edited by the editor of The Moth magazine, Rebecca O’Connor, whose collection Poems was published by the Wordsworth Trust. Her poems have appeared in The Guardian, The Spectator, The Stinging Fly, Poetry Ireland Review and Poetry Review.

The books cost just €4 each and you can also order them from the website (postage is free).

The launch of Kate's book takes place tonight, Wednesday 23rd November 2011 from 7:30pm at Maynooth Contemporary Arts Centre, Coates Lane, Maynooth, Co Kildare, (off the Main Street between Supermacs & the TSB).

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Concern Writing Competition Book

The 2011 Concern Creative Writing Competition book will be launched tomorrow, Wednesday 23 November, at 6.30pm in Newman House, St Stephen's Green, Dublin.

The book is made up of winning and selected articles from 116 of this year's entrants. We in Boyne Writers are delighted that one of our members, Caroline Finn, has a piece included in the book.

For this year’s competition, writers were asked to imagine themselves as a journalist, stationed in a developing country, writing for an internationally renowned newspaper. Their editor asked them to write a 1,000 word article on one of the following topics: Living on less than $2 a day in the developing world: Imagining the future of a child born today in the developing world: Important lessons we can learn from the developing world

There were 776 entries from 39 countries spanning five continents and the standard was reported as being very high. The judges, top journalists from Ireland and the US, had an extremely difficult task in deciding the winners. The three winners in the adult section came from Australia, Canada and the Virgin Islands.

The book can be purchased from the Concern website.

Well done Caroline!

Monday, November 21, 2011

Doire Press Poetry and Fiction Chapbook Competition

OK, holidays over, back to normal. What about entering some competitions, this one seems interesting.

Doire Press has just announced its 2012 1st Annual International Poetry and Fiction Chapbook Competition. Winners will each receive 75 copies of their own professionally edited and printed chapbook, published by Doire Press. Chapbooks will be perfect-bound, contain up to 40 pages, feature colour front and back covers, as well as their own isbn and barcode.

Fiction entries: one short story (4,000 words max)
Poetry: 4-6 poems (10 pages max)
Deadline: January 9, 2012

Fiction: Alan McMonagle, author of Liar, Liar. He was second prize winner of the 2006 Séan O’Faoláin short story contest and one of four Irish writers long-listed for the 2009 Frank O’Connor Award.

Poetry: James Martyn, author of Shedding Skin. He was short-listed for a Hennessy Award in 2006 and for the Francis McManus award in 2007 and 2008.

Submission Guidelines:
€10 for first entry, €8 for each additional entry. Cheques or money orders to be made payable to Doire Press. Entry fees can also be paid via Paypal through the Doire Press website. Email submissions will also be accepted with an additional €1 printing fee per entry.
Send entries via postal mail to: Doire Press, Aille, Inverin, County Galway, Ireland.
Entries must include cover page with full contact information and title of story or first poem. Entrant’s name must not appear anywhere on the manuscript.
To read the full list of contest guidelines, submit via email or to pay by Paypal, please visit the website at For any questions, email

Saturday, November 19, 2011

Last Look at Australia

Chava Kuchar, the hazard, Sculpture by the Sea, Bondi 2011. 

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Home Again

Arrived back in this country this afternoon after a month down under. The final three days of the holiday were spent in Sydney being shown around by cousin Gerald. The Opera House, the Harbour Bridge, the ferry to Manly, The Art Gallery were all very impressive.

The weather was very hot for the first two days and we did the cliff walk from Bondi Beach to Bronte Beach (not named after the writers sadly) which was spectacular. This has been made even more interesting by the Sculpture by the Sea exhibition which I think is an annual event. The dramatic site allows sculpture to display their work to the best effect and many of 100 or so work are stunning. Photos of all on the website.

Picture above Simon McGrath's who left the tap running? a comment on a country where weather forecasts on TV often include statistics on the amount of water in reservoirs but also relevant to us all. Below a sculpture - a TV set with rabbit's ears actually - entitled The Best of Perth by the collective of artists who studied together in Perth called k.m.s.e. We wondered about the "meaning" of this work, a dig at the quality of life in WA perhaps.

I was also delighted to meet other relations in the Sydney area and to visit the resting place of my recently deceased aunt who sailed to Australia with husband and children in 1956. Thanks to all who made the Sydney visit so memorable.

Then home by Etihad Airlines. A fourteen hour flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi and an eight hour flight from there to Dublin where it has been autumn and is now winter. Much cooler and wetter (though Sydney had rain yesterday evening) but in a day or two we won't notice the difference.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Goodbye Perth WA

And so goodbye to Perth. We had a wonderful month there, saw most of the sights. And what a beautiful place, one of the most isolated cities in the world. Thanks to Sinead, Rav and Valerie and all the others who made the holiday so memorable. Thanks to the poetry people at Perth Poetry Club and Voicebox and the poetry classs at Fremantle. Thanks to those who made the visit to the WACA so enjoyable.

We hope to be back soon!

Sunday, November 13, 2011

Perth Glory lose 1-0

We attended the A League soccer match last night between Perth Glory and Sydney FC. A slow start brought to life at the end of the first half by a Sydney goal against the run of play. This resulted in a great second half with Glory completely on top but failing to score. Match report here.

Ex-Sligo Rovers player Adam Hughes had a good game and had a shot come back off the crossbar. Irishman Liam Miller also played well and had an effort just miss. At the end the Perth goalkeerer nearly scored from a corner. Perth are third in the table, Sydney second.

A small number of away fans, about 50, made quite a lot of noise. Football chants seem to be more or less the same the world over though I haven't heard the version of the Ode to Joy before.

Considering it's a five hour plane journey from Sydney to Perth it's a suprise that any away fans attended. All Perth's away games involve similar plane journeys since they are the only team on the west coast. The league includes one New Zealand team as well.
Packing today, flying to the east coast tomorrow for a short visit then home after a wonderful holiday.

Friday, November 11, 2011

Fremantle Writing Class

There has been a running joke here about my inability to orientate myself in Perth - I'm blaming it on the change in hemispheres (A poem there perhaps) but this morning I managed to catch a bus from Melville to Fremantle and walk to the  Fremantle Arts Centre. Fremantle Arts Centre (FAC) had been going strong for 36 years. The historic site was originally the first purpose-built ‘lunatic’ asylum in WA and is a wonderfully spacious collection of buildings with great grassy spaces.

Out of the Asylum Writers Group Inc. is an independent organization that provides creative writing opportunities for new and emerging writers. The group meets socially & for writing classes every Friday in the leafy grounds of the Fremantle Arts Centre and are also involved in the Voicebox readings.

I  had been told at the Voicebox readings of a Friday morning poetry class conducted by poet Shane McCauley and with nothing else on the schedule I decided to attend. It was very worthwhile with about sixteen participants in a well organised, friendly session. We were asked to do three exercises, each of which was well introduced and had a "sample" poem.

It being the 11th of November, the first topic was rememberance and war. Being Irish, neutral in WW2, meant that I felt a little outside the group, almost neutral in fact. After reading the great In Flanders Fields by John McCrea, Shane distributed copies of a war poem by e e cummings, the bigness of cannon to help us focus on the exercise.

My effort reflected Ireland's neutrality and included a reference to my Uncle Paddy, who had a distinguished career in the Irish army, and often told the story of being ordered to open fire on an allied aeroplane overflying Leitrim during WW2. Uncle Paddy sadly passed away since we arrived in Australia. I ended with a reference to Paddy serving with the UN in a post-colonial situation in the Congo, a reflection on the unfinished legacies of two world wars. Only a first draft but it might become a poem yet.

After each exercise we were invited to read our efforts and it was clear that participants felt comfortable to read rough drafts. I read mine which was well received.

A second exercise dealt with Wants and a third shorter one with the sense of touch. We finished with a short poem by Rumi - Who makes these changes. A most enjoyable and instructive session thanks to Shane and all the participants.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Perth Poet - John Kinsella

What poetry to read while on holidays in Perth WA? Last Sunday I popped into a small second-hand bookshop in Margaret River, The Margaret River Book Exchange - force of habit - and came across and bought a volume of John Kinsella's poetry.

John Kinsella was born in the Perth area and is among Australia's best known poets. I had read some of his work in the US magazine Poetry and was struck by his combination of strong ideas on conservation, nature, environment with a mixture of the traditional and modern as regards form and style.

He describes himself thus: I consider myself a writer of the environment - an ethically and politically motivated writer who perceives each poem, each text I write, as part of a resistance against environmental damage.

This volume, The Hunt (1998), is great, full of the Australian environment, wheatlands, outback, roos, utes, wandoo trees, emus. The narratives and titles like Death of a Farm Boy and Death of an Infant remind you of Robert Frost but others like The Machine of the Twentieth Century Rolls Through the High-Yielding Crop and Dematerialising the Poisoned Pastoral challenge in a way Frost never did.

The text of all the poems in the collection is here.
There are sound files of John Kinsella readings at PennSound here.
He shares a blog here.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Voicebox, Clancy's Fremantle

Delighted to get a chance to attend and read at another poetry reading while in Australia, this time the November Voicebox, at Clancy's Fish Pub in Fremantle. A very comfortable venue, a large room at the back of the premises with a proper stage, lighting and sound. Plenty of room, a large crowd of up to 50 people and a welcome for the stranger. The food was good as well - the Monday special is Barramundi, chips and a drink for 20 dollars.

The first half featured local writers Jennifer Kornberger and Cecily Scutt. Jennifer Kornberger is a poet, playwright and community artist. Her first book of poetry, I could be rain was published by Sunline Press in 2007. She read a number of longer poems and enthusiastically shared her fascination with the phenomenon of seeing and light which are the subject of her next collection.

Cecily Scutt is a Perth fiction writer and poet. Her short fiction has appeared in magazines and anthologies including Dreaming Down Under (UK, US and Australia) which won a World Fantasy Award in 1998.  In the last few years she has also been writing poetry and she read a number of short poems. She also read extracts from a novel she is currently working on which deals with the character of Captain Fitzroy who was the captain of the Beagle with Darwin.

The second half was open mic. Ten to twelve read in this section, the limit was five minutes each, no-one went over the limit, all were poets and read two or three each. A good variety with two from Perth Poetry Club, the two MCs Janet Jackson and a poet whose name I forget, also reading.

I wasn't the only European to read. A lady from Belgium read three poems in Flemish or Dutch and her daughter read translations in English.

I read three poems, starting with my Perth poem for Sinead, then The Truth and ended with the Journey Home. The second one went down very well with everyone "getting" that last line - "I raised her well" -and reacting appropriately. I changed a few words in the last poem to have the Christmas clothes parcel come from Sydney instead of New York. A great night, thanks to the organisers, audience and readers.

Monday, November 7, 2011

Sligo Rovers and WA Warriors

Yesterday was a day of sport. A one day cricket match at the WACA here in Perth. The Western Australia Warriors were beaten by the Queensland Bulls in the second last over. We had great seats in the members enclosure thanks to one of the famous sporting Marsh family.

Geoff Marsh is an Australian cricket legend, just appointed as Sri Lanka national cricket coach, and his two sons are also making names for themselves. Shaun is on the Australian test team at present in South Africa and Mitchell has just returned from playing in the Australian one day team in South Africa. An all-rounder, he played for the Warriors yesterday, bowling above. He was out for one run but then took four wickets. Their sister Melissa is a prominent member of the West Coast Waves basketball team.

The ground still has one of those wonderful old manual scoreboards. The game started just after 11 and finished after 6. For those of us brought up on games of 60 or 90 minute duration cricket is such a different experience, a long period of time made up of  a large number of short intense face to face encounters.

Then the FAI Cup Final which started at 11.30 pm local time and was over at 2.30 am. I watched it on Another great win for Sligo Rovers with lots of drama and many talking points. Irish Times report here.

The nice thing about it was the number of reasons Shelbourne supporters have for complaining and giving themselves that good, righteous feeling that they should have won: the sending off, the referee obviously being on Sligo's side - look at all the yellow cards he gave Shelbourne players! - the goalkeeper moving off the line, etc. etc.

So Sligo Rovers win the cup and Shelbourne get all the sympathy - seems like a fair bargain and one we'll take anyday. This was their third cup appearance in a row and their second win in a row - what about three in a row next year.

By the way for some reason I'm not able to make comments on Blogger while here, on this one or on others, but can read them of course so thanks to those who have commented.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Fremantle Writers - John Boyle O'Reilly

I spent a few hours yesterday morning wandering through central Fremantle, visiting the Maritime Museum - which includes a very good exhibit on the WA whaling industry - the markets, a secondhand bookshop and having coffee in the fresh air. It did rain a bit later.

Fremantle is a popular tourist destination and there are 11 self guided tourist trails in the city. One of these is the The Fremantle Writers Walk, a series of five art installations along High Street that celebrate past and present local writers. The art installations have been designed and fabricated by Fremantle artist Bridget Norton.

Each installation features one selected writer and incorporates a short passage of writing from their work. The artworks are in the form of 2.4m high markers or totems, with the writer’s name and selected text on the face of the totem. Glass light boxes within the totem also provide text and graphic images relevant to the selected writing.

The shape of the installations mean they fit easily into the streetscape but it also makes it easy to miss them. The extracts from the writings are small and not easy to read. Still a nice idea. What about something like this for Trim - surely we could come up with five famous writers.

So far the ‘walk’ incorporates only 5 writers and includes one Irishman, Meath-born John Boyle O'Reilly. He actually spent only a short period of time in Fremantle and Western Australia as a convict before he escaped in 1869 but he did write what is commonly regarded as the first Western Australian novel, Moondyne (1880) based on his experiences as a convict there.

The other writers honoured in the walk are: Tim WintonJoan London; Xavier Herbert and Kim Scott.

Saturday, November 5, 2011

Perth Glory and Sligo Rovers

Sport is big news here in Australia and such a variety of sports. The Melbourne Cup horse race last week really did stop the nation and caused more news minutes than any sports event back home ever does. Swimmer Ian Thorp's comeback to the pool is also big news at the moment.

The International Rules games was shown on TV here but was not the big news it might have been in Ireland. The Australian team contained few top ranking AFL players. The AFL is off season at the moment so I won't be able to attend a game.

Tomorrow however I'm attending the WACA to see Western Australia play a one day cricket match and the following weekend I'm attending a Perth Glory soccer match. Glory are one of the top teams, Liam Miller is playing for them this season as is Adam Hughes who played for Sligo Rovers a few seasons back.

Speaking of the bit o' red, their third consecutive cup final appearance is Sunday. I attended the last two, a loss and a victory, but this year I hope to watch it on by the magic of the internet. It's on at 10.30 local time here. Come on the Rovers!

Friday, November 4, 2011

Fremantle Prison

Freemantle Prison is a major tourist attraction being the only World Heritage listed building in Perth. It was closed as a prison in 1991 and remains more or less as it was then. It was built by convict labour between 1852 and 1859 from limestone quarried on site. By the time transportation ceased in 1868, just over 9,700 convicts had been transported to Western Australia.

Our guide was a Dublin man and we were shown cells as they had been fitted out for the convicts and later prisoners. In the 1960s bunk beds were installed and two inmates had to share each cell - no air conditioning. Below the convict cell with hammock bed. We saw the kitchens and the church and ended with a visit to the room where the hangings took place.

Meath born Fenian, editor, convict and writer, John Boyle O'Reilly, was transported in 1868 and imprisoned in Fremantle prison, escaped and organised the rescue of other fenians from Fremantle in 187 6 - the Catalpa rescue. The story is on the prison website here and here.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Penguin Island, Perth

When you think of Australian wildlife you don't immediately think of penguins but one species of penguin, the smallest, does live around the coast. This is the Little Penguin and a large colony lives on a small island just off the coast south of Perth - Penguin Island. It's a short five minute ferry journey to the island which is part of Shoalwater Islands Marine Park.

During the day most of the penguins are at sea fishing but there is a small number on show in a Discovery Centre on the island. These are birds that have been injured, rescued and are unable to survive in the wild. I don't use the word cute very often but it certainly applies to these little creatures.

The island is home to a variety of bird life and has large colonies of Australian pelicans  (above) and enormous numbers of seagulls and terns (below). There are dolphins and sea lions around the coast though we saw none of these. The walk around the island on boardwalks is spectacular - a lot of flies though, I should have have bought one of those hats with corks!

Wednesday, November 2, 2011


Oh yes, each evening and morning we had kookaburras outside our chalet in Margaret River.
They are related to our kingfisher.
A kookaburra poem here.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Margaret River

Last weekend was CHOGM weekend in Perth with the Commonwealth meeting and the Queen's visit so Friday was a public holiday. We were taken south to the Margaret River area for the weekend. A glorious break - sunshine and golden beaches, wine and olive tastings, a chocolate factory and plenty of good food.

Other highlights :Ngilgi Cave near Yallingup, picture above,  Cape Naturaliste lighthouse, picture below. From the top of the lighthouse we saw whales in the bay, southern right whales the guide said. We visited Canal Rocks and Sugarloaf Rocks on the beautiful rugged coast in the Leeuwin-Naturaliste National Park in this south west corner of Australia. We saw more whales from the Canal Rocks!

It's been a great holiday so far!! Now that CHOGM is over the news is the Quantas dispute with an Irishman, Alan Joyce, head of the airline and getting quite a bit of abuse for his actions - some praise as well. That and the Melbourne Cup, "the horse race which stops a nation", which is on today. Two Irish horses running I think.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Fremantle Seagulls

Fish and chips at Fremantle near the harbour.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Whale Watching - Perth

This morning we went whale watching off the coast between Fremantle and Rottnest Island (yes, where the shark struck earlier in the week). Fine weather, a good guide from the Centre for Whale Research (Western Australia), and co-operative whales made for a great two hour trip.

We saw at least eight humpback whales in two seperate pods doing what humpbacks do, blowing, showing their flukes and tails, diving and resurfacing. These whales are on their way south to the Antarctic where they will spend the southern summer. The boat by law must keep a certain distance but we had great views.

Taking photographs of whales is not easy, above the best of the few I took. The guide actually warned us not to let the camera get in the way of the experience - very wise words.

Some rain showers this morning in Perth. I understand Dundrum Shopping Centre in Dublin may have salmon (unsmoked?) swimming among the merchandise and the M50 may have a trout lane. Sorry about that!

Monday, October 24, 2011

Poetry Reading - Perth

Sinead recorded part of my reading at Perth Poetry Club.

Saturday, October 22, 2011

The Down Under Tour - Perth Poetry Club

The international debut! Perth Poetry Club on a Saturday afternoon, a wet Saturday afternoon actually. So it does rain in Perth! As one of the open mic poets said "When it rains in Perth it pours". A very enjoyable two hour session with two featured poets and plenty of others in the open mic. Most seemed to be regulars and the lot made for a great afternoon. Janet Jackson was a great host.

Perth's own Queen of Slam, Kaitlyn Plyley, was the featured poet in the first half and went down very well. Great confident delivery especially when she did a poem "by heart". Her princess poem was a great hit with topical references to Queen Elizabeth's current visit to Australia.

I was the featured poet of the second half and got a great reception, Irish accents among the audience helped. I read six poems starting with my Perth at 5am poem which was written when Sinead first went to Australia.

Others I read were greatest hits like When I Returned and Journey Back and I finished with The Truth, the one that begins with I told my children lies. As usually happens another poem in the open mic chimed with mine dealing with the truth/untruth of Santa Claus. The open mic saw a great selection of poems and styles, very enjoyable, much like an Irish open mic.

Friday, October 21, 2011

Perth Poetry Club Saturday

At last a kangaroo! Now we know we're really in Australia. Sinead took us to Caversham Wildlife Park today. Not just Kangaroos, koalas, wombats, kookaburras, emus, possums etc etc. But where are the black swans?

Tomorrow reading poetry at Perth Poetry Club at the Moon Cafe at 323 William Street, Northbridge between 2 and 4 pm. Ten minutes, choosing poems to read now. What do they expect from an Irish poet? 

Thursday, October 20, 2011


On the banks of the Swan river, Perth, Western Australia.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Perth, Western Australia

It's spring in Perth, the sun is shining and the effects of flying half way around the world are slowly wearing off. Aer Lingus to Heathrow, Cathay Pacific to Hong Kong, 11.5 hours, and the same airline from there to Perth, 9 hours. A nice airline to travel with.
Passed the time listening to Bob and reading part of (a small part) an anthology of American poetry but I found it difficult to concentrate and had to shelve plans to read a novel and played computer games instead and watched a Chinese movie on the rise of the Chinese Communist Party. Still didn't sleep though.
Plenty of relaxation here - a country in mourning over the world cup (rugby). It may be wise not to crow about the Irish victory though since that sent them into the semi-final against the All Blacks.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Gregory O'Donoghue International Poetry Prize

An international poetry competition run by the Munster Literature Centre in Cork, Ireland is currently open for submissions. Winners will be published in Southword journal which has previously showcased Billy Collins, Sinéad Morrissey, Martín Espada, Greg Delanty, Tess Gallagher, Matthew Sweeney and Brian Turner amongst many other respected literary figures.

This is a prize for single poem, named in honour of a late Irish poet long associated with the Centre. The Gregory O'Donoghue International Poetry Prize will have a first prize of 1,000 Euro (on 5 September 2011 approx. USD 1430 or GBP 875) and publication in Southword Literary Journal.

The MLC will subvent travel costs for the winner up to 600 Euro and provide hotel accommodation and meals for three days during the Cork Spring Literary Festival. The author who takes first prize will have the chance to read the winning poem at the Cork Spring Literary Festival in February 2012. There will be a second prize of E500, third prize of E250, and ten runners-up will each have their poems published in Southword and receive Southword’s standard fee of E30.

The deadline is 18 December 2011 and this year's judge is poet Patrick Cotter. More information, including submission guidelines, may be found on the website.

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

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize 2011

The inaugural Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize 2011 in association with The Moth Magazine.
First prize: €2,000, Second prize: €1,000, Third prize: €500

The three winners will be invited to read at a special award ceremony at Ballymaloe House in Co. Cork, Ireland, in March 2012, and their poems will feature in the spring issue of The Moth.

Darina Allen’s Ballymaloe Cookery School, a creative haven for lovers of food and fresh produce in Co. Cork, is the proud sponsor of this Prize, launched in association with The Moth and open to everyone, as long as the work is original and previously unpublished.

Please read the RULES before sending your poem(s) (you can enter as many poems as you like) along with an ENTRY FORM to: The Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize, The Moth, The Bog Road Press, Cavan, Co. Cavan, Ireland.

You can also ENTER ONLINE.

The entry fee is €6 (or €7.50 if you’re paying by money or postal order)

The prize will be judged by Matthew Sweeney, whose last collection, Black Moon, was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize and The Irish Times/Poetry Now Award. His selected works, The Night Post, was published in 2010.

Closing date 31 December 2011.

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Online Poetry Journal: Bare Hands

A new online poetry journal called Bare Hands will feature contemporary poetry from around the world. Ten poems will be published each month.

Write it with your bare hands…

To submit send max five poems to

Please include poems in the body of the email rather than as attachments

Mark the subject field as ‘poetry submission’

Please include a short biography

Monday, October 10, 2011

Short Stories

I don't read short stories, much nowadays. In fact, don't tell anybody, but I don't like short stories. I grew up on a diet of Frank O'Connor, Seán Ó Faoláin and Liam O'Flaherty and have had more than my fill of them. There was always something too neat, too polished, too finished about those "little gems". Probably completely different now but one is allowed one's little prejudices surely.

Anyway here's something for the short story writers:

“In conjunction with the launch of Labello Press, a small independent publisher based in South Tipperary, we are pleased to announce our first International Short Fiction Competition. In addition to cash prizes, selected stories will be awarded the Leonard A. Koval Memorial Prize and be published in the 2012 Anthology, “Gem Street.”

“Gem Street” is an annual anthology featuring previously unpublished writing and over the coming months we will be working hard to create new opportunities and services for writers.

The opening date for submissions was 30th August 2011. Closing date for submissions is 31st December 2011. Guest editors and judges will be announced.

Labello Press is committed to producing quality books and establishing itself as a writer friendly, down to earth alternative in a technology driven industry.

Please visit the website for full details and submission guidelines or to contact us for additional information.”

Sunday, October 9, 2011

Irish Writers' Centre Poetry Courses

I need to attend a poetry writing course. Maybe after Christmas.

Some News from the Irish Writers' Centre.

The Irish Writers' Centre will be host to a number of exciting courses this October. With poets Peter Sirr and Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill teaching courses that will begin in the Centre this week. As well as being a poet, Peter is a former editor of Poetry Ireland Review and a former director of the Irish Writers' Centre. It's a great opportunity for anyone who writes poetry but wishes to develop their poems further or who wishes to write poems for the first time.

Grace Wynne-Jones will also be starting a creative writing course this week; it is suitable for both beginners and experienced writers. Grace aims to create a relaxed atmosphere where people can explore their creative sides.

If you're interested, please just book through the website, call the Centre at (01) 8721302 or just drop in and book in person.

Poetry Writing with Peter Sirr

11th October to 29nd November: Tuesdays 6.30pm-8.30pm. €220 / €200(members)

This eight week course will explore some of the routes into writing poetry. To get a sense of what's possible, we'll look at examples of poetry from a wide range of poets, as well as giving feedback on participants own work. Peter will suggest ways of getting beyond the personal and anecdotal into more exciting territory.

I like that last sentence! Too much of what passes as poetry (including some of my own) is merely well composed personal anecdotes with vague nods towards some eternal truth which the reader is expected to decipher and somehow be a better more sensitive person as a result.

Saturday, October 8, 2011

Sligo 1912-1923

The manuscript is ready. The book is, well maybe not finished, but finished for now. To be submitted to the editors early next week. Presumably there will be some, maybe much, rewriting but that's for later. For now it's finished, text, footnotes, photographs, maps, bibliography. A total of 73,305 words, a bit over the required but I'll trim it in line with the editors' recommendations.

To be published winter 2012.
Paperback: Catalogue Price: €17.50. Web Price: €15.75
Hardback: Catalogue Price: €45.00. Web Price: €40.50

Friday, October 7, 2011

Bob Dylan in Dublin

Well he may not have won the Nobel Prize for Literature but he did have the Oscar (a replica presumably) on display last night at the O2 in Dublin. Mark Knopfler was the first half of a double bill and played a lively set with a very good band. A variety of instruments created an interesting sound with more than a nod towards the venue. Did I hear someone shout Riverdance! from the back at one stage? Pleasant music, nice singing but it wasn't what most of the audience came to hear.

Then Bob. A set quite similar to that in Cork earlier in the year. That great nasty satirical put down Leopard-Skin Pill-Box Hat opened the set followed by a good mix of old and newer including Tangled Up in Blue delivered in a staccato style. Then Beyond Here Lies Nothin', Desolation Row, The Levee Gonna Break all doom and gloom delivered in a lively upbeat manner, the medium at odds with the message.

Beyond here lies nothin'
Nothin' we can call our own

He finished the set with Ballad of a Thin Man - he certainly could write bitter lyrics in those days. Then a two song encore, Like A Rolling Stone and All Along the Watchtower, during which Bob introduced the band and even told us how much he enjoyed the show.

The problem with a Bob Dylan concert is the songs you don't hear. He has so many great ones that everyone goes to a concert hoping to hear Forever Young, Blowin in the Wind, Every Grain of Sand, Not Dark Yet etc etc.

Another great Bob performance. Now would Tomas Tranströmer fill the O2?

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The October Garden

The garden in October still has a remarkable amount of colour. The Sweet Pea in tubs at the front just keep on flowering. In the middle the Japanese Anemone and the Rudbeckia have done very well in spite of some cutting back last winter. The Woodbine has made a great display this year as well. but at the bottom of the garden the sycamore leaves have begun to fall.