Granta New Irish Writing

Am making my way slowly through this stunning-looking magazine. It is full of “new writing” and not “new writers” at all! This is good though as many of my fave writers are in this.

Donal Ryan has a piece from his forthcoming novel and as always he is sickeningly brilliant at hooking the reader in within seconds. The story sounds brilliant, cannot wait to get a copy.


The Granta mag also has some really, really nice photos of the Travelling community and a disadvantaged estate in Ireland. It’s funny that girls in communion dresses always seem to pop up in a photographic feature on Ireland. Time for a show on the other cultures and religions we have in Ireland?

Anyway, the photos are not only pleasant to gaze at but they are going to be brilliant for using as inspiration for my own writing and any writing classes I may teach in the new term in September.
Granta New Irish Writing Magazine is available in Easons and all good bookshops as well as the website.

Granta New Irish Writing: Nuala O’ Connor and Kevin Barry freebies!

The Granta New Irish Writing was reviewed by Eileen Battersby a few weeks back and she seemed unimpressed with many of the stories and writing in the new issue of Granta New Irish Writing. I can see her point about the title being “New Irish Writing” but perhaps the editors meant new Irish writing by established and well-loved Irish authors!


In this issue, we have the lovely Kevin Barry( and an black and white photo of him.) writing about his time in and love of Cork city. Fascinating, as always I am hooked into his every written word!  Also there are pieces from Colm Tóibín, Emma Donaghue, Sara Baume, Colin Barrett, Roddy Doyle, Siobhán Mannion, Belinda McKeon, Sally Rooney, Donal Ryan, and William Wall and more.

In fact, Eileen raved about William Wall so much that I broke my “No buying books” New Year’s resolution and ordered his new short story collection from Doire Press!

I am enjoying reading the free stories and writing on the Granta website and finished a nice short story by Nuala Ní Chonchúir called “Mayo, oh, Mayo” and have to admit the title drew me in being from Mayo myself. Enjoyed the scenes of Knock basilica and delighted with the ending!

You can find the freebies here.


Mark Haddon and “beige” short stories

Mark Haddon is the author of “The curious incident of the dog at night-time”, a brilliant novel about a teenage mathematician who has behavioural and social issues. It is really good and funny and sad. But, he also writes short stories and writes them very well too.

He wrote this amazing short story called “The Gun” and it was shortlisted for the Sunday Times EFG Awards a few years back. You can hear him read it here and I strongly recommend that you do.

the pier falls


I reviewed it back then and it was my favourite and I hoped it would win. It didn’t and a least fave story of mine did instead. No matter, Mark is back with a new short story collection called The Pier Falls on May 5th. He is quite the outspoken and self-assured writer, which is why I really like him and his writing as I think having a real personality shines in the writing!

I have been reading a couple of articles he wrote on the short story form and how he writes recently and in this one, he talks about Wells Tower’s Everything Burned, Everything Ravaged short story collection which I loved, loved, loved. The title story is one of Mark’s most loved because of its sheer humour and bravery in actually being fiction! I agree with Mark that too many short stories now are quite “meh” and “slow” and nothing at all happens. In other words, they are quite like real life, I want my fiction to be, well, fiction! It drives me slightly ever so mad when someone is reading a piece of fiction and wonders if it would really happen in life! No, of course, it wouldn’t. That is why it is a piece of imaginary ficiton. Those people are recommended to go pick up a memoir or a book of non-fiction if they want “realistic” James Wood in his book “how fiction works” talks about how fiction should be lifelike and written as a piece of art. Something that makes the reader think about what the artist might be trying to say. I think fiction needs to be entertaining and get me thinking too.

Mark Haddon finishes his thoughts by saying that ““Werner” and “The Fourth State of Matter” by Jo Ann Beard are the two stories he has read that combine those two things about fiction that I love-the “fictional stories in which nothing happens and real-life stories in which everything happens.”

You can read all of Mark’s article here on the Guardian website and his new collection, The pier falls is out May 5th with Jonathan Cape.


Teaching fiction for the Carlow Writers’ group

I developed and taught a short module on fiction this morning for the Carlow Writers’ Co-operative group that I am a member of. The group are fundraising for a travel bursary so I was eager to help out!


I am a primary school teacher by day and give courses for teachers in the evening. This was the first adult-type learning course I had given in creative writing. I was nervous but I really enjoyed it. I used all of my knowledge of teaching methodologies and planning and some of the challenges I face as a writer of short stories. I wrote while my students wrote, which I believe is of huge importance. I am not a big fan of the writing teacher who sits and watches or walks around while the students write. If the teacher is writing alongside her students then it helps him/her to relate to the challenges along the way. It was also a sneaky way for me to write!

This morning, we focused on setting and how writers like Claire Keegan have dealt with setting. I am going to add a tab on creative writing prompts that I use or have seen being used on so feel free to use and adapt! Would love to hear what you think.


Long trips to home in Mayo and the New Yorker podcast

I am originally from a small village in the West of Ireland. It takes us about 5-6 hours to get from my home in Carlow to my Mum’s house! so, Simon and I listen to New Yorker Fiction and Poetry Podcasts as there are hundreds of them available for free.


A well-known author reads a short story from another well-known author previously published in the New Yorker Magazine. For book lovers, each podcast is an hour of bliss. The New Yorker Fiction editor, Deborah Treisman is the Editor of the New Yorker Fiction magazine and is a brilliant interviewer. She always comes across as really serious and sometimes as if she doesn’t understand the short stories that are being read out! Obviously, being who she is, this is her way of getting to the nub of the story and pulling some good stuff out of the writer she is interviewing.

On the way down, we listened to David Means’ short story, the Spot being read by Jonathan Franzen. It is a most excellent story and we enjoyed the poetic rhythm and messed up characters and general naughtiness. On the way back, we listened to short story-hero of mine, Kevin Barry read Brian Friel’s, Saucer of Larks. Kevin is always very entertaining and his readings of stories are the best. He had Deborah giggling and laughing away.

You can hear Kevin read here at

and Jonathan read David Mean at

I use a free app called Podcast addict which downloads all the NY Fiction and poetry podcasts for me and has them ready for long, long, long roadtrips. Enjoy.

Feeding the wild writer:Colm Keegan at Mountains to Sea Festival.

Feeding the wild writer:Colm Keegan at Mountains to Sea Festival.

I attended a short workshop with Colm Keegan last weekend at the DLR LExicon in Dun Laoghaire for the Mountains to Sea Festival. It was a packed workshop, over 18 people but Colm handled and facilitated it well. I have read some of Colm’s short fiction and poetry and really liked his style and writing. He is also a very cool performance poet as well and has great things said about his classes so I was looking forward to it.

We looked at some different examples of what he thinks is wild writing. First, we looked at Chuck Palahniuk who is most famous for writing Fight Club. We read an excerpt from his short story/fiction type novel, Haunted. Certainly, we have full-on themes and ideas in this piece and the class got into a discussion on taboos. We explored the fact that there are many Huge taboos in writing that can shock readers but it is often the small, quiet taboos that no one likes to admit to speaking about that need airing.


After reading a piece from Dave Lordan’s First Book of Frags, we took part in a series of writing exercises. We wrote about something we had thought about in the last 24 hours, week and just now! It was good to write without censoring or stopping myself to edit. Colm added a simple piece of advice-write everyday and don’t edit or critique the writing. It could be complete rubbish or badly written and it may often not go anywhere. This type of free writing brings up creative connections and associations which can lead to a writing flow.

The workshop was full of cool people tha I would have liked more time to get to know and it was brilliant to get recommendations on new reads as well as simple, honest writing advice. Colm is very encouraging and makes it all look very easy!

The workshop flew by! At two hours, I feel I have only started to see what a good teacher Colm is. I am definitely going to look out for his day workshops and retreats. His blog can be found here along with information of the workshops he is running.!kingfisher-writers-retreat/c23we

The Multimedia Revolution in Poetry, new online essay by Dave Lordan in The Stinging Fly

The Multimedia Revolution in Poetry, new online essay by Dave Lordan in The Stinging Fly

The good folks at The Stinging Fly have put the full text of my essay The Multimedia Revolution in Poetry online. The essay argues that, led by young and often politicised practitioners, poetry is going through a major transformation and has changed over from primarily a text only art form, to primarily a multimedia (inc performance) art form – will be of interest to all curious about the changing landscape of contemporary poetry – extract below – read the rest at link – comments welcome etc. Shares and forwards appreciated as usual.


” That state-entwined networks overseeing and regulating poetry have, aside from occasional tokenistic or face-saving gestures, set about ignoring the digital and performance revolution is perhaps the best piece of circumstantial evidence for it. For it is in the nature of revolutions that they take place outside of and in contradiction to the institutions and networks with a vested interest in the continuation of the old ways of doing things. Thus, with few exceptions, the revolution of poetry has also been a revolution of autonomy, of proving that twenty-first century poets require neither the support nor the regulation of the state, nor the patronage of vested interests within the literary world to make original and impactful work that reaches a wide audience. Digital and performance mediums have therefore offered a much needed path of independence from the neo-liberal state and state-regulated arts bureacracy to many poets.”

Poetry Workshop with Philip Terry

There will be a poetry workshop with Phillip Terry in the Irish Centre for Poetry Studies, Mater Dei Institute (DCU)  at 6 p.m on Tuesday 1st March  2016.

Philip Terry was born in Belfast, and is currently Director of Creative Writing at the University of Essex.  He is the author of the lipogrammatic novel The Book of Bachelors, and the poetry collections Oulipoems, Oulipoems 2, and Shakespeare’s Sonnets.  His translations include a version of Dante’s Inferno relocated to present-day Essex, and Raymond Queneau’s last published book of poetry, Elementary Morality.

Philip Terry’s tapestry was shortlisted in 2013 for the Goldsmiths Prize. 

It is a free workshop so if you are about the area, contact Michael Hinds at
Oh, to live nearer the capital!


Summer Writing Institute For Teachers (SWIFT) 2016

Alison from the Summer Writing Insitute in NUI, Maynooth sent me information about the TWO summer courses for educators in writing this summer. I was accepted onto the week-long course last year and it was the best professional development as a teacher I have attended!

SWIFT 2014 photo

It is going to be taking place in TWO venues this year-Maynooth and Donegal. If you are interested in teaching writing, please send your application to Alison at and find out more details at