2016 – The Literary Year That Was In It

Publication of second collection

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While 2016 was a rocky year globally, for me, personally, it was exciting. My second collection, Ghost of the Fisher Cat, was launched at the Cork International Poetry Festival, received positive reviews in prestigious journals, including the Dublin Review of Books, Pedestal (USA), Orbis (UK),  and Southword, and was nominated for the Forward Prize for best collection, for the Poetry Now award and for the Pigott prize.

Irish readings in 2016                                                                                                                         Readings took me around the country to several festivals, including the Cork International Poetry Festival, Cúirt Festival, Galway, Stanzas Festival in Limerick, the West Cork Literary Festival and the Allingham Festival in Ballyshannon. As well as that, I did readings at the Irish Writers’ Centre, at Facebook HQ for World Poetry Day, and at Staccato (Toner’s Pub) in Dublin, the Roundy and Alchemy in Cork, and also at O’Bhéal, for a special reading for American students, the Italian Institute in Dublin, the White House in Limerick, the pSoken Wrod (de Barra’s) in Clonakilty, in Castletownbere, and at North West Words, in Letterkenny. I was also interviewed on the RTE radio show, Arena, and on the Poetry Programme.

International readings

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As if it wasn’t thrilling enough with my second collection, my début collection, The Lucky Star of Hidden Things, was translated by Lorenzo Mari and published in Italy by L’Arcolaio in 2016 too! I was invited to Bologna to give readings and talks at two schools and in a well-respected, independent bookstore, Libreria Trame:

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The book was also reviewed and discussed at Bologna university. I have Raphael D’Abdon, an Italian poet and lecturer based in Johannesburg, to thank for introducing my work to Lorenzo. I met Raphael at the Poetry Africa festival in Durban in 2013, when I was one of a collective of four Irish poets invited to the festival. (The other major event of my poetry life).

I had previously been to Italy and to Bologna, when I was sent there by the Irish Writers Centre as part of an Italo-Irish Literary Exchange in 2014, so I already had connections and an affection for that beautiful city. While in Bologna, I was treated royally by Lorenzo, who introduced me to other poets, who exchanged collections with me. Now I’m aspiring to try my hand at translating too!

The Iowa Book Festival                                                                                                                         Another break came when Vona Groarke, editor of Poetry Ireland Review, selected me as one of Ireland’s rising poets for a special issue. Spin-offs from that included being featured on The Poetry Programme with Ailbhe Darcy and Vona Groarke, and also being invited by Poetry Ireland to take part in the Iowa Book Festival, along with Nell Regan and Jim Maguire. That was very exciting. I had previously undertaken an online poetry course with the Iowa Creative Writing Program and already felt an affinity with the place. I was thrilled to meet Christopher Merrill, and to present him with my collection.

Not least of the pleasures was the opportunity to get to know and to read with, Nell and Jim, both of whom I admire and whose collections I already owned. Ah, some great memories with them – especially the walk along the railway tracks!

One of the highlights was the reading by Suki Kim, the brave author of Without You, There is No Us, who went undercover to write a book about North Korea. Another was being invited by Mary Swander, the Poet Laureate of Iowa, to her home for a meal. She lives in an Amish community, so that was a glimpse at an unusual community and way of life. A third was seeing our books on display in the fabulous Prairie Lights bookshop, where several events took place. I came away with quite a haul from there.  There was a reception to meet other writers, and I am in email exchange with one or two. One of them asked me to offer an endorsement for the back of his new collection.  A group of us, including Marc Nieson, author of the memoir, Schoolhouse, went off to watch a play together, and have a late supper.  The pretty, small city was dominated by the Book Festival, with book stalls lining the sunny streets. Abiding memories are of a young guy playing an actual piano in the square, a child with a helium balloon watching, Wayne, the ebullient waiter at the hotel who told me his life story, and visiting the university  where a protest about the Dakota pipeline was taking place, with Native American speakers and hordes of supporters – with helicopters circling ominously overhead.

There was a lovely moment of serendipity too. I was reading The Empathy Exams by Leslie Jamison, another of the programmed writers, in a Korean restaurant (as I was thinking about Suki Kim) when a Korean woman passed and asked if I’d like company. I was about to decline politely (maybe she thought I was a saddo, sitting alone!) when she told me she had spotted the book I was reading and knew the author! So I invited her to join me, and we ended up going upstate to a Russian art exhibition! She also invited me back to her home to meet her family and have supper with them. I was only in Iowa for four days, but it was definitely memorable.

Irish Composers Collective

And that wasn’t even the end of my exciting year! As a finale, I was asked to collaborate with two composers from the Irish Composers Collective, along with Victoria Kennefick and Nessa O’Mahoney. Each of us wrote a poem, and two composers wrote responses to each of the poems. Shell Dooley and Roisin Hayes were the two composers who responded to my poem. In November, we were invited to 45 Merrion Square (the Architectural Archive) to experience soundscapes in each of the beautiful rooms. It was one of the most wonderful experiences of the year for me. The wine and canapés were a bonus too.

Can’t imagine how a year like that could be repeated. But here we go – into a PhD at UCC!

As the late, great Desmond O’Grady said: ‘Live a life. Leave a record.’ This time, I’ll try to keep a record as I’m going along. Watch this space!

Directory of Irish poetry journals

Poetry journals appear and disappear. So I thought I’d compile a list of all the ones currently active on the island of Ireland. If you see that any are missing, please leave me a comment, and I’ll amend.  I’m not including those published once a year, with winning competition poems. I’d love opinions on which you think have charisma, are outrageous or cutting edge, or excellent, or who are not keeping up with the times. The ones with the best covers and visual art, like this one, from Spontaneity’s latest issue:

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What are your favourites? Would love you to add your comments below.

So, here’s the list:

Abridged                                                                                                   http://abridgedonline.com/   
Beautiful product. Online and print journal, based in the North (but we’re being inclusive here!) Besides, they’ve taken poems of mine, so they’re right up there in my estimation!

A New Ulster                                                                 https://sites.google.com/site/anewulster/new-home-page    
The editor, Amos Grieg, hopes that this journal ‘will act as a reflection of the changing times in which we live in and grant you the reader a doorway into other worlds of the imagination.’ The journal appears monthly and has been in publication since September 2012.

Banshee Literary Journal                                                       https://bansheelit.tumblr.com                                                                                            A gorgeous new journal, with three editors who are happening writers themselves: Laura Jane Cassidy, Eimear Ryan and Claire Hennessy. They have taken poems of mine. And they pay! Going places.

Bare Hands anthology                                        https://barehandspoetry.tumblr.com/post/15088388198
This one went into hibernation for a bit, but it’s back! Edited by Kerrie O’Brien. Another sparkling journal featuring the work of new young voices mainly.

Blowing Raspberries                                                    http://www.blowingraspberries.org/submissions/                                                          New journal from N.I. that is accepting both published and unpublished poetry – with a nom de plume!  Obviously, with such a title, they’re looking for stuff that is upbeat, irreverent,  dark but not bleak. Have fun with this one. 

Boyne Berries                                                                                 http://boyneberries.blogspot.ie/ 
This journal came out of a writers’ group and has grown legs since.

Burning Bush 2                                                                                  https://issuu.com/burningbush2 
A good reputation, but went underground for a bit. Had work in this. But not sure if it’s still happening.

Crannóg                                                                                http://www.crannogmagazine.com/                                                                                   A dynamic print journal, established in 2002, and Arts Council funded, it’s now a key part of the literary landscape of Ireland. They receive about a thousand submissions for each of their three issues per year. One of the first to publish a poem of mine, so I have a soft spot! And they pay. The editors are Sandra Bunting, Tony O’Dwyer, Ger Burke and Jarlath Fahy, all of whom read each submission.

Cyphers                                                                                               http://www.cyphers.ie/                                                                                                        An esteemed print journal, founded by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Macdara Woods and the late Leland Bardwell. One to aim for. Glad to have work in this. They pay

Dead Drunk Dublin                                                                              http://www.deaddrunkdublin.com  This is an online journal aimed at those who claim to be ‘manifestly unobvious.’ I’m not familiar with this one, but sounds like they’ll get a following!

Dublin Poetry Review                                                          http://dublinpoetryreview.com/section2-issue22/88-editors/162-issue-22-c   
Flattered that they published a poem of mine alongside Jane Hirshfield! Has numerous patrons and ‘executive’ guest editors from around the world. Not keen on the layout or masthead, but interested to see where this one goes. Started by Emmanuel Jakpah,  who is based in Ireland. One of the Irish editors is Elaine Feeney.

FourXFour                                                                                 http://www.poetryni.com/fourxfour.html                                                                              A quarterly online journal of new poetry from Northern Ireland, committed to highlighting the up-and-comings. Edited by Colin Dardis.

Gorse                                                                                                                http://gorse.ie/                                                                                                                  Haven’t sent work to this one yet, but looks interesting. Essays, interviews, fiction, poetry. Curated by Christodoulos Makris.

HCE Review                                                                                                https://hcereview.com/
HCE Review (ISSN 2009-9916) is named after the fluidly-named Humphrey (or Harold) Chimpden Earwicker in Finnegan’s Wake, to pay homage to Joyce, one of UCD’s most prominent graduates. It is a bimonthly online literary journal launched in 2016 by the MA and MFA Creative Writing courses at University College Dublin. The journal aims to publish fiction, poetry, creative non-fiction, and visual art from both established and emerging writers and artists from around the world. There’s also a HCE Review podcast, which works in conjunction with the online journal to bring literature into the digital sphere, hosting regular readings and speeches by prominent Irish authors, and featuring discussions of the pieces that appear in the online journal.

Headstuff                                                                                  http://www.headstuff.org/2016/08/its-the-end-of-the-world-as-we-know-it-call-for-poetry-submissions/
Edited by Angela Carr, a strong online presence whose blog is an invaluable resource. Headstuff has regular calls for submissions for their Poem of the Week slot. They are currently accepting submissions until 30 September.

Icarus                                                                              http://www.icarusmagazine.com/editorialteam/                                                          Another one I don’t know, but will look into – can’t resist the name! Connected to Trinity University. The editorial team is currently headed by Will Fleming and Leo Dunsker.

Idler                                                                                                                 http://www.idler.ie                                                                                                              A brand new journal, just started this year. Promises ‘regularly updated fresh, engaging, thought provoking and entertaining writing, including stories, poems and essays.’ The editor is Barbara Clinton. Although there’s no pay, Idler provides a link back to the writer’s own blog or website.

Impossible Archetype                                                  https://impossiblearchetype.wordpress.com/
Here’s a welcome new journal. Founded in January 2017, they publish two issues a year and are a space for LGBTQ+ poetry.

Irish Pages                                                                                                          http://irishpages.org/
Based in Belfast. Editor is Chris Agee. I haven’t sent work to this journal yet, but it’s well-regarded. Here’s their blurb: IRISH PAGES is a biannual journal, edited in Belfast and publishing, in equal measure, writing from Ireland and overseas. Its policy is to publish poetry, short fiction, essays, creative non-fiction, memoir, essay reviews, nature-writing, translated work, literary journalism, and other autobiographical, historical, religious and scientific writing of literary distinction. There are no standard reviews or narrowly academic articles. Irish Language and Ulster Scots writing are published in the original, with English translations or glosses

Outburst                                                                                      http://www.outburstmagazine.com/    
A journal that’s beginning to get on its feet after some hit-and-miss issues with unfortunate formatting. Editor is Arthur Broomfield.

Panning for Poems                                                                    http://www.poetryni.com/panning-for-poems.html 
A new micro-poetry print and online journal, edited by Geraldine O’Kane, based in the North. Nice to have an outlet for those tiny poems.

Poethead                                                                                     https://poethead.wordpress.com/                                                                                    An excellent poetry blog by Christine Murray, who is compiling a valuable and  extensive index of women poets. Great resource, and influential.

Poetry Ireland Review                                                      http://www.poetryireland.ie/writers/submission-to-pir/  
The ‘journal of record’ in Irish poetry. You’re on the official literary radar once you’ve managed to get work between these pages. Current editor is Vona Groarke, who is shaking things up a little. Looking forward to her issue on the Rising poets – thrilled that I am included! From July, the new editor will be Eavan Boland. They pay contributors.

Ropes                                                                                          https://ropesgalway.wordpress.com/                                                                            ROPES is an annual  review that publishes original poetry, prose, photography, artwork, as well as excerpts from scripts and screenplays. Ropes is published in association with NUI Galway and this year all proceeds from the journal will go to depression awareness charity – Aware.

Sixteen                                                                                                               http://sixteen.ie/                                                                                                              ‘Stab me with your dreadful words.’ A new online journal, started specially for the commemoration year. Rising prompts. Archive photographs give a wonderful atmosphere. And they’ve taken my work! Edited by Simon Lewis.

Skylight 47                                                                          https://skylight47poetry.wordpress.com/                                                                      Their blurb states that they are ‘possibly Ireland’s most interesting publication’. Based in Galway. Current editors: Bernie Crawford, Nicki Griffin, Marie Cadden and Ruth Quinlan. Interesting, broadsheet-style journal. They published a glowing review of my first collection, and also some poems, so I have a crush!

Southword                                                                      https://southword.submittable.com/submit                                                                     The best Irish online journal to be in!  Easy to navigate, a history of all your submissions, reviews etc on your page. Updated bios and pics. It’s a great archive and resource for all poets/scouts. Cork-based, connected to the Gregory O’Donoghue international poetry competition. Rotating editors. Current editor is Matthew Sweeney. They pay contributors.

Spontaneity                                                                                               http://spontaneity.org/issue-9/haunts/                                                                               A new journal, curated by Ruth McKee. Ekphrastic responses to visual art. This one’s going to get better and better.

Stanzas                                                                                                     http://stanzas.ie/Upcoming/                                                                                    Connected to the Stanzas festival in Limerick, curated by Shane Vaughan, this is a monthly ‘chapbook’, looking for poems, graphics and stories. They welcome work by newcomers.

Stony Thursday                                                                                          http://www.writing.ie/guest-blogs/submissions-for-stony-thursday/   
An annual anthology from Limerick. It doesn’t seem to have an online website. I have had work published in this, but found out about it via writing.ie, a very useful website.

SurVision                                                                                                  http://survisionmagazine.com
This is an independent international online magazine founded in March 2017 and based in Dublin, Ireland. Edited by Anatoly Kudryavitsky, SurVision publishes neo-surrealist poetry and comes out in January and July. The deadlines for these issues are 31st December and 30th June. Submissions of not more than five poems are considered at any time. SurVision have now begun publishing chapbooks too.

The Bohemyth                                                                                              http://thebohemyth.com/                                                                                                Based in Dublin, editor is Michael Naghten Shanks. I don’t know much about this one yet, but it’s a quarterly online journal, publishing poetry, fiction, photography, essays. It also has links to interesting Irish and international journals and publishers. Here you go: http://thebohemyth.com/links/

The Brain of Forgetting                                                            http://www.brainofforgetting.com/                                                                                      A Cork-based journal, curated by Bernadette McCarthy, who has a PhD in archaeology. Wonderfully-named, The Brain of Forgetting ‘provides a forum for writing and artwork that relates to heritage and memory.’ Thrilled to have work in this journal. 

The Dublin Review                                                                                 https://thedublinreview.com/                                                                                            The Irish Times called this ‘a world-class forum for the literary essay.’ A quarterly magazine of essays, memoir, travel writing, criticism, fiction and reportage. Founded and edited by Brendan Barrington, it is highly regarded. Published in book format and is assisted by The Arts Council of Ireland. (I bet they pay.)

The Galway Review                                                                                http://thegalwayreview.com/                                                                                    ‘Committed to excellence in the extraordinary art of the written word.’ Not familiar with this journal, but as it’s based in my the city of my birth, must check it out! A number of editors.

The Honest Ulsterman                                                                                           http://humag.com/                                                                                                          Connected to the Verbal Arts Centre in Derry. Don’t know much about this long-standing journal at all, but big names are mentioned in the February issue. Wish the website was a little more aesthetic. But they have poetry, prose, an ‘observatory’ and promise a podcast.

The Incubator                                                                https://theincubatorjournal.com/submissions/                                                                      ‘We do not know until the shell breaks what kind of egg we have been sitting on.’ — T.S. Eliot. Well. Got to try that! Issues alternate fiction and poetry, flash fiction and memoir.

The Irish Examiner                                                      http://www.irishexaminer.com/lifestyle/artsfilmtv/the-tuesday-poem-in-the-pub-many-voices-322604.html                                                                                                    Patrick Cotter of the Munster Literature Centre selects poems to publish in the Tuesday Poems. Not sure if you can submit. But they pay.

The Irish Literary Review                                                   http://irishliteraryreview.com/index.html                                                                        Haven’t submitted yet, but I will. Clean. Classy.

The Irish Times                                                                        http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/poetry                                                                The new home for Hennessy New Irish Writing, with a chance to be shortlisted for the coveted Hennessy awards.  And they pay contributors.

The Moth Magazine                                                                                        http://themothmagazine.com/                                                                                            This is a print journal, associated with the Ballymaloe poetry competition, and includes artwork. Considered one of the most beautiful and tasteful journals around. Another one to aspire to. Glad I’ve had work published here.

The Ogham Stone                                                                            https://theoghamstoneul.com/                                                                                            This is a literary journal run by the Masters students of English and Creative Writing at the University of Limerick, featuring poetry, art and fiction.

The Penny Dreadful   
http://thepennydreadful.org/                                                                                                 ‘It does not have stars in its weeping eyes nor a particularly idealistic soul. There is only the void.’ Editors are John Keating and Marc O’Connell. I’m working on getting the stars out of my eyes so I can get IN to this damn journal! Although they did accept my review of Kimberly Campanello’s collection…

The Pickled Body                                                                              http://thepickledbody.com/                                                                                          Editors are Dimitra Xidous and Patrick Chapman. An online poetry and art magazine ‘that plays with the senses.’ Each themed issue presents work from the surreal to the sensual and points in between – ‘poems that not only sound as good as they look, but taste as good as they feel.’ I concur.

The Poetry Bus                                             http://thepoetrybusmag.wix.com/change#!submissions/cgyc                                      Published by Peadar and Collette O’Donoghue, this print journal gets bigger and more ambitious with each issue. Had a poem published both in print and on the CD that accompanied the journal. And they nominated it for the Forward Prize! Cool.

The Stinging Fly                                                                                                               http://www.stingingfly.org/                                                                                                I’d say this is one of the most rated journals in Ireland today. Hard to get into – took me four attempts! A lot of acclaimed names seen between these pages. Often themed. The English poetry editor is Eabhan Ní Shuilleabháin, but there are also guest editors. The current one is Mia Gallagher. English and Irish language stories, reviews, essays and poetry. And they pay contributors.

The Sunday Independent                          http://www.independent.ie/entertainment/books/the-sunday-poem-anthony-cronins-personal-anthology-34512641.html                                                                                    Like the Irish Examiner’s Tuesday Poem, The Sunday Poem might well be selected by the editor. Not sure if you can submit for it. If anyone can confirm this, that would be helpful. They probably pay.

The Tangerine                                                                                    https://thetangerinemagazine.com/                                                                                  The Tangerine is a new Belfast-based magazine of new writing. It covers culture and politics, and is published three times a year. The Tangerine includes features, reportage, commentary, fiction, poetry, illustration and photography. They’re currently inviting artists to submit illustrations for a potential cover.

 The Well Review                                                                                                                 http://www.thewellreview.com/
The Well Review is a Cork-based, bi-annual print journal founded by Sarah Byrne and Christian Carley. It was established in 2016, ‘to create a space to house exceptional poetry from all over the world,’ says Sarah Byrne. I, along with most of my Irish poet friends, very much miss The SHOp, edited by John and Hilary Wakeman, who have retired. I’m hoping that The Well Review will be the journal to compensate for that loss. The inaugural issue featured work by international poets such as John Burnside, Maram al-Masri, Ellen Bass, Ishion Hutchinson, Kaveh Akbar, Nick Laird, Matthew Dickman and Maggie Smith. The journal is published in February and September of each year. And they pay.

The Quarryman                                                            https://www.facebook.com/quarrymanjournal
This is a newly revived literary journal, associated with University College Cork (rated the best university in Ireland for the second year in a row.) Originally started in 1920, this journal has been revived by the current MA creative writing students, and the first, substantial issue is already sold out. Submissions are accepted, via their Facebook page, only for those affiliated with UCC, including alumnae. Email them at quarrymansubmissions@gmail.com