Welcome to my new blog

Hi there.

I'm a writer and freelance teacher and editor with an addiction to new technology.

Having haphazardly kept a blog elsewhere over the past couple of years, I'm determined to start afresh with this one. The challenge will be to keep it updated, interesting and relevant. Time will tell.

Friday, August 13, 2010


It's been a longer pause than I'd intended, but my last message was posted the day before my dear father died. The fact that he had been ill for some time and his death hardly unexpected hasn't taken away from the deep sadness and sense of loss I now feel. One of the symptoms of that sadness is a lack of anything worthwhile to say or do at the moment. I hope and trust that that feeling will pass - he'd be very annoyed at my lassitude, I'm sure.

But while I'm here, I did want to pass on a message from my friend, the poet Anne-Marie Fyfe:

…announcing the fourth annual
troubadour international poetry prize

judged by gwyneth lewis & maurice riordan
with both judges reading all poems

prizes: 1st £1000, 2nd £500, 3rd £250
& 20 prizes of £20 each
plus a spring 2011 coffee-house poetry season ticket
and a prizewinners’ coffee-house poetry reading
with gwyneth lewis & maurice riordan
on mon 29th nov 2010 ...for all prize-winning poets

submissions by fri 15th oct 2010


Gwyneth Lewis was the first National Poet of Wales (2005) and her words appear over the Wales Millennium Centre, opened in 2004. Educated at Ysgol Gyfun Rhydfelen, a bilingual school near Pontypridd, and at Oxford, Columbia and Harvard Universities, she has written oratorio as well as having written on clinical depression and Two in a Boat—The True Story of a Marital Rite of Passage, inspired by a sailing journey during which her husband was diagnosed with cancer. Her poetry collections in English include Parables and Faxes (1995), Chaotic Angels—Poems in English (2005) and A Hospital Odyssey (2010, all Bloodaxe).

Maurice Riordan (b. Lisgoold, Co, Cork, 1953) is the author of three collections of poetry, A Word from the Loki (Faber, 1995, a PBS choice), the Whitbread shortlisted Floods (Faber, 2000) and The Holy Land (Faber, 2007) which received the Michael Hartnett Award. A Next Generation poet, he has been Poetry Editor of Poetry London and is currently Professor of Poetry at Sheffield Hallam University, has translated the work of Maltese poet Immanuel Mifsud (Confidential Reports, 2005), has edited and co-edited anthologies on science, space and ecology, and has edited a selection of Hart Crane’s poems for Faber’s Poet to Poet series (2008).

Both judges will read all poems submitted.


General: Entry implies acceptance of all rules; failure to comply with rules will result in disqualification; competition open to poets of any nationality over 18 years; no competitor may win more than one prize; judges’ decision is final; no individual correspondence will be entered into.

Poems: Poems must be in English, must each be no longer than 45 lines, must fit on one page of A4, must be the original work of the entrant and must not have been previously broadcast or published (in print or online); winning & commended poems may be published (in print or online) by Troubadour International Poetry Prize and may not be published elsewhere for one year after Friday 15th October 2010 without written permission. No limit on number of poems submitted. No alterations accepted after submission.

Fees: All entries must be accompanied by fee of EITHER £5/€6/$8 per poem, if fewer than 4 poems, OR £4/€5/$7 per poem if 4 or more poems submitted; payment by cheque or money order (Sterling/Euro/US-Dollars only) payable to “Coffee-House Poetry” with poet’s name (and/or e-mail Entry Acknowledgement Reference, if appropriate) written on back.

By Post: No entry form required; each poem must be typed on one side of A4 white paper showing title & poem only; do not show author’s name or any other identifying marks on submitted poems; include a separate page showing Name, Address, Phone, E-Mail (opt), Titles and Number of Poems EITHER @ £5/€6/$8 each OR @ £4/€5/$7 each; no staples; no Special Delivery, Recorded Delivery or Registered Post; entries are not returned.

By E-mail: No entry form required; poems must be submitted in body of e-mail (no attachments) to CoffPoetry@aol.com; entries should be preceded by Name, Address, Phone, Titles and Number of Poems EITHER @ £5/€6/$8 each OR @ £4/€5/$7 each; acknowledgement will be sent to entrant’s e-mail address showing Entry Acknowledgment Reference; send payment by post within 14 days quoting Entry Acknowledgement Reference; e-mail entries will be included only when payment received by post; no Special Delivery, Recorded Delivery or Registered Post.

Acknowledgement/Results: will be sent to all e-mail entrants after entry deadline and winners announcement respectively; no correspondence; postal entrants should include stamped, addressed postcard marked “Acknowledgement” and/or stamped, addressed A5 envelope marked “Results” if required.

Deadline: All postal entries, and postal payments for e-mail entries, to arrive at Troubadour Poetry Prize, Coffee-House Poetry, PO Box 16210, LONDON, W4 1ZP postmarked on or before Friday 15th October 2010. Prizewinners will be notified individually by Monday 22nd November 2010. Prizegiving will be on Monday 29th November 2010 at Coffee-House Poetry at the Troubadour in Earls Court, London.

Anne-Marie Fyfe (Organiser)
coffee-house poetry at the troubadour

Monday, June 21, 2010

Anam Cara Workshop on Narrative

Anam Cara Writers and Artists Retreat in Eyries on the Beara Peninsula has to be one of the most beautiful places on earth. Situated overlooking Coulagh Bay and set in a glorious garden of streams and nooks and crannies and wild spaces, it is run by the wonderful Sue Booth-Forbes who has created a rare sanctuary for writers and artists.

I've visited on a number of occasions over the past 13 years, but am very excited to be finally facilitating a workshop there, with my partner, Peter Salisbury. The workshop will take place from 1st to 4th July. Here's more detail:

“Finding the story” is aimed at any writer grappling with the challenge of plot, storyline and narrative. Through a combination of practical creating writing and drama exercises and exploring texts from literature, as well as one to one feedback sessions and clinics, we’ll explore how best to structure our stories to make them compelling and readable. Participants may already be in the process of writing stories, in which case there will be opportunities to workshop and get feedback, with emphasis placed on solving problems that disrupt the narrative flow. But the workshop is also aimed at generating new story ideas and new approaches to generating and structuring our narratives. By the end of the weekend, participants should have a much clearer idea about how to structure their stories to create compelling, credible and intensely readable stories. They should also have lots of ideas for new story lines.


Thursday, 1st July, evening: Arrival, introductions and ice-breaker

Friday, 2nd July:

Morning session – What’s the story? Generating story ideas
Afternoon session - How plots work and the best structures
Evening – Trip to be arranged

Saturday, 3rd July:

Morning session – How to generate and manage conflict in story
Afternoon session – Clinic (one to ones) and free writing time
Evening – Plot driven characters or character-driven plot

Sunday 4th July:

Morning session - Losing the plot – stories that write themselves
Early afternoon: Workshop round-up and next steps

You can get more information by emailing Sue at anamcararetreat@gmail.com

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

New book and readings by Noel King

Noel King is an indomitable figure in the Irish poetry scene. He has been championing new Irish writing for many years now, publishing many fine writers under his Doghouse imprint. I first met him at a workshop given by Pat Boran in Tralee in 1995 and it's a delight to see finally see his own poetry in book form. Details about a forthcoming reading that Noel is doing with Eileen Sheehan are below:

The Poetry Café, The Poetry Society, 22 Betterton Street,, Covent Garden

0207 420 9887/ 0207 420 9888


June 16th

Irish Poets, Noel King and Eileen Sheehan


Although both native to Co Kerry both poets offer, through their work, two distinctive views of Irish cultural life. Eileen’s strongly rhythmic voice weaves through a backdrop of rural landscape and domestic interiors to explore the depths of life and relationships. Referencing myth and Irish folklore, her earthy humour has an underlying feminist twist. Noel’s poems speak through a more urban voice; rooted in history, both social and political. The personas in his work give voice to the social and economic dilemmas of a people from wartime Ireland through to the post Celtic tiger era.

No admission charge. Noel’s debut collection, Prophesying the Past (Salmon Poetry, 2010) and Eileen’s collections Song of the Midnight Fox (Doghouse Books, 2004) and Down the Sunlit Hall (Doghouse Books, 2008) will be on sale.

The event is funded by Culture Ireland – Promoting Irish Arts Worldwide


I've published three books to date:

In Sight of Home, a verse novel, published by Salmon Poetry in 2009. You can get more details here:

Trapping a Ghost, published by bluechrome, Bristol, in 2005.

Bar Talk, published by iTaLiCs Press, Dublin, in 1999. An online version of this book is available on the Irish Literary Revival website.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Creative Writing Summer School at UCD's John Hume Institute

I'm delighted to be involved with a new initiative over at the John Hume Institute for Global Irish Studies at University College Dublin. We're launching a new Creative Writing Summer School, to run from 30th August to 1st September 2010, at the John Hume Institute building in Belfield. We're extraordinarily lucky to have persuaded Pat Boran, Claire Keegan and Hugo Hamilton to give master classes, and I'll be leading creative writing workshops each morning. There'll also be a reading by Hugo, Pat and myself on the final evening. And all for the modest price of €250. You can get more information by emailing me at nessa.omahony@ucd.ie.