Say It Again, Sam

Some writing is best heard rather than read.  That goes for poems, too. Especially mine. Some of them work out loud, others don’t. I’ve been fortunate this week to have had the opportunity to read my poetry to large enough audiences, first at The Word in Sligo Library (an open mic) and then in Galway at the launch of the Crannóg Magazine. Same poem. Different audiences. Same response (a puzzled silence before the polite applause). It’s one of those poems you need to look at on the page, perhaps savour a little. It’s yet another poem inspired by one of … Continue reading Say It Again, Sam

Fake Muse

I’ve lost count of the number of times I’ve been told I shouldn’t wait for inspiration to strike before I sit down to write. Successful writers just get on with it, regardless of how inspired they feel. Being precious about having the right pen, desk, light, music et al is all very well, but sometimes, good ideas can be genuinely hard to come by. And that has nothing to do with the so-called ‘Writers’ Block’. Which is why I’m often to be found in writers’ groups and workshops. As well as knowing I’m likely to come away with a new … Continue reading Fake Muse

Pay, Pals and Poetry

I was so excited to get my first poetry reading fee, I took a picture. Did you ever hear about writer’s block? I heard it’s when your imaginary friends won’t talk to you. In my case, it’s when I’ve too many things going on and not enough time to write. I’m lying, of course. I have time to write EVERY day (I keep a personal journal). Oops, that’s not right. I don’t lie, I write fiction. Even in my journal sometimes. Truth versus fiction, writer’s block, where to find inspiration, getting paid to write* – we’ve had some interesting discussions … Continue reading Pay, Pals and Poetry

Flower Power

I’ve written before about how some of my best ideas for poetry and short stories come to me as I walk the lanes of County Roscommon. These days, an inspiring  walk usually involves me taking an arthritic dog, a pen and paper, and my phone (of course). But while walking, I’m often distracted by having to name wildflowers. And then I have to stop and take photos. Because one or two thousand is never quite enough is it? The naming thing is a bit strange. I have no recollection of learning the names of so many plants, but somehow, plenty of … Continue reading Flower Power

May I?

So, what’s the best thing to do when you’re really, really busy? Yep, that’s it – find something else to do as well. So here I am, just surfacing after the head-wrecking weekend that was Strokestown International Poetry Festival, participating in a social media training course. (Don’t laugh. And no, I probably shouldn’t have responded to my terror of Facebook by deleting my page recently, but that’s another story.) While I’m at it, I could have a go at developing my memoir-writing skills with the legend that is Michael Harding, couldn’t I?  Roscommon Arts Centre’s Bealtaine course this year. And … Continue reading May I?

Creative Thinking?

I’m riding a particularly delicious literary wave after winning the Hennessy Award two weeks ago – my feet have hardly touched the ground, but in a nice way. I shouldn’t really have had any time for thinking, let alone writing, should I? What with radio interviews, trips to Dublin, and all those Facebook and Twitter messages to respond to (and I was the reluctant social media participant a while back. Ha!). But here’s a surprise, I’ve been as busy writing as ever, scribbling away, plucking poems from the ether and wondering where such creativity comes from. I like to think … Continue reading Creative Thinking?

How Did That Happen?

In a bizarre but vivid dream, I’m sitting in front of a blank notebook thinking of writing a poem about how my elderly mother never listens to me, how one of us is above our station (all fur coat and no knickers), and how sad I am that she doesn’t really act like my mother any more. The poem materialises like magic in the way some poems do, and after several drafts (not my usual zillion, billion, lots), gets a public airing. Several readings in front of appreciative audiences later, I change the ending, moving the punchline to where it … Continue reading How Did That Happen?

OMG, OMG, OMG!

What can I say? Thrilled doesn’t even come close! I have an ear-to-ear grin and I haven’t stopped shaking with excitement yet. I don’t quite know how I managed to drive all the way home from Dublin last night and arrive in one piece. Or how I manage to be at my desk, business as usual, this morning (and my lovely colleagues were leaning out of the upstairs office window giving me a round of applause as I arrived for work). In case you don’t know what I’m on about, let me explain: I WON A HENNESSY LITERARY AWARD FOR … Continue reading OMG, OMG, OMG!

Twenty Years and Counting

Here’s news of something close to my heart (right now, serving as a distraction for me, #HennessyLitAwards): Strokestown International Poetry Festival, this year celebrating its 20th anniversary. The programme has been announced and tickets are on sale (hurry, they’re going fast!), with an eclectic mix of all things poetry-related taking place over the May Bank Holiday weekend, May 3rd– 7th. As a member of the organising committee, I have a vested interest in spreading the word about the festival, so here goes: Strokestown is one of only a handful of POETRY festivals in the country, and well worth a visit … Continue reading Twenty Years and Counting

On the Winning Side

Competitive creative writing. Now, who would have thought I’d buy into such a thing? I swear I’m not a competitive person, although I’ll have a tantrum if someone beats me at Scrabble. But creative writing competitions? What’s that all about? I don’t hold with that, do I? Um, well, yes, I do… I’m involved in running a little creative writing group in Charlestown, County Mayo, and I’m often to be heard urging members to submit their writing to competitions. It’s that third party validation thing that I’m always on about. Winning, or being shortlisted, in a writing competition offers proof … Continue reading On the Winning Side