After Summer’s rest, a busy schedule ahead…

I tend not to get a lot of new work done during the Summer what with holidays and kids off school etc., and this year has been no different. My writing routine will fall back into place next week hopefully as I have a number of projects that I’d like to make progress on before the end of the year.

However, things are about to change come September in a very positive way for three good reasons:

1.   My fiction chapbook “It’s not Me, It’s You” will be published by Southword Editions at the Cork International Short Story Festival on 26th September. I was delighted to be the Irish winner of the inaugural Southword Fiction Chapbook Competition along with Jill Widner who was the International winner. Jill’s chapbook “A Middle Eastern No” will be launched on the same day.

2.   Bray Literary Festival kicks off on Friday 27th September and runs through to Sunday 29th in the evening. This year the committee has excelled itself in attracting a heady array of literary talent from across all genres. I’m particularly looking forward talking with Geraldine Mills, Paul Perry and John O’Donnell about the challenges and rewards of writing across genres at Bray Town Hall on Sunday 29th September at 2.30pm. Check out the full programme here or put your name down for a workshop before all the places are taken.

3.   Finally, I will be chairing a panel on the short story at the Red Line Book Festival in October, which I’m really looking forward to. I will post more details on this nearer the time.

So loads to look forward to in the coming months. Looks like it’s going to be a busy end to 2019!




Listowel Writers’ Week 2019

I’m delighted to be heading back to Listowel next week for Writers’ Week 2019. I had a wonderful time there last year when I took part in the Michael Hartnett Poetry event along with Caoilinn Hughes and Mark Roper, chaired by John O’Donnell. Listowel is a very special festival, such a welcoming and delightful place to spend time with like minded people.

This year I’m especially pleased to be reading my poem “Birthday” at the opening ceremony of the festival on the evening of 29th May at the Listowel Arms. Joseph O’Connor will officially open proceedings and there will be music from Liam O’Connor and Emma Langford.

As you might recall “Birthday” won the Listowel Writers’ Week Irish Poem of the Year Award at the An Post Irish Book Awards 2018 in November. I recently made a recording of the poem at Porchlight Studios in Ranelagh which you can listen to here. My thanks to Niall at Porchlight and Orla Grant-Donoghue for making the recording possible.

Birthday by Brian Kirk


“An Altered Land” Exhibition by David Fox at Olivier Cornet Gallery

Last Thursday 2nd May was Poetry Day Ireland #PoetryDayIRL and I was delighted to take part in a very interesting event at the Olivier Cornet Gallery on Great Denmark Street. Along with 12 other poets I wrote a poem responding to Artist David Fox’s exhibition ‘An Altered Land’. My thanks to Orla Grant-Donoghue and Olivier Cornet for putting this idea together. The exhibition runs until 12th May 2019 and I urge you to get to see it if you can. In my poem Evidence of Emotion I was taken by the absence of the human in the paintings but also the evidence of human ingenuity and activity that is portrayed in the built environment. Most of the paintings give a sense of searching, the point of view of a driver on a road, making a journey. This was my response.


Evidence of Emotion

after “An Altered Land” exhibition, David Fox


This is the route I took

via motorway, national, regional

roads, over bridges and flyovers,


concrete and steel silently holding

its breath above rivers of bitumen, 

asphalt, macadam.


wild with a riot of prodigal nature, tempered

by barriers, steel, pre-cast concrete,

relics of our interference,

attempts to create and destroy,

to divide and connect, to escape

and return to our roots.


I searched for you on the road,

the streetlights wept in your absence,

tears spilled on the carriageway,

rolled off the


                                      and into the drain,

road slick in the light of my searching.

An empty bus-shelter reflected my shame.




                                     the embankment

on to the carriageway. I couldn’t stop it,

the squirming; desire like a juggernaut

on an empty road, out of control, awaiting

the inevitable impact at the dead end.


But the road doesn’t end. It goes on, cutting

the fields into two, three and four, connecting

the outposts of broken endeavours,

reclaiming the wilds, imposing order,

making wasteland where once there was forest.


I know you are there, framed in the sharp edge

of pavements, lining the street in perspectives

as yet incomplete, where you wait, further on,

somewhere not yet in view. I hear you in the hum

of pylons, the wind under bridges; on the verge

of hopelessness, you are there in my blood as it surges

through the empty streets of my abandoned heart.


© Brian Kirk 2019



Ireland Poetry Day Thursday 2nd May 2019

Thursday 2nd May 2019 is Ireland Poetry Day. This year’s theme is Truth or Dare. There are a host of poetry related events on throughout the day all over the country: see Poetry Ireland for more details.

If you live in the Dublin area you might be interested in attending one or both of these events I’m delighted to be involved in this year.

The first is a reading and discussion event in Ballyroan Library at 11am. Myself and poet and novelist, Nessa O’Mahony will be reading from our latest poetry books and discussing approaches to poetry and themes in our work. The event will run for one hour and is free to everyone. You can register via Eventbrite here. It should be a relaxed and informal reading with an opportunity to ask questions.


Later that night  at 7pm I’ll be reading at the Olivier Cornet Gallery on Great Denmark Street. Along with a number of other poets I was asked to respond to the current exhibition “An Altered Land” by artist, David Fox. I’ll be reading my response poem, “Evidence of Emotion” on the night and I look forward to hearing the work of the other poets too. I called into the gallery to view the exhibition last week and I thoroughly recommend it to all.  You can find out more about David’s work here.

I look forward to seeing some of you at one or both of these events! Happy poetry day!

Southword Fiction Chapbook Winners

I’m delighted to report that the results are in for the inaugural Southword Fiction Chapbook Competition. There are two categories: Best International and Best Irish Chapbook. And the winners are…


Best International Chapbook

A Middle Eastern No by Jill Widner
( Yakima, WA USA)

Jill Widner

Jill Widner grew up in Sumatra, Indonesia, the setting of her novel in progress, A Green Raft on a Muddy Swell, where her father worked as a petroleum engineer in the 1960s. The three stories included in A Middle Eastern No are part of a collection of stories in progress set in Iran and Saudi Arabia, where her father worked throughout the 1970s. When Stars Fell Like Salt Before the Revolution was published in both The Fiddlehead: Atlantic Canada’s International Literary Journal (University of New Brunswick) and Everywhere Stories: I (Press 53) in 2014. Yalda & Zhila is forthcoming in the May/June 2019 issue of Kenyon Review Online. Her fiction has also appeared in American Short Fiction; Asia Literary Review (Hong Kong); Kyoto Journal; North American ReviewShenandoahShort Fiction (University of Plymouth Press), Wasafiri online, and Willesden Herald: New Short Stories. She has been the recipient of grants and fellowships from Artist Trust and the Washington State Arts Commission, the Banff Centre, the Corporation of Yaddo, Hawthornden Castle, the Helen Riaboff Whiteley Center at Friday Harbor Laboratories, the MacDowell Colony, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and VCCA-France. She is a graduate of the University of Hawai’i at Manoa and the Iowa Writers’ Workshop and currently lives and teaches in Yakima, Washington.


Best Irish Chapbook

It’s Not Me It’s You by Brian Kirk ( Dublin, Ireland)

Brian Kirk

Brian Kirk is a poet and short story writer from Dublin. He was shortlisted twice for Hennessy Awards for fiction. His first poetry collection After The Fall was published by Salmon Poetry in 2017. His poem “Birthday” won the Listowel Writers’ Week Irish Poem of the Year at the An Post Irish Book Awards 2018. Recent stories have appeared in The Lonely Crowd and online at Willesden Herald New Short Fiction, Fictive Dream and Cold Coffee Stand. His story Festival was longlisted for the Galley Beggar Press Short Story Prize 2017/8. He blogs at



The winning chapbooks will be published in autumn 2019. I’m really looking forward to this! Congratulations to my fellow winner, Jill Widner,  and huge thanks to Patrick Cotter and all at Munster Literature Centre. It’s a major boost as I work towards compiling my first full short story collection with my mentor, Dermot Bolger.


Reading “On the Nail” Limerick City

It’s a new year and I’m very pleased to have my first reading of 2019 in Limerick City at “On the Nail” on Thursday 7th February. The evening kicks off at 8pm and I’ll be reading alongside poet, Mel White. I’m looking forward to hearing her work. Our readings will be followed by an Open Mic session.

My thanks to Dominic Taylor and all at “On the Nail” for the invitation!





End of Year Review 2018

Every year you set out with a set of partially defined goals and some years you achieve more and some years less. This year I was lucky, winning the Listowel Writers’ Week Irish Poem of the Year at the An Post Irish Book Awards. It was a great evening and somewhat surreal, but also a great boost for my poetry in general and my first collection After The Fall (Salmon Poetry) in particular. This time last year the collection had just been published and I was bringing it around the country to readings at Ó Bhéal in Cork, At The Edge in Cavan and the Dublin Book Festival. The book now has a new lease of life thanks to receiving this award and I’m looking forward to doing more readings in 2019 at  On The Nail in Limerick in February and Spokes in Waterford later in the year and more besides.

Last year I had the pleasure of reading alongside Mark Roper and Caoilinn Hughes at the Michael Hartnett poetry event at Listowel Writers’ Week. The event was chaired by the ever excellent John O’Donnell. I owe a lot to the lovely people at Listowel: Catherine Moylan (pictured above, presenting me with my award), Máire Logue and Liz Dunn.

This year I read a lot of novels, stories and poetry. The highlights were Caoilinn Hughes’ Orchid & the Wasp, Jon McGregor’s Reservoir 13, and Milkman by Anna Burns. I also finally got around to Solar Bones (Mike McCormack) and A Girl is a Half Formed Thing (Eimear McBride), both of which I enjoyed for many reasons. These are books that feed the writer in me. I was pleased to publish review essays of two books that very much impressed me, Pond by Claire-Louise Bennett and Room Little Darker by June Caldwell. It was a joy to spend some extra time poring over the work of these two important writers. In poetry I was delighted to read new collections by Breda Wall Ryan, Ailbhe Darcy, Ron Carey, James Martyn Joyce, John O’Donnell and Amanda Bell. I thoroughly enjoyed first collections from Maurice Devitt, Rachel Coventry and Jane Robinson.

I’ve been telling people I haven’t been writing much poetry in 2018, but on reviewing the year I find I have written and published a number of poems during the year. For most of the year I have been concentrating on preparing a collection of short stories for publication, under the working title It’s Perfect Here. I was delighted to be awarded a place on the Words Ireland Mentoring scheme in August and I’ve already had two engaged meetings with my mentor, Dermot Bolger. Our next meeting should happen in late January and we’ll meet again in the first half of 2019. My plan is to have the MS ready to approach publishers by summer 2019. So far so good.

I’m sure 2019 will bring other surprises and disappointments, as does every year, but I plan to plough ahead as best I can. That’s all you can do as a writer, as a person; try your best. I set out below a list of all the things that went well, poems and stories published etc during 2018, but be assured there were lots of failures and rejections too ( I just choose not to list them here). I leave you with my poem New Year taken from After The Fall – wishing everyone only good things in 2019!

New Year

Unlock the doors and let the east wind sing

between the table legs and upturned chairs.

Let dust unsettle on a belt of air

that binds the living to the rising spring

and stirs the sheets that cover everything.

The books you haven’t read are all still there,

the clothes you left behind unworn are where

you left them – let them be, you’ll never bring

the past to life again. Ignore the sting

of memory or the urge to say a prayer;

what you are doing should not prompt despair.

Take a deep breath, roll up your sleeves and swing

the hammer at the past and have no fear,

level the ground, make straight, this is New Year.


Summary of 2018

  • My short story Festival was longlisted in the Galley Beggar Short Story Prize 2017/18 in January.
  • My short story The Creaseless Society was published in online journal Cold Coffee Stand in January.
  • My poem Worrywart was published in Issue 47 of Crannóg Magazine in March.
  • My poems Mornings and Busker were published in Issue 24 of Shot Glass Journal in January.
  • My poem Gulliver In The Glass House was published in Issue 6 of Flare in January.
  • My sequence Animal Life was published in Live Encounters Poetry March 2018.
  • My short story The Visitor was published at Fictive Dream in March 2018.My
  • My poetry collection After The Fall was reviewed by Eamonn Lynskey in Live Encounters Poetry in March 2018.
  • My poem Lessons was included in the Poetry Jukebox at the Crescent Arts Centre in Belfast. The theme was “What Else” to mark the 2oth anniversary of The Good Friday Agreement.
  • My poem Forgetting was published in Issue 10 of Skylight 47 in May 2018. This issue also includes my review of Emma McKervey’s first poetry collection The Rag Tree Speaks.
  • My poem The Sower’s Joy was published in the Kavanagh anthology “The Lea-Green Down“(Fiery Arrow Press), edited by Eileen Casey.
  • My poem Two Foxes was included in the Poetry Day Ireland Poetry Mixtape Vol. 2 by Lagan Online.
  • In June my essay Not Not I – A Brief Survey of Claire-Louise Bennett’s ‘Pond’ was published in the Honest Ulsterman.
  • In June I was featured poet at The Blue Nib - five new poems published.
  • I was shortlisted for the Write by the Sea Short Story Competition in September 2018.
  • My sequence Winter Songs was published in Live Encounters Poetry September 2018.
  • My poem Threshold was published in Boyne Berries Issue 23.
  • My short story Grand National Day at the Bull and Drum was shortlisted for the Over The Edge Short Story Competition 2018 in October.
  • My poem Birthday was chosen as Listowel Writers’ Week Irish Poem of the Year at the An Post Irish Book Awards 2018.
  • My short story That New Girl was chosen as story of the month for November at Willesden Herald New Short Stories.
  • My review of June Caldwell’s Room Little Darker was published in the Blue Nib Issue 36 in December.
  • My long poem Different Trains was published in Live Encounters Poetry & Writing Vol 2 December 2018.
  • My poem Christmas Work was published at Poetry 24 on 20th December 2018.
  • My poem When We Were Small was featured on the Christmas Day edition of The Poetry Programme on RTÉ Radio One.

An Post Irish Book Awards 2018

I attended the An Post Irish Book Awards last Tuesday night and was delighted to be awarded Listowel Writers’ Week Irish Poem of the Year on the night. I was presented with the award by Catherine Moylan, Chair of Writers’s Week. It was a great event. I was shortlisted along with poets John W. Sexton and Erin Halliday and you can read all three shortlisted poems here. My huge thanks to Catherine, Liz Dunn and Máire Logue at Writers’ Week and all the people who voted for my poem “Birthday” in the run up to the awards.

Details of all the winning books are can be found at the Irish Book Awards website.

Thanks also to Jessie Lendennie and Siobhan Hutson at Salmon Poetry who published my collection After The Fall last year, from which “Birthday” is taken. Hopefully this award will send more people towards my collection in particular, but also towards poetry in general. It’s vital that poetry has a place at the table at these literary awards events.

If you’re interested you can order a copy of After The Fall directly from the Salmon Poetry website or from your local bookshop.

It’s been a great end to the year, but it’s not over yet. More poetry news to follow shortly!


Listowel Writers’ Week Irish Poem of the Year at An Post Irish Book Awards

Listowel Writers’ Week Irish Poem of the Year

  • Kintsugi – Shannon Kuta Kelly (Poetry Ireland Review)
  • Birthday – Brian Kirk (After the Fall Salmon Poetry)
  • Inglis & Co. Ltd. – Erin Halliday (Poetry Ireland Review)
  • The Snail – John W. Sexton (SurVision Magazine)

I’m absolutely gobsmacked to be included among the four shortlisted poets for Listowel Writer’s Week Irish Poem of the Year at the An Post Irish Book Awards 2018. The shortlists in all the categories were announced at a special event at the GPO last Thursday night. The awards ceremony will take place on Tuesday 27th November at the Clayton Hotel, Burlington Road. I’d like to thank Listowel Writers’ Week for sponsoring this award and also my publisher Salmon Poetry who also publish John W. Sexton.

There is a public vote element to deciding the winners in all the categories and you can cast your vote here.


New Short Story and Mentoring

This year I’ve been concentrating mainly on short stories with a view to putting together a collection in the near future. I received a tremendous boost in this regard last month when I was awarded a place on the Words Ireland Mentoring Programme 2018/19. You can see the full list of awards here.

The great news for me is that Dermot Bolger has been appointed as my mentor and we will be working together between now and next summer as I prepare a manuscript of short stories for publication. Dermot needs no introduction as he is one of the foremost writers in the country, and one that can move comfortably between writing all modes. His most recent work, a novel, An Ark of Light, received a very positive review in the Irish Times recently. In many ways it’s very fitting that Dermot should be my mentor as it was attending one of his writing workshops years ago that prompted me to get serious about my writing. Like Dermot I also like to try my hand at all styles of writing. In fact, Dermot published my first poem in an anthology he edited for New Island and South Dublin County Council back in 2008.

So, in that context, I’m extremely pleased to announce that my new short story “That New Girl” is the November featured story at the Willesden Herald’s New Short Stories site. This is a story I’m very happy with and I’m delighted it’s found such a good home. My thanks to the editor, Stephen Moran. Please have a read and feel free to share far and wide.

I will post again on the progress of the mentorship as the collection comes together.