2023 Review and thoughts on 2024

Hare’s Breath cover image artwork by Rosaleen Fleming

2023 was an important year for me, primarily because I published my second poetry collection Hare’s Breath (Salmon Poetry). It’s been six years since my first collection After The Fall was published and I’m very proud of the poems that make up this new collection. I was delighted to launch the collection to a full house at Books Upstairs (a very important independent bookshop) in November and also very happy to have John Murphy introduce the book to the world. John has been a huge part of my writing life as first reader and mentor for almost a decade.

That aside, the year has mainly been about working on the new novel. (I am still actively seeking a publisher for Riverrun which was a winner of the the Novel Fair at the Irish Writers Centre 2022). The new novel which currently has a working title of A Fork in the Road, has been taking up most of my time and will continue to do so in 2024. During the year I received support from Listowel Writers Week by way of a week long stay at the Cill Rialaig writers retreat in Ballinskelligs, Co. Kerry. I also was granted an Agility Award bursary from the Arts Council and was accepted for the National Mentoring Programme which is run by the Irish Writers Centre. My mentor is novelist and short story writer Sean O’Reilly and it’s been very interesting working with him as I write the novel. I have a further two sessions with Sean planned for early in 2024 and my aim is to complete the novel by the end of the year.

Here’s a brief list of how 2023 went for me from a writing perspective:

I was disappointed not to publish any new short stories in 2023, but I’m happy to say that my story Call Me Cathy will be published at Fictive Dream in January 2024.

Next year my main priorities will be to finish the new novel, write and publish some more short stories and do as many poetry readings as possible, bringing Hare’s Breath to as many people as possible around the country.

From a poetry point of view, the highlights of 2023 for me included Maurice Devitt’s Some of these Stories are True, Paul Bregazzi’s Hex, Breda Wall Ryan’s These are my People, A.E. Stalling’s verse translation of Hesiod: Works and Days, Maeve McKenna’s A Dedication to Drowning, Breda Spaight’s Watching for the Hawk, Jane Robinson’s Island and Atoll, Mark Ward’s Nightlight, Eamonn Lynskey’s Material Support, Rachel Coventry’s The Detachable Heart and Eamon McGuiness’ The Wrong Heroes.

Some the best short story collections I read this year included How to Gut a Fish by Sheila Armstrong, Evelyn Conlon’s Moving About the Place, Sean O’Reilly’s Levitation and Ann Beattie’s Park City: New and Selected stories.

Among the best novels I’ve read during the year I have to include The Singularities by John Banville (it has something of the old Banville in terms of character and concerns), Fludd by the late Hilary Mantel, Nothing Special by Nicole Flattery, Though the Bodies Fall by Noel O’Regan, A Visit from the Goon Squad by Jennifer Egan and Jabberwock by Dara Kavanagh (David Butler).

My ‘to be read’ pile grows bigger every week, but I’m looking forward to Booker winner Prophet Song by Paul Lynch and the current Winter Papers among many others in early 2024.

I hope 2023 was good to you and, whatever you’re reading or writing in 2024, I wish you only the very best!


Launch of New Poetry Collection

My second poetry collection Hare’s Breath will be launched at Books Upstairs on Sunday 26th November 2023 at 2.30pm. I’m delighted to say that John Murphy, who is an extraordinary poet and writer, will introduce and launch the book for me. John, along with fellow Hibernian poets, Amanda Bell and Jane Robinson were good enough to write some very kind words for the back cover also.

My first collection After The Fall was published almost exactly six years ago, and I hope this collection builds on the themes and styles that emerged in that first book. I’ve had time to write plenty of poems and choose what I hope will be the best selection of my work during that period. Certain themes recur, of course; the passing of time, family, memory etc., but I hope also that poems reflect the world we live in too, its anxieties and concerns about the future. I think it’s a collection that looks back and forwards at the same time.

If you’re around Dublin on the 26th I would love to see you at the launch. If not, maybe you get a copy directly from Salmon Poetry or from your local bookshop.

Poetry Day Ireland 27th April 2023

27 April 2023: Poetry Day Ireland Event in Tallaght Library ‘Message in a Bottle’

Platform One Writers Event for Poetry Day Ireland 2023, organised by Eileen Casey:

Unacknowledged Legislators of the World

A library with red chairs

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Tallaght Library: Poetry Day Ireland Platform One Writers

Written by Eileen Casey

The Unacknowledged Legislators of the World aims to focus on the tradition of poets such as William Blake/Shelley, (including more modern poets).

These poets sent out distress cries, highlighting physical, political and spiritual abuse of power.  Poets who used their poems as a container for distress cries (S.O.S.) which in turn became significant ‘messages in a bottle’ washing up on shores they had the vision to imagine.

Platform One writers (Eileen Casey, Doreen Duffy, Brian Kirk, Michael Whelan, Susan Condon, Vivienne Kearns, Orla Grant-Donoghue, Brigid Flynn, Joan Power) will read their own original poems inspired by these much-respected S.O.S. poets.

The event will take place on the main floor of Tallaght Library where the audience will have an opportunity to voice their views on the power of poetry to influence policy makers in a world beset by social and environmental issues. Poems will be displayed throughout the library for the duration of Poetry Day, 2023.

End of Year 2022

Stony Thursday Book, No.18 Winter 2022

Every year around this time I compile a roundup of what I’ve done from a writing point of view during the old year. This year started out being all about the novel but ended up being grounded in poetry. This is also the first year in a long time when I haven’t published a single short story. I have written a few recently so hopefully that will change soon.

I’m still on the look out for a publisher for my Novel Fair 2022 winning novel Riverrun, and I intend to continue to work on that in 2023. But, as I say, the year has been all about poetry. My workshop group, The Hibernians, began to meet again in person in The Teacher’s Club in September and it’s been great to be able to engage face to face with friends and fellow poets again.

So, here’s a quick round up of how 2022 looked from a publication point of view.

My sonnet sequence Nightbrooding 3, 4 & 5 were featured in the World Poetry Tree anthology in January 2022.

My poem Sun was published in Crannóg Issue 56, Spring 2022.

My poem Sour was published in Drawn To The Light Issue 5.

My poems Hydra and Cat and Mouse were published in Vox Galvia in the Galway Advertiser in February 2022.

My poem Kingdom was shortlisted in the Shelbourne/Irish Times poetry competition and published in the Irish Times.

My poems Staying UpNo Birds Sing and Metaxu were published in Live Encounters Poetry & Writing.

My poem Exile was published in Abridged 0 – 87 Not At Home.

My poem My First Infatuation was published in the Bangor Literary Journal Issue 17 in July 2022.

My poem Absence was published in the Black Nore Review in July 2022.

My poem The Last Days of Pompeii was published in Issue 137 of Poetry Ireland Review, edited by Gerald Dawe in August 2022.

My sonnet Belturbet Under Frost was featured in the anthology Romance Options: Love Poems for Today, edited by Leeanne Quinn and Joseph Woods, published by Dedalus Press.

My poem Hard Swallows was published in Issue 7 of Drawn to the Light Journal in October 2022.

My poems EverythingShade and The Facts of Life were published in Live Encounters Poetry Nov/Dec 2022.

My poem Workshop was published in The Stony Thursday Book, No 18 Winter Issue, edited by Annemarie Ní Churreáin in December 2022 (see cover image above).

In 2023 I hope to have news on my next poetry collection and also I’ll be chasing down a publisher for my novel Riverrun. I’ve started work on a new novel set in London in the 1980s, but it’s early days still on that. I want to write more short stories also next year with a view to publishing a collection of the best of them in the near future.

I read a lot of fiction and poetry this year too. The highlights in terms of fiction were Herzog by Saul Bellow, Lucia Berlin’s A Manual for Cleaning Women, Pale Fire by Nabokov, A Provincial Death by Eoghan Smith and The Deadwood Encore by Kathleen Murray. Kevin Power’s essay collection The Written World was very entertaining and informative, as was his Stinging Fly guest lecture delivered at the final Bray Literary Festival in September.

Poetry collections I read and admired included The Wrong Heroes by Eamon McGuinness, Depositions by Anton Floyd, The Last Spring of the World by Maureen Boyle and Phantom Gang by Ciarán O’Rourke.

I look forward to an exciting year of reading and writing and attending readings and launches in the real world, hopefully.

In the meantime I leave you with my poem The Last Days of Pompeii which was featured in Poetry Ireland Review, Issue 137, in the summer. Of all the poems I published this year it’s the one that I’m happiest with, in terms of ambition, range and tone. I hope you enjoy it!

Best wishes for a happy Christmas and a peaceful and fruitful new year!


21st December 2022

Text of poem 'The Last Days of Pompeii' published in Poetry Ireland Review 137, 2022

Bray Literary Festival 2022

This year the Bray Literary Festival runs from Thursday 29th September to Sunday 2nd October 2022. We have a huge list of great writers with over 18 events running over the weekend, including Booker Prize nominated Claire Keegan, Donal Ryan, Nuala O’Connor, Kevin Power and many more. You can download the very exciting programme here.

The poetry and flash competitions were extremely competitive this year and the shortlists have now been published. The winners will be announced at the special BLF Culture Night Event in Bray Town Hall on Friday 23rd September, which also features singer-song writers Catherine Ann Cullen and Imogen Gunner, and poets Supriya Kaur Dhaliwal and Emily Cooper.

Personally, I’m looking forward to hosting three events over the weekend. On Thursday 29th September, ‘Unlocking the Senses’ with poets Mary O’Donnell, Mark Granier and Ciarán O’Rourke. On Friday 30th September, ‘Northern Voices’ with poets Maureen Boyle, Stephanie Conn and Glen Wilson. Then on Saturday 1st October I’ll be hosting an event celebrating 40 years of UK publisher Dedalus Books where I’ll be talking to publisher Eric Lane alongside recent Irish Dedalus authors Eoghan Smith and Dara Kavanagh.

There are workshops available also with excellent tutors: Gerard Beirne, Rosamund Taylor, Colin Dardis, Maeve O’Sullivan, Éilís Ní Dhuibhne and Geraldine O’Kane.

This is, I believe, our best programme to date and I’m really looking forward to it. However, it will also be our last BLF. Tanya Farrelly, founder and Festival Director, explains the reasons for this decision in a recent piece for the Irish Times.

I hope to see you there this year for what will surely be a great celebration of all things literary!

Book Launch ‘Depositions’ by Anton Floyd (Doire Press)

I was honoured to be asked to launch Anton Floyd’s new poetry collection ‘Depositions’ on World Refugee Day 20th June 2022. Anton is a fine poet and good friend, and his new collection is an important and impressive achievement, concerned as it is with the traumatic experience of exile and displacement.

The core of the collection consists of 120 tercets borrowing something from the haiku/senryu format, a selection of which has been translated into 20 languages, many by people who have a direct experience of displacement. This short form section seeks to articulate the experiences of asylum seekers at each stage of the experience, the trauma, both in physical as well as psychological terms.  There are longer poems at the beginning and end of the collection that meditate on war and the aftermaths of conflict. The final section consists of a group of poems about the current tragic situation in Ukraine. 

Two songs also feature in the collection,  Love in a Time of War and Peace Will Come, the latter striking a hopeful note at the end of the collection. The music for both songs was composed by Bulgarian maestro, Alex Zografov. 

Anton’s wife Carole Anne and his son Aodhán, (both artists) designed Anton’s first collection Falling into Place (Revival Press) and have now, between them, designed  the cover for Depositions. Carole Anne made the painting and Aodhán the layout of the jacket. 

The Ukraine crisis has tragically given the collection an added relevance. The founder of The Pharos Arts Foundation in Nicosia, Garo Keheyan, (https://www.pharosartsfoundation.org) has agreed to a Cyprus launch in October 2022 in collaboration with the Irish ambassador there. There’ll be a launch in Limerick and one in Cork also. The launch in Dublin is supported by UNHCR – Ireland. The agency will place Depositions on its list of recommended books and all proceeds from sales will support the work of UNHCR – Ireland.

I hope to see you there.

Bring on 2022!

Every year around this time I compile a roundup of what I’ve done from a writing point of view during the old year. This year we’ve continued to try to learn to live with Covid 19 as best we can. Personally, I’ve been lucky up until now, but this Christmas Covid caught up with us and we couldn’t have the Christmas we planned. Fortunately, we are all vaccinated and boosted and we don’t appear to be suffering too much so far. However, being confined to the house, we miss the walks and interactions with nature that usually sustain us at this time of year. But we have each other and plenty of books and Netflix and food and drink so things could be a lot worse.

Having been granted a Professional Development Award by the Arts Council at the end of 2020, this year was all about the new novel. I had already done some work on Riverrun before I used my Arts Council Award to enrol in the online Novel Writing Course with Faber Academy in London. The course ran from January 2021 right up to September when I submitted my opening 15,000 words for assessment by my course tutor, novelist Peter Benson. Throughout the year we covered many aspects of the novel and read and critiqued each other’s work in what was an intense and intensive writing regime. The nine other writers I worked with were really supportive. Their honesty and incisive comments helped me come to grips with the fundamental issues of my novel. Peter’s assessment came back in October, and I was more than pleased with how positive he was about where I was going with the story.

In August I was granted a further Agility Award by the Arts Council to continue work on the novel and I kept working steadily throughout the autumn and winter. I entered Riverrun in the Novel Fair run by the Irish Writers Centre in September, more in hope than confidence, and I was delighted to get a phone call in early December to say I was a winner. I firmly believe that the Arts Council funding and the level of focussed engagement during the Faber Academy Course allowed me to apply myself to this novel in a way I never could before. I realise how lucky I am – having been commended twice before in this competition – to be given the opportunity to bring my work to the attention of agents and publishers in February at the Novel Fair.

The Novel Fair Winners 2022

Working on the novel so much meant that I didn’t write as many stories or new poems as I normally would. But all the same, I published three stories and twelve poems during the course of the year.

Here’s a quick rundown of everything writing-related that happened for me in 2021

  • My story The Creaseless Society was shortlisted for the Poetry on the Lake short story competition and was published in the anthology Off Centre.
  • My poem The Invisible House was runner up in the Trim Poetry Competition by judge Jean O’Brien.
  • Four poems from my formal sequence Freedom in Constraint was published in Live Encounters Poetry & Writing in January.
  • My poetry film Staying Home as featured in The Honest Ulsterman in February.
  • My poem Loss was published in Skylight 47 Issue 14.
  • My sonnet Belturbet Under Frost was shortlisted in the formal category of the Poetry on the Lake Poetry Competition in April.
  • In May I was featured on the Poetry Programme on RTE Radio 1, reading my poem Houses which was published in the Climate Crisis Anthology Empty House (Doire Press).
  • My poem In The Old Days was published in The Honest Ulsterman in June.
  • My sonnet Belturbet Under Frost was published in 14 Magazine, Series 2, Issue 2 in July.
  • In August I was awarded an Agility Award from the Arts Council of Ireland to work on completing my novel work in progress.
  • In September I was featured on the poetry podcast Words Lightly Spoken reading my poem Small Things (for Catherine Corless).
  • My sonnets Night Brooding 1 & 2 were published in Shot Glass Journal in September.
  • My story The Green Man and The Fool was published at Fictive Dream in October.
  • My story Disenchantment was shortlisted for the Poetry on the Lake Short Story Competition and published in the anthology Haunted in November.
  • My poem A Purpose was published in Issue 92 of Cyphers in November.
  • My poem Planting was published in the anthology Local Wonders by Dedalus Press in November.
  • My long poem Remember was published at Live Encounters Poetry & Writing 12th Anniversary Edition in December.
  • In December my novel Riverrun was chosen as a winner (along with 11 other writers ) of the Novel Fair 2022. We will be invited to pitch our novels to agents and publishers at the Novel Fair on 11th and 12th February 2022.

I read even more than usual this year and can’t begin to name all the books I’ve enjoyed, but here goes. In terms of novels I have to mention White City by Kevin Power, The Wild Laughter by Caoilinn Hughes, Shuggie Bain by Douglas Stuart and Bright Burning Things by Lisa Harding. Short story collections I really enjoyed include Intimacies by Lucy Caldwell, A Manual for Cleaning Women by Lucia Berlin and The End of the World is a Cul De Sac by Louise Kennedy. I read a huge amount of poetry and really loved Averno by Louise Gluck, The Readiness by Alan Gillis, Bright Dead Things by Ada Limón, Invisible Sun by Richard Skinner, Wasp on the Prayer Flag by Maeve O’Sullivan, The Limit of Light by Grace Wilentz, The Examined Life by James Harpur, Of Ochre and Ash by Eleanor Hooker, Glass Life by Ciarán O’Rourke, Liffey Sequence by David Butler and Riptide by Amanda Bell.

There were some excellent anthologies this year also including Days of Clear Light, a Festschrift for Jessie Lendennie, celebrating 40 years of Salmon Poetry, Empty House an anthology on the climate crisis from Doire Press and Local Wonders, a celebration of our immediate surroundings from Dedalus Press. I was delighted to have poems in each of these.

Plans for 2022

My main aims this year revolve around finding a publisher for my novel Riverrun at the Novel Fair in February. I’ve also done some more work recently on my short story collection What Do You Actually Want? and am keen to find a publisher during 2022. And I’ve been putting the finishing touches to my second poetry collection, Palimpsest, which I hope to submit to Salmon Poetry early in the new year.

I also have an idea for a new novel which I hope to start on very soon and I also plan to continue to write more poems and stories as the year unfolds.

This year has been very good for me I know. It goes without saying I’m sure that in this post I’m only mentioning the successes and publications. My 2021 diary is scarred with rejections and failure as every diary has been since I started writing and sending work out.

I know we’ve all said it before, but hopefully next year will see some sort of return to normality – live readings, events and book launches.

In the meantime, stay healthy and well and best wishes to all for a Happy New Year!

Brian Kirk

29th December 2021

Red Line Book Festival 2021

This year in October the Red Line Book Festival celebrates 10 years with a huge range of events, some in person, some virtual. You can view the full programme here.

I’m so happy to be hosting a real live event in the Civic Theatre (my first live event in a long time!) celebrating the short story with authors Deirdre Sullivan and Lucy Caldwell. We’ll hear short readings from both writers and then we’ll get down to the business of the short story, what it is and how it works. ‘The Beauty of Brevity’ takes place on Monday 11th October at 7pm and you can book your tickets here.

The festival is always a cracker and it will run up until 17th October. I intend to see as many events as I can during the week and there’s so much to choose from with events featuring the likes of Colm Tóibín, Kevin Power, Jane Robinson, Nell Regan, Lynn Buckle, Catherine Dunne, Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, Mary Dorcey, Moya Cannon, Victoria Kennefick, Jessica Traynor, Aoife Lyall, Amanda Bell, Eleanor Hooker, David Butler, Annemarie Ní Churreáin, Eimear Ryan, Anrew McMillan, Seán Hewitt and many many more.

Words Lightly Spoken Podcast

I was delighted to be featured in Words Lightly Spoken, a podcast of poetry from Ireland, this week. I introduced and read my poem ‘Small Things’ which is dedicated to Catherine Corless and is published in the anthology, Days of Clear Light, celebrating 40 years of Salmon Poetry and its founder Jessie Lendennie.

You can access the podcast at the following links:



Apple Podcasts







Poetry Ireland website


My thanks to producer, Claire Cunningham, for this opportunity. I hope you enjoy it.

You can purchase a copy of the anthology Days of Clear Light at the Salmon Poetry website, here.