Getting on with it

Despite all the current upheaval it’s great to see South Dublin Libraries using technology to bring resources to emerging writers. I’m delighted to be hosting 8 half-hour one-to-one sessions with emerging fiction writers later in April. The closing date to apply to be one of the 8 is Sunday 12th April so get going. Full details available here

I was of course disappointed not to get to read at North West Words in Letterkenny on 26th March, but I do hope to get there later in the year when things have settled down.

Despite all the worry and the strange atmosphere out there people have been quick to use technology and social media in a positive way as a means of keeping in touch while keeping our distance. The Holding Cell is a great resource dreamed up by writing couple Rozz and Simon Lewis: virtual literary readings by writers during the Covid19 Pandemic . They have had some excellent writers reading their work over the past few weeks, including Danielle McLaughlin, William Wall, Belinda McKeown, Colin Barret and Madeleine Darcy, to name only a few. I was delighted to read some poems also and you can see that reading here.

I hope to do a fiction reading later in the month also. In the meantime you should sit back and enjoy the wealth of talent already available at http://www.theholdingcell.eu/readers/

I hope you can use some of your enforced home time to engage with the written word over the coming weeks. As well as attending virtual readings, I’ve been reading some excellent poetry and thoroughly enjoyed Christine Dwyer Hickey’s novel Tatty (2020 Dublin One City One Book Choice), which is one of the best examples of the use of voice I’ve ever come across in a novel. I highly recommend it to everyone. At the moment I’m re-reading At Swim Two Birds by Flann O’Brien. So don’t just rely on the TV and your phone. As Flann’s famous Uncle would say: “tell me this, do you ever open a book at all?”

Reading at North West Words Thursday 26th March 2020

I’m delighted to say I’ve been invited to read at North West Words in Dillons Hotel, Letterkenny, on Thursday 26th March 2020. North West Words has been host to some great poets in recent years, most recently the excellent Eleanor Hooker in February. They also run an annual poetry competition which I was pleased to be shortlisted for twice. I’ll be reading from my collection After The Fall (Salmon, 2017) and also some new poems which will form part of my second collection.  I’ll have copies of my poetry collection with me and also copies of my short fiction chapbook It’s Not Me, It’s You (Southword Editions, 2019) for sale on the night.

This is my first reading of 2020 and I’m very much looking forward to it!

Bray Literary Festival 2020

This year the Bray Literary Festival will be held on the weekend of 18th – 20th September 2020. We had our first preliminary meeting of the committee at the weekend and the call out for author applications just opened and will remain open until the 31st March 2020. We’d love to receive as many applications as possible. Following that we will be programming the festival and preparing for this year’s competitions for poetry and flash fiction. We’re really looking forward to the 2020 Festival, which will be our fourth year since it was founded by Tanya Farrelly 2017. The success of the festival each year has been a great spur to create an ever more engaging programme year on year. We look forward to seeing as many of you as possible in September.

In the meantime, we are hosting a Fundraiser Pub Quiz on Wednesday March 11th @ 7.30pm in Toner’s Pub, Lower Baggot Street, Dubin 2. €40 for a table of 4, which includes raffle tickets for great spot prizes. Do come along and test your general knowledge, have some fun and support a great festival which hosts over 40 writers in one weekend in the beautiful seaside town of Bray.

In the meantime check out https://brayliteraryfestival.com/ for updates.

2019 Review

I didn’t publish quite as much in 2019 as in recent years, but there were some great moments along the way. The highlight was of course the publication of my short fiction chapbook It’s Not Me, It’s You at the Cork International Short Story Festival in September. This is my third book publication in the past four years following 2015’s children’s novel The Rising Son and 2017’s poetry collection After The Fall (Salmon Poetry).

My main aim in terms of publication for 2020 is to find a publisher for my full short story collection What Do You Actually Want?. I was lucky enough to be mentored in 2019 by Dermot Bolger as I worked on putting the collection together.

In terms of new writing in 2020, I’m determined to bring at least one of two novel projects to fruition before the end of the year. I also got back into poetry writing in 2019 and hope to continue to work towards my second poetry collection in 2020 by continuing to write plenty of new poems and adding to my poetry publication credits.

Over the year I read some excellent novels, stories and poetry. I could name loads but I’ll settle for three only, one from each genre: Anna Burns’ novel Milkman, Nicole Flattery’s short story collection Show Them A Good Time and Ciaran O’Rourke’s poetry collection The Buried Breath. There were plenty of other wonderful books that I read during the year but these three stood out for me in terms of the dynamic coming together of structure, language and ideas.

Here’s how my writing year went from a publication point of view:

I’m looking forward to taking on new challenges in 2020 and reading and writing new work. It’s always worth saying also, that whatever success we achieve in writing – however you define success – it is always accompanied by a far greater amount of rejection and failure. I like to think a committed writer sees these setbacks as part of the overall learning and improving process. Some weeks are better than others for sure…
Best wishes to all for a happy, peaceful and productive 2020!
Brian

New Short Stories

Last Thursday, 26th October 2019, Southword Editions published their first two Short Fiction Chapbooks: A Middle Eastern No by Jill Widner and It’s Not Me, It’s You by Brian Kirk (that’s me!).

Both publications are now available from Munster Literature Centre and Amazon. I hope both books gain many new readers and also some reviews over the coming weeks and months. I’m very proud of the three stories that appear in my chapbook and want to thank Southword Editions for doing such a great job in publishing them. I’d also like to thank the editors of the magazines and journals who published these stories originally.  That New Girl was published by Steve Moran, Willesden Herald New Short Stories in November 2018; The Shawl was published by Jen Matthews in Long Story Short Literary Journal in March 2013; The Invitation was published by Valerie Sirr in Issue 7 of The Lonely Crowd in June 2017.

I’d also like to acknowledge the support I received from South Dublin County Council Arts Office by way of a bursary in 2017 when I was writing these stories. My final and particular thanks go to John Murphy who has been a first reader and a vital critical eye for me for many years and t0 Dermot Bolger who mentored me during 2018 and 2019 as I prepared my full collection of short stories for which I am now actively seeking a publisher.

 

 

Cork International Short Story Festival 2019

The Cork International Short Story Festival 2019 starts tomorrow and I’m delighted to be taking part in it this year. My short fiction chapbook “It’s Not Me, It’s You” won the inaugural Southword Fiction Chapbook Prize along with “A Middle Eastern No” by Jill Widner (Yakima, WA USA)  and both books will be launched as part of the festival on Thursday 26th September at 2.30pm at Cork City Library. I’m looking forward to meeting Jill and reading her work. We’ll both be reading from our chapbooks as part of the event which is free to the public. It would be lovely to see some of you there.

“It’s Not Me, It’s You” is already available to buy via Amazon if you can’t get to Cork. If you enjoy it, you might leave a short review also.

There’s a host of other events taking place during the festival which you can check out here. I’m particularly looking forward to hearing Danielle McLaughlin and Clare Adam in conversation with Eimear Ryan, but there’s plenty more to keep short story lovers interested.

Then, straight after that, it’s straight back to Bray for the Bray Literary Festival! It’s all go at the moment…

Bray Literary Festival 2019

The Bray Literary Festival 2019 runs from Friday 27th September to Sunday 29th September 2019. I’m pleased to be part of the organising committee along with David Butler, Nessa O’Mahony, Breda Wall Ryan, Phil Lynch and Ed O’Dwyer, although we all take our orders from founder and Director, Tanya Farrelly.

This is the third year of the festival and the programme continues to improve with every year. This year the main event in the Mermaid Theatre features John Boyne and Jess Kidd, interviewed by Tanya and Ed. There are a host of other brilliant events on over the course of the weekend featuring poets, novelists, short story writers and memoirists. Something for everyone. The full programme can be viewed here.

I’m hosting a very interesting panel discussion with multi-genre writers Geraldine Mills, Paul Perry and John O’Donnell on Sunday 29th at 2.30pm in the Town Hall. I have a plethora of questions I’d like to ask them.

A weekend pass costs €25, a day pass €15 and individual events €5, although there are some free events too. Members of the committee will be on hand over the weekend to advise and help anyone requiring assistance, so please do say hello.

Also, and very importantly, there are a range of workshops over Saturday and Sunday for just €10, covering fiction, memoir, poetry and drama. Teachers include, David Butler, Csilla Toldy, Máire T. Robinson, Louise Phillips, Angela Carr and Anne Tannam. Full details can be found here. Places are going fast, so book your place now and you can pay on the day.

Finally, the Bray Literary Festival is hosting a Culture Night event in Bray Town Hall on Friday 20th September 2019. The evening will be hosted by poet Katie Donovan and feature readings from the poetry of the late Shirley McClure. The winners of the poetry and flash fiction competitions will be announced on the night also.

Please go to brayliteraryfestival.com for more information on individual events and workshops.

I’m looking forward to what promises to be an excellent festival and I hope to see many of you there in the beautiful seaside town of Bray.

 

 

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,

                                                            cantilevered

concrete and steel silently holding

its breath above rivers of bitumen, 

asphalt, macadam.

                       Median

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

                         camber

                                      and into the drain,

road slick in the light of my searching.

An empty bus-shelter reflected my shame.

Anxiety

              slid

                       down

                                     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