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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.



Culture Night 2018 and The Lea-Green Down

This Culture Night, Friday 21st September 2018, there are two events which feature the recently published anthology The Lea-Green Down (Fiery Arrow Press), edited by Eileen Casey.

Book launch at Tullamore Library, Co. Offaly at 4.30pm and all are welcome to attend. Offaly writer, Eileen Casey is editor of The Lea-Green Down, an anthology marking Patrick Kavanagh’s fiftieth anniversary since his passing and also, attempts to evaluate his legacy and his influence on contemporary poetry. Over 60 poets feature in the anthology, which also publishes the original Kavanagh poems, by kind permission of The Kavanagh Estate Trustees. Published by Fiery Arrow Press. Partly funded by South Dublin County Council and Offaly County Council.

Back in Dublin at Rathmines Library there will be readings from The Lea-Green Down between 6.45pm and 7.30pm. A gathering of featured poets will read from the works of Patrick Kavanagh, delivering their response poems and reflecting on the continuing influence his poetry has on generations of new Irish poets. 

Featured poets:

Brian Kirk was highly commended in the Patrick Kavanagh Award in 2014 and 2015. His debut poetry collection is After The Fall (Salmon Poetry, 2017). He blogs at

Jean O’Brien – In 2016, O’Brien’s fifth and latest collection, New & Selected: Fish on a Bicycle was published by Salmon Poetry. An Award-winning poet, she currently tutors in creative writing.

Eamonn Lynskey - His poetry has appeared in many magazines and journals. His third collection It’s Time was published by Salmon Poetry in 2017.

Mary Guckian is a Leitrim poet living in Dublin. Working on her fourth book of poems, she is also a photographer and her black & white photographs recently appeared in Southlight 21.  

Christine Broe is an artist and art therapist. She published two collections with Swan Press: Solas Sólás (2003) and Lifting Light (2015).

Phil Lynch is widely published. He is a regular performer at events and festivals in Ireland and abroad. In a Changing Light was published by Salmon Poetry in 2016.

Mary O’Donnell has published seventeen books of poetry and fiction. She is a member of Aosdána, Ireland’s multi-disciplinary artists’ organisation.


Launch of The Lea-Green Down 18th July 2018

Next Wednesday 18th July 2018 a new anthology “The Lea-Green Down” will be launched by Kavanagh Scholar, Dr. Una Agnew, at the Irish Writers Centre on Parnell Square. This is no ordinary Patrick Kavanagh anthology. The book is the brain child of poet and editor, Eileen Casey, and includes original Kavanagh poems placed alongside new poems written by established and emerging Irish poets in response to his work. I’m delighted to have a poem included in the book which includes work by a host of eminent poets. Come along on the night which kicks off at 6.30pm. It’s sure to be a fun evening.


Michael Hartnett Poetry Event at Writers Week Listowel 2018

I’m absolutely thrilled to be a featured poet at the Michael Hartnett Poetry Event at this year’s Listowel Writers Week. The event takes place in the Listowel Arms Hotel at 4pm on Friday 1st June 2018 and tickets can be purchased here. I was last at Writers Week in 2013 when I was reading a short story as part of the New Writers Salon and the craic was mighty.

This year I’m delighted to be featured with Caoilinn Hughes, Mark Roper and John O’Donnell (pictured below). I am great admirer of Michael Hartnett’s work and in particular his Inchicore Haiku was a huge influence on my poetry film haiku sequence Red Line Haiku.

I was selected for the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series in 2013 along with Caoilinn whose first collection Gathering Evidence (Carcanet) went on to win the Irish Times Strong/Shine Award and was shortlisted for the Seamus Heaney Prize and the Piggott Poetry Prize. Her first novel Orchid and the Wasp (which I’m really looking forward to) is being launched at Writers Week also.

Mark Roper’s latest collection Bindweed was shortlisted for The Irish Times Poetry Now Award. A Gather of Shadow was also shortlisted for that award and won the Michael Hartnett Award in 2014. With photographer Paddy Dwan, he has published The River Book and The Backstrand. Their book about the Comeragh Mountains will be published in autumn 2018. He has written librettos for two operas composed by Eric Sweeney.

Poet, John O’Donnell, will chair the event. John has published three previous collections of poems, Some Other Country (2002), Icarus Sees His Father Fly (Dedalus Press, 2004) and On Water (Dedalus Press, 2014). Sunlight: New and Selected Poems, with an introduction by Niall MacMonagle, is published by Dedalus Press in 2018. His awards include the Hennessy Award for Poetry, the Ireland Funds Prize, and the SeaCat National Poetry Prize. As a fiction writer his work has appeared widely in recent years, and in 2013 he received the Hennessy Award for Fiction. A senior counsel, he lives and works in Dublin. He has been a member of the Board of Poetry Ireland, among other institutions, and has served on the Board of The Arts Council.

I plan to see the great Billy Collins later that evening, so all in all it should be a really exciting time. I hope some of you can make it along!

There’s a great free event at Listowel Library at 6pm on Thursday 31st May called Wild Voices, an excellent mix of poetry, story and music, curated by Annemarie Ní Churreáin and featuring the likes of Amanda Bell, James Martyn Joyce, Liz Quirke, Alice Kinsella, Victoria Kennefick and Karen J. Mc Donnell. But there’s so much more going on all week! You can check out the full programme for Writers Week 2018 here.


New Year, New stories

This year has been pretty good so far with two new short stories published already. My story Festival was longlisted in the Galley Beggar Short Story Prize 2017/18 and although I didn’t win it was featured on their site along with nine other superb stories. The overall winner was C.S. Mee for her story Brothers. In fact, I recommend you read all ten listed stories – you won’t be disappointed. I’m particularly pleased to feature on this list with Galley Beggar Press who have published some excellent writers such as Toby Litt, Eimear McBride and Joanna Walsh. It bodes well for me as I work towards finishing my first collection of short stories (working title Love and Work) in 2018. Any publishers out there, feel free to give me a shout. I don’t mind, honest!


I’m delighted also to have a new story The Visitor featured at Fictive Dream this month. They previously published my story Special in August 2017. Fictive Dream is an excellent repository of prime examples of the short story form and I’m delighted that editor, Laura Black, has seen fit to feature my work again. Please have a read of my stories and dip in to others in the archive also.

After The Fall – Readings and Interviews

The new year is well underway and I’m happy to be doing some more readings and interviews to promote After The Fall.

Shauna Gilligan, novelist and short story writer, was good enough to chat with me about my poetry collection over at her blog. I got some great feedback on it over the past few weeks and you can read the interview in full here.

This Sunday coming I’m reading at Books Upstairs on D’Olier Street at 3pm along with my fellow Hibernian poets Amanda Bell and Maeve O’Sullivan. Amanda will be reading from her collection First the feathers (Doire Press) and Maeve from her collection Elsewhere (Alba Publishing). There will all be music from harpist Brenda Malloy. My thanks to Maurice Earls at Books Upstairs and to Maeve who put the whole event together.

Then on Monday night I’ll be one of the featured poets at High Falutin at The Liquor Rooms, again along with Maeve O’Sullivan. It looks being a eally enjoyable night with a mixture of poetry and music – and cocktails, if you’re up for it.

Then on Sunday 4th February I will be interviewed by Teresa Quinn on Bookline on Liffey Sound 96.4FM at 11am.

So there’s plenty to keep me going. Please tune in or come along to these free events if you can and help keep culture alive!


End of Year Review 2017

2017 was a pretty good year for me from a writing point of view. This is how it panned out in terms of publications and awards during the year: three short stories and thirteen poems published in all, and also a first memoir piece published in The Incubator. The highlight of the year for me was undoubtedly the publication of my first poetry collection After The Fall by Salmon Poetry in November. This was the culmination of ten years writing, revising and publishing and I’m delighted to see the collection in print.

This is how the year went, month by month:


I did quite a few readings during the second half of the year: Staccato (run by the ever brilliant Tanya Farrelly and David Butler) in September along with my fellow Hibernian poet Amanda Bell, At The Edge in Cavan (run by the excellent Kate Ennals) in October reading alongside Mairéad Donnellan. I took part in a Red Line Book Festival panel event on first poetry collections in October which was chaired by Nessa O’Mahony and featured myself, Eamonn Lynskey and Phil Lynch. I took part in a lunch time reading and Q and A at the Dublin Book Festival in November. Myself, Amanda Bell and Emma McKervey fielded questions posed by Lisa Frank of Doire Press. After The Fall was launched in the Irish Writers Centre on 9th November and later that month I was featured poet at Ó Bhéal in Cork. In many ways this was the high point of the year for me. If you have a half hour to spare you can listen to my reading here.


I was particularly pleased to have my short story The Invitation published in The Lonely Crowd Issue 7 (edited by Valerie Sirr) in the summer. This is a great journal with quality poetry and stories in every issue. I spent some time in the second half of the year working on short stories again and my aim, if I have one, is to compile a strong collection of short stories in 2018. I was pleased to receive a bursary from South Dublin County Council in 2017 to help me do just this. Already I have stories forthcoming in 2018 with online journals Fictive Dream and Cold Coffee Stand.


It was also a great year for fellow Hibernian writers Amanda Bell who published her collection First the Feathers (Doire Press) and Maeve O’Sullivan who published Elsewhere (Alba Publishing)in the two weeks following After The Fall. It was a hectic end to the year but a great one. We will be reading together at Books Upstairs on Sunday 28th January 2018, but more of that anon.

I also did radio interviews / readings from After The Fall in 2017 on Dublin City FM and Dundalk FM and will be talking to Teresa Quinn on Bookline on Liffey Sound FM in Sunday 4th February 2018.

I hope to bring After The Fall to more readers in 2018 and also to write more poems and stories. There’s a novel somewhere in the mix there too. I’ve been writing long enough now to know that for every success there are very many failures and rejections. So don’t be downhearted. Make new start. Happy new year!


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.

Reading at Ó Bhéal

Last Monday night I did a reading at Ó Bhéal in Cork. It was an excellent night, with a full house and a really attentive poetry loving crowd. The quality of the open mic was a revelation also. This was the biggest reading I’ve undertaken to date, a half hour set, and it was great to have the support of old pals Kate Dempsey and Niamh Bagnell on the night. It was a great opportunity to reading a number of the poems from After The Fall and I was more than pleased with the response.

I want to thank Paul Casey for inviting me and looking after me so well in Cork and also Michal Weber who was an excellent MC on the night. If you’re up to it you can listen to recording of my reading here.