Category: Uncategorized

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.



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.