Tag: Writing

Happy New Year

How 2020 panned out

Every year around this time I compile a roundup of what I’ve done from a writing point of view during the old year. In many ways this year has been like no other, but I’ve been lucky in that I’ve managed to continue to write and publish new work throughout the year. Thanks to the support of family and writer friends I’ve been able keep going in this time of worry and uncertainty.

One of the main things I did this year was enabled by a Covid 19 bursary from the Arts Council. To date I have written twelve formal poems as part of a sequence dealing with the effects on family, the individual and community in coping with the restrictions imposed as part of dealing with the pandemic. I’ve been lucky to have my daughter, Martha, and my good friend, Pete McCluskey, making films for these new poems throughout the year. So far there are nine poetry films which can be viewed on YouTube.

Here’s a rundown of everything writing-related that happened for me in 2020, a year in which I published three new short stories and fourteen poems.

Although actual readings were out of the question this year, I did a number of virtual readings including The Holding Cell in April, launch of Skylight 47 in July, North West Words in August, Fiction at The Friary in October, readings from The Music of What Happens in November, Ó Bhéal Winter Warmer in November and the launch of 14 Magazine in December.

Bray Literary Festival went ahead as a purely online festival and was a big success with high viewer numbers thanks to sterling work by founder and Director, Tanya Farrelly and the rest of the committee: David Butler, Nessa O’Mahony, Phil Lynch, Edward O’Dwyer and myself. Special mentioned needs to be given to Peter Salisbury whose technical skill and expertise gave life to a festival which would otherwise have died in this challenging year. The committee has decided to take a break in 2021 and Bray Literary Festival will return in 2022.

I read so much this year and enjoyed a good portion of it, but I’ve limited my choices of books of the year to just three, one in each category. My novel of the year was the wonderfully expansive story of a life and art Oona (Lilliput Press) by Alice Lyons. For short story collection I chose Almost the Same Blue (Doire Press) by John O’Donnell for the range and detail of the stories. For poetry I chose Some Lives (Dedalus Press) by Leeanne Quinn, for the control and sureness of voice and that wonderful long title poem.

Plans for 2021

In 2021 I hope to find a publisher for my short story collection What Do You Actually Want? I’m also working towards finalising my second poetry collection (title yet to be decided). Work is well underway on this now and I hope to publish more new poems during the coming year which will form part of the manuscript. I plan to bring my formal poetry film sequence Freedom In Constraint to a close in early 2021. Again, thanks to the Arts Council for funding this project. To date I have written twelve poems, nine of which have been filmed so far. I expect there will be fifteen when the sequence is complete.

My main area of work this year will be on my novel in progress, working title Riverrun. I received a Professional Development Award from the Arts Council in December to cover the cost of an online novel writing course with the Faber Academy. The course runs from January to September 2021 and I’m hoping it will give me the tools to make my novel as good as it can be. I see it as a long-term investment also as I’m sure the techniques and skills I learn will stand to me as I take on further writing projects in the future. A very exciting prospect!

Finally, this year has been a peculiar and challenging year in many ways. I know I’ve been lucky and I’m thankful for that. I hope for all our sakes that our lives can return to something like normality during 2021.

Best wishes to all for a Happy New Year!

Brian

29th December 2020

Bray Literary Festival 2020

This year Bray Literary Festival, now in its fourth year, will be mainly an online festival. The exception will be our headline event which will be held on Thursday 17th September 2020 in the Mermaid Arts Centre in association with One City, One Book. We are delighted to present an evening of readings and discussion hosted by Dermot Bolger, featuring Christine Dwyer Hickey, author of eleven novels including Dublin’s One City, One Book 2020 choice Tatty and The Narrow Land, winner of the Walter Scott Award 2020, and Billy O’Callaghan, author of novels The Dead House and My Coney Island Baby and four short story collections, most recently The Boatman.

Tickets are limited because of social distancing guidelines so book your ticket now at the Mermaid.

Friday 18th September is Culture Night and we have a lovely event planned called “Four Poets Walk into a Bar” featuring Anne Tannam, Mark Ward, Grace Wilentz and Fiona Bolger. This event will be livestreamed on Culture Night at 7pm. Following this event there will be the announcement of the winners of this year’s poetry and fiction competitions and readings of their work.

The Festival continues on Friday 25th September at 7.30pm with the launch of The Music of What Happens, an anthology of new writing in support of Purple House edited by Festival Director, Tanya Farrelly.

The Festival continues throughout Saturday 26th and Sunday 27th September with an amazing range of writers and poets reading and talking about their work. Please review the full programme for details. All of these events can be accessed through the Bray Literary Festival YouTube Channel so please subscribe to be sure you don’t miss anything.

I’m personally looking forward to hosting two events. The first, Singing in the Wild Dark, sees me chatting with poets Eleanor Hooker, Jess Traynor and Leeanne Quinn on Saturday 26th September at 2.30pm. These three poets should not be missed.

My second event is Brave New Words featuring Alice Lyons, Pat O’Connor and Marianne Lee on Sunday 27th September at 11.30am. We’ll be discussing new novels and short stories and the route to publication and much more besides.

All of these events are free to view, but we are more than happy to receive any donations you might want to make towards the future of the festival. I hope you’ll set some time aside to catch some of these extraordinary writers read and discuss their work.

BLF Committee, l to r: Phil Lynch, Ed O’Dwyer, David Butler, Tanya Farrelly (Director), Brian Kirk, Nessa O’Mahony