Poetry Ireland Introductions 2014 Redux: Rachel Coventry

The Poetry Ireland Introductions Series – a showcase for emerging poets working towards a first collection and with a track record of publication in journals and magazines – is open for submissions.

Introductions mentors new writing talent in Ireland, providing the opportunity to workshop poetry with an established, published poet and perform work to a live audience at a showcase, hosted by Poetry Ireland; the showcase is recorded and published on the Poetry Ireland web-site.

As an alumni of last year’s series, 2014 was pretty busy for me on the writing front, and I thought it would be fun to catch up with my fellow emerging writers to see what they’ve been up to.

To encourage those of you who might be thinking of applying this year, I asked them to share what it was like to take part in Poetry Ireland Introductions, how they benefited and where they are now with their writing.

Rachel Coventry

“I couldn’t believe it when I got the message to say I had been selected for the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series. I am a relatively new poet and, while I had been published in a few magazines, I still felt like a beginner. I won’t lie, the prospect of travelling up to Dublin for the workshops, and then the reading, was a little daunting, but the other poets were kind and warm and the whole experience was a rewarding one. Everyone at Poetry Ireland was great, especially Ayoma Bowe, who kept the whole thing running like clockwork. The workshops were helpful, both Alan Jude Moore and Theo Dorgan were very generous. In particular Theo’s advice on performing poetry has really stayed with me. The reading was scary but we had an opportunity to rehearse and this really helped.

There are two positive legacies of my Poetry Ireland Introductions experience. I now take my poetry more seriously. I wasn’t really thinking about a collection before this but I am now in the process of putting one together. I was short-listed for the Cork Literary Review Poetry Manuscript Competition in December. My confidence grew and I started to see that I have to stand by my work, especially in public readings. If I’m unsure about my work how can I expect anyone else to take it seriously? In short, the Introduction’s series marked the point where I began to believe in my poetry in a new way. (We were also paid which, I guess, makes us professionals!).

The other big benefit was getting to know the other selected poets and becoming the ‘class of 2014.’ I’ve also heard previous Introductions graduates talk about this. It’s great to hook up with a group of emerging poets, share experiences, and then follow their careers. It’s encouraging to see my fellow alumni publish collections, organize festivals and show up on short-lists and in journals. I bump into them at events and festivals, I even travelled to Dublin for Angela’s launch in November and it’s always great to see them.

Poetry can be a solitary business, the Introductions Series provides you with a few allies.”

Rachel Coventry lives in Galway. Her poetry has appeared in various journals including The SHop, Crannog, Cyphers, Boyne Berries, Poetry Bus and Poetic Diversity. She was selected for the 2014 Poetry Ireland Introductions Series and was short-listed for the Cork Literary Review Poetry Manuscript Competition in 2014. She is currently writing a Ph.D thesis on Heidegger’s poetics. On Twitter at @RachelCoventry

The Poetry Ireland Introductions series is open for submissions until 31 Jan.

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