Poetry Ireland Introductions 2014 Redux: Stephen Heffernan / Stiofán Ó hIfearnáin

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 until 31 Jan.

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.

Stephen Heffernan / Stiofán Ó hIfearnáin

[Note: Stephen is an Irish language poet]

“There can be little doubt that taking part in the Poetry Ireland Introductions series was one of the most enjoyable experiences of my life so far. To be perfectly honest, I submitted my portfolio of work as a means of testing the waters rather than having any great ambition fulfilled and the positive response was a surprise to say the least! As someone who never did much in the line of creative writing classes or the like, and who had only ever shown my work to a small circle of friends, before submitting poems, it was an exciting experience to exchange criticism and praise with the other selected poets on the work they brought to the workshop.

Since taking part in the programme, myself and Breda Wall Ryan have dabbled a bit in the translation of one of my poem sequences, with a view to publishing both versions in the Poetry Ireland Review but, apart from that, I’ve been going through something of a dry patch. [Stephen is currently a visiting student at the University of Potsdam, Germany, as part of his degree studies in History & German Literature – A.] I admit to being somewhat envious to see many of my fellow poets announce the publication of their first collection, as I’m still considerably distant from the particular milestone, but suppose I have youth on my side, if nothing else.”

To his own great surprise some people have decided that Stiofán Ó hIfearnáin should be called a poet: his words have graced the pages of Comhar, The Stinging Fly and Cabhsair/Causeway and in 2014, he was selected for the Poetry Ireland Introductions series. Although he is presently in exile in the former East Germany, he is usually to be found somewhere in the shadows of the Knockmealdowns.


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