Poetry Ireland Introductions 2014 Redux: Angela T. Carr

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’ve been asking my fellow emerging poets to share their experience of taking part in the Introductions series. I thought I’d round up today with my own feedback: what it was like to take part in Poetry Ireland Introductions, how I benefited and where I am now with my writing.

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2014: A Year in Writing

Having won the Cork Literary Review Poetry Manuscript Competition at the end of 2013, and with the publication of my first collection in the offing, 2014 was set to be a busy year on the writing front and what a year it was!

In January, I was Commended in the Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize, and finally got serious about sending my work out to literary magazines and journals.

In February, 2 poems were published on the topical Poetry 24 web-site, including one about the infamous Panti Bliss homophobia scandal at RTE. I was also delighted to read as part of The Ash Sessions: Covers of Love event for St. Valentine’s Day and the open mic for Wicked Women’s Week.

In March, I started working on developing my own series of online courses (which I now hope to launch in 2015) and had a poem selected for publication in The Pickled Body, an online journal or poetry and art.

In April, I read at The Pickled Body launch at the Ranelagh Arts Centre, was short-listed for the Single Poem Award at Listowel Writers’ Week, and was one of nine writers selected for the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series 2014 – the most prestigious event for emerging poets in Ireland.

In May, I met the other emerging writers at the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series workshop, where we critiqued our poems with Alan Jude Moore and were schooled on reading and delivery of poetry by Theo Dorgan. Later that month, we were introduced over 2 nights of readings at the Irish Writers Centre, as part of the Dublin Writers’ Festival. Through Poetry Ireland, I also attended a poetry workshop with Ciaran Berry, as part of the Writers’ Festival.

In June, I attended a Mindshift meeting at the Irish Writers Centre – a series of professional development events, for published writers – focusing on PR & Marketing, and received great advice on promoting my book from Nuala Ni Choncuir, June Considine, Lia Mills, Christine Dwyer Hickey and others. I also took part in How Writers Write Poetry, a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) run by the International Writer’s Programme at the University of Iowa. A great teaching programme – the Iowa Writers Workshop is world-renowned – but I found the feedback process overwhelming, given the sheer numbers involved (around 2000 participants), and focused instead on working through the excellent content.

The summer was a little quieter. July, I found out I was a finalist in the Mslexia Women’s Poetry Competition, judged by Wendy Cope, but the news was embargoed and I had to sit on my hands until the results were officially published in September! In August, I had a particularly productive month writing new work and also made the long-list for the Over The Edge New Writer of the Year 2014.

It all kicked off again in September, when 2 poems were accepted for publication, in the Boyne Berries and Abridged literary journals. I also won a coveted spot on a poetry workshop with Don Paterson at the Mountains to Sea Literary Festival, in Dun Laoghaire. It was a great event – not only did I get to critique work with a dozen amazing poets, in the beautiful surrounds of the new Lexicon library complex, but I also got to hear Michael Symmons Roberts, Menna Elfyn and Sinead Morrissey read their work. A whole day of talking poetry with equally passionate writers sparked a host of new ideas and, in the course of the day, the seeds of my second collection were planted. Mslexia magazine published the results of the Women’s Poetry Competition 2014 along with some lovely words from Wendy Cope about my poem, After the Storm, in her judge’s comments. Ahead of the Referendum, my thoughts on Scottish Independence were published in the Sunday Business Post – sadly, the outcome of the vote was not what I’d hoped. On Culture Night, I took part in the Over The Edge event in Galway, both reading and judging the open-mic competition, alongside poet, Ruth Aylett, followed by an impromptu poetry reading afterwards at The Crane Bar and a great evening catching up with writer friends! I also discovered in September, that I’d made the short-list of the Over The Edge New Writer of the Year and been Highly Commended in the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award, for the third year running!

October brought the news that the poem I’d workshopped with Don Paterson, ‘Persephone Ascends‘, was accepted for publication in UK literary journal, Bare Fiction; the Dublin launch of my debut poetry collection was set for 14 November; and my poem, ‘CAT Scan‘, won the Allingham Poetry Competition! I finished off the month with my debut reading at the long-running O’Bheal Poetry Night in Cork and being Highly Commended in the Over The Edge New Writer of the Year 2014.

November kicked off with the Allingham Festival in Donegal, where I was to read my winning poem. Due to a last minute hitch, I was unable to travel and Theo Dorgan kindly stepped into the breach. I had workshopped the poem with him, a few years previously – it was both lovely symmetry and an honour to have him read it at the festival. Later in the month, I made my first film poem, ‘The Tiger’s Tail’, featuring the beautiful black and white street photography of Mike Bors. Then, the big one: the Dublin launch of my debut poetry collection, How To Lose Your Home & Save Your Life – a lovely evening at the Workman’s Club, among friends – then off the next day to the Dublin launch of the Skylight 47 literary journal. A writer’s work is never done!

December was much more relaxed. I had hoped to join poets Jo Bell, Jacqui Rowe and Roy Marshall to read at the Bare Fiction launch in Birmingham, but the poet budget wasn’t up to it! Instead I enjoyed poetry closer to home at the launch of the Poetry Bus literary journal, with a final stop at the Irish Writers’ Centre Christmas Party to present a copy of my collection to Irish poet, Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill, whose poetry class at the Centre is where it all began.

When I walked into my first creative writing class in 2007, and when I joined Nuala’s poetry group in 2009, I couldn’t have imagined ending up here. It’s been an amazing year – a breakthrough year – and 2015 is already shaping up to be an exciting one, with the debut collection to promote and new writing projects to explore.

I’d like to say huge thank you to everyone who has supported my writing this year – in writing groups and workshops, in competitions and journals, in buying my collection or in reading this blog.

Happy New Year – may 2015 bring you everything you wish for!

Angela x

Book Cover Photography: Jana Heimanis

Ever since I began promoting the launch of my debut poetry collection, I’ve been receiving compliments for the beautiful book cover photography and I thought it was high time I introduced the woman behind the photo: Jana Heimanis.

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Jana is an inveterate globe-trotter, taking photos wherever she goes; when she posted pics from a trip to Iceland, I saw the image above and something clicked.

I’ve talked before about what makes a good book cover and, as I started to think about what the cover of my own book should be, asked other writers about their thoughts on this part of the publishing process. Yvonne Cullen, poet and creative writing teacher extraordinaire, gave me a beautiful benchmark for what a book cover should do:

“The key in my mind… is a sense that image plus book equal more than the sum of their parts. The reader has to go somewhere, imaginatively… ideally, right into the emotional landscape of the book, to join image and title together.”

For me, Jana’s image does just that – capturing the sense of loss at the heart of the collection but also reminding us that in the bleakest of moments, there is the potential for great beauty. Although taken in Iceland, people keep recognising parts of Ireland in it and I love that it has a universal quality that speaks to everyone.

Originally from Sydney, Australia, I met Jana through mutual friends, from working at the same architectural practice in Dublin (but at different times) and I’ve always loved her spirit of adventure.

So I asked her to tell us a little bit more about herself – work, travel, photography and, of course, poetry.

Jana, tell us a little bit about your background:

I trained as an Australian architect at the University of Sydney, and the University of Newcastle (the one in Australia). Worked in Sydney for several years in small architecture firms on local jobs and large firms on foreign jobs. Found my way to Dublin, spent three months architecturally drafting, then was recruited by a dear friend, met fashion designer, John Rocha, and began a working collaboration that has lasted ten years.

How did you start taking photographs?

It probably started with holidays in Australia, bookended by (mostly long) road trips – the world framed by the back-seat window. Photography is most certainly a part of travel for me. I travel solo a lot, both for work and for curiosity’s sake. Taking photos is a bit like having a traveling companion, like pointing out the new things, funny things, beautiful and different things ‘hey, check that out’.

Also my training and work, being about detail and beautiful things, has a huge influence on what catches my eye – I like to put composition, texture, colour, and a story in the frame.

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What do you love about photography?

I am a bit of a point and shooter, I like the simplicity of it. I have a good digital camera, with a nice lens and a zippy zoom, and some other features I’m not that au fait with. I love that I can use that simple tool to collect images that work. I love that it can be accidental, that moment, or place. I love creating a composition that satisfies, is possibly beautiful, is balanced, hints at a conversation, tells a story without words.

What’s your favourite place from your travels?

This year I had a number of wonderful road/train trips. Iceland was spectacular, icy and remote and just awesome – your photo is from the very North of the country, a farm that found itself sunk lower than the water table after one of the frequent earthquakes that happen when there are volcanoes around. Here in Australia, I took the smaller roads from Sydney to Melbourne and back via the Great Ocean Road. Other favourite places – Kyoto (temples, the buses, kimonos along the river at dusk), Istanbul (mosques, snakes in jars, markets, carpets, sensory overload), Leon, Sevilla, Cork, Berlin… sure, I find discovering a new city to be very exciting.

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You must have have some good travel stories…

So many, and I’m not a good teller of stories… Some snippets? Sharing a stranger’s sandwich on a train in Poland because he wasn’t convinced my plain bread roll was ‘lunch’; rowing a boat in the Arctic circle off the coast of Norway; hitch-hiking to avoid rambling bulls in Latvia….can we say that my pictures tell better stories? Instagram has a few of my latest tales…

I know you’re also a reader of poetry – any Aussie favourites we should check out?

Banjo Patterson – a classic. Responsible for Waltzing Matilda, but I like him for Been there Before, and Clancy of the OverflowGwen Harwood and Paul Kelly – ok, he’s a songwriter and musician, but I reckon he’s a poet.

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Discover more of Jana Heimanis’ beautiful travel photography on Instagram or at her forthcoming web-site: www.jana.net.au.

All photographs © Jana Heimanis.

 

 

Dublin Book Launch: 14 Nov 2014

Almost one year ago, whilst sitting at my kitchen table supping tea of a Thursday evening, I received a phone call informing me I’d won the Cork Literary Review Manuscript Competition 2013. Next week, on Fri 14 Nov in Dublin, that experience comes full circle with the launch of my debut poetry collection, How To Lose Your Home & Save Your Life by Bradshaw Books.

It’s been an education, moving from the writing mind-set into the business of publication and, as with all new things, not without a few bumps along the way! But now that all the technical decision-making is out of the way and the book is at the printers, the end is in sight and it’s finally starting to feel real.

If you’re in Dublin next Friday, please join me for the launch at The Workman’s Club, on the Quays with poetry, music and a drink or two – all the details are in the invite above or join the book launch event page on Facebook, for the latest news.

You can’t miss me: I’ll be the one with the ear-splitting grin, holding fast to a book.