Listowel Writers’ Week is very pleased to introduce an exciting and innovative feature to the festival this year in the form of a New Writers’ Salon, which will showcase some of the best and most exciting new writers in Ireland today. This informal event will take place on two evenings – Friday 31st May and Saturday 1st June in Scribes Coffee House at 8pm, and is the brainchild of Noel O’Regan, who joined our literary Team in 2012. Noel has been instrumental in organising the Salon, and is himself a published, award-winning writer. Holding fast to the festival’s long-held tradition of encouraging emerging writers, there will be an open-mic session on both evenings. A resident editor and agent will also be on hand to answer your questions and offer guidance in getting your work published. This event is Free of Charge – no need to book – just pop in and say hello.
Three of our featured writers introduce themselves below:
Elizabeth (EM) Reapy
“To be featured at Listowel Writers’ Week New Writers’ Salon with some of Ireland’s top new writers is an honour,” Elizabeth says. “Kerry is a beautiful place and Listowel Writers’ Week, a leading writers’ festival, so I predict much inspiration, interesting conversation and a massive amount of craic. Really looking forward to it all.”
Elizabeth is from Claremorris and has an MA in Creative Writing from Queen’s University Belfast. After graduating, she set up www.wordlegs.com with Cathal Sherlock to encourage and promote young and emerging Irish writers.
“Since then, we’ve had many real world ventures and readings; two ebooks and a print book – in association with Doire Press – wordlegs presents: 30 under 30 – A Selection of Short Fiction by 30 Young Irish Writers. Chosen as one of Joseph O’Connor’s Top Titles of 2012, it was also selected as ‘Paperback of the Week’ by The Irish Times in March 2013. We’re very proud of it.
“My own writing has been published nationally and internationally and I’ve got a short script in production with Barley Films. In 2012, Mayo Arts Council awarded me a residency at Annaghmakerrig. From there I was chosen as Tyrone Guthrie’s Exchange Irish Writer to Varuna Writers’ House in Sydney. I was also showcased at the Australian Young Writers’ Festival in NSW. While in Australia, I set up a young and emerging Irish writers’ festival, Shore, www.facebook.com/shorewritersfestival which took place in Enniscrone in November.
“Listowel Writers’ Week Chairman, Séan Lyons, performed some of his outrageously funny poetry at the Saturday Open Mic sessions there, and I must thank the organizers of Listowel Writers’ Week for their generous support and advice on how to get a festival off the ground.
“I’ve been fortunate enough to receive a 2013 Arts Council Literature Bursary to complete my debut collection of short stories, all themed around the new wave of Irish immigrants in Australia. One of these short stories is also being translated to screen. As well as this, I’m redrafting another feature length script set around John Lennon’s hippie island in Mayo.
Elizabeth admits she’s obsessed with writing but studies the short story mostly, listing Alice Munro, Raymond Carver, Roddy Doyle, Claire Keegan, Annie Proulx, Junot Diaz, Aravind Adiga, Roald Dahl, Ernest Hemingway, Stuart Dybek and Dagoberto Gilb among her favourites. Her absolute favourite writer is Denis Johnson. “His sentences are so bare, clear and yet so meaningful, I’m fascinated by his unpretentious storytelling,” she says.
She also reads scripts fanatically and is a big fan of anything Mark O’Halloran writes. “Recently, I found Mary Costello’s collection The China Factory, and Gerard Barrett’s screenplay Pilgrim Hill, to be powerfully written and very affecting pieces of work.”
“I’m delighted to be invited to take part in the New Writers’ Salon at this year’s Listowel Writers’ Week. I’ve never attended the festival before, but have heard great reports from fellow writers over the years,” Brian says. “Apart from reading my own short fiction, I’m looking forward to soaking up the atmosphere at many of the events. I hope to see Thomas Keneally and also Dermot Bolger, a writer who gave me great support and encouragement when I was starting out.”
Based in Dublin, Brian writes short fiction, poetry, plays and novels. His nominations include being shortlisted twice for both the Hennessy New Irish Writer Awards for fiction and the Over The Edge New Writer of the Year Award. He also won the inaugural Writing Spirit Award for his story, Perpetuity, and was a featured reader at The Lonely Voice platform for new short story writers at the Irish Writers’ Centre.
“My stories and poems have appeared in a number of publications including Crannóg, The Stony Thursday Book, Revival, Southword, Burning Bush 2, Boyne Berries, Wordlegs, Long Story Short Literary Journal, Bare Hands Poetry and The First Cut. The Girl in the Window features in Sharp Sticks, Driven Nails; an anthology of new stories, edited by Philip O’Ceallaigh and published by The Stinging Fly Press.”
Brian’s one act play And the Word was Made Flesh was runner up in the “From Page to Stage” playwriting competition run by Dublin Public Libraries and Story was shortlisted for the PJ O’Connor Award 2011 with RTE Radio Drama Department. He is delighted to be selected for the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series this year, and is currently seeking a publisher for his first novel Winter Journey.
“Unfortunately I may not be able to make it to the launch of Michael Gallagher’s first collection, Stick on Stone on Friday 31st May at The Plaza Centre, but I hope to get my hands on a copy and maybe have a drink with the man himself later on.”
“Listowel Writers’ Week should be commended for the inclusion of the New Writers’ Salon. It’s a great enhancement to the usual “big names” you get at literary festivals, allowing relatively new authors exposure to new readers and vice versa.”
“This will be my first time at Writers’ Week. I don’t think I’ve been in Kerry since I was in the Gaeltacht, so it’s a long overdue visit,” Eimear says. “I’m especially looking forward to seeing Colum McCann, Emma Donoghue and Andrew Miller. I was thrilled when Noel O’Regan asked me to read at the New Writers’ Salon. It’s very exciting for a young, unpublished writer to be given a platform at a festival as big as Listowel. I’m excited about the crowd I’m reading with too – I know everyone’s work and think Noel has gathered together a diverse and talented group. It should be fun.
Eimeir, who comes from Co. Tipperary, holds an M Phil in Creative Writing from Trinity College, Dublin. She has had her short fiction published in New Irish Writing, The Stinging Fly and The Irish Times, and is forthcoming in Five Dials and Town & Country: New Irish Short Stories. She is the recipient of the Hennessy First Fiction Award, the Sean Dunne Young Writers’ Award, the Over the Edge New Writer Award and an Arts Council bursary.
“I discovered short fiction when I was 21. I took a creative writing class during a semester abroad at Boston University. Besides workshopping each other’s work, we read classic stories from a huge anthology called The Art of the Tale, which was where I first encountered the big shots of short fiction – Chekhov, Capote, Hemingway, Carver. I remember reading The Doll Queen by Carlos Fuentes for that class and being really disturbed by it, which brought home to me how gut-punchingly powerful short fiction can be. Our reading seemed to be pretty male-dominated, though, so I went out and bought books by several American female short story writers – Karen Russell, Lorrie Moore, Miranda July and Amy Hempel. They all manage to be devastating and hilarious at the same time. They’re big inspirations.
“My favourite Irish writers include Kevin Barry, Claire Kilroy, Anne Enright, Nuala Ní Chonchúir, Paul Murray and Kevin Power. All quite distinct,but all able to tackle deep, dark subjects with wryness, levity and great observations. I like writers that know how to employ divilment.
“I’m currently reading Laurent Binet’s HHhH. The subject matter – the assassination of Heydrich in Prague – is fascinating, but the semi-autobiographical format is what makes it. I’ve never read anything quite like it. I always have an audiobook on the go as well. At the moment I’m listening to Case Histories by Kate Atkinson. I’m a big fan of mysteries – I recently read Gillian Flynn’s Gone Girl and loved it so much I devoured her other two books straightaway. I’ve discovered that if Stephen King blurbs a book, I’ll probably like it. He hasn’t steered me wrong yet.”