The New Writers’ Salon returns to Scribes Coffee House following its glittering success of last year, and will once again showcase some of Ireland’s most exciting emerging writers. A two-night event, the Salon will feature a mixture of poets and prose writers who have yet to have their first book published. There will also be an open-mic session – a great opportunity for our Literary Workshop participants to read their work. The Salon commences at 9.00pm on Friday 30th and Saturday 31st of May. Two of the featured writers, Danielle McLaughlin (prose) and Tom Moore (poetry) tell us about themselves and their thoughts on attending Listowel Writers’ Week.
“I’ve attended Listowel Writers’ Week the past few years and it’s always been brilliant,” says Danielle McLaughlin, “so I was very happy when Noel O’Regan invited me to be part of the New Writers’ Salon this year. I went along to one of the Salon nights last year and it was great fun, a really good evening. I’m looking forward to reading this year – there’s something very affirming about making that transition from being a member of the audience to being up there at the microphone.”
Danielle believes she learns a lot from hearing established writers talk about their work. “I go to as many literary festivals as I can,” she says, “though with three young children, it can take a bit of organising. There’s that whole debate about whether or not writing can be taught. I believe that craft requires time and practice, but it’s also been my experience that there are lots of things that can be learned, things that might take me years to figure out if I was struggling to write at home by myself.” She identifies a series of workshops she attended at the Munster Literature Centre during 2010-2011 as being a turning point in her attempts to write. “I used to think that if somebody was really a writer, the writing would just happen, that it would flow out in perfectly formed paragraphs,” she says. “It was a revelation to discover that 30 or 40 drafts might be needed, and to learn about things like characterisation and setting and dialogue. A writing group grew out of those workshops, and a few years on, we still meet once a fortnight.”
Danielle’s stories have been broadcast on RTE Radio and have appeared in various newspapers, journals and anthologies, most recently The Fog Horn, The Penny Dreadful, The South Circular, Southword and What’s the Story?, a selection of new writing from The Stinging Fly in association with Solas Nua. “I’m obsessed with short stories,” she says, “I read them pretty much every day. The most recent collection I’ve read is Waiting for the Bullet, Madeleine D’Arcy’s debut collection from Doire Press and I loved it. Lots of dark humour, something I really like, that ability to make the reader laugh while at the same time tackling subjects that are actually very sad.”
While she writes mostly short stories herself, her reading is more mixed, and she likes to read novels and poetry as well as short fiction. She’s just finished Nuala Ní Chonchúir’s latest novel, The Closet of Savage Mementos, which she thinks is brilliant. “It’s got a great main character, and the story is told in such beautiful language – vivid and original. Loved it!” Next on the ‘to-read’ list is Eimear McBride’s A Girl is a Half-Formed Thing, and she’s looking forward to McBride’s event with Paul Lynch and Martina Devlin. “It’s a fantastic programme, I’m planning on getting to as much as possible,” she says. “There are so many great events, but to mention a few, I’m really interested in hearing Louise Doughty, Sinead Morrissey, Donal Ryan and Billy Keane, Aminatta Forna, readings from the Kerry Women Writers’ Network, and I also hope to make it to book launches by John O’Donnell, John MacKenna and Mary O’Donnell.
Danielle has won a number of awards for her short fiction, including the Writing Spirit Award for Fiction, The William Trevor/Elizabeth Bowen International Short Story Competition, The From the Well Short Story Competition, the Willesden Short Story Prize, the Merriman Short Story Competition in memory of Maeve Binchy, the Dromineer Literary Festival Short Story competition, and in 2013 she received an Arts Council bursary. She lives in Donoughmore, County Cork with her husband and three children.
“This will be my first visit to Listowel Writers’ Week, although I used to attend the Listowel Racing Festival regularly” says Tom Moore. “I have therefore been a significant contributor to the Listowel economy for many years! I am delighted to be invited to LWW and look forward to attending as many events as possible.
“Although I have been reading poetry since my mid-twenties (a long time ago!), I only started writing with any regularity in the last three years and I have benefitted from the very active poetry scene in Cork, centred on the Munster Literature Centre, UCC, O’Bheal etc. I acknowledge particularly the very rewarding workshop run by Matthew Sweeney when he was UCC writer-in-residence during the 2012 / 2013 academic year. I lived in the London and Cambridge, UK, from 1985 to 1999, and had the privilege of attending readings by Ted Hughes (October Salmon!), Seamus Heaney, Matthew Sweeney, Eavan Boland, and many others.
“I have won prizes in the Ballymaloe and Gregory O’Donoghue international poetry competitions but I consider myself a beginner with loads to learn. In my day job, I am an academic scientist working in Genetics, and finding time and head space for poetry is challenging. However, others have managed to combine these activities very successfully – which reminds me – Miroslav Holub once did a reading in a UCC lecture theatre where I now teach Science undergraduates about nude mice. While I don’t set out to write poems about science, inevitably, I suppose, the day job does have an influence.
“In my reading, I enjoy heightened language, arresting images, and a sense of the mysterious. I don’t particularly enjoy work that reminds me that my pay has been cut and it’s raining outside. All of which may reflect my lack of sophistication! I am currently addicted to Tomas Tranströmer.”
The New Writers’ Salon will commence at 9pm on Friday 30th and Saturday 31st May at Scribes Coffee House, Church St. Entry is FREE and there is no need to book. Just pop along and enjoy!