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.
Angela T. Carr
"When I received the call from Poetry Ireland, I was floored - there is no doubt being named as an emerging voice by Ireland's principal poetry organisation is a landmark moment. I had discovered, at the end of 2013, my debut poetry collection was to be published and to be selected for Introductions, shortly after, felt like I was graduating, after a 5 year apprenticeship in poetry. As I said to Erin, when our readings at the Dublin Writers' Festival were announced: "We'll have to give up our outlaw ways and go legit."
There's always a fear of rejection, for me, at least, when exposing work to a group of experienced writers for the first time, and I was reassured to hear both Rachel Coventry and Erin Fornoff talk about their nervousness about attending the workshop - both appeared to be the epitomy of calm on the day! The fear usually dissipates when you realise there is no ego and you are among people who genuinely care about the written word who want to make their work all it can be. This is the tie that binds between writers, I think. It's hard to resist anyone who is passionate about the thing you also really care about.
Alan Jude Moore and Theo Dorgan, both, were instructive and encouraging mentors; Ayoma Bowe of Poetry Ireland was a fantastic 'house-mother', guiding and supporting us through the process, step-by-step, and even rehearsing with us, before the big event: the Introductions reading at the Dublin Writers' Festival. It was a fantastic night - a great energy in the room, with a wonderfully receptive and engaged audience.
I'd also like to commend Poetry Ireland on selecting poets to represent the scope and variety of new writing in Ireland - in the ratio of male to female writers, age range, geographical location, language, voice and style. It says poetry is for everyone and whoever, wherever you are, you are never too old or too young to develop the habit!
It's been great to see my fellow Introductions poets prosper throughout the year - Breda Wall Ryan's winning poem in the Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize 2015, Colm Scully launching his debut poetry collection, Rachel and Kevin Conroy being short-listed for the Cork Literary Review Poetry Manuscript Competition, Larry Stapleton reading at the Cuisle International Poetry Festival, Breda named runner-up and Paul McMahon, Highly Commended, in the Patrick Kavanagh Award, Erin and friends launching Lingo - Ireland's first Spoken Word Festival - and also the potential for collaboration, as with Breda and Stephen Heffernan's poetry in translation project. As a result of talking to Colm about his experience of making films, I was prompted to make a poetry film of my own.
Angela T. Carr reads 'The Tiger's Tail'. Photography by Mike Bors.
Taking part in Poetry Ireland Introductions has given me the confidence to take my writing seriously, to call myself a writer, and to put my work out into the world.
In 2014, I had 7 poems accepted for publication in Ireland and the UK, took part in a poetry workshop with Don Paterson at the Mountains to Sea Book Festival (along with Breda), read at journal launches, O'Bheal, Culture Night, as well as the Dublin Writers' Festival, was Commended in the Gregory O’Donoghue International Poetry Prize, short-listed in the Listowel Writers' Week Single Poem award, a finalist in the Mslexia Women's Poetry Competition, judged by Wendy Cope, Highly Commended in the Over the Edge New Writer of the Year and the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award and won the Allingham Poetry Competition. In November, I launched my debut collection, How to Lose Your Home & Save Your Life.
I'm now focused on taking part in the poetry scene and reading as much as possible to promote the book - I'll be reading at the Cork Spring Poetry Festival 2015, as part of the Poetry Bus Showcase on 12 Feb, the Crannog Magazine launch in Galway, on 27 Feb, and a Galway launch for the debut collection on 13 March.
I'm also working on my second collection - the idea for which sprang from discussions with fellow Introductions poets, Rachel and Breda, and Cork poet, Afric McGlinchey, during the Mountains to Sea Book Festival last September.
Good things come of poets getting together and talking about poetry!"
If you have a track record of published poems and are still to publish a full-length collection, there is still just enough time to submit to this year's Introductions series, which closes today.