JHISS Highlights

Hopefully, from my first post on the matter, you got a taste for how great the John Hewitt International Summer School is. If you’re a writer who has never experienced it first-hand, I hope the jealously these posts no doubt engender within you push you to go next year. If you’re a sponsor of one (or more) of the bursary places, I hope you see what a wonderful thing it is you’ve enabled. And, if you’re a prospective funder, I hope this convinces you to invest in the arts. It is sorely needed.

Already, I’ve talked a little about what the summer school has taught me and shared some of the work it has helped me produce – I plan to share more on both those topics in the coming weeks – but what I want to do in this post is shine a light on specific events within the programme that particularly blew me away.

So, without further ado…

Day one, for me, started with an Ulster Fry at the Charlemont Arms. So far, so good. You’ve got to get a decent breakfast in you if you’re to make it through twelve hours of programming in a single stretch. Each day I ate lunch and dinner in a different place, trying to experience as much of what the city had to offer as possible.

I was not disappointed. The ice cream, in particular, was a favourite.

As someone who often finds themselves lacking in energy, I had a game plan when it came to the week. This was two-fold:

  1. I was going to pace myself, aiming to attend the recommended 80% of events but not stressing if I came in at 79% by the end of it all.
  2. I was going to avoid going back to my room during breaktimes, knowing full well that if I did I would get comfortable and fall asleep, despite my best intentions.

On both these counts, I was successful – as successful as I hoped but rather more successful than I actually realistically expected. I’m genuinely proud of how much I threw myself into everything. Continue reading

March Events

I’ve said elsewhere that March is set to be a busy month for me. It got off to a slower start than intended, with my first lot of appointments called off or postponed because of the storm at the weekend, but things are back in full swing now. Here’s the up to date list of what’s happening:

This Thursday (the 8th of March) is International Women’s Day and, as such, Women Aloud NI are gathering again across the country for a series of readings. There are two in Belfast, one in the afternoon and one in the evening. I’ll be reading at the evening event – 7 to 9pm – at Easons bookstore, Donegall Place. It’s a free event, and you don’t need to be a woman to attend.

Then, on Saturday, the Women Aloud crew are heading to Dublin, where we’ll be engaging in a readathon at the Irish Writers’ Centre alongside writers from the south. Because there will be so many of us, it unfortunately has to be a closed event – no other people will be able to fit in the building! But, afterwards (at 3.30pm), we’ll be gathering in Parnell Square where there will be a public mass reading (as in, we will all read en masse). It’s really a sight to behold.

Later in the month, on March 22nd, there’s a poetry showcase in at Waterstones Belfast followed by an open-mic session where anyone can come and read. I’m one of the eight poets being showcased (the rest are in the image, above). Kick off is at 6.30pm.

I hope to see you there!

December Update: News, Events, and 2018 Plans

I’m sure I’m not alone in having a lot happening at the moment – December seems to be an ultra crazy month for most people. But, aside from Christmas, there are three biggish things in my life right now, and I’m here to tell you about them.

New Job

Starting in January, I will be teaching a class! With actual students!!

The class is Social Media for Creatives: How to Build & Maintain an Online Platform for you & your work, and the initial run will be two hours a week for ten weeks but, if it goes well, I might get to run the class again.

Women Aloud NI 2018

Women Aloud have just announced their programme for International Women’s Day 2018, and I’m taking part. As well as reading at events in Belfast and Dublin, I’ve been put in charge of coordinating this year’s cross-border in-train recital.

Novel Update

The novel I rewrote during NaNoWriMo last month now has a new title, and I have two sequels planned as well.

Those of you who follow me on Patreon will be able to see the details I have already released there but, for everyone else, I have added a specific page here on my website where you can keep up to date with how things are going. (Spoiler alert: they’re going well so far. I am so excited!)

Readings at the Belfast Book Festival 2017

With this year’s Belfast Book Festival in full swing, I’m sure you’ve seen event news all over social media. It’s been fabulous, and I’m here to add to the deluge!

I’ve been to two events so far – the Tools for Solidarity poetry competition awards ceremony (in which I received a booklet with one of my poems in) and the Poetry NI annual slam (which I entered).

Two events still to come that I’m involved with are the Crescent Writers Read event on Wednesday (which is FREE!) and the Women Aloud NI readathon and mass reading on Saturday (the range and magnitude of which I’m very excited about).

Also on Saturday, the wonderful Claire Savage launches her first book – Magical Masquerade. I’m planning to get to that, too.

Aloud All This Week

In celebration of International Women’s Day 2017 – which is tomorrow: Wednesday 8th March – Women Aloud NI have once again put together a fantastic program of events. Below are just the ones I’m involved with, with many more listed on their website.

Feel free to come along – both men and women are welcome to join the audience.

Wednesday 8th:

Saturday 11th:

  • A Reading on the Train to Dublin! – 8am Enterprise Service leaving Belfast Central
  • Readathon at the Irish Writers’ Centre (this one isn’t open to the public)
  • Mass Reading – Outside the Irish Writers’ Centre, 3.30pm (please flock to this one if you can, it should be quite impressive!)

Wonderful Women Poets

Women Aloud NII’m pleased (not to mention extremely relieved) to tell you that the very first Women Aloud/FSNI poetry recital (as coordinated by yours truly) was a success. It was a really lovely night, coming together with fellow ladies of literature to share and enjoy our craft.

The first video is online now, and there are some more photos over on my official Facebook page.

If you’re local to Belfast, please come along to the part two on September 1st – more details here.

Event News: Women Aloud Poetry Recitals

Poetry Recital 1After the successful events Women Aloud NI put together for International Women’s Day earlier this year, FSNI asked us if we wanted to put together a poetry event to help promote the National Poetry Competition. Well, we said yes, and I was made coordinator!

It soon became clear that we had so much local talent that two events were needed, so I’ve been busy putting them together. I can now proudly announce:

Recital #1 on 4th August @ James Brown & Sons, Newtownards Road, Belfast

Recital #2 on 1st September @ Houston & Williamson, Crumlin Road, Belfast

(click through for more info. or to RSVP via Facebook)

Poetry Recital Banner 2

 

Women Aloud at the Belfast Book Festival

Belfast Book Festival CakeOn Tuesday I was at the Crescent Arts Centre for the launch of this year’s Belfast Book Festival. I was there as the Women Aloud NI representative, as Jane Talbot (founder of the Women Aloud movement, who also has an event in the festival program) wasn’t able to make it.

As it happens, there are quite a few other Women Aloud women taking part in the festival, which runs over the course of eleven days (9 – 19th June).

Keith Acheson, director of Crescent Arts, says 2016 has more of a focus on women writers than ever.

I’m personally very excited to take in as many events as I can. There’s a good range, in both genre and price, with many events being free.

Belfast Book Festival Speaker

Jan Carson

See a digital version of the program here.

Event News: Women Aloud 2016

International Women’s Day 2016 is fast approaching (faster than I realized, in fact), so it’s time for me to tell you all about the project I’m involved with, in celebration of it.

Women Aloud EasonsOn March 8th, as part of Women Aloud NI, I’ll be reading at an event at Easons bookstore in Belfast along with a great selection of other writers of all kinds (pictured above).

There are more events than just the one I’m at – including ones linked with Women Aloud, but happening outside NI – so, have a look at the full list to see what’s happening nearest you.

If you want to come along and hear me read, specifically, here’s more details of the event I’ll be at:

Location –  Easons, 20 Donegall Place, Belfast, BT1 3BA
Time – Full event runs from 12 noon until 2pm. I’m reading at 12.40 on Platform 2.
Price – Free! Booking not required.

View the event on Facebook here

Tales from a Book… Launch

Book LaunchA couple of weeks ago, I had the launch event for my latest book: The Love Poems. This is just a little wrap-up of how that went.

So, most importantly, there was cake. And also some people came.

It was a small gathering, but I feel it worked quite nicely – the art gallery that hosted was warm, welcome, and cosy. (If you ever find yourself in Bangor, Northern Ireland, I highly recommend you check out The Blackberry Path.)

The Love Poems is dedicated to my partner, and the event fell on the anniversary of our first date, so – as a bonus – my partner read a poem dedicated to me, after I’d completed my author readings. You can view my readings as well as his in the video, below.