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Saturday, December 29, 2018

A Review of my Creative Writing Year, 2018

The Diligence in the Snow, Gustave Courbet 1860

With the clarity of a walk behind me and a freshly cleaned window to let the light in, with the sun setting on what has been a mild, mostly sun-filled day and with some tea tree and lavender oil burning I'm writing a review of my successes with poetry this year.

It was with a stormy beginning to 2018 that Missing Hours was published in Honest Ulsterman. It was a poem I loved writing which led me to research old Irish mythology. It was created alongside Poet in a Train Station Bar, and a third poem which eludes me presently. Poet in a Train Station Bar was a very successful piece which both Eavan Boland and Ciaran Carty liked. It appeared online in The Irish Times and in print in Poetry Ireland Review 126. There is a story behind this poem but I'll keep it to myself.

Crannóg included the poem Better Love in issue 48. I've been lucky enough to have work in this great magazine a few times over the years. Better Love  was inspired by Hozier's powerful song. In the Easter issue of The Bangor Literary Journal Spring's Bride leant its name to the title of that special issue which was an honour. Spring's Bride was a love letter to the cherry blossom tree and an older poem which I was truly delighted to see published.

Caught in a Dance, a poem about swallows gliding over the Porchfield in Trim found its way into issue 10 of Skylight 47 in May, just in time for their return after the long winter.

A huge part of the year was the completion of the MA in Digital Arts and Humanities at UCC. I wrote a thesis on poetry in the digital age and created a digital artefact. I must thank all the poets and writers who assisted me in the research and I'm delighted to display the link to the artefact here and to say that I scored an overall 2.1 in the masters. I also had a poem published in Quarryman, issue iv, the literary journal of UCC. This poem was called The Etymology of the Word Love and it was an exploration of linguistics and how people perceive words and realities differently.

In later summer I was thrilled to be longlisted and subsequently shortlisted for poetry in The Over the Edge New Writer of the Year Competition. This shortlisted poem was about a train journey to Belfast. Blackberries was a villanelle that was highly commended in The Jonathan Swift Creative Writing Awards 2018. I wrote Blackerries a couple of years ago but I edited it again this year and simplified it a little and I think it worked better. It is, afterall, important to make a poem somewhat accessible. It was a well-crafted and well-conceived poem. Digital Shadow, which was shortlisted in The Red Line Book Festival Poetry Prize in 2017 was published in Red Lines, an anthology of winning poems from the last 5 years of the festival.

A highlight of the year was learning that I had a winning poem in Hennessy New Irish Writing in The Irish Times. This meant so much to me and in September Kiosk No. 6 found its home. It was written in 2017 after I read about Banksy and couldn't get the image of the telephone box out of my mind. It amused me that in early October this year Banksy pulled his latest stunt, a self-destructing painting, Girl with Balloon.

Poetry NI curated Changing Verses In Midstream for National Poetry Day. I was happy to contribute The Other Side of Eden to this project. This was a poem I didn't think would find a place in the world and has its origins in a very old poem from my star-gazing youth and in a sonnet which is its non-identical twin. My unrelated Sonnet in Appreciation of the Comma was published in Smithereens Literary Magazine #2.

In Tales from the Forest The Elixir of Youth  can be found, which is the amalgamation of two poems from 2017 that I had to work hard on to produce something finished. MacCabre appeared in the Samhain issue of Three Drops from a Cauldron. It was an older poem too that I had to rework a few times to get right. Finally in 2018 Portrait of Summer and Only, Or The Far Off Sea were published in issue 10 of North West Words Magazine. Both these poems were written in 2018.

This year I edited Boyne Berries 23, launched by Rachel Coventry and Boyne Berries 24, launched by Micéal Kearney. Boyne Berries 25 is my next editing project.

I wrote a review of The Radio by Leontia Flynn in late October for Reading Ireland. This collection left a strong impression on me.

It just occurred to me that the third poem I had written (as mentioned above) was called The Holly Tree in the Village and The Meath Writers Circle printed it in their annual magazine in early November.

In the year to come I hope to write more poems, and to have more work published. I am working towards a first collection, gods and faith and fates and will be willing. I love having a creative and inner life and I hope I can honour and respect it throughout 2019.

I suppose a good way to start is to begin a new poem asap.

Happy New Year readers!

Monday, October 22, 2018

Hennessy New Irish Writing in The Irish Times

It's been 6 months since I last blogged but as usual life caught up. I've good news all round really. I had 2 poems published in The Irish Times and equally thrilling is the fact that I have a poem forthcoming in Poetry Ireland Review, edited by Eavan Boland, no less.

Tuesday, April 3, 2018

Crossways Magazine, The Bangor Literary Journal and Boyne Berries 23 Launch

Boyne Berries 23 Cover Design by Rory O'Sullivan
A Representation of the Millennium Bridge, Trim 

I was please to have some work published lately in Crossways Magazine and The Bangor Literary Journal. Both these journals are new ventures and I believe Crossways has just opened its submission period for a summer issue!!

The Bangor Literary Journal has published a special Spring/Easter issue called Spring's Bride, the title is taken from the title of my included poem, Spring's Bride which is an homage to the cherry blossom tree. The poems is 4 or 5 years old and I have reworked it a few times. I'm delighted it now has a home. Enjoy the poem and much more here.

In other news, Boyne Berries 23 is being launched this Thursday, 5th April, at 8 p.m. in The Castle Arch Hotel, Trim, by poet Rachel Coventry. Rachel’s poetry has featured in many journals including Poetry Ireland Review, The SHOp, Cyphers, Stony Thursday Book, and Honest Ulsterman. She was selected for the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series in 2014. In 2016 she won the Galway University Hospitals Arts Trust Annual Poetry Competition and was short-listed for the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award. She is writing a PhD on Heidegger’s poetics at the National University of Ireland, Galway. Salmon Poetry will publish her debut collection this year.

If you can make it entry is free and copies of the magazine (which I edit) will be available to purchase on the night for €10. Contributors to the issue will read their work. All welcome! Tea, coffee and biscuits served courtesy of Boyne Writers Group.

Monday, March 26, 2018

A Heron on the Boyne

I came across a heron on the Boyne today and had to stop and admire its poise. I got a few snaps before I'd come too close for comfort. I wrote this poem a couple of years ago.

Heron on the Boyne

Icy chill between the bridges
funnelled on the river’s face
surprises snap-blast
impacting on thought. 

Before he stood wizened
with wispy beard
on the banks
above the reeds and rushes

and I contemplative of his stance
found solace in shared solitude.
Here there is no weight
that is not borne

in conversation water-reflected
and I-to-I expel fear,
time’s herald and child
wallowing before the flight.

Órla Fay

Thursday, February 1, 2018

St. Brigid's Day Poem

St. Brigid’s Day Prayer


Here we lay our winter’s sorrow

for the dark eye

and from the source of the healer

we find the milk of the white cow at Imbolc.


The sheep are on the hill

and it is bitterly cold

yet basking in new lamb’s light

Meath rises from genuflection.


Listening to the land and the season

she becomes deified.  We pay homage

and show appreciation for the return

of what we love.


In reverence

we do not take for granted

the mother’s blessing;

the maturing and coming to fruition


of the afterlife sown,

time and again,

by the waterwheel of the river

and the miller’s trickling hands.


When the wailing rain

bring us to ruin

I name you, I pronounce you

and call you into existence


asking she who is intrinsically one

that we would have the strength

and direction of one hundred

hurtling birds in a storm.


Queen of February come to us

now that we are leaving

the season of death behind,

fill our branches once again.


In the great stirring of bulbs and animals;

snowdrops, daffodils and primroses,

foxes, badgers and hares, all call your name –


O Goddess, O holy woman!


Órla Fay