Wednesday, 23 July 2014

Irish Women Artists 1870-1970

This exhibition is on in Adam's showrooms on Stephen's Green (free), and it's well worth a look. There are familiar names - but often these are of the famous male relatives of the women artists (Yeats, Henry, Beckett, McDonagh etc.).

Mainie Jellett's cubist paintings are wonderful, though A.E. Russell, apparently, did not agree, describing them as 'subhuman' and a type of 'malaria'. I loved the illustrations of Nationalist, Grace Gifford, and the gorgeous portraits by Estella Frances Solomons. But Camille Souter's impressionistic landscapes are my favourites (you can download the brochure). [In one of those weird synchronicities, she also happens to appear in a story-thing I've been working on; I'll take it as a sign not to abandon it. Yet.]

We followed our visit up with take-out coffees and a shady spot in Stephen's Green - perfect!

Monday, 21 July 2014


I'm just back from the 13th International Conference on the Short Story in English in Vienna. There were parallel sessions running each day, along with up to five different readings to choose from, so sadly I had to miss lots of great-sounding events. But there were lots of highlights to compensate:

  • an all-round great panel, The Writer's Perspective and Influence on Form, featuring Pat Jourdan's wonderful story-paper "Various Exits" on 11 stages of closure in the short story, Louise Ells' inspirational "What can we learn from Alice Munro?", and the very different approach of Lisa Smithies on how human behavioural biology influences the creative writer (and congrats to Lisa on winning the overall conference short story competition). 
  • meeting Robert Luscher, whose theories on short story sequences saved me oodles of time during my own sequence writing crisis.
  • meeting Elke D'hoker, whose work on short story cycles I've encountered and admired.
  • the warm and lively response to my reading, in no small way thanks to the lovely Rebekah Clarkson and my high-energy co-reader, Ida Cerne.
  • the relief of finishing my talk "When is the story no longer a short story?" and the pleasure of listening to, and meeting, my fellow panellists, Paul Mitchell and Neta Gordon, and of course our kind and humourous co-panelist and moderator, Allan Weiss.
  • the must-read list I came away with, including...

Friday, 11 July 2014

The End Of The MFA (my MFA...)

Nearly two years ago, at the start of my MFA in UCD I wrote this post.
Today I handed in my thesis, a novel-in-stories called No One's From Chicago. It's wonderful to have had the opportunity to spend time with like-minded, same-stage writers, working under the supervision of experienced (kind, patient) professionals. I can honestly say the MFA was two of the most enjoyable, and profitable (artistically!) years I've spent.

And in breaking news, UCD MA alumnus Colin Barrett has just won the Frank O'Connor award for his Young Skins. Well done, Colin!