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25 Feb – The North, Irish poetry special

25th February 2019 @ 19:30 - 21:00 UTC


The ILS is working with The North poetry journal for this event to launch their special Irish issue. Editors and poets Jane Clarke and Nessa O’Mahony lead a rich evening of readings and discussion of contemporary Irish poetry. From an issue bursting with ideas and innovation (120 poems by 107 poets) we are gathering some fascinating poets to illustrate the variety and quality of contemporary Irish writing: Siobhán Campbell, Derek Coyle, Nora Hughes, Judy O’Kane (fresh from winning the Charles Causley International Poetry Prize) and Mary Noonan join our hosts. Apart from readings on the night we will be considering recent trends in form and subject, ideas of Irishness, poetry and the 20 years of fragile peace in Northern Ireland and, inevitably, Brexit.

The event is also our farewell to the poet Matthew Sweeney who died last August. Sweeney was a much loved figure on the London literary scene for many years. Ever prolific, Sweeney published two new collections in his last year, My Life As a Painter (Bloodaxe) and King of a Rainy Country (Arc) inspired by Baudelaire’s Petits Poèmes en Prose. More work has appeared posthumously in the latest edition of Southword and three poems of Sweeney’s feature in this issue of The North, we will include a reading. 

The widespread dismay amongst Irish writers in response to the gender imbalance of both poets and critics represented in The Cambridge Companion to Irish Poets (2017), has led to a flowering of interest in the many overlooked Irish women poets from the seventeenth century to the present day. At this opportune moment we have asked Siobhán Campbell, to contribute a reflection on the largely forgotten Irish poet Lola Ridge (1873-1941).

A signing will follow the event. 

Chair: Jane Clarke
Jane Clarke

Jane Clarke grew up on a farm in Co. Roscommon and now lives with her partner in Glenmalure in Co. Wicklow. Her first collection, The River (Bloodaxe Books, 2015). She was awarded a literary bursary by the Arts Council / An Comhairle Ealaíon in September 2017 for the completion of her second collection and her work on a sequence in response to a soldier’s letters from the Front during World War 1, in collaboration with the Mary Evans Picture Library, London. She now combines writing with her work as an independent consultant providing facilitation, team building and leadership development to public service and not-for-profit organisations.

Chair: Nessa O’Mahony
Nessa O'Mahony

Nessa O’Mahony is a Dublin-born poet and novelist. She has published four books of poetry – Bar Talk (1999), Trapping a Ghost (2005), In Sight of Home (2009) and Her Father’s Daughter (2014). She isand co-editor with Siobhán Campbell of Eavan Boland: Inside History (Arlen House, 2016). Her first novel, The Branchman (Arlen House, 2018) was recently published. O’Mahony won the National Women’s Poetry Competition in 1997 and was shortlisted for the Patrick Kavanagh Prize and Hennessy Literature Awards..


Speaker: Siobhán Campbell
Siobhán Campbell

Siobhán is a poet, critic and lecturer. She is the author of six works of poetry and co-editor with Nessa O’Mahony of Eavan Boland: Inside History (Arlen House, 2016). Her poetry has received awards in the National Poetry Competition and the Troubadour International Competition and is the recipient of an Arts Council award and the Templar Poetry Prize. Much of Campbell’s work is expressive of her interest in the place of the political poem in contemporary poetics – her most recent volume Heat Signature (March, 2017) reflects on commemoration and the centenary of the Dublin Rising while her Cross Talk (2010) explored boundaries and the interwoven nature of family, local and historical conflicts.


Speaker: Derek Coyle
Derek Coyle

Derek Coyle has published poems in Irish Pages, The Texas Literary Review, The Honest Ulsterman, Orbis, Cuadrivio, Skylight 47, Assaracus, and The Stony Thursday Book. He has been shortlisted for the Patrick Kavanagh Award (2010, 2014, 2015), and in 2012 he was a chosen poet for the Poetry Ireland ‘Introductions Series.’ In 2013 he was runner up in the Bradshaw Prize. He is a founding member of the Carlow Writers’ Co-Operative. He lectures in Carlow College/St Patrick’s..

Speaker: Nora Hughes
Nora Hughes

Nora grew up in Belfast. She has lived in London since 1972 and worked in education for many years, specialising in adult literacy. Her poems have appeared in magazines and anthologies, including Envoi, Second Light, The Interpreter’s House and The Book of Love and Loss (Belgrave Press, 2014). She is working towards a pamphlet collection.


Speaker: Mary Noonan
Mary Noonan

Mary Noonan was born in London, but grew up in Cork. Her debut collection of poems was The Fado House (Dublin, Dedalus Press, 2012). In 2007, she was selected to take part in the Poetry Ireland Introductions series in Dublin and was invited to read at the Poetry Hearings festival in Berlin in 2009. The manuscript of The Fado House was awarded the Listowel Poetry Collection Prize in June 2010. She works as a lecturer in French literature at University College Cork.

Speaker: Judy O’Kane
Judy O'Kane

Judy is a prose writer and poet. She worked the wine harvest in St Estèphe, Bordeaux on sabbatical from legal partnership in Dublin and her work explores terroir, wine’s sense of place. She has just been announced as the winner of the 2018 Charles Causley International Poetry Competition. In 2017 she won the National Memory Day Prize and the Irish Post Prize, and was prize winner at Wells Festival of Literature and Guernsey Literary Festival. In 2015 she won the Listowel Writers Week Original Poem Prize. Her poetry is published in The World of Fine Wine, Landfall, and The North: The Irish Issue. Thirst, her non-fiction work-in-progress, was shortlisted for the Biographers’ Club Tony Lothian Award for best un-commissioned first biography. An extract, The Drawing Room, was published by the Manchester Review in December 2017. Judy holds an LL.B from Trinity College Dublin and an MA in Life Writing from UEA, where she is completing a PhD in Creative and Critical writing. She teaches advocacy at the Law Society of Dublin. Twitter @judeokane



25th February 2019
19:30 - 21:00 UTC
Event Categories:
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Irish Literary Society


The Bloomsbury Hotel
The Bloomsbury Hotel, 16-22 Great Russell Street
London, WC1B 3NN United Kingdom
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