Welcome to Creative Writing at UCC

This site is a road map to the world of creative writing at UCC.  The School of English offers creative writing at undergraduate, Masters and PhD level. See what we do – check out our blog written by students, see the major names in literature who visit our campus, and explore the numerous courses we offer that redefine and broaden what it is to be a 21st century creative writer. 

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Creative Corona: Day 7

Dr Graham Allen is a poet and Professor of Modern English in the Department of English, UCC. "A Question" is from his forthcoming book with Salmon Press, No Rainbows Here. "It's obviously about Palestine," Graham says, "but it seems horribly relevant today."

A Question

Imagine there was no place for you,

nowhere to rest on this fertile earth.

Tell me my friend, what would you do?

Dig a hole in the dust and disappear?

Grind your teeth and wail at the moon?

Curse God and teach your children to throw stones?

March together in hopeless defiance,

fists raised high against tanks and tear gas?

Or would you stay still and silent and die,

crammed into the one small box they allow you?

the men with dark glasses and heavy machine guns,

whose faces stayed blank when they murdered your boy.

Imagine there was no place for you,

nowhere to rest on this fertile earth.

Tell me my friend, what would you do?

 

Graham Allen

 

TOMORROW: "Call the Locksmith" - a poem by Beau Williams


Creative Corona: Day 6

Coyau / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

Claire Zwaartman considers the supermarket, a site of last resort in our viral times. Claire is a graduate of the MA in Creative Writing.  Her story "Ashes" won the 2018 RTE/Francis McManus Short Story Award.

FEARS, DREAMS AND TROLLEYS  

I’ve always found supermarkets fascinating.  For me they are intimate spaces where I can get a glimpse of what goes on behind closed doors, which is, of course, where the real interest lies. I like to spy at the contents of people’s trolleys and imagine what their homes are like, what they’re going to have for dinner later. What they might watch on television after their sweet-and-sour chicken with ready-cooked rice. In this act of imagining, all my prejudices and assumptions are at work, based mostly on food choices.

Put that back, we’re having dinner soon a woman hisses to her son who’s trying to slip a jewel-coloured bag of sweets into a trolley filled with fresh fruit and vegetables. Poor kid, I think to myself. At the checkout I wait behind a thin woman hefting three boxes of wine and several large bottles of tonic water onto the conveyor belt. She also has a loaf of bread and a litre of milk, and in my imagination, I see her back at her empty house pouring a large glass of something in relief.

My husband likes to quote the statistic that we are only ever three days away from empty supermarket shelves. He picked up this alarming piece of trivia during a recent storm and has taken to intoning it ominously at the first sign of threat to the supply chain. He suggested we start a vegetable garden to prepare for disaster. Being too lazy and fatalistic, I dismissed the idea saying we would have new problems should we find ourselves in a post-supermarket world - protecting our patch from marauding neighbours.

If the apocalypse is coming some stunted kale isn’t going to save us. Crisis, like the contents of our baskets and trolleys, reveals our true natures; his with an innate aptitude for self-preservation, mine a laissez-faire approach fueled by absurdism.

Last week, I rang my aunt to see how she was coping with the new restrictions and general panic. Discussing possible food shortages she said, “Well, I think we could be in trouble. Sure, don’t all the pizzas come from Italy?” There was such a richness of confused thinking on display here that, for a moment, I was speechless. Yet, when we hung up I was left thinking. . . all these years and that’s what she’s been surviving on?

Supermarkets are where we betray our deepest fears, but then I think, didn’t they always? Food, that most urgent and primal of needs, must be got and in quantities. Cans of chickpeas and squat packages of conch-shaped pasta are the order of the day for pragmatic shoppers, yet there are still dreamers among us buying houseplants and dog beds and ingredients for elaborate cakes we will never make.

Someone passed me in the car park with a boxed lava lamp under his arm and I nearly cheered. Meanwhile, in the frozen section you’ll find my aunt loading up on Hawaiian pizza, and my husband in the centre aisle examining the garden tools.

Claire Zwaartman

TOMORROW: "A Question" - a poem by Graham Allen


Creative Corona: Day 5

Kathy D'Arcy is a published poet, performer and activist.  She is a qualified medical doctor as well as holding a PhD in Creative Writing from UCC.  This poem comes from Encounter (Lapwing 2010), her first poetry collection. The collection is available to browse in virtual form at her website -  http://www.kathydarcy.com/encounter.html#

 

Measles

His watch sits on the table

rash-itchy.

My pillowcase and sheets are inside out,

the sour-milk smell of our union

folded away.

 

I will wrap myself in them

as if I had the measles

and school off tomorrow.

 

Kathy D'Arcy

TOMORROW: "Fears, Dreams and Trolleys" - by Claire Zwaartman


Creative Corona: Day 4

Coyau / Wikimedia Commons / CC BY-SA 3.0

On Day 4 of "Creative Corona", Betty O'Mahony and Darren Hall, both current students on the MA in Creative Writing, travel into the dark night of the writer's soul, where strange things can happen when everyone else is asleep. Although there is no direct connection with COVID-19 in these stories, there are subliminal echoes in the presence of bats and sleeplessness.

INSOMNIA

I was lying in bed. I had just turned off the lights. It was pitch black. I heard a fluttering suddenly close to me and I sat up and turned on the light. There was a bat coming straight for me, vampire wings fully extended.

I bolted out of the bed and out the door.

Then I realised I had left my cigarettes and matches on the bed. When I needed them most. I eventually opened the door a fraction and I could see them on the bed, but the bat was wrapped around the lamp immediately overhead.

Courage!

I wrapped a scarf around my head and shot in, reached for the ciggies and matches and raced out the door again.

How would the bat get out of the room? I had to open the windows for him.

I only had five cigarettes left. I lit up and inhaled feverishly. Then I wrapped the scarf around my head again, shot into the bedroom and opened the three windows. On the way back out I spotted one of the limbs of the vampire bat unfolding from behind a picture.  It had an elbow!

Exit!

The following morning, I searched through the bedroom, thoroughly, still wearing the scarf, but my night visitor had gone.

For Sale!

Detached house, genuine reason for selling!

Betty O’Mahony 

 

INTO THE ABYSS

I know don’t know how I got here. Or where I was. The memories glimmer then fade. Like wisps of vapour from a steaming cup, they dissipate before they’re formed. And like my memories, my perception of time itself has become vague. Intangible. A dizzying ebb and flow of noise and colour sporadically colliding with my consciousness.

What started as a fleeting momentary distraction has become an all-encompassing, all-consuming freefall.

To dip a toe is to drown. To become immersed.

The sense of self that was so solid, so concrete mere hours, or days or minutes ago has dissolved, like the spoons of sugar I put into that fifth or sixth cup of coffee I probably shouldn’t have drunk.

My consciousness is becoming unshackled, assimilated into something larger. Something immense. But not in a “that time I was tripping balls and felt connected to everyone” sort of way.  This is more like I’m one screaming face amidst innumerable screaming faces all writhing and screaming and melting into an incognisant, incohesive fleshy mess.  Like that weird fucking monstrosity in that horror movie clip I think I watched at some point of the night or morning or day or night or…

Morning…

I’m surrounded by morning light…

Fuck, I should probably get some sleep…

Cool video by the way. I love your cat. Wish mine was that smart.

Posted at 5:08am. 4 likes. 2 comments.

Darren Hall 

TOMORROW: "Measles" - a poem by Kathy D'Arcy.


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