Up, up and away

We often boast here about student success in the literary world but some of our students also go on to further educational opportunities, building on their experience on the MA in Creative Writing at UCC.

Poet Alyssandra Tobin, on our current MA programme, will shortly be winging her way to New York where she’s won a place on the prestigious MFA programme at NYU, which is rated among the top ten graduate programmes in the US. Faculty includes Anne Carson,  Joyce Carol Oates, Yusef Komunyakaa, Deborah Landau and Sharon Olds, so Alyssandra will be in very good company.

Fiction writer Mark Kelleher graduated last year and has been awarded a full four-year PhD scholarship at Dublin City University.  Mark will be conducting research on the post-modern novels of David Markson, Thomas Bernhard, Dennis Cooper and Tom McCarthy.  

Congratulations to both of them.   

Meanwhile, three of our current students performed at UCC ‘s Creative Writing Showcase at the West Cork Literary Festival in Bantry last week, which is fast becoming an annual event at the festival. Introduced by the course director, Dr Eibhear Walshe, fiction writer Eileen O’Donoghue and poets Paul Asta and Una Ni Cheallaigh read from works in progress.

And finally, their classmate Jacqui Corcoran has been developing a sideline career in sports journalism since winding up her MA course work.  In the past month, her features on cliff diving, female teenage drop-out rates in sport, and a Waterford football club with a disabilities programme have appeared in the Irish Examiner. 

MA students on fire!

The MA in Creating Writing is well represented in this year’s From the Well competition anthology. Tadhg Coakley – – and Nora Shychuk – from the 2015/16 MA class, both have stories in Smoke in the Rain, which was launched in Cork last night. From the Well is a short fiction competition sponsored by the Cork County Library and Arts Service and the winning and shortlisted stories are published together in this annual anthology.

The contest was adjudicated by writers Billy O’Callaghan, Claire Kilroy and Eimear Ryan, the editor of the Banshee Journal –  The outright winner was local writer Anne O’Leary, whose story gives the collection its title. Other featured writers include UCC alumna Catherine Kirwan, whose work has appeared in Quarryman, UCC’s literary magazine, and who has just signed her first book contract for a crime novel set in Cork.

In other publishing news, another 2016 graduate, Robert Feeney, has had two short stories from his thesis collection published.  “Among the Blue Trees” is in the current  edition of The Galway Review  – – and “Outside” will appear in the launch edition of the Shanghai Literary Review –



Great fiction in small doses

Luisa Geisler, one of our summer serial writers

Watch out for the Evening Echo next Monday when the first episode of Sue Dukes‘ summer soap will appear – –  Entitled “Personal Services”, the 12-episode serial tells the story of a Cork masseuse with a secret whose story is revealed through the parade of clients who come through her door. (There’ll be a full page interview with Sue in the Evening Echo on Friday.)

The summer soap is a joint project organised between the MA in Creative Writing and Examiner publications and is in its second year.  Last year, the Echo ran two summer serials from Mark Kelleher and Kelly Warburton.  This year, the second serial by Sue’s classmate Luisa Geisler, will appear in the paper and online later in the summer.  Entitled “12 Letters from Home”, it charts the relationship between a Brazilian woman and an Irishman living in Cork.

Sue and Luisa are part of the 2016/17 MA year who are currently writing their theses.  Sue will be taking a break from her studies in July to get married – congratulations to her! – while Luisa, from Brazil, is part of the Uversity programme  – – which allows international students to take courses in creative practice at a number of Irish universities in the same academic year.

Runner-up Jacqui Corcoran was commissioned to write a story for this year’s Holly Bough – –  the Examiner’s best-selling annual Christmas magazine.

Scaling the heights

PhD creative writing student, poet Kathy D’Arcy, tops off a busy year with a new play, Sagarmatha, at the Cork Harbour Festival next week.  Sagarmatha – another name for Mount Everest – narrates the travel diaries of Kathy and Harry Moore – –  who spent time walking together in the Himalayas before the earthquakes of 2015.

For more details see

Sagarmatha is a performed narrative that fuses their separate experiences in a multi-media performance. The show runs for three evenings, June 6, 7, 8, at  L’Atitude 51°, 1 Union Quay, Cork at 7pm.

Tickets (in aid of the Nepalese Relief Fund) are €5 at the door.  No late admissions.






Riverrun for Conor

Congratulations to Conor Rowell, one of our 2017 MA graduates, who has just been published in the River River Literary Journal, a New York publication which serves the creative writing community of the lower Hudson Valley and beyond. “Serpents of the Middle East” appears in the spring edition of the journal and was one of the stories Conor presented as part of his thesis. His work has appeared in Synthesis Magazine and UCC’s literary journal, Quarryman.   You can read his story here: –

Meanwhile, a story by Eileen O’Donoghue, who’s at present completing her thesis, has been nominated for the Fabula Press Nivlais Short Story competition – 2017.  “Scarecrows” – which grew out of a writing prompt – is in the final sixteen and will be published in an anthology of long-listed stories for the 2017 competition.


Hippocrates Award for Kathy D’Arcy

Poetry PhD candidate – and qualified doctor – Kathy D’Arcy has won first prize in the health professional section of the international Hippocrates Awards for Poetry and Medicine 2017 –  – which were announced at an award ceremony in Harvard at the weekend.

The judges were Pulitzer Prize winning poet  Jorie Graham, paediatrician and ER producer Neal Baer, Scotland’s Makar (National Poet) Jackie Kay, New York poet Maya Catherine Popa, and New York poet and psychiatrist Owen Lewis.

The Hippocrates Prize attracts both health professionals and established poets from around the world – with a strong emphasis on highly accessible poetry that comes from direct personal experience.

Kathy’s poem “Inside” explores the relationship with the human heart.   Speaking about the poem, Kathy said it was partly inspired by her medical internship. “I loved looking at cardiac imaging, watching bright air bubbles fizzing inside ventricles during bubble echoes, discovering that the chordae tendineae  (the ‘heartstrings’) looked like harp-strings that you could play. I wondered if I could only truly connect with others by opening their ribcages and reaching inside to hold their hearts. I wondered what it would feel like to live inside someone’s heart. This organ – not the romantic cypher, but the self-governing, muscular bag of blood that da Vinci says ‘does not stop unless forever’ – is a source of endless fascination for me.”

“These poems show us everything we have in common,’” said adjudicator Jackie Kay. “They help us with grief and grieving. But above all they make us cherish life, our health, our minutes and our hours. I’d keep these poems about me as my companions.”

With a prize fund of £6000 for winning and commended poems, the Hippocrates Prize is one of the highest value poetry awards in the world for a single poem. In its eight years, the prize has attracted over 8000 entries from 60 countries.


Shortlisting on the double!

Great shortlisting news for our recently  graduated creative writing MA students.  Tadhg Coakley has been shortlisted for the Mercier Press fiction competition –  His collection, The All-Ireland, is among seven finalists for the competition. The winner will receive a €1000 cash prize and a publishing deal with Mercier.  Results due in July.

Tadhg is also shortlisted for the 2017 From The Well anthology, along with classmate Nora Shychuk. The short fiction competition is sponsored by the Cork County Library and Arts Service.  Having got through the first round, Tadhg’s story “Angels” and Nora’s “Separations” will be adjudicated by writers Billy O’Callaghan, Claire Kilroy and the Well Review editor Sarah Byrne  –  A winner will be selected in the coming weeks, and the publication is due out in late June 2017. The winning story will give the annual anthology its title.





Echo showcases student serial fiction

MA Creative Writing Sue Dukes is this year’s winner of the Evening Echo fiction serial competition with her entry entitled “Personal Services”, about a masseuse in Cork with several dark secrets.

The contest, which is in its second year,  is run as part of the MA Writing for Media module in collaboration with the Evening Echo.

The runner-up was Uversity student Luisa Geisler, whose soap “12 Letters from Home” concerns the Cork-based relationship between a Brazilian woman and an Irishman.  Third placed Jacqui Corcoran was commissioned to write a short story for the Holly Bough, the Examiner’s Christmas publication.

Features Editor John Dolan who adjudicated the student submissions said this year’s entries were marked by “lots of good humour, which is not an easy genre”.

The students’ 12-episode soap serials will run in the newspaper and on  the Evening Echo website during July and August. Watch this space!

Lecturer shortlisted for Notting Hill Prize

Rachel Andrews is among 13 writers shortlisted for the 2017 Notting Hill Editions Essay Prize, worth £25,000.

Rachel is a writer and journalist who guest-lectures on the long-form essay on the MA in Creative Writing module, Writing for the Media. She has been published in literary journals including The Dublin Review. Her essay, A New Wilderness at the Maze, which documented the destruction of the infamous Maze prison in Northern Ireland, won the inaugural Essay Prize (2013) at the Centre for Documentary Studies, Duke University, NC. She holds an MA (Distinction) in Creative Non-fiction from Bath Spa University.

The six prize-winners will be announced at a ceremony in London on June 28.



UCC poet nominated for Juritz Prize


Exciting news for our PhD poet Kathy D’Arcy – she’s been longlisted for the prestigious Ivan Juritz Prize ( ) hosted by the Centre for Modern Literature and Culture at King’s College London and Scotland’s International Artist Residency Centre at Cove Park.

Postgraduate students from traditional academic disciplines and creative courses throughout Europe were invited to submit works for the prize in any artistic medium that “plays with form” or makes the audience think, feel and question.  Kathy’s entry, Killing the Golden Bear, will be considered alongside textual submissions from students at Cambridge, UEA, Liverpool and York.

Winners receive £1000 and spend the first two weeks of September at Cove Park, engaging in a residency and showcase. All shortlisted works are given a public performance at the prize-giving and are written up in the journal Textual Practice.

The prize will be judged by an impressive line-up of names in the literature, visual and performing arts – Lisa Appignanesi, Rachel Cusk, Dexter Dalwood, Julian Forrester, Jeremy Harding, Deborah Levy, Stephen Romer, Fiona Shaw and Ryan Wigglesworth.

Kathy has published two poetry collections – Encounter (Lapwing 2010) and The Wild Pupil (Bradshaw 2012). In 2013 she was awarded an Arts Council Literature Bursary, and in 2014 an Irish Research Council Postgraduate Award to support the future development of her work.