The River Mill – Writing Retreat

I recently spent a wonderful week at the River Mill, a new writing retreat in County Down. I cannot recommend it highly enough. It is a little piece of heaven. If you are in need of peace and quiet to get some writing done – look no further. Paul Maddern is a generous host and a fantastic cook!

The River Mill Website

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Strong/Shine Awards 2017

Sunday 26th March was a gorgeous spring day and Dun Laoghaire was bustling. The LexIcon was brimming with poetry lovers grabbing a quick bite or coffee between events. The Mountains to Sea Dun Laoghaire Book Festival 2017 provided a jam-packed, inspiring programme. I was there for the Shine/Strong Poetry Award Reading in The Studio. A month or so earlier I was thrilled to learn that ‘The Woman on the Other Side’ had made the shortlist of three for the best first collection by an Irish poet in the past year. I was reading alongside the other shortlisted poets Simon Lewis, a fellow Doire Press poet, and Adam Crothers of Carcanet Press. It was lovely to meet Poetry Now Curator Alice Lyons and this year’s judge Vincent Woods.

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The shine/strong award is awarded in memory of Rupert and Eithne Strong and supported by Shine, the national organisation dedicated to upholding the rights and addressing the needs of those affected by mental ill health. It was an honour to be shortlisted and to read at the event.

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I was up first and enjoyed reading to an attentive audience. I then got to sit back and enjoy the fantastic poetry that followed. Adam Crothers read from his collection ‘Several Deer’ and Simon Lewis read from ‘Jewtown’ – two brilliant collections and superb readings.

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It was encouraging to see so many familiar faces in the audience and to receive such a warm welcome and I was delighted that my publishers John and Lisa of Doire Press had made the journey to be there and support Simon and me.

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Following insightful and generous comments by judge Vincent Woods on each of the three shortlisted collections, Adam Crothers was awarded the Shine/Strong Award for 2017. Hearty congratulations to Adam!

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With thanks to John Walsh and Simon Lewis for the pictures.