Saturday, 28 June 2014

Playing with Plagiarism and Intertextuality

In January of 2013, poet Christian Ward made major news in the UK poetry world when his poem, 'The Deer at Exmoor' won the Hope Bourne poetry prize. It was rather quickly discovered that his poem bore an uncanny resemblance to Helen Mort's poem 'The Deer'. When pushed, he made the extraordinary claim that he realised he was wrong but only because he had not changed Mort's work enough. In a statement published in the Western Morning News, Ward wrote: "I was working on a poem about my childhood experiences in Exmoor and was careless. I used Helen Mort’s poem as a model for my own but rushed and ended up submitting a draft that wasn’t entirely my own work. I had no intention of deliberately plagiarising her work. That is the truth."

This seems to me, an extraordinary claim: that there is, somewhere, a line that exists where, once crossed, one has changed the work of another sufficiently to claim that it is not one's own, original work.

Monday, 23 June 2014

HCE Players Rock Dublin's Bloomsday 2014

Well I am one proud blogger. The Here Comes Everybody Players were amazing at Bloomsday 2014! So, today, I give you a retrospective in pictures (and one video clip) of the wildly successful weekend!

On Saturday, HCE Players kicked off their celebrations with Finnegan's Wake at Darc Space Gallery. Then, the performers were asked to do an impromptu performance for a Joycean pub crawl and were such a hit on Duke Street that they were asked to reprise on Sunday.

Cast & musicians outside The Bailey on Duke St.
The crowds on North Great George's Street on Sunday for 15 scenes from each of the Dubliners stories (woe be unto those who call the book 'The Dubliners') were enormous and the volunteer audience players were outstanding. Spectators came from around the world including Australia, North America and across Europe (and those are just the ones this blogger talked to) to laugh and enjoy both Joyce's work and the beautiful weather.
HCE Players & some of the audience participants on North Great George's Street
On Monday, it was a standing room only crowd at the James Joyce Centre as the group tackled Ulysses with their trademark humour and talent.

Donal addresses the standing room only crowd at the James Joyce Centre

All in all, a rousing success - let's hope they can reprise next year!

Click through for more photos...

Friday, 13 June 2014

Why Wicked Matters

My dad tells a story of one day, when I was about six or seven. He heard the television playing in the living room, despite the house rule forbidding television during the day. He came in to tell  me to turn it off, but paused when he saw me sitting on the floor crying my eyes out as I read the subtitles of an opera. He asked me what was wrong. I didn't look away from the television as I said through sobs, "It's so sad. He really loves her, but she didn't know it and now she's dead."

Moral of the story? I was an early reader. No, kidding, that's not it. You see, there are twin passions in my family. The first is stories, spoken, read, told, written, in any form we can get. The second is music; My mom sings, my dad is a talented percussionist (see him perform live in Dublin this weekend!) and my brother can basically play any instrument he's ever picked up (irritating, I know). None of us is a musical prodigy, or anything, but we can pass ourselves. So when I was six and crying in front of an opera, it was just the confluence of these two passions.

I'm still a sucker for a story told by music. I wail arias and belt out the songs of my teenage years from Rent when I'm alone in the house (poor neighbours) or driving a car. It will come as no surprise that I love living in London, so close to the West End and all the musicals. The taller half and I regularly go to the theatre and we love both straight and musical productions. Some of these, I review on this site, you can read my reviews here, but some I have just enjoyed for me.

One of these is Wicked. It's a glitzy, big budget, power musical now in its eighth year in the West End. It's the kind of musical that attracts fans at the stage door in green face paint and a queue for day-of discount tickets every day of the week, regardless of weather. In short, it's a guilty pleasure.

But I've decided that I no longer accept that guilt. I really enjoy Wicked. I've seen it three times and I'd go to see it again. It's funny, it has catchy songs and incredible costuming, but I think there's something more to it.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

SouthWestFest 2014 - Free Creative Writing Workshops! Stories of SW1 Writing Competitiong

I'm delighted to announce that I will be working with SouthWestFest this year for a series of FREE creative writing workshops and a creative writing competition as part of the Stories of SW1 Exhibition.

The two-hour workshops will run on the evenings of 24 June, 01 and 08 July 2014 from 5:45-7:45pm at the Pimlico branch of Westminster Libraries. These are low-pressure, supportive, fun workshops designed for writers of all levels. You don't need any previous experience and there will be exercises to help you get started with putting pen to paper.

Space is limited so book now by emailing:

Participants will have the opportunity to submit for the Stories of SW1 creative writing competition, which has a £50 prize. Work will be displayed as part of the Stories of SW1 Exhibition and we hope to do a live reading at the end of festival bash!

Competition Rules:
Deadline for creative writing submission is midnight Sunday 06 July 2014
Email to: with the subject line 'Writing Entry - your name'
Writing must be sent in the body of the email - attachments will not be opened
Flash fiction must be no more than 500 words
Poetry must be 20 lines or fewer
Submission fee is £5 (for this fee you can submit up to 2 pieces) - There's only a fee to help to support all the free events in the festival (like writing workshops!)
You must include proof of payment with your submission
Paypal details are at

SouthWestFest is a fantastic celebration of South West London, its history and the people who live, work and study in the area. The official dates are the 27th of June through the 14th of July, but there are some events on even earlier (like the first writing workshop!). Events include a comedy night, photography workshops, a parade, a comedy night and more. There is something for everyone and for all ages, so check out the SouthWestFest website or the flyers available throughout SW1. We hope to see you there!

Wednesday, 4 June 2014

Another Win for Ireland

You all know I love to plug Irish literature and so today is a particularly exciting day. Eimear McBride has won the Baileys Women's Prize for Fiction for her novel, A Girl Is a Half-Formed Thing.

McBride is a true product of Irish history and immigration. She was born in Liverpool to Northern Irish parents, but spent much of her childhood on the west coast of Ireland. She now lives in the UK.

A note to the aspiring writers, to my students and to myself on my down days: It took Eimear years to get someone to publish this. Years. As in, a decade. Hang in there and keep racking up the rejections.

So, chalk another award up for Ireland and Irish immigrants. Again, I say, for a little country we sure can churn out an impressive number of impressive artists. Must be something in the rain.

Congratulations, Eimear!