Getting down the bones at West Cork Literary Festival

Courses at West Cork Literary Festival offer guidance on all genres of writing and publishing, says Colette Sheridan

Getting down the bones at West Cork Literary Festival

THE new artistic director of the annual West Cork Literary Festival (WCLF), Nell Regan, is encouraging people to book places on the writing workshops. These are a popular feature of the festival, which runs in Bantry from July 6-12. Regan, a poet, arts administrator and educator, says the 13 workshops cover everything from poetry to the business of publishing. “We have people from as far away as New Zealand and America, who come over specially to take part in our courses,” says Regan. “It’s a big feature of the festival. We’re very keen to keep prices at a reasonable level. For less than €200, people can get 15 hours of top-level tuition.”

Many of the tutors lecture in creative writing at third-level, both here and in the UK. “People can come to West Cork for the week and experience a very intense time, working on their craft in the mornings. They can then attend readings in the afternoon and evening,” she says.

Among the workshop facilitators is the actor and memoirist, Carol Drinkwater, who will share her knowledge of writing. Drinkwater will help participants to identify the story they want to tell.

Cork-based poet, and editor of Poetry Review, Maurice Riordan, is conducting a workshop entitled ‘Let Your Poem off the Leash.’ He will look at how the use of voice and syntax contribute to the impact of a poem.

Historical novelist and short story writer, Mary Morrissy, whose most recent novel is The Rising of Bella Casey, will conduct a workshop on historical fiction. Morrissy, who teaches on the MA in creative writing at UCC, “will provide a great opportunity for anyone who has started to write a historical novel and wants to get to grips with the form,” says Regan.

John MacKenna, author of 16 books, whose latest novel will be published in September, is conducting a workshop in creative writing for beginners. Participants will be encouraged to find inspiration in the landscape of West Cork, and in the landscape of their imagination.

The festival’s editor-in-residence, this year, is Alexandra Pringle, the group editor-in-chief at Bloomsbury Publishing. Among her stable of authors are Colum McCann, Richard Ford and Margaret Atwood. “People can submit their work to her; it’s open to anybody. You can book a slot with her to discuss your work. It’s a really good opportunity,” Regan says.

A course entitled ‘The Business of Writing’ will be conducted by Carole Blake, Nuala Ní Chonchúir, Alexandra Pringle, Sarah Bannan, Richard Skinner and Vona Groarke. “They will be giving writers the opportunity to learn about creating their own online presence, as well as advice on how to apply for bursaries. These are practical things that writers need to know about.”

Aspiring travel writers can sign up for a course with the Guardian’s chief travel correspondent, Kevin Rushby. He is also a filmmaker and photographer and has written travel books Hunting Pirate Heaven and Eating the Flowers of Paradise. Rushby will advise on how to research, plan and collect information and how to incorporate film, photographs and sound in story-telling.

Richard Skinner will again conduct a workshop on the novel. He is author of three novels and a writer’s handbook, Fiction Writing. The workshop establishes what kind of writer a person is and how to create stories as well as plotting, conflict and pace.

At the end of this workshop, participants will have a one-page synopsis and a 25-word pitch for their novels.

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