I went to Cavan over the weekend for the 20th Cavan Crystal/Windows Publications National Poetry competition award ceremony and was very pleased to come away with the first prize in the Adults’ category for a poem called St Brendan in Iceland. It was a unique ceremony given the emphasis on children’s categories and it was great to see the pleasure the winners received from being part of the ceremony. It was impressive hearing about the long history of this competition and the whole culture surrounding the Windows publications project during the opening speeches – both Heather Brett and Noel Monahan deserve huge kudos for all the work they’ve put in over the last 20 years. It is clearly a labour of love.
Other bits of news – lovely to receive 2nd prize in the Inktears’ short story competition.
Perhaps the most meaningful thing of late was to be highly commended in the Final Chapters Writing competition for a poem called ‘The Grief Schism.’ The competition, run by the Dying Matters coalition is designed to raise awareness for issues surrounding dying, death and bereavement. The ceremony was held on Wednesday 16th in London, chaired by the legendary Carmen Callil, founder of Virago press. My mother died very suddenly in January this year so I was very much in a place to write about this subject and felt there was something comforting in having a place that was open to receiving that kind of material. One of the keynote quotes attached to the project (derived from Iris Murdoch) really spoke to me – ‘Bereavement is a darkness impenetrable to the imagination of the unbereaved.’ I have found that grief is a game-changer in so many ways, and perhaps the only way through it is by confronting and exploring it. It makes a lot of things difficult, writing included, and so writing about grief itself was perhaps the only way to ensure writing would happen. It’s a very private thing too, but the Final Chapters project is a comfort precisely because it is founded on this idea of sharing a very common, human experience. It was nice to be part of that, despite how raw the experience is.