Know the team behind The Ogham Stone (post #2)

As promised, we are back with a series of interviews with the members of The Ogham Stone team. Enjoy the spread and please watch this space next week for more!

Yao Tang says:

  • What are your reasons for doing this MA?
    I enrolled into this MA for improving my level of English and studying literature for my own work.
  • How do you feel about doing the Ogham Stone Project?
    It is a little difficult for me, as a foreigner, but I feel comfortable because the members of our team take care of me very considerately.
  • I know it’s early days, but do you have a favourite bit of this project? What is it, and why do you like it?
    I like to share the highlights of some poems with my teammates. They told me some unique meanings of words only suitable for the very situation mentioned in the poem.
  •  What are your hopes for the project?
    I hope I can know what a real Irish magazine is like. In China, magazines are not popular any more.

Tracy Culleton says:

  • What are your reasons for doing this MA?

So many. The first is that I feel the lack of ever having had formal 3rd level education and am finally healing that lack now. The second is that although I have been studying this craft for all my adult life really, you never know what you don’t know, so looking for guidance and direction from it. Also, this wasn’t my reason for doing it as I didn’t realise it would be an element, but finding great value in studying so much English literature too, which was another gap in my knowledge

  • How do you feel about doing the Ogham Stone Project?

To be honest, I wasn’t originally thrilled to say the least.  It seemed a distraction from writing and learning about writing. I know both writing and publishing are the same industry, but they’re different ends of the industry. Having said that, I am really enjoying working with Carrie and also the others on the Communications Group, and it is very interesting to see the process from the other side of the desk

  • I know it’s early days, but do you have a favourite bit of this project? What is it, and why do you like it?

My favourite bit is the way we can, as a team, influence the shape of the Ogham Stone, but literally (as in design decisions) and metaphorically. The Ogham Stone is in its early days and so we are on the ground floor of creating something that promises to be very exciting.

  • What are your hopes for the project?

I hope that we can do a good job, that is professional and business-like but which also contributes to the cultural landscape of Ireland, and of creative writing, in even a small way.

  • What skills and interests are you hoping to bring to this project?

I have some experience in organising websites and a small business, so I think that’s the place I’m best located in.

Conor McCarthy says:

  • What are your Reasons for doing this MA?

I love writing and have been studying it for the past four years. I see this as a chance to grow my portfolio and meet successful authors.

  • How do you feel about doing the Ogham Stone project?

I’m excited to have a chance to put my name to something that will appear in print and to help others achieve the same.

  •  I know it’s early days, but do you have a favourite bit of this project? What is it, and why do you like it?

I’ve loved reading all of the entries and experiences the diverse voices and styles of the authors.

  • What are your hopes for the project?

That we’ll create something that will endure and give a platform to some very talented writers.

  • What skills and interests are you hoping to bring to this project?

My experience in fiction writing and love of the short story.

Grainne O’Brien says:

  • What are your reasons for doing this MA?

I just decided it was time I make writing my priority for the year. The MA program is a wonderful opportunity to do that.

  • How do you feel about doing The Ogham Stone project?

I think it’s a wonderful, chaotic idea. We will create something together we can be proud of. It can be a humbling experience to see how much work goes into something like this and the range of talent that is out there. And writers can always use a bit of humbling.

  • I know it’s early days, but do you have a favourite bit of this project? What is it, and why do you like it?

The magazine is a space for us to see the ‘other side’ of the process. You see how many submissions we get. Now you can understand why publishers and agents can’t take on everyone. So many people have a voice. So many want to be heard and we just can’t publish them all.

  • What are your hopes for the project?

That it’s gets published with everyone still alive.

  • What skills and interests are you hoping to bring to this project?

I already have a literary magazine called Silver Apples. I’m quite enjoying having so many people to chat to about this project. I just want to produced the best quality magazine we can and more importantly ENJOY doing it.

Stephen Murphy says:

  • How do you feel about doing The Ogham Stone project?

I’ve spent a good part of the past few years writing and performing across various stages, but I’ve also edited books of poetry, fiction and non-fiction. I’m currently in the poetry committee with partial responsibility for what will eventually go in to the Ogham Stone, and in many ways it’s similar to my previous years spent judging various poetry competitions that I won’t name for fear of offending anybody who might have entered but didn’t win..

  • I know it’s early days, but do you have a favourite bit of this project? What is it, and why do you like it?

My favourite parts of the project so far are both the grit involved in putting it together, and the standard of entries we’ve had the privilege of reading. The volume of submissions was enormous, so to whittle it down hasn’t been easy, but between the lot of us it’s generated huge debate over what should make the grade and what shouldn’t, all the way down to what makes some poetry stand out from the crowd more than others. The conversation has been lively and informative, and I’m looking forward to seeing what the final poems are.

  • What are your hopes for the project?

My hope is that eventually we’ll manage to work our way through the massive amount of work we have ahead of us to put together a book that can stand the test of time. So much of modern living is fleeting and instant, so if we can capture something timeless and present it to the world I’d be delighted.

Lauren Preston says:

  • How do you feel about doing The Ogham Stone project?

I have been published in a few literary journals, but this will be the first time I am getting to work behind the scenes. I am eager to bring my knowledge of being a writer to the position of being an editor. I think I will have a sensitivity as well as an understanding of what kind of quality the literary journal requires

  • What do you like about the project?

So far I have enjoyed the team of readers in the Fiction / Memoir group and our ability to work well together.

  • What are your hopes for the project? 

I hope the project will produce a quality literary journal that can be a satisfactory outcome for both the editors in the class and the writers and artists who bravely submitted their work.

Ashley Bentley says:

  • What are your experiences coming into the project?

I contributed to the production of an online historical journal about the Irish immigrant experience in Australia last year.

  • What is your favourite part about the Ogham Stone project?

The structure of the project, for example: there has been no confusion about the allocation of responsibilities (As of yet, anyway)

  • What are your hopes for the project?

Quality over quantity is important in an exercise like this, and I don’t think people should be burdened with awkward responsibilities just because they have experience in that area.

Ciara Gordon says:

  • What are your experiences coming into the project?

I’ve done public relations for different events, so I have experience in the area of Communications, but none for the actual journal itself!

  •  What is your favourite part about The Ogham Stone project?

I’m really enjoying getting to see different perspectives from others in my group, and getting to see how a literary journal comes together.

  • What are your hopes for the project?

I hope that this experience will be equal parts enjoyable and successful for everyone involved in it, and that the launch nights will go well!

Kevin O’Connor (who likes to keep it short!) says:

I was the reporter for a community magazine “Ballinasloe Life” for 7 months, so I have experience in printing and writing for magazines
My favourite part (only part) so far is reading the submissions. It’s fun to read other people’s stories.
I hope the project wont rob me of too much sleep over the course of publication!

By Mayuri Goswami

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Louder Than Words

(As reported by The Ogham Stone team member and communications facilitator, Ciara Gordon)

On Thursday September 21st, Out in UL (UL’s LGBTQ+ society) held a poetry evening, ‘Louder Than Words’ in The Scholars Club on campus. Poetry evenings have become a staple in Limerick city recently, due to the rise in popularity of a monthly event for emerging writers called Stanzas. Stanzas aims to give a platform to those who are just starting to create prose and poetry, and gives them an opportunity to allow their writing to engage with the wider community. Out in UL saw the impact of this event and decided to try and engage the student population of UL even more with the joys of poetry.

‘Louder Than Words’ began with poetry readings by some members of the society, which included many original poems, that had a strong focus on the themes of identity and sexuality. After a short break, those in attendance were encouraged to take part in the open mic section of the night, where they could read any poetry that meant something to them. Several people decided to give it a go, many of whom had never read in public before, but all shared a love of words, be it their own or those of a poet they resonated with.

Events Officer of the society, Luke Slattery, gave his views on why poetry events such as Louder Than Words resonate with people; “Poetry is gaining popularity in Limerick and UL because of how accessible it is. You don’t need a specific skill set or tools to express yourself through it, whether it be for yourself or to an audience. Sure, there are different levels of abilities, but all are equally appreciated and have the same ears listening at events and readings.”

‘Louder Than Words’ was an intimate and thoroughly enjoyable event, which was a wonderful experience for those on either side of the microphone, and will hopefully become a regular event in UL!

Know the team behind The Ogham Stone (post #1)

Working on The Ogham Stone entails more than just snorting caffeine or getting power adjustments for our spectacles. The team that comes from a diverse background, has a lot to offer in terms of experience and unique talents. Starting this weekend, we will be uploading interviews with our staff regularly. Enjoy today’s spread and watch out this space for more!

Jordan Kubichek says:
1) Why have you chosen the Creative Writing MA?
I chose the Creative Writing MA because I’ve always been a writer. The charming anecdote I tell people is that I’ve been writing stories since I could hold a pencil. My hope for this program is to focus onmy craft and be able to refine my writing skills. I think the choice to require MA students to staff the Ogham Stone literary journal will help us all to understand the other side of submitting our work and the tough decisions involved when choosing pieces to include in the journal.

Paul Lynch in conversation with Donal Ryan to discuss his new novel ‘Grace’.

Limerick-born, prize-winning author Paul Lynch was recently in conversation with Donal Ryan at Narrative 4, Limerick on the 8th of September to discuss his new novel ‘Grace’. Paul is the author of three critically acclaimed novels, Red Sky in Morning, The Black Snow and the recently released Grace. Paul has been frequently and rightfully compared with the likes of Joyce, Beckett and Connor McCarthy.

‘Grace’ is an epic tale about a young girl’s life during the Great Famine. It has been described as a sweeping novel about a young girl, Grace Coyle’s journey across Ireland during the Great Famine. She is a fourteen year old girl who is sent out into the world by her mother, who cuts off her hair and tells her that she is the strong one now. She is joined by her younger brother Colly and together, they set off on the journey of their lives during Ireland’s darkest times. The book was widely praised by renowned writers of the country such as Edna O’Brien, Emma Donoghue, Donal Ryan and Belinda McKeon. The book also garnered critical appreciation in the US.

Donal started off the event by introducing Paul and listing his numerous achievements, particularly in France and several other parts of Europe. He then read out praise for the novel, a few quotes as listed below.

The Washington post called this novel , a “moving work of lyrical and at times hallucinatory beauty”.

“A gifted Irish author.. This is a writer who wrenches beauty even from the horror that makes a starving girl think her “blood is trickling over the rocks of my bones”. – Kirkus, starred review.

Paul then read out a short excerpt from his book. When questioned about his style of writing, Paul says that, “It’s a combination of many different things…It’s a combination of experience.. of years and years of reading and thinking what you are reading. It’s a combination of art and the music within you. You don’t quite know where it comes from. It’s there.. and you get better at controlling it.. better at directing it to sound how you want it to sound…”

Paul then went on to describe a little bit about his journey in writing his first novel and thinking about the setting for Grace, how it had all begun and how the pieces fell into place gradually. He says that a lot of research went into shaping the plot. He also addressed the way his books are perceived as being ‘difficult’ and he said that they seem that way to his audience because  they deal with places that the reader does not necessarily want to visit.

Paul also read out a sequence from his book that was set in Limerick before moving on to the Q and A session where Paul provided the audience with articulate responses regarding his writing experiences and process. This session marked the end of the thoroughly enjoyable and inspiring event.

By Mayuri Goswami.