Matriculation Day, University of Oxford

Technically you're not supposed to wear the mortar board until your graduation day but I couldn't resist, just for a quick snap. *Shhhh. Say nothin'* You'd be right if you think I'm lapping up all the pomp and ceremony of Matriculation Day at Oxford. Yup. Pure shameless. Oh my God, I love it here!

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This is me at my college, St. Anne's, waiting for my fellow 'Stanners' to gather so we can process through the streets of Oxford to the Sheldonian Theatre for the ceremony. It really does feel like you're being admitted to a very old and exclusive club. But you know what? I am appreciating every single minute of how privileged I am, something that may not have happened if they'd let me in when I was seventeen.

And as for my classmates! What a bunch of supremely talented people from all corners of the globe. I am honestly humbled to be among them. 

Dromineer Poetry Prize 2016

Delighted to receive second prize in Dromineer this year from judge Collette Bryce. Who says there's no money in poetry?! ;-) You can have a read of the poem here:

http://www.dromineerliteraryfestival.ie/_blog/News_and_Updates/post/winners-poetry-prize-2016-judge-colette-bryce/#.WCCeIXsjGYU

The prize-giving ceremony was lovely. It was especially nice to see some young poets being rewarded for their writing and getting to read out their poems to an appreciative audience. Many thanks to Deborah Powell and Eleanor Hooker for a great event.

The Waiting Was Over...

What an absolutely stunning production of Waiting For Godot by Druid in Galway, directed by Garry Hynes. So glad I made the effort to bring Ethan. It couldn't have been a more perfect introduction to Beckett.

And we have more Druid/Hynes magic to look forward to in September with the twentieth anniversary production of Martin McDonagh's The Beauty Queen of Leenane. Tickets already booked. Can't wait!

Fish Poetry Prize

I had a couple of poems on the longlist for The Fish Poetry Prize this year. My wonderful poetry sister Sarah Byrne however came second and it was great to be at the launch of the Fish Anthology to hear her read.

Bantry has to be one of the best literary festivals around. They always have an impressive line-up of writers for readings and workshops. And it's so picturesque! I did a poetry workshop with Jo Shapcott and my son, Ethan, did the teenage writing workshop with Dave Lordan.

Some of the highlights were getting to hear Sarah Howe read from the amazing Loop of Jade and the grand finale of Nick Laird and Zadie Smith, a rare treat to get to hear them both on the same stage. Looking forward to next year already!

The Haar

Haar. My new favourite word. But it has to be said in a Scottish accent. How have I never heard it before? It's right up there with the other Scottish word 'haver' that The Proclaimers introduced me to back in the 80s, fair play to them. "And if I haver, hey, I know I'm gonna be/ I'm gonna be the man that's havering to you". Love it.

Wild Atlantic Words

I came third in The Wild Atlantic Words Poetry Competition with the poem Anadromous Vocabulary and it's published in this lovely anthology by the Hungry Hill Writers. It was the perfect excuse for a visit to the beautiful Castletownbere for the prize-giving ceremony with judge Breda Wall Ryan. It's always extra nice to receive an award from a poet whose work you especially admire. I was only sorry I hadn't my copy of "In A Hare's Eye" with me for her to sign. She has a fine publisher there too in Doire Press with John Walsh and Lisa Frank, based in Connemara.