FW Members Contribute To Fermanagh Miscellany

Just published, is the Fermanagh Miscellany 2015: an eclectic range of short stories, articles of local interest and papers covering historical perspectives.  The production showcases the recent work of members of the Fermanagh Authors Association and is the ninth in an annual series.  Many of the authors are published writers in various outlets: magazines, journals and academic periodicals.

FM 2015 low resAmong the contributions, the names of several members of our own accomplished Fermanagh Writers appear: Dianne Trimble, Dermot Maguire and Tony Brady. Dianne in her piece – Our Last Hope – presents a story based on the Coonian Ghost case of local legend. Dermot shows his flair for bringing history to life in his – Fermanagh 1915 – and  picturesque study of – Monica-Beresford/Wichfeld – not a name easily associated with perfume, but Monica 55 was an eponymous fragrance of the time. A whiff of what it’s like to be held in Fermanagh and Tyrone police stations is revealed by Tony’s – socio documentary – In and Out of the Police Cells –  complete with his mug shot seen through a cell peep-hole.

The attractive book is amply provided with photographs throughout and retails with a penny change from a fiver.  Great value.

CAP poetry workshop. A short report.

On Tuesday  21st October we had the first of two poetry workshops sponsored by the Community Arts Partnership (CAP) and facilitated by Martelle McPartland of Lough Neagh Writers.

The aim of the workshops is to get as many people as possible to write a poem on the overall theme of ‘MEMORY’. The first session is designed to get the participants thinking about memory and the second session to have our poem critiqued and honed with the help of the group. We can then go forward to a one day workshop which will include groups from all over Northern Ireland and for the resultant poems to be submitted for consideration for the Annual Anthology produced by CAP.

Martelle started the session by asking a question:                                                                                                                             “what is the most important thing about poetry?”                                                                                                                                  She suggested ‘be honest’ as one answer.

She said that because sound is one of the most powerful aids to memory she would use sound as the springboard for our work. She then played us four sounds, separately, and after listening to each one we had ten minutes to write whatever came to mind from hearing that particular sound.

Martelle then asked each of us to read what we’d written. There were as many different reactions to each sound as there were people in the room.

The four sounds were:

1)    A Ticking Clock:

2)    Echoing Footsteps:

3)    Wind:

4)    A Crowd Cheering.

The session finished with Martelle asking us to choose one of the pieces we had produced on the night, to perfect it as much as we could, and to bring 20 hard copies on Tuesday night 28th October so that each person at the session would have a copy for more efficient comment and critique. She stressed that we should avoid the use of “I remember” and instead use the words of the poem to evoke the memory in the reader/listener.

I will be fascinated to discover what we have produced from a very stimulating session.

John Monaghan.

Classes With Carlo Gebler

FW Carlo classBack row L-R:  Mary McElroy, Dianne Trimble (Sec.), Dermot Maguire, Gordon Williams, Frankie McPhillips, John Monaghan (Vice Chair)

Front row L-R: John Kelly, John Llewellyn James, Marie Treacy, Ken Ramsey, Carlo Gebler, Teresa Kane, Jennie Brien, Tony Brady (Chair)

This photo, taken by Bob Baird on the last evening of our classes with Carlo Gebler, captures the members who attended the final critiquing class – of the six led by Carlo Gebler – bridging the last three weeks of September and the first three weeks of October 2014.

Our Chair, Tony Brady, tells us a little more about the classes:

Tony  Brady

Tony Brady

This autumn Fermanagh Writers received tuition, in a series of six classes, by esteemed writer, Carlo Gebler. Carlo fostered an atmosphere of collective participation in the classes. A measure of his challenging and attractive approach to critiquing prose fiction, prose poetry drama and poems was the consistent attendance of most Fermanagh Writers members who commenced and completed the six week  course Carlo conducted in Blakes.

In total, eighteen written contributions were considered and the criteria Carlo applied were broadly based on their content, interest, readability, imagination and presentation. More specifically, the contributions were subjected to analysis for their originality, inspiration, meaning, structure, reader stimulation, comprehension, style and publishing potential.

Areas for improvement were suggested: Carlo compared and contrasted the examples members presented, with the work of established writers and poets, citing specific reference to their published titles. He demonstrated principal writing techniques by his own reading from a selection of personally chosen authors. Notes of the content of each class were taken and they were circulated weekly to those members unable to attend: they will be collated and made available as a Fermanagh Writers’ resource to members. Expressions of appreciation and plaudits, received in messages from participants during the series, will be included.

Thank you Carlo, on behalf of everyone involved: you conducted your assignments with energy, enthusiasm and wholesale commitment. It does not end there, as your guidance and insights will continue to influence our own weekly practice and application to critiquing.  It is fitting to complete this brief Appreciation with you own words from your final class:

When you read, it’s private, it alters you. At the end you are not the same as when you started. There are two distinct experiences: the personal and awareness of the other. They are united in a relationship of the writer and the reader.”

As a token of Fermanagh Writers’ appreciation, John Monaghan presented Carlo with a book: Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoevsky.

Dermot Maguires new book


Dermot Maguire launches his new book tonight in Newtownbutler Community Centre at 8pm and on Monday night, also at 8pm, in Lisnaskea at the Castle Centre. Congratulations to Dermot on his achievement and we wish him every success with the book. If you can get along to either event Dermot would be glad of your support; “every little bit helps” he says. Fermanagh Writers are mentioned in the Foreword to his book.

Double click the image to enlarge and read the full article.

John D in the news again.

The following article appeared in the Impartial Reporter 16.10.14. It is a report of the recent Slam where our very own John D Kelly took third place. The article was accompanied by a photograph of the winner, the runner-up and John D.  A lack of computer savvy does not allow me to post that photo here but we do have one of our own.


 Digital Camera“THE North West heat of the All Ireland Poetry Slam, recently held in Blakes Of The Hollow, Enniskillen, was won by Leitrim poet, Stephen Murphy. After thanking all the other entrants and congratulating the runner-up on the day, the quirkily named Maximum Homosapiens, and third placed John D Kelly, Stephen said he was looking forward to representing the North West Cross Border Region in the Final which will be held in Kilkenny in November.

Some claim that the poetry form known as slamming developed in recent years in the USA, others believe that its roots are much older and found elsewhere.

Nevertheless, Poetry Slams today usually consist of two rounds of competition. Poets must deliver their own original poems in three minutes or under without any additional accompa- niment. Not every poet makes it through to round two. Prizewinners and the champion are chosen from those who do.

Slam host, Frank Rafferty, stated that the standard set this year in Enniskillen by each poet and their poetry had given the judges a very difficult task.

The judges included local artist Diane Henshaw and local performer Patricia Martinelli.

Mr. Rafferty extended his thanks to all 16 entrants and to the wonderful, Enniskillen crowd
who had come along on the day to support live poetry.”

More Photos From FLive Festival

A couple of our poets sharing their writing with the audience at the Ardhowen Theatre on Friday evening.

Kathy May

Kathy May








Kate Shea

Kate O’Shea








May, Trish and Dianne had a mixed bag of poetry and prose to share.

May Morris

May Morris





FLive Trish

Trish Bennett










Dianne Trimble

Dianne Trimble

And lastly, two of the men in our group, Bob and Frankie, recount some tale tales.

Frankie  McPhillips

Frankie McPhillips

FLive Bob

Bob Baird

Fermanagh Writers At FLive Festival

Last weekend Fermanagh Writers participated in the FLive Festival, performing on Friday afternoon at the Ardhowen Theatre and on Saturday lunchtime at the Bridge Centre in the Presbyterian Church. Both sessions were lively and members of the audience praised the performers afterwards.

Our Chair, Tony Brady, tell us about the performance at the Ardhowen Theatre:

John Monaghan

John Monaghan

Friday 3rd October 2014 was a day for me to take a step back as John Monaghan had organised a line up of 13 from our poets and prose writers. I arrived early at what must be one of the most beautifully positioned theatres in the whole of Ireland. The Long Bar was the venue and I joined the audience while Bob Baird, of The Flive organising committee, finessed the essential in situ arrangements and made the Introduction.

Jenny Brien

Jenny Brien

First to read was John Monaghan: his two poems, Hobnobs and Wisdom Tooth, were remembered mouth watering pleasure and painful surgery. Bob Baird then regaled with An Australian Tale – not a shaggy dog story, more a black sheep fable. A change of mood came with Jenny Brien introducing a classical Irish mythic tone with her saga The Calf. Our imaginations were then carried to France by John Llewellyn James as a Paris weekend there, was described in a risqué poem Elodie. Next up came Kitty: shy, retiring, she was propelled to the lectern by collective encouragement and gave an assured performance of two poems: “On the back of his phone call…” and These Hands.

Kathy May followed with a questioning poem – Betrothal – seeking undying promises, and an emotionally lacerating poem, Inside of A Cell, invoking  scenes of mental illness.  Humour was expected and welcome as May Morris followed intoning Hey Diddle Diddle  with its subtle hint of drug taking  and a contrasting taste of cheeky bedroom hanky-panky in  Kathy and Liam.

A mix of nature, dreams, poultry and hints of les liaisons

Teresa Kane

Teresa Kane

dangereuse/amoureuse were poetry conveyed in 4 poems recited by Teresa Kane. Pinned viewed a butterfly trapped in a jar. Wake Me was a call to be aware of beauty in natural surroundings while Porcelain Eggs recalled, not without a sting, tactile seeking and finding.  Finally, her poem Shadows characterised a sensual, coquette, temptress; all come and get me; vampish but seductively ambivalent while being attractive/repellent simultaneously.

Anthony Viney

Anthony Viney

An example of theatrical Military Action Poetry was next presented by “Corporal” Tony Viney. His Rudyard Kipling inspired monologue Fuzzy Wuzzy blended 19th century British army discipline with contemporary Taliban activity in present day Afghanistan. Very appropriate for a theatre event, Tony was in army uniform, parade ground boots and topped by an authentic battle field helmet. There’s a medal (yet uncast) for this performance reprised from the Ballinamallard Festival.

Barrack square pitch changed to dulcet toned level when Trish Bennett recited her funny Cleaning with Parrot’s Help  and contrasted it with an ironic funereal poem Boxed Up. She continued with Magic Aid and completed with Sweet Spot – a poem which she could have just composed on the spot; so redolent it was of the view visible from the room’s panoramic windows.

Mary McElroy

Mary McElroy

One of our prize winning poets, Mary McElroy no less, and in person from the lectern, commanded the audience’s rapt attention with varying emotional and visual themes in 3 of her poems:  Hands – The Uninvited – Blind.  William Shakespeare was next: in a manner of speaking that is, for Jennie Brien skilfully reworked into modern, innovative idiom 4 sonnets by the immortal Bard.  Lots more favourite and famous poets were liberally name-checked in Frankie McPhillips original vignette Beautiful Bundoran.  His seaside reverie/elegy contained a skilfully interwoven pastiche of W.B Yeat’s poem The Lake Isle of Innishfree.

Any further thoughts about “I will arise and go now…” were banished as Dianne Trimble recited her amusing poem Yer Man followed by But I’m Here. Then a change of tone in Barbed Boundary, subtle hints of a rural interface there. Two further offerings were When Haymaking’s Done and the second, one of her published poems: The Thing on a String.

Tony Brady

Tony Brady

This appreciative member was then called from the reserves bench, and recited three poems from Fermanagh Writer’s Seamus Heaney Tribute booklet by three contributors who were unable to attend.  Death of a Hero by Ken Ramsey. The Unexpected by Rosemary Bland. Looking Upstream by John D. Kelly.

John Monaghan’s arrangement of the overall variety of contributions was inspired. Among the audience were the Director of the Flive Festival, Evelyn Hassard accompanied by Rosie & Nicholas Watts.  I just cannot resist by ending this overview with a touch of luvviedom: Darlings! You were wonderful! Simply Divine!

Fantastical FW at FLive Parade

In the official Flive 2014 programme, there’s a promise that the dragon named Falkner would be accompanied by an array of “fantastical creatures.” Whether Fermanagh Writers -John Monaghan, Jennie Brien, Bob Blair and Tony Brady qualified to fit that description is arguable, but they turned up – sans wings or tutus – to act as escort/marshals on Saturday, 27th September.

FLive photo 2Following an on the spot, intense two minutes training by Bob Baird – a prominent member of the Flive Festival organising committee – and the donning of high visibility tabards, they observed the pre-procession performance of live tableau by talented drama students from Portora who explored the Magic of Irish Myth and Legend by bringing stories to life using oversized picture frames decorated by primary pupils. The production was under the direction of local artist Genevieve Murphy.

The parade from The Diamond to Enniskillen Castle was completed in fair weather and, as can be seen from the photograph on page 41 of The Fermanagh Herald dated 1st October,  John (right) and Tony (left) are pictured alongside  stilt walker Randy Repass  and participating youngsters.

North West Heat of All Ireland Poetry Slam by John James

Digital CameraFermanagh Writers in the Slam

There is a dangerous underground movement afoot. Mention it softly, but people gather together in darkened rooms and read poetry to each other and an assembled audience. They are called Slams. This is the new poetry. Often loud, verbose and polemical, the rock-stars of this world are growing in number and reputation, taking inspiration from the Beat Generation of Ginsberg et al, the work is confrontational, vibrant and very much in the zeitgeist.

We sent forth our bravest and perhaps some of our best poets to do battle in this gladiatorial arena armed only with our verses, a little wit, some passion and as much phlegm as we could cough up.
The All Ireland Poetry Slam https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100008298760465&ref=ts&fref=ts chose Enniskillen as it’s North-West venure – dodgy geography mayhap, but as our Scottish host said ”Ye’s all are South to me in Scotland anyway!’ We gave our names – some fun with myself as the spelling and pronunciation of my middle name flummoxed our guest judges. (Not the best start.)

When you peruse the corpus of classical poetry, you may wonder what relevance the art may have for today; here, with the entrants, you had the environment, international politic a letter from a dog, a river’s winding tale and an elegy of a Welsh tragedy amongst many other varid topics. Showing the versatality and essential nature of our art and its relevance to the now and promising a fecund future.

Our own John D Kelly secured 3rd place and a bottle of wine, pipped on the line by a new face, Maximun Homio Sapiens who took 2nd place and the ever-familiar Stephen Murphy from over the border winning 1st place and passage to the Grand Final. Stephen, taking our poetry prizes, following in the ignoble tradition of rustling cattle, kidnapping fair maidens and other less salubrious cross-border activities.

Good luck for the final in Kilkenny, Stephen!

Our thanks to the organisers of the Slam and to the volunteer judges, who chose well.

John James on how Fermanagh Writers Row the Erne

Digital Camera Digital CameraWe are all experts now…


On a day when the sun did not just go for a kiss, or a peck on the cheek, it went for the full-blanket, smothering us all in it’s yellowy, velvety goodness. We took another trip on the Lough Erne in the Curragh, manning the oars mightily as we could manage. The aforesaid sun created an old grandmother’s eiderdown patchwork quilt of light on the gently rippling waters, tickled by craft of all shapes and sizes, some with engines others without.

A dance-card of dabbling ducks and serene swans took to the waters after feasting on the stale bread provided by timid yet curious children, shephereded by their watchful parents. An armada of wildfowl thus accompanied the prompting in-out beat provided by Olivia, trying to wring out every drop of feeble co-ordination from her mulish team of rowers, who just could not follow her gently placatory heart-rate metronome.

After noodling the boat gently out of it’s halt,we headed for the open waters of the Lough, wary of the pleasure-boats who powered up and down, tooting their horns and giving us a wave.  Laughing at this foolhardy bunch of landlubbers,venturing out into the wide-blue younder on a vainglorious attempt of oarsmanship.

But we made our way swiftly through Friar’s Leap – a reed-garlanded passageway, I almost burst out into peals of Hosanna as it reminded me of Jesus on a donkey entering the gates of Jerusalem. We received great praise at our ability to get through the gap, I think though she was politely codding us on the level of our achievement.

We made our way to Devenish Island in the middle of the Lough, half of us disembarked for a wee dander, to take some photographs, some mementoes of the day. Other were nursing other reminders of the day, sore arms and shoulders and aching backs like geriatrics, took their ease in the bow of the boat.

Curragh photoAll too soon, it was time for the journey home, we dutifully picked up our heavy oars and made our return journey,which was enlivened by a boat attempting to navigate the weir-gate at the same time as us.  Much yells and our hands aloft in the air, in what I thought was surrender, but in actual fact was the maritime equivalent of flashing your headlights to ware the on-coming the traffic as to your presence. The boat, several-times over the size of our small craft, snorted and roared like a pissed-off bull, it cleaved the waters with it’s hooves and created a wake.  I felt I was in Pamplona and the adrenaline pumped through my veins, however the angry beast was lassooed, reined in  and shunted backwardsd to let our craft through, it still pawed the waters though in angry impatience. This provided a nice motivation to pull ourselves through the gate and dip our oars again, with much vim and vigour.

The feathered armada was their to to honk, quack and squawk us into our assigned lodgings on the jetty. We found our land-legs just where we left them and we wobbled about on the jetty, even thouigh we had not managed to find our requisite maritime sea-legs at all. Well, maybe next year perhaps. We made our way way agreeing that we were all expert oars-folk now; I just laughed and looked forward to my own blanket, to take me away on my personal voyage, the journey of dreams.

Our thanks to Olivia and her crew who made the day possible.  Tony Viney for the organisation and our other valiant ship-mates – Ken, Kate, Jenny who made up for my own woeful performance on the oars.

John J.