Foreword & Editorial
Tadhg Coakley, Austin Dowling, Alison Driscoll, Sean Flynn, Nicole Johnson, Emma Murphy, Conor Rowell.
Published by University College, Cork.
Printed by Lettertec, Ireland Ltd., Carrigtwohil, Co. Cork.
© Copyright University College, Cork and individual authors, 2016.
Cork has long been an established hub for many forms of creative writing, and central to this outstanding achievement has been the role of University College Cork, a network of creative and critical talent that is a rare achievement. As a young writer in my teens and twenties, and indeed as a student at UCC, I was aware – and somewhat in awe – of the immense privileges and inheritances that were available to me. However, they did seem to be just that – inheritances. The generation of writers that had been nurtured by such celebrated figures as John Montague and Sean Lucy, poets like Tom McCarthy, Theo Dorgan, Gerry Murphy and Pat Cotter, quickly and generously became mentors for me. They read my poems and offered crucial critical advice and feedback. Although I was not from Cork City (and a native of the Kerry diocese!) I felt immediately taken in and nourished by this community of poets. But in UCC I found it difficult to locate a peer group of young writers to fall in with. There didn’t seem to be an active, or even visible, English Literature Society or Creative Writing group that might compliment the academic side of my time at UCC. And although the friendships I made from within this venerable and seasoned ‘generation’ have been precious to me for so many reasons, I always wondered whether this inheritance would translate its energy into something tangible, into a new generation.
But it seems there is always a right moment, a right time. Over the past three years there has been a Renaissance of Creative Writing at UCC under the leadership of Professor Claire Connelly. There has been the creation of a new BA in English, with an important creative writing component, and of course there has been the wonderfully successful MA in Creative Writing that has already supported new writers in publishing first collections. But what is even more encouraging in signaling this new luminous period of creativity at UCC is the vibrant and vocal revival of the English Society. This group of interested and incredibly interesting undergraduate writers (poets, novelists, playwrights etc) have begun to animate the old, familiar corners and hide-outs of UCC with open-mic nights, writing competitions, poetry slams and workshops. But most importantly they have created a nucleus of creative and literary activity that is open to everyone, that is there simply to support one another.
Probably one of the most important inheritances for the English Society has been to take on the work of putting together this fantastic publication. When Quarryman was first published it showcased the work of writers such as Brendan Behan and Frank O’Connor, and in this new issue I am delighted to see emerging that new generation of writers I had been searching for during my college days. There are poems and stories by past and current MA students and very innovative poems by the PhD Creative Writing students. And perhaps to keep an eye on us and to keep setting that inestimable example we have poems by Tom McCarthy and Patrick Cotter. But I think that, somehow, new writers like Alison O’Driscoll and Austin Dowling will make their own way just fine. I have a feeling that the tradition of Creative Writing in UCC and indeed in Cork and Munster is safe in the hands of the newly formed English Society who will beat the drum and, as the wonderful Eoin Murray suggests in his poem, ask you to show up.
Leanne O’Sullivan, March 2016
There is every chance these pages have been forced into your reluctant grip. Your friend or family member has spent years convincing you they can write. Or maybe this is brand new information for you. In any case, you may never have read their writing before. Well now you have no excuse.
We have a helpful contents page so you can skip the work of all these other people you’ve never heard of before. In a maximum time of ten minutes you can turn to your beloved and smile politely, having failed to understand what they wrote. Although, it could happen that you will find in their writing a reference to you, or even someone you know. So in ten minutes time you could turn to your beloved and scream. They will probably deserve it. How will you ever again face the neighbours with your dirty laundry out in the open for everyone in the country to interpret as they please?
If it helps you to sleep at night, I’ll let you in on a secret. We only printed 200 of these. We’re students, after all.
Don’t let that give you the wrong impression though. Inside these pages is the evolution of a tradition which, in fits and starts, spans a century. Inside these pages, you will find a showcase of some of the finest work of the students, staff and alumni of UCC. That is, if you take the time to read it.
Some writers wrote their pieces in an hour, some wrote their pieces in days. It took our editorial team a year to put it together. So please let that Irish guilt overwhelm you and start reading from the first page. We all have to start somewhere.
Austin Dowling, March 2016