Stinging Fly Workshops
The Stinging Fly Summer School returns to the Irish Writers Centre from July 1st to the 5th 2019. Full details below. The deadline for applications is Thursday May 9th.
Our six-month workshop runs from late September until the end of March each year. We accept applications for this during July and August.
Our workshop programme is led by short-story writer and novelist Sean O’Reilly.
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The 2019 Stinging Fly Summer School
in association with the Irish Writers Centre
The summer school will include four intensive workshops – one in poetry, one in non-fiction, two in fiction – all running concurrently. The workshops will run each day Monday to Friday from 10.30am until 4.30pm. Participants will be expected to attend every session.
Workshop leaders: Martina Evans (poetry) | Arnold Thomas Fanning (non-fiction) | Mia Gallagher and Sean O’Reilly (fiction)
These workshops are aimed at any writer who has reached a stage where they are seriously engaged with a writing project – be that a collection of poems, stories or essays, a novel or a memoir – and believe they will benefit from sharing their work with a group of like-minded and similarly motivated fellow writers. It is an opportunity to confront and resolve problems in the work through close reading and discussion of individual texts.
During the workshops, each writer’s work-in-progress will be up for in-depth discussion twice. All the work will have been shared and read in advance. Also included in the week are sessions on aspects of writing craft by guest speakers, including the editors of The Stinging Fly.
Ten writers will be offered a place on each of the workshops based on work they have submitted by the application deadline.
All submissions will be read by the workshop leaders.
(Note: We will decide on the best format for the two fiction workshops based on what we believe will best suit the needs of the selected participants.)
The tuition fee for each workshop is €350.
This will be payable only when a place has been offered and accepted. Participants will themselves be responsible for any accommodation or travel expenses they incur while attending the workshop.
Thanks to donations we have received from previous workshop participants, we are in a position to waive the tuition fee for two writers who are either unwaged or on a low income. To be considered for one of these places, all you need to do is tick the box on the submission form.
You will find the submission form and the full application guidelines on our Submittable page.
All applications for the summer school must be made through Submittable.
Applications will close at midnight on May 9th 2019.
We will aim to send out all offers of places by Monday May 20th. Participants will be asked to confirm their places as soon as possible and will have until May 29th to pay the tuition fee.
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Our workshop leaders:
Martina Evans is an award-winning poet and novelist, the author of eleven books of prose and poetry, including her latest book of poems, Now We Can Talk Openly About Men (Carcanet, 2018), which has been shortlisted for the Poetry Now Award and the Pigott Poetry Prize. She has taught poetry at Birkbeck University, London Metropolitan University and University of East London as well as holding several fellowships at Queen Mary, University of London. A regular contributor to The Irish Times, she is a Royal Literary Fund Advisory Fellow and lives in London with her daughter Liadain.
Arnold Thomas Fanning’s non-fiction has been published in The Dublin Review, Banshee, The Irish Times, Hot Press, Longreads.com, and Paper Visual Art Journal. He has taught creative writing in Tallaght Library for the Health Service Executive, in University College Cork, and in Dublin City University, and is currently a Creative Writing Supervisor for final year English students in Maynooth University. Mind on Fire: A Memoir of Madness and Recovery, his first book, was published by Penguin Ireland in 2018 and was shortlisted for the Butler Literary Award, the Irish Book Awards Newcomer of the Year, and has also been shortlisted for the Wellcome Book Prize 2019.
Mia Gallagher is the author of two acclaimed novels: HellFire (Penguin, 2006), awarded the Irish Tatler Literature Award 2007, and Beautiful Pictures of the Lost Homeland (New Island, 2016), longlisted for the 2016 Republic of Consciousness Prize. Her first short-story collection, Shift, was published by New Island in 2018. She has many years experience as a mentor and facilitator. She is a member of Aosdána.
Sean O’Reilly’s published work includes Curfew and Other Stories and the novels Love and Sleep, The Swing of Things and Watermark. Levitation, his second collection of stories, was published in 2017. Sean has a wealth of experience facilitating fiction workshops and has been Writer-in-Residence with Fingal County Council, Dublin City Council and IADT/Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council amongst others. He is a member of Aosdána.
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6-month Fiction Workshop with Sean O’Reilly
During the 6-month workshop, participants meet once a week on Monday evenings at the Irish Writers Centre. At each evening workshop, two participants present their work in progress (a draft of a short story or novel excerpt) to the rest of the group for close scrutiny.
– The workshop starts in late September and runs until the end of March.
– Places on the workshop are offered based on work submitted.
– No more than ten places are offered.
– During the workshop, each writer presents work-in-progress to the group for discussion.
– All work is shared in advance and is closely read by the workshop leader and the other participants.
– The ultimate aim is for each participant to complete a strong first draft of his/her novel or collection.
Alongside the weekly Monday workshops, on four Saturdays during the period, we organise a series of specialist talks on issues around the process of writing and the imagination. Previous guest speakers have included Jan Carson, Evelyn Conlon, Gavin Corbett, Mia Gallagher, Neil Hegarty, Christine Dwyer Hickey, Claire Keegan, Lisa McInerney, Danielle McLaughlin, Martin Malone, Thomas Morris, Nuala O’Connor, Conor O’Callaghan, Keith Ridgway and Sally Rooney.
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Some praise for the Stinging Fly Fiction Workshop:
“I highly recommend this workshop. The act of submitting and reading participants’ work interwoven with Sean’s ruminations on narrative voice, dramatic tension, character triangles, scene setting and action created a unique blend of the practical and theoretical. I found the interaction and peer learning on the course challenging but valuable, elevating my writing from the personal to the public. The one-to-one was frank and informative. The workshop is not for the faint-hearted. It shouldn’t be.”
“The Stinging Fly 6-month fiction workshop is a game-changer; challenging, exhilarating, and unforgettable, it completely alters the way you read and write fiction, and from personal experience of undertaking many courses, this was far superior and more intense than a Masters in Creative Writing. Sean O’Reilly is a brilliant teacher, he gives forensic care to the text, pushing participants to demand more from their story, to plough deeper into the potential of language, structure and meaning. At the end of the course I had completed a short story collection I was proud of that went on to be critically acclaimed. If I could Groundhog Day this course, I’d do it again and again for every book. Magic.”
“I had no experience at all of creative writing courses. I wondered if the six-month Fiction Workshop would involve high formalist dissection of technique or individuals opining on their ‘art’. No: I found it to be people round a table, talking about stories for two hours a week. It was, however, talking about stories with Sean O’Reilly in charge, which meant that the interrogation of work was careful and stringent, and the discussion frank, engaging and often totally exhilarating. All writing, whatever the form or genre, was treated with absolute seriousness. Sean’s remarkable generosity and unfailing ability to identify precisely why a story did or (more frequently) didn’t work meant that my own writing got a lot better. Simple as that. Was it the best six months I can remember? Yeah, probably.”
I did the six-month Stinging Fly workshop in 2017/2018 and the teaching was fantastic. Sean has a unique way of engaging with each piece of work. He is totally committed to the text, drawing on his own instincts and a wealth of literary references as he encourages students to investigate—and push—their writing. The course helped me to see my work afresh.”
“I thought the workshop was life-changing. I started (typically, I suspect) thinking that I was grappling with some intractable technical problem. I was preoccupied with isolated images and sentences. By the end of the course I was dealing with voice, drama, form—all the things that I’d been afraid of tackling. Sean is a remarkable teacher and a brilliant reader. He has the gift of finding what is best in his student’s work and encouraging it.”