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2019 Festival

Featured Poets

                                    Monica Aasprong, Kristiansund Norway


Monica Aasprong was born 1969 in Kristiansund on the Norwegian West coast, and currently lives in Stockholm. She has published four books, one novel and three collections of poetry, Soldatmarkedet/Soldier's Market (2006), Et diktet barn/An Invented Child (2010) and Sirkelsalme/Circle Psalm (2013). A fourth collection of poetry is to be published in 2016;

As part of her authorship she workes with installations and audioworks, and her latest book, Sirkelsalme (til Betlehem /til Jerusalem), has also been performed as a sound installation at Audiorama in Stockholm and as concert in collaboration with the Norwegian composer Maja Solveig Kjelstrup Ratkje in Oslo 2013. Circle Psalm has neither a fixed beginning nor end, and even its design - by the Swedish designer Aron Kullander Östling - plays with the endless shape of the circle.

Aasprong has been a post graduate student at Konstfack (University College of Arts, Crafts and Design) 2004-05, and at the Royal Institute of Art 2012-13, both in Stockholm. Extracts of her poetry have been translated into ten languages, and one of the collections, An Invented Child, into Danish.

She has is working as a translator and have had various editorial engagements. In 2001 she got The Norwegian Bookstores Associations prize for An Invented Child, and in 2014 got a 2-year scholarship from the Norwegian Cultural Council.


                                        Glorjana Veber, Ljubljana, Slovenia


Dr. Glorjana Veber (1981), poet, writer, cultural manager, explorer, innovator and publicist, graduated from political science at Faculty of Social Sciences, University of Ljubljana, where she is finishing her MA in sociology (The influence of lifestyles on book purchases) and has a PhD in literature (Poetry - the Element of Social Change) at Faculty of Arts, University of Ljubljana. She publishes her poetry in all Slovene and foreign literary magazines and journals. Her poems are translated in 21 languages.


She received a few Slovene and foreign poetry awards, among others she won the first place at an international competition for young poets from Bosna and Herzegovina and Slovenia. She won also first place at the national competition, where she represented Slovenia in literature as one of the 700 artists from 48 countries at the Biennial of Young Artists from Europe and the Mediterranean.


She also won the first award by the international competition for young poets from the area of former Yugoslavia and was chosen for the final selection of the international competition Devinski grad from 1200 poets from the whole world. In 2017 she won among 123 poets in Slovenia national award and title The knight of poetry. She is the founder and director of the Institute for Innovative Arts’ Research (IRIU Institute - Inspiration, Research, Innovation, You), where she is engaged in developing experimental and innovative projects from the field literature.


She developed specific literature movement and since 2007 she presented more than 700 innovative poetry projects called Literature of Situations in Slovenia and abroad (Russia, Germany, Austria, Macedonia, Czech Republic, Portugal, France, Austria, Croatia, Bosna and

Herzegovina, Sweden, Italy, Israel etc.) and is the author of more then 20 literal programs (Slovenia reads, The Pilgrimage of Books, Immigrating art, Art A, Poetry of Experiment etc.). Her first book The Free Fall was sold out, the second Someone Before was published in Italy. She is also the author of theoretical book The Art of Liquid Modernity and works also in the field of cultural politics, marketing, economy etc. She has been engaged in poetry since the age of seven. She lives and works in Ljubljana and in Polzela, Slovenia.


                                               Fred Johnston, Belfast, Ireland.


Fred Johnston is a poet, translator, novelist and critic, born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 1951. He was educated there and Toronto, Canada. In the mid-Seventies, with writers Neil Jordan and Peter Sheridan, he founded the Irish Writers' Co-operative; in 1986, Galway's annual literature festival, Cúirt.


To date he has published ten collections of poems and three novels, the most recent being the Paris-based novel, 'The Neon Rose,' (Bluechrome, UK) and the poetry collection, 'The Oracle Room,' (Cinnamon Poetry, UK.)


He lives in Galway  where, he runs the Western Writers' Centre (Ionad Scribhneoiri Chaitlin Maude) which he established in 2001; it can be viewed at The Centre is supported by the Irish Arts Council and others.


It is the only such Centre in the West of Ireland. The website also takes new poetry and prose, as well as reviews and literary news. A keen musician, he has produced four albums, two with the group, 'Parsons Hat.'


In protest against what he terms the industrialisation of contemporary Irish poetry, he has begun more recently to write and publish his work in French, as well as to translate.


Once a year in Galway, he lectures on modern Irish literature and media to a visiting US colleges. In the US, prose and poetry have been published widely as well as reviews; in the NDQ, Southern Humanities Review, The Sewanee Review, The Antigonish Review,  The Patterson Review, The North Dakota Quarterly and elsewhere.


                          Gene Barry, Cork, Ireland.

Gene Barry is an Irish Poet, Art Therapist, Counsellor, Hypnotherapist and Psychotherapist. He has been published widely both at home and internationally and his poems have been translated into Arabic, Irish, Hindi, Albanian and Italian.


As an art therapist using the medium of poetry, Gene has worked in libraries, hospitals, primary and secondary schools, with Narcotics Anonymous, Youthreach, retired people’s groups, Alcoholic Anonymous, asylum seekers and with numerous poetry groups. 


In 2015 he was chosen to represent Ireland at the inaugural Rahovec International Poetry Festival in Kosovo. That same year he was the guest poet at the St Patrick’s Day celebrations in three US states.


Barry’s chapbook Stones in their Shoes was published in 2008. In 2010 Gene was editor of the anthology Silent Voices, a collection of poems written by asylum seekers living in Ireland. He additionally edited the 2012, 2013 and 2014 editions of The Blue Max Review and Inclusion as part of the Blackwater International Poetry Festival.


In 2013 his collection Unfinished Business was published by Doghouse Books, a collection that has been critically acclaimed. In 2014 he edited the anthology fathers and what must be said and in 2015 Barry edited The Day the Mirror Called.


His third collection Working Days was published by Authors Press in 2016 and his fourth collection, Flaking the Rope was published by Nixesmate in the US in January 2019.

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Donald Gardner England

                    London-born Donald Gardner is a unique voice.


Poet, performer and translator of poetry, he has lived many years in Amsterdam, but now spends much of the year in Ireland.


He has published nine books of poetry, including ‘The Glittering Sea’ and ‘The Wolf Inside’ (both with Hearing Eye, London) and ‘Early Morning’ (Grey Suit editions, 2017). 


In 2015 he won the Vondel Prize for his translations of Dutch master, Remco Campert (‘In Those Days’, Shoestring Press, 2014).


He has been a performer of his own work since his New York years in the 60s, when he shared the stage with poets such as Ginsberg and Corso. 


‘Donald Gardner’s poetry is life-loving, sophisticated and deliciously playful. He sees through life’s bad bits, its awkward moments and terrible truths, but life’s preciousness underlies every stanza.’ (Leah Fritz, ‘London Grip.’)


             Anne Tannam Dublin Ireland

Anne Tannam is a Dublin poet with two collections: Take This Life (Wordonthestreet 2011) and Tides Shifting Across My Sitting Room Floor (Salmon Poetry 2017).


Her third collection 26 Letters of a New Alphabet (working title) is forthcoming with Salmon Poetry in 2020. Anne’s work has been widely published in literary magazines and journals and has been featured in The Irish Times, RTE National Radio and the Irish Poetry Reading Archives at University College Dublin.


A spoken word artist, Anne has performed at festivals and events around Ireland and abroad including Electric Picnic, Lingo and The Craw Festival in Berlin. Anne co-founded the weekly Dublin Writers’ Forum in 2011 and 2016 was awarded a writers’ residency in Chennai Mathematical Institute, India.


A qualified and accredited coach, Anne offers practical and effective support for writers through her business Creative Coaching


                 Patrick Lodge UK

A heartfelt congratulations to Patrick Lodge on winning  the 2019 poetry competition.


Patrick has had two books published by Valley Press, An Anniversary of Flight and Shenanigans and is about to publish his third collection, Remarkable Occurrences.

He has been widely published in poetry journals in Irieland, UK and European.

Patrick is a previous winner of the Blackwater International Poetry Festival and is heavily involved in supporting poets and new writers.


            Phil Lynch Dublin Ireland

Phil Lynch lives in Dublin and has also lived in Belgium. Publications in which his poems have appeared include: Even The Daybreak (35 years of Salmon Poetry), Revival, Bare Hands Poetry, Boyne Berries Series, The Poetry Bus, Headstuff, OFi Press Literary Magazine (Mexico), Wordlegs, The Runt, Census, Circle Time, Bray Arts Journal, Stanzas (print and CD), Lagan Online, Flare and Live Encounters Poetry. He has also been featured on Sunday Miscellany, the Arena Arts Show and the Poetry Programme on RTE Radio as well as on a number of local radio programmes. 


In 2015, he was placed third in the Doolin Writers’ Weekend Poetry Competition, shortlisted in the Red Line Poetry Competition and longlisted in the Dermot Healy International Poetry Competition. In 2014 he was a runner up in the iYeats Poetry Competition and longlisted in the Over The Edge New Writer of the Year Competition. He is a regular reader/performer at poetry and spoken word events and festivals in Ireland, including Electric Picnic, Dublin Book Festival and St. Patrick’s Festival. He has also read at events in the USA, UK, Belgium and France. Phil is a member of Dalkey Writers Workshop and was a co-founder of Lingo, Ireland’s first spoken word festival. 


His first full collection, In a Changing Light, was published by Salmon Poetry in 2016.

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          Lynda Tavakoli Northern Ireland



Lynda Tavakoli comes from Northern Ireland and is this year's competition runner up.


She is additionally a very active short story writer and a poet. Her poems have been widely published.

In 2016, Lynda published her short story collection called Under a Cold White Moon.



                  Seamus Cashman


Poet and publisher, Seamus Cashman founded Wolfhound Press,

the Irish literary publishing house, in 1974 and was its publisher

until 2001. His most recent work is a book length exphrastic poem,

The Sistine Gaze: I too begin with Scaffolding (Salmon Poetry2015),

recently reviewed in Agenda, a UK poetry journal, as ‘an

extraordinarily ambitious poem’.


Previous collections are That morning will come (2007), Clowns &

Acrobats (2000) and Carnival (1988) He compiled and edited two

key anthologies for young readers: Irish Poems for Young People

(1975) co-edited with Bridie Quinn) and the award winning Something

Beginning with P: new poems from Irish poets (O’Brien Press, 2004).


Cashman co-produced a children’s film (Stitched) with Tom Conaty,

based on a scriptwriting facilitation at Zion Parish Primary school in

Rathgar. He has experimented with poets Tom Conaty, Daragh Bradish

and Paul Bregazi on collaborative poetry writing, producing a pamphlet

of work as CB Quarterman titled Probe.


Cashman has read widely in Ireland, and internationally including Belgium,

Wales, London’s Southbank, Iowa USA, and was an English language judge

for the 2013 Mamilla International Poetry Festival in Palestine. He works as

a creative writing tutor and publishing consultant. He is an International

Fellow Emeritus at the Black Earth Institute, a writers and artists think-tank

based in Black Earth, Wisconsin, USA. Originally from Conna in County Cork,

he lives in Swords, Co Dublin.

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                                                         Mark W. Ó Brien



Mark is a native of upstate New York with familial ties to several Irish counties including Cork and Waterford. He has been widely published at home in the USA and abroad. He is an alumnus of the Blackwater International Poetry Festival.

“My Childhood Appropriated.” Published by Foothills Publishing is his fourth poetry collection. You may view a sample poem and purchase a copy of his book on their website at:


​Previously published titles include: 

                                         Neo-Lethean Dreams   (2009) (Benevolant Bird Press.)


                                         Telluric Voices                 (2013)  (Foothills Publishing.) 


                                         Lenticular Memories    (2014) (Benevolant Bird Press.)

Mark's new collection of poems will be launched during the Festival Poetry Bus on Sunday August 4th.


      Eithne Lannon Dublin Ireland

Eithne Lannon is this year's competition second runner up.

Eithne is a Dublin based poet and her poems have been published in numerous poetry journals.

In 2019 Turas Press published her book Earth Music.


                   Derek Coyle Carlow Ireland


Derek Coyle has published poems in Ireland, Britain, Sweden and the U.S. 

He has been shortlisted for the Patrick Kavanagh Award, been runner-up in the Bradshaw Prize and he has featured in the Poet

He represented Ireland at an international literary residency in Tranås in Sweden as a guest of Kultivera, and he has featured in the International Poetry Festival in Jönköping.


A founding member of the Carlow Writers’ Co-Operative, he teaches English Literature and Creative Writing at Carlow College, St Patrick’s in Ireland.


         Blackwater International Poetry festival 2019




It was an enormous pleasure for me to judge of this year’s poetry competition. There were some great poems submitted and I want to congratulate the winner Patrick Lodge.


I additionally want to congratulate the poets who were shortlisted to the final three, Eithne Lannon and Lynda Tavakoli whose poems were superb.


Here is the winning poem and the two shortlisted poems.


On A Boat With Scully


I want to remember

how it all was.

I sat with Scully

on a boat without oars,

tethered to the jetty -

a shroud-laid umbilical

reefed to the world.

We argued.

(She’d been here before).

Loosen that knot, you’ll

never get back to the shore.

I caught her drift;

but maybe there are

no choices to be made,

no signs to point a way?

The lake was deadpan;

a breath would barely fog

the mirror calm.

I don’t see Scully now

but I want to believe,

except it’s all unraveling,

as a strand looses the tide

I’m unremembering all

those moments which coasted me

to this boat, on this lake.

Eyes closed,

opening only once to look -

that’s where I’ve been all this time.

Reach for the rope, let’s go;

out there? out there!


©Patrick Lodge



The Suir


Water drops deep

from rocks, root-fringes,

sound falling,

low tones silk-sutured

to moss-cauled stones,

lilt-shifting, lifting.

It gathers and scatters,

empties and brims,

this prologue, this cadence

an exile, a haven;

what cannot be held

nor forgotten.

Dark reeds slide

in loosening

mist, your heartbeat


through curving


There’s a heron

and a bend in the river.

Long after sundown,

water-sinews twitch,


and stillness

where two currents



©Eithne Lannon





At fifteen he left school - my father -

then a boy, countrified and green,

setting out for lands beyond

the island of his birth.

What he knew was the call

of curlews across a lough,

the smell of rain teasing its way over a bog,

or the hard knocks it took

for being tenth of a litter of ten.

Later, when time had softened his edges

and that bright mind of his

no longer grieved the absence of opportunity,

he sought solace in words,

their tiny print etched like the footprints of ants

on the Chambers’s Twentieth Century Dictionary

waiting on our scullery shelf,

its brown paper cover wrapped like a familiar cardigan

around pages thin as rice paper.

At tea times my father consumed words

the same way he ate the food on his plate –

words like gelid and linch,

sympodium and ruderal, memoriter and treen,

each one explored with tenderness of thought

and the feathered touch of a big man’s fingertips.

It wasn’t only the meanings he sought

but the way they were pronounced,

how they resonated on the tongue,

their spelling, their etymology,

their simple and joyous surprises!

These were his absent education

and means of passing on to us

what he felt he must have lost.

My father, normally a man of few words,

offering them up to us like something unexplored

and waiting only for the joy of our release.


©Lynda Tavakoli.


Looking forward to seeing ye at the festival.


Take good care,

Gene Barry

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