Tesco gave the floating, amorphous Women's Museum of Ireland a home in their stores nationwide for International Women's Day, and asked me to be one of their virtual tour guides. I was delighted to be able to help to shine a light on one of their chosen inspirational women of Irish history - the pirate queen of Ireland, Grace O'Malley.
This sexy artistic reimagining of the OG G is from ancient-origins.net
You can listen to me telling her story here, along with the five other stories of brilliant historical Irish women who have either been largely forgotten, or are less lauded by their male counterparts. Among them are a social activist, a mountaineer, a computer programmer, a leader in global fashion, and the first woman ever to work on the stock exchange floor.
I don't say this often (ever), but, bualadh bos Tesco.
Last night was the launch of issue 6 of The Corridor, an interdisciplinary, discursive arts project about the Dublin to Belfast corridor, and the political, social and cultural consequences of borders explored through public talks, screenings and art. It was in the ever-hospitable Irish Writers Centre, through which a beautiful spring day gorgeously faded into night, and was introduced by the inspiring Brian Keenan, who knows a thing or two about border states, and their consequences for human psychology.
'The artist,' Keenan said, 'is a trespasser, a border breaker, an invader. The only border the artist follows is the map of their imagination.'
There were moving readings from Adam Trodd and Marie Gethins, whose story, 'Crushed,' lands on the powerful image of a father urging his child longing to bring their Italian heritage to an American school project to do anything but:
"He lifted my wrist and spun the globe. Countries melded into a blue-green splash. He patted my hand.
'It's easier this way, you'll see.'"
There were also many interesting, diverse, and often personal readings from the XBorders:Transition group, now in its third incarnation. It was fascinating to see how it moved and evolved from Accord (the group I was part of in 2018) to an adjacent, but related, theme on the ever-expanding topic of 'borders.'
You can buy a copy of The Corridor here.
This weekend Chloe Brennan kindly interviewed me for the Sunday Independent Living. If you got the paper, lovely. If you missed it, you can read it here.
2018 has for the most part been a trying year, yes, personally, but also collectively, globally. It's had a physical, pressing darkness. But there have been spots of light. Brief, fragile, but there. It was the year I finally published, after a seven year struggle, my debut novel The Glass Door. It entered the books world tiptoeing and silent, and has made only the breath of an impact (if even), but it is out there. Every time a neighbour who ordinarily would slip wordlessly inside their front door stops me on the street to tell me they loved it, or a complete stranger from the internet gets in touch to tell me how much it meant to them, my heart does a little leap. Equally, when friends and friends of friends and family of friends and family etended extended extended get in touch to say they are reading it, or write a nice review online, a small, unwavering glow. The few bookshops who have taken it. To know that, even if this is as far as it goes, it had finally done what I wanted it, for so many years, to do.
Here are some of the places where The Glass Door has made its very humble impact:
Interviewed by Sophie Grenham for The Gloss Magazine's Writer's Block here
Writer's Rooms for writing.ie here
Reviewed by poet Scott Manley Hadley for Open Pen here
An article I wrote about the process of The Glass Door for writing.ie here
An interview about The Glass Door's seven year journey to publication for the Independent here
An interview with Sean Preston for Minor Literatures here
I'll add more as they come. And who knows, perhaps 2019 will be its year. It has never been a particularly speedy character.
You can buy The Glass Door here.
When I put the call out for writers for The Broken Spiral, I was overwhelmed with incredible work from those I had long admired, as well as new work from authors I hadn't yet had the pleasure of reading. I was seeking stories and extracts with a sense of homecoming and return, and was open to the different ways that might show up. I wanted the anthology to be a beautiful collection of writing that would act as a restorative to survivors of trauma who have spoken out and survivors who remain in silence through the redemptive power of storytelling, and to raise much-needed funds for the centre. In the year since it was published, The Broken Spiral has been sold all over the country, and is now resident in university libraries in the US , including Harvard and Boston. It is available in Trinity College Dublin and Dublin City libraries and now, because of Roisín O'Donnell's wonderful 'How to Build a Space Rocket,' is associated with an Irish Book Awards winner. All incredible achievements for an anthology that I felt I pulled together with sheer will!
I chose Roisín's story to open the anthology and to represent it in the writing.ie Short Story of the Year Award as much for its compassionate heart as its beautiful writing, and admired how she navigated the layered dual perspective of an Irish child of immigrant parents with sensitivity and grace. By bringing the story's journey back to its human heart, the fierce, pounding desire in all of us to be loved, Roisín's story wisely reminds us of our commonality despite apparent differences, a quality that feels woefully lacking in many areas of society at this time. A collection in aid of a rape charity usually strikes fear into the heart of many potential readers, but opening it with a story which is ultimately about the urge to connect felt like the right way to ease readers in. Universality is a tricky concept, but 'How to Build a Space Rocket' felt close to achieveing that, both conceptually and emotionally. I'm absolutely delighted for Roisín, who represented the power of a pivotal, all-female shortlist by collecting the award while about to give birth to her second child! If there wasn't a more perfect metaphor for feminine might. Congratulations Roisín - and The Broken Spiral! The little anthology that could.
Buy The Broken Spiral and read the winning story here.
I'm delighted to share that one of the stories from The Broken Spiral anthology, Roisin O'Donnell's 'How to Build a Space Rocket' has been shortlisted for the Writing.ie Short Story of the Year Award at the An Post Irish Book Awards 2018!
Absolutely over the moon for Roisin, and for the anthology itself which I feel like I created out of sheer will!
You can read the stories and vote for your favourite here.
I wrote something for writing.ie about The Glass Door, and how a novel about female memory, though I finished writing it seven years ago, says more about the times we are living in now than it could have had it been published then.
Go here for more.
Wow. Seven years has certainly flown in. Seven years of winning awards and winning losing and winning again agents, and countless publishers saying, not for me. And now The Glass Door, my debut novel that I began writing a decade ago, is published.
And yet I feel like it's exactly the right time, even if there have been times (many) where I have felt ignored, persecuted, hard done by. None of that was real, or did me or anyone else justice. Everything has its season, and this is Rosie's. I'm so grateful to let it loose into the world at last. My intention for it is to give whoever reads it something of value, whether that's escape, meaning, resonance, or even catharsis. Or something else entirely. I so excited to see where it travels from here...
The Dublin launch is taking place on October the 17th at 6.30pm at the Mutiny (Old Focus) Theatre on Pembroke Place.
Come by and raise a glass with me...x
The Broken Spiral is going on tour. Wonderfully, we have been invited by the London Irish Centre to do an evening of discussion about the anthology and its place in a time of shifting power dynamics in our society.
In the wake of the #MeToo movement and the Belfast Rape Trial, anger and betrayal rippled through a very large area of Irish society who recognise there is a deep injustice at work in this country, and want to see that change.
The Broken Spiral was created for this purpose, to enact social change at the fundamental level of our belief systems, as well as to raise funds to support the work of the Dublin Rape Crisis centre, who tackle fundamental belief systems both personal and systemic across Ireland every day.
This event will discuss literary activism, as well as literature as a healing art form.
Chaired by me, and featuring a panel of The Broken Spiral authors, Mia Gallagher, Lisa Harding and Sam Blake, this event will feature readings from the anthology and discussion about what drew us all to getting involved in the project, as well as the impact of related current events upon us and our writing.
You can book your tickets here.
RM Clarke is a writer and voiceover artist. She has written for various literary mags and anthologies and won awards. She has put her voice to most things she can think of.