Local Kilkenny writers, Orla Mackey and Brendan Casey have been selected by the Irish Writers Centre to receive professional literary mentoring over the next eight months from an acclaimed Irish writer of their choice.
After a national call out, 37 writers have been selected from nearly three hundred applicants.
County Kilkenny Arts Office funds the literary mentorships along with the Arts Council of Ireland to guarantee that the best applicant from the county would be selected. Their support will ensure that the chosen mentees receive this potentially life-changing support free of charge. It is also an investment in the long-term literary reputation of the region.
The mentoring process involves four 90 minute meetings between the selected mentee and their chosen professional writer. Each mentor reads up to 10,000 words / 180 lines of poetry of the awarded mentee’s writing in advance of all four meetings, sharing their kind and critical feedback with the mentee, face-to-face at each meeting. Mentors also provide broad professional advice, sharing the benefit of their years of experience.
The Irish Writers Centre’s mission is to support a vibrant and diverse community of writers of all types and talents to develop their craft, capacity and confidence to thrive as a writer in the world. The hope for the National Mentoring Programme is that the chosen mentees will go on to write the next great works of literature with the support and sustenance of their chosen mentor. It’s a form of peer to peer teaching that is increasingly popular in literature, formalising the process whereby successful writers pass on their craft and experience to the next generation of writers across the island.
Orla Mackey is a teacher and writer. She writes fiction and educational texts for children. She recently completed her first novel. She has a keen ear for the rhythms of language, particularly the language of rural Ireland. She celebrates the ordinary and has a uniquely wry voice that shines through in her debut novel. Orla has a B.A in English Literature from Trinity College, Dublin and is a winner of Novel Fair 2022. Her debut novel, Mouthing is being published by Penguin U.K and is due for release in 2024.
Brendan Casey is an Irish/Australian writer. He has an MA in Creative Writing from University College Dublin and is a recipient of an Artlinks Emerging Artist Award and an Arts Council of Ireland Literature Bursary. His poetry explores the intersection between visual art and language and has been published in The Stinging Fly. His novel in progress was longlisted for the 2020 Deborah Rogers Foundation Award and will be published by John Murray Originals in June 2023. He lives in Inistioge.
Running since 2017, the programme now has numerous published authors among its alumni, including Doireann Ní Ghríofa, Nidhi Zak/Aria Eipe, Fiona Scarlett, and Victoria Kennefick to name just a few.
About the Irish Writers Centre:
As the leading support and development organisation for writers since 1991, the Irish Writers Centre carries out its work, online and in person, on an all island basis. The Centre works with writers of all types and talents, and actively encourages writers from all communities to engage in creative writing. It provides many ways and means for them to develop their skill, advance their ambitions and join a vibrant and diverse community of people who share their passion and purpose.
The IWC is also a membership organisation, always seeking new opportunities for members to grow as writers and to connect with each other through IWC programmes and supports.
Quotes from previous recipients:
“It has been a very positive experience for me and I am a lot more confident about my story now. Without it, I would have found it very difficult to return to the book, as I had spent so much time on it previously and I simply didn’t know what to do with it. Knowing that my mentor was expecting work by certain deadlines really concentrated my mind and pushed me forward.”
“It’s particularly helpful to have someone engage with your work critically and interrogate not just the MS but your intentions as author. I feel I’m being forced to address issues I took for granted before, which I think is a good thing to do before I start the journey to publication.”
“I expected to focus on the words, but virtually all of my effort has gone into structure and character. I have been encouraged to develop a more global perspective on the work, while also attending to minute details about character and narrative voice.”
“The experience so far has been invaluable: having thorough, focused attention on my work has enhanced my knowledge, especially at this point in my writing journey.”
IWC Website: irishwriterscentre.ie