New Irish Writing in a time of Coronavirus

St Stephen’s Greens, July 2020

By Peter Vandermeersch


Two distinct articles in two different newspapers, both on the same day: Saturday, 8th August, 2020.


On page 8 of The Financial Times, I read an excellent column by Cordelia Jenkins, ‘An ode to the poems almost foregone’. I learn that poetry is to be downgraded on the GCSE English exam and will become optional next year to compensate for lost school time. Fortunately, Jenkins writes, ‘an army of devotees lined up to join the battle to keep poetry on the syllabus’. 
Teachers have argued that ‘the real value of poetry is not in the veneration of set texts but the way it can be used to encourage creativity and expression’. 


On page 22 of ‘my own’ newspaper, our Review Editor Jon Smith announced that ‘New Irish Writing’, the competition that has fostered generations of leading Irish authors, is returning to The Irish Independent. The initiative began in 1968 when the The Irish Press, which stopped publication in 1995, started to print a regular page of short stories and poems by new and emerging literary talent. The initiative subsequently had successive ‘homes’ in three other national newspapers. ‘It brought 3,000 writers to an national audience. More than 100 of them have gone on to publish books’, writes Jon Smith. The project was suspended by another publication this Spring, after the sponsor left and just ‘as the coronavirus pandemic took hold in this country’.


As a publisher, I’m very happy and extremely proud that from 26th September this initiative is back up and running. In the time of Coronavirus we need poetry and literature; maybe more than ever.

If you’re feeling inspired: short stories should be no more than 2,000 words and up to five poems can be submitted via newirishwriting@independent.ie. We accept entries from 1st September.

Published by irelandbyaccident

An incoming foreigner and a returning expat share their notes on Ireland

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