Bonnie Greer, Finn Kennedy, Stacey Gregg & Me

Arts Council and Royal Society of Literature announce third NI Writers Day

The third NI Writers Day will take place on Monday 26th September 2022 and shine a spotlight on the art of writing for stage and screen, providing a platform for discussion, sharing industry insights and celebrating the work of local writers.

Headed up by esteemed playwright, novelist, critic and broadcaster Bonnie Greer, recently announced a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, the event will unfold in two sessions. 

The first, an intimate lunchtime writing workshop with Bonnie for 12 playwrights wanting to hone their craft. Participants will have the chance to read one of Bonnie Greer’s latest scripts and hear about her life in theatre, having studied with David Mamet and Elaine Kazan, taught playwriting to students and formerly incarcerated women, and seen her plays performed to great acclaim around the world.

The evening event will feature a panel discussion in the Lyric’s Naughton Studio and is open to the public. 

Chaired by Bonnie Greer, it will celebrate Northern Ireland-born playwrights, who have gained local and international acclaim for their work. The line-up will include writer and theatre director Fionnuala Kennedy whose play, Removed, produced by Prime Cut Productions, in partnership with Voice of Young People in Care (VOYPIC), won the 2020 Zebbie award for Best Play and is set to tour internationally in 2023. Director and performer Stacy Gregg, will also share their experiences of the industry, having written extensively for television and worked with global broadcasting platforms. Most recently they directed a block of The Baby (Sky/HBO) and wrote and directed the feature film Here Before, which premiered at South by Southwest.

This event marks the third Arts Council and RSL NI Writers Day collaboration and the first in the series to take place live.

Tickets

Tickets for Bonnie Greer’s lunchtime writing workshop are free but numbers are strictly limited. To apply please send a short paragraph about yourself and a two page writing sample to info@rsliterature.org before 5pm on Thursday 15 September. The sample should be a script or a piece of writing relating to performance. You will be contacted the following week as to whether you have a place held in the workshop.

Tickets to the evening event, NI Writers Day 3, can be booked via the Lyric Theatre box office from 1pm on Wednesday 9th August and are priced at £5. Contact the Lyric box office to book your seat on 02890 381 081 or go to: https://lyrictheatre.co.uk/whats-on/royal-society-of-literature-panel-discussion-with-bonnie-greer.

Chairing Darran Anderson & Wendy Erskine Birmingham Lit Fest

Focus on: Northern Ireland –

Darran Anderson & Wendy Erskine

8th October, 8pm Birmingham Rep

Northern Ireland – often overlooked, or dismissed as “troublesome” – has generated some of the best contemporary writing in the English language.

Invited by Guest Curator Paul McVeigh, Darran Anderson and Wendy Erskine are some of the most exciting new literary voices coming out of the nation, and they’re just the tip of the iceberg.

Come and find out what wonderful fiction you’ve been missing out on, and who you should be looking out for next.

Chaired by Paul McVeigh

About the speakers:

Darran Anderson is an Irish writer living in London. He is the author of Imaginary Cities and Inventory. He has co-edited The Honest Ulsterman3:AM MagazineDogmatika and White Noise. He writes for the likes of the Atlanticfrieze magazine, and Magnum, and has given talks at the V&A, the LSE, the Robin Boyd Foundation and the Venice Biennale.

Wendy Erskine lives in Belfast. Her work has been published in The Stinging Fly, Stinging Fly Stories and Female Lines: New Writing by Women from Northern Ireland. She also features in Being Various: New Irish Short Stories (Faber and Faber), Winter Papers and on BBC Radio 4.

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*POSTPONED*Panelist on Shared Island Dialogue

Shared Island Dialogue series Arts and Culture on a Shared Island

11.35 – 12.15 MAC, Belfast. Free.

Panel 1: Arts & culture on a shared island – challenges & opportunities

To explore North/South and East/West perspectives, opportunities and challenges in supporting and promoting artists and arts organisations; hear artists and arts organisations’ views on operating on an all-island basis and on deepening cultural interaction exchange on the island of Ireland. Asking – what does a shared island mean for the arts and culture sector?

Panellists

  • –  Maureen Kennelly, Director, Arts Council
  • –  Roisín McDonough, Chief Executive, Arts Council of Northern Ireland
  • –  Jimmy Fay, Director, Lyric Theatre, Belfast
  • –  Paul McVeigh, Author

For the day’s events click here.

Chairing Julia Armfield & Paul Mendez at Birmingham Lit Fest

Julia Armfield & Paul Mendez

8th October, Birmingham Rep, 2-3pm

Two of the UK’s most exciting voices in queer writing, Julia Armfield (Our Wives Under the Sea) and Paul Mendez (Rainbow Milk) talk to our Guest Curator Paul McVeigh about their novels, their writing and the LGBTQ+ writing scene, which is finally seeing the celebration it deserves.

Julia Armfield is a fiction writer and occasional playwright. She was shortlisted for the 2019 Sunday Times Young Writer of the Year. She was commended in the Moth Short Story Prize 2017, longlisted for the Deborah Rogers Award 2018, and won the White Review short story prize 2018.Her critically acclaimed short story collection, salt slow, was published in2019. Our Wives Under the Sea is her first novel.

Paul Mendez is a British writer, based in Birmingham. His debut novel Rainbow Milk (Dialogue, 2020), an Observer Best Debuts choice, was shortlisted for the Polari First Novel Prize, the Gordon Burn Prize, the Jhalak Prize, the Lambda Literary Award in Gay Fiction and a British Book Award (Fiction Debut). He has written for VogueAnOtherEsquireHarper’s BazaarThe Face, the London Review of Books, the TLS,the WritersMosaic and the BBC. He is currently adapting Rainbow Milk for television, and is a student on the MA programme in Black British Literature at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Tickets here.

BOOK LAUNCH: A Little Unsteadily Into Light 

A New Short Story in Dementia-Inspired Anthology

Launch invitation:

  • Please join us on Wednesday 31st August, 6:30pm to celebrate the launch of an exciting new collection of dementia-inspired fiction edited by Jan Carson and Jane Lugea.
  • Readings from Chris Wright and Paul McVeigh
  • Location: Senate Room, Lanyon Building, Queen’s University of Belfast, BT7 1NN
  • RSVP at link below, queries to info@newisland.ie

About the book:

To live with dementia is to develop extraordinary and various new ways of being – linguistically, cognitively and practically. The storyteller operates similarly, using words and ideas creatively to reveal a slightly different perspective of the world.

In this anthology of fourteen new short stories, commissioned by Jan Carson and Jane Lugea, some of the best contemporary writers from Ireland and the UK powerfully and poignantly explore the depths and breadth of the real dementia experience, traversing age, ethnicity, class and gender, sex and consent. Each writer’s story is drawn from their own personal experience of dementia and told with outrageous and dark humour, empathy and startling insight. Here are heroes and villains, tricksters and saints, mothers, fathers, lovers, friends, characters whose past has overshadowed their present and characters who are making a huge impact on the world they currently find themselves in. They might have dementia, but dementia is only a small part of who they are. They will challenge, frustrate, inspire and humble you.

Above all, these brilliant pieces of short fiction disrupt the perceived notions of what dementia is and, in their diversity, honesty and authenticity begin to normalise an illness that affects so many and break down the stigma endured by those living with it every day.

Featuring new fiction by:

Suad Aldarra, Caleb Azumah Nelson, Jan Carson, Elaine Feeney, Oona Frawley, Sinéad Gleeson, Anna Jean Hughes, Caleb Klaces, Naomi Krüger, Henrietta McKervey, Paul McVeigh, Mary Morrissy, Nuala O’Connor, Chris Wright.

Copies will be available on the night or you can order here: newisland.ie/fiction/a-little-unsteadily

Find out more about the AHRC-funded research project based at Queen’s University Belfast, from which this anthology has emerged: http://www.blogs.qub.ac.uk/dementiafiction/

Link here.

That Killer First Page at Birmingham Lit Fest

That Killer First Page – with Paul McVeigh

8th October, 10am-12noon, The Exchange.

“Short stories are where a lot of writers start, and short story competitions are enormously valuable to an emerging writer.

You’ll find out what competition judges and journal editors look for in a short story and how to avoid the rejection pile. In a form where every word counts, get tips on staying focused on your story and where to start the action.

You’ll also look at submission opportunities; how to find them and where you should be sending your stories.

Paul McVeigh is co-founder of London Short Story Festival and Associate Director at Word Factory. He’s been a reader and judge for national and international literary competitions and prizes. He had also edited four anthologies and reviews for the Irish Times and the TLS.”

Book here.

You can still listen to my short story ‘Dady Christmas’ on BBC Radio 4 here.

The Good Son 3rd Editon
You can buy here

Winner of The Polari First Novel Prize

‘A triumph of storytelling. An absolute gem.’ Donal Ryan

Raw, funny and endlessly entertaining’. Jonathan Coe

Abridged Extract from Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook

This is an abridged extract from my article in the Writers’ & Artists’ Yearbook 2023, discussing what I has learned about the world of short stories.

“In the rush for publication, writing for radio is often forgotten, and the irony is that radio is probably the largest commissioner of short stories in the UK and Ireland. Put BBC Radio 4 Short Story in your search bar and you will find a treasure trove of recordings read by our greatest performers.”

Click here for full extract.

You can still listen to my short story ‘Dady Christmas’ on BBC Radio 4 here.

The Good Son 3rd Editon
You can buy here

Winner of The Polari First Novel Prize

‘A triumph of storytelling. An absolute gem.’ Donal Ryan

Raw, funny and endlessly entertaining’. Jonathan Coe

Birmingham Literature Festival with Kit de Waal & Osman Yousefzada

Birmingham, the city that raised me: Kit de Waal & Osman Yousefzada

****PLEASE NOTE: the time of this event as printed in the programme is incorrect. The event is 7pm – 8pm. Oct 7th.****

Two memoirs set in the same part of Birmingham: geographically, very close – but culturally, miles apart.

Kit de Waal grew up to a white Irish mother and Black Caribbean father in 1960s Springfield, South Birmingham, with 4 siblings, not enough
food and huge expectations imposed by her Jehovah’s Witness mother. Not 3 miles away, 15 years later, Osman Yousefzada grew up in a
closed-off Pakistani immigrant community where everyone knew his and his family’s business and he and his siblings – especially
his sisters – were under permanent scrutiny.

Kit and Osman join us at Birmingham Literature Festival in the year both their memoirs have been published to talk about their childhoods in the city, their families, and how that set them on the track to stride out and break with expectations to forge their own careers and lives.

Chaired by Paul McVeigh

Sponsored by Newman University

About the speakers:

Kit de Waal is the author of the novels My Name is Leon, which was shortlisted for the Costa First Novel Award and won the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year, and The Trick to Time, which was longlisted for the Women’s Prize for Fiction, and a short story collection, Supporting Cast. She is also editor of the Common People anthology, and co-founder of the Big Book Weekend festival. My Name is Leon was adapted as a one-hour film for BBC1, and broadcast in June 2022 to rave reviews.

Osman Yousefzada was born in Birmingham to migrant parents who are illiterate in English and their mother tongue. He is an interdisciplinary artist and designer who studied at SOAS and Central Saint Martins, and went on to obtain an MPhil at Cambridge University. He has exhibited at international institutions including the Whitechapel Gallery, Dhaka Art Summit, V&A and more. The Osman Yousefzada clothing line is worn by celebrities including Beyoncé, Lady Gaga, Lupita Nyong’o, Thandiwe Newton, Gwen Stefani, Emma Watson, Freida Pinto and many more.

Book Now

Free Event August 12th Belfast

Buy here

Award-winning novelist and playwright Paul McVeigh is no stranger to producing anthologies such as The 32

Following the success of Belfast Stories which he co-edited, McVeigh has delivered once again with The 32, described as an ‘intimate and illuminating collection of memoires and essays that celebrates workingclass voices from the island of Ireland’. A number of contributors from the book will participate in the Scribes event, chaired by the book’s editor Paul McVeigh.

Without these working-class voices, without the vital reflection of real lives or role models for working-class readers and writers, literature will be poorer. We will all be poorer. 

This event is hosted by Stories@theDuncairn, a volunteer-led, community literary project, in partnership with the Greater New Lodge Community Festival and Féile an Phobail. All welcome!

You can read here.


My Essay in ‘Impermanence’Picked by Reviewers

My essay Sixteen, commissioned by editors Neil Hergarty and Nora Hickey M’Sichili for the Centre Culturel Irelandais, in Paris.

“Novelist Paul McVeigh, author of The Good Son, recalls what it was like to grow up in Belfast during the Troubles as he came to realise he was attracted to both boys and girls, a state of affairs which, he notes with admirable understatement, “made life difficult for me”.

The liminal spaces here are sexual. “I was one way, I was the other. I was both. Now, mostly, I am neither.”

McVeigh unpicks too his attempts to navigate class divisions, another subject that is too little explored in writing about the North, where sectarian divides loom larger. The point is that nothing is ever entirely one thing or another. It’s both. It’s neither. It’s something else entirely.” Writes Eilis O’Hanlon in the Irish Independent.

“Paul McVeigh suggests a vocabulary for this molecular disruption in his experience as a young person from the Ardoyne discovering himself, and others, in the Ulster Youth Theatre. “Everything I am now is made from some dust of then,” he writes, an ash that falls on many of the essays.” Nicolas Allen writes in The Irish Times.