@lagannavigator – 2019/20 #WaterwaysStorymakingFestival #Free #CreativeWritingWorkshops #Waterstones #Belfast #Lisburn #EastsideVisitorCentre #IamWriting

Following two incredibly successful editions, the Waterways Storymaking Festival No. 3 is in full flow and receiving submissions. If you’d like a little prompt for your inspiration why not avail of three FREE public workshops.

  1. Waterways Storymaking Festival Free Creative Workshop, 10 October, 2-3.30pm, Waterstone’s Belfast, 44-46 Fountain Street, Belfast with fab facilitator Lynda Tavakoli. Register to attend register to attend by contacting heather@thewaterwayscommunity.org or calling 028 9266 3232.
  2. Waterways Storymaking Festival Free Creative Workshop, 17 October, 2-3.30pm, Waterstone’s, 30 Bow Street, Lisburn  with fab facilitator Lynda Tavakoli. Register to attend register to attend by contacting heather@thewaterwayscommunity.org or calling 028 9266 3232.
  3. Waterways Storymaking Festival Free Creative Workshop, 23 October, 6.30-8.30pm, Eastside Visitor Centre, 402 Newtownards Road, Belfast with me, facilitator Olive Broderick . Register to attend register to attend by contacting heather@thewaterwayscommunity.org or calling 028 9266 3232.

Hope to see you!

WATERWAYS STORYMAKING FESTIVAL 2019/2020 Submission Guidance

Fabulous and growing response to this now annual homage to people’s connection with waterways. Here are the details of this year’s call.

Do you have a story, memory or link with the River Lagan?

The Waterways Community is inviting people who are interested in the rich heritage of rivers, canals and waterways and we aim to encourage people to record their memories and to create new stories and visual memories of their waterway.

With a theme this year of ‘Altogether Now’ we hope to inspire people to reminisce and record their memories of a waterway that is special to them. We aim to connect people through sharing their stories and memories of the waterways.

Calling out to individuals, community groups and schools to take part in the Festival. Categories are entered on a competitive basis and are designed to be accessible to everyone irrespective of age, gender, ethnicity or ability. Specialist facilitators encourage and develop skills and capture memories, this makes our Festival exciting, it allows everyone to express their creativity celebrating waterways past and present.

Workshops will run from August 2019 to end October 2019. Open session workshops will be held at Waterstones in Lisburn and Belfast (see above)

All stories and poems submitted will be collected and published in an anthology of works following the festival. Prizes will be awarded at our awards event in Craigavon Civic Centre on Saturday 1st October 2020.

The categories for the competition are:

  • Age 11 and Under

  • Age 12-17

  • Age 18 and Over

Stories should be no more than 500 words and poems should be no more than 30 lines.

Deadline for submission is Thursday 31st October 2019 at 5pm.

Submissions should be emailed to storymaking@thewaterwayscommunity.org

Submissions By Post
If you are unable to submit a piece of creative writing as part of the Waterways Storymaking Festival online via email, we are happy to accept hand delivered or postal entries to 148 Hillsborough Road, Lisburn, BT27 5QY.
Entries must have contact details and age category.


A small number of readings and resources to spark your imagination.

Jo Bell ‘Lighter’ – commissioned for the 250th Anniversary of the Lagan Navigation.

‘The Lagan Canal’ by Harry O’Rawe – we follow in the footsteps of May Blair and her work of gathering stories collected in her publication ‘Once Upon a Lagan’. How important it is to record the communities connections – Lagan and Linen – before they slip away out of current memory.

Find out more about the Lagan Navigation on the Lagan Navigation Trust’s website.


@lagannavigator – 2019/20 #Waterways Storymaking Festival: Invitation to Groups

Following two incredibly successful editions, the Waterways Storymaking Festival is a firm fixture on the annual calendar – and working towards season no. 3!

If you haven’t already gotten a copy ‘Reflections 2’ – a collection of all of the stories and poems from the Waterways Storymaking Festival 2018/19 – it is now available at £5.00 each from Lagan Navigation Trust. Some of the first ‘Where my River Flows’ anthology may also be available for purchase if you are interested. Contact heather@thewaterwayscommunity.org for more information.


In anticipation of its third festival, Lagan Navigation Trust are now welcoming contact from groups – creative writing groups or community groups of any kind  – who would like the opportunity of having a facilitated workshop with the river as a theme. Easy-going and interesting, the two-hour sessions also provide inspiration and the chance to draft work to submit to next year’s anthology should participants choose. There are prizes in all categories of submission – poem, short story and age category. Primary and Secondary school teachers, does this sound like something that might interest your students?  Contact heather@thewaterwayscommunity.org for more information and to request a workshop for your group or school.

Not in a group? Why not join an open workshop? Storymaking workshops will be running in late Summer through Autumn and will include a number of Open Workshops where everybody is invited to get together and talk, dream and write about waterways including Lagan Navigation. Further details will be available in late Summer.


A small number of readings and resources to spark your imagination.

Jo Bell ‘Lighter’ – commissioned for the 250th Anniversary of the Lagan Navigation.

‘The Lagan Canal’ by Harry O’Rawe – we follow in the footsteps of May Blair and her work of gathering stories collected in her publication ‘Once Upon a Lagan’. How important it is to record the communities connections – Lagan and Linen – before they slip away out of current memory.

Find out more about the Lagan Navigation on the Lagan Navigation Trust’s website.

@lagannavigator – 2018/19 Storymaking Festival. Theme: Linen On The Lagan


Following their incredibly successful first annual Storymaking Festival last year, Lagan Navigation Trust are inviting people who have a connection to the Lagan Navigation and River Lagan to get involved in their Storymaking Festival this year, with prizes for the best pieces. If you would like a copy of ‘Where my River Flows’ – an anthology arising from last year’s Storymaking Festival, contact admin@lagannavigationtrust.org to purchase.

The theme this year (2018), in celebration of Northern Ireland’s first Linen Biennale, is ‘Linen on the Lagan’. Everyone is invited to submit a story (up to 500 words) or a poem (no more than 30 lines). Work can be submitted via the Lagan Navigation Trust’s website HERE. (see t&c’s there also). The deadline is 4pm, Friday 26 October 2018.

The categories for the competition:

  • Age 11 and under
  • Age 17 and under
  • Adult

Every good wish to all submitting. The festival will be celebtated at an Awards Event in the Odyssey, Belfast on Friday, 1 Feburary 2019 as part of National Storymaking Week.


Why not join an open workshop? Storymaking workshops are running up to the end of October 2018, supported by the National Lottery through the Arts Council Northern Ireland, and facilitated by myself and Martelle McPartland.

As part of the ‘Linen on the Lagan’ workshop series, I am running a number of open workshops which are free to attend and all welcome. But these do need to be booked in advance.

Wednesday 26th September 2018 – 10am – 12pm
Creative Writing Facilitated by Olive Broderick

Waterstones, 44-46 Fountain Street, Belfast
Book via admin@lagannavigationtrust.org t: 028 92 663232

Wed 3rd October 2018 – 10am – 12noon
Creative Writing facilitated by Olive Broderick
Waterstones, 30 Bow Street, Lisburn
Book via admin@lagannavigationtrust.org t: 028 92 663232

Sat 13th October 2018 2pm – 4pm
Creative Writing facilitated by Olive Broderick
Lurgan Library, 1 Carnegie Street, Lurgan
Book via Deirdre Breen at lurgan.library@librariesni.org.uk T: 028 3832 3912

Find the full list of workshops HERE some of the others are also accepting bookings to join their current groups.


A small number of readings and resources to spark your imagination.

Jo Bell ‘Lighter’ – commissioned for the 250th Anniversary of the Lagan Navigation.

‘The Lagan Canal’ by Harry O’Rawe – we follow in the footsteps of May Blair and her work of gathering stories collected in her publication ‘Once Upon a Lagan’. How important it is to record the communities connections – Lagan and Linen – before they slip away out of current memory.

Find out more about the Lagan Navigation on the Lagan Navigation Trust’s website.

‘Linen on the Lagan Valley’ – a resource from Lagan Valley Regional Park

Check out the Linen Centre in Lisburn, and, of course, the Linen Biennale programme for loads of places where you can find out more about Irish Linen – past, present and what it might be like in the future.


(Lighter – Oxford Island)2018-08-27 12.15.22





‘Experimental Procceses’ Launch Invite – @theduncairn #Belfast 13 Sept 6-8pm

Very inspiring to have had the opportunity to work with artist Lucy Turner on what is shaping up to be a stunning exhibition which brings together Irish Linen, shibori practice, indigo dye, and things found/gathered from the natural world and the artist’s evolving practice: with poetry from Words for Castle Ward associated writers as we worked in and through the weave of Lucy’s experimental processes.

My thanks to the writers who assembled for what was our ‘normal’ June new writing workshop and have stayed the course through the process.

Words for Castle Ward writers include Shirley Bork, Olive Broderick,  Colin Dardis, Helen Hastings, Wilma Kenny, Malcolm Kidd, Robert Kirk, Geraldine O’Kane, Alison Ross, and  Henry Shaw.

The full sequence REBORN created from this workshop is by turns affecting, beautiful and thoughtprovoking. Lucy has drawn words from this and incorporated them into artwork.

A word of thanks is due to Debbie Young at Duncairn Arts and Cultural Centre who originally invited meand Lucy in for a conversation/consultation about the possibilities around visual / literary art collaboration, and to the staff at Castle Ward who so generously make their Education facility available for the Words for Castle Ward’s monthly workshops –  and who have been very supportive of this initiative which has seen not only the writers, but Lucy herself, drawing inspiration from this beautiful National Trust property on the shores of Strangford Lough.

Really looking forward to seeing the full exhibition on the 13th September, 6=8pm. Launch reception invite below and all are very warmly invited.Lucy's invite FINAL

Coast to Coast to Coast Irish Issue launches at @BelfastBookFest (9 June, 7-8.30pm)

Coast to Coast to Coast Journal designed and created by Maria Isakova-Bennett, and edited by Maria and Michael Brown, is a hand-stitched publication designed to be both a small piece of artwork, and a poetry journal. Each issue contains the work of a maximum of twenty poets, is a unique numbered artefact produced as a limited edition.

I am thrilled to  have a poem  in the Irish edition of this  beautiful  journal which also features new work from the poets including John Mee, Keith Payne, Heather Richardson, Stephanie Conn, Nessa O’Mahony, Michael Ray, Therese Kieran, Michael Farry, Annette Skade, Moyra Donaldson, James Meredith, Attracta Fahy, Paul Jeffcutt, Michael Sheehan, Karen McDonnell, Georgi Gill, Daragh Breen, Jane Robinson and Emma McKervey.

Really looking foward to the launch of the journal taking place as part of this year’s edition of the Belfast Book Festival. The launch takes place from 7-8.30pm on the 9th June with readings from poets included in the edition and an opportunity for open  mic. Further details and book HERE.

Find full BBF programme details HERE.


2018-04-03 17.13.14

Last call for @PoetryJukebox submission – Curation 2 #Changingthemessage

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“You had been travelling for days….” All Legendary Obstacles – John Montague

It’s funny the way sometimes things that later turn out to be exceptional additions to your life, can come in under a fog so it’s difficult to pin point a beginning, and then sometimes they come in a way that’s marked in your memory.

The elegant, exceptional royal-blueness that is the Poetry Jukebox belongs, for me, in the second category. The most legendary obstacles I had were the timing of the call and, even more legendary, the taping of the piece. (adds excellent mobile voice recording to the list of reasons why I have to get a new phone or, maybe, Zoom HI and a new phone). The first was fine..in the end. Thankfully.

The second gave a sense of just how much ambient noise I live with in my town-centre flat near a lively establishment. Last August, the levels were of the surround-sound variety – no sooner had the band and revellers departed, than the massed choirs of the dawn chorus began, then, my landlord who I had never seen to use more than a handheld drill took to sawing what appeared to be a whole sawmill of timber from the early hours til late in the back yard. I learned that proper recording equipment is the modern poet’s friend. In the quiet tones of ‘If I only I could be still’, there is a reverb (which fits nicely I think) of ‘I am fit to kill’.

I was thrilled that ‘Friars Bush Cemetery’ (from Night Divers) was accepted. But actually pre-PJ, I was just normally thrilled – the way a person is when the bit of work is accepted for something that you’d love it to be accepted for.

All day I waited…

And then it arrived. What a fantastic idea of Maria McManus and Deirdre Cartmill to bring it here and the Cresent Arts Centre to accommodate it. There were, I know, very legendary obstacles on the road of its being here though I wasn’t directly part of that. But it is here, now – and permanently.

The first time I encountered it – even before it was fully sorted out in its spot or had labels for its buttons – I realised that it was even more of a thrill to be involved that I had imagined.

The launch was wonderful – a chance to meet others on the first-round playlist – some of whom I’d possibly not have met otherwise.

I’m a great fan of any media where you can encounter poetry – but Poetry Jukebox is special. In the middle of Belfast, out in all weathers, welcoming, ready for any comer to press a button (all or any). What has been particularly lovely since is to meet people who have visited PJ and to hear their feedback.

May it flourish – this Jukebox of joy. May you, when you press it’s button, hear exactly what you require to hear. I am really looking forward to hearing the pieces from Curation 2. Up with this sort of thing.

Submission Call for Curation 2 (closes tomorrow, 31 January 2018)

If you haven’t already submitted, there is a small bit of room to limbo under the deadline.

This second edition of curated content on Ireland’s first Poetry Jukebox will mark the 20th anniversary of the signing of Northern Ireland’s Good Friday Agreement –an historic peace agreement. Public discourse matters, and putting something new into public discourse really matters.

Get further details of how to submit HERE – and a video as well about the Poetry Jukebox, the idea behind it and how it’s come to be here.


“Where my River Flows” – @lagannavigator deadline extended to 5 December

Ormeau Bridge in late 2001 was the first time I was aware of being in the presence of the Lagan River.

6tag_071117-135743This autumn, I’ve had the privilege of working with a range of groups exploring and writing about connections, memories, links to the Lagan River – or other rivers that people have connections with. I’ve learned there is much more to Lagan River than I had previously imagined.

I would like to say a huge word of thanks to all who worked with me and shared so creatively their insights, experiences, recollections and links to this mightly amenity that flows on regardless – and touches the lives of so many, connecting place to place, and also connecting generations and ways of life – disappearing and approaching.

E-book Submission Reminder and Extended Deadine Confirmation

These workshops are part of a call out from Lagan Navigation Trust as part of their first Storymaking Festival to everyone for submissions to an e-book which will showcase the river through the eyes of those who know it best and those who live in the communities close to it.

Some updates

  • Lagan Navigation Trust have let me know that while they have had a good response to their call, they have room for plenty more so they have extended the deadline until the 5 December.
  • They are also accepting pieces on the more general theme of ‘Where my River Flows’ (for those whom the Lagan is not their river).
  • They have let me know that they are allocating some prizes to be chosen from those who submit, as well as possibility of having you piece selected as part of a video (generously supported by the Community Arts Partnership) see next:
  • Linked to the video creation, if there are any budding filmakers, they also have a limited number of places available for workshops with an experienced cameraman and filmaker who will work with a small group to create a short film based on poems and stories about the Lagan. This would be happening between now and the middle of January and you will have the opportunity to storyboard the video, learn to use the equipment and go out and film with the guidance of the facilitator. The film would be aired at the storymaking event in February at the Lagan Valley Island Centre. To book a place contact maire@lagannavigationtrust.org

You will find all the details, guidelines and online submission on the Lagan Navigation Trust Website.

Lagan Navigation Trust Storymaking Festival

The Festival will close with a celebratory event, as part of National Storytelling Week, with awards being given for selected stories in each age category. The event will be held on Friday 2nd February 2018 at the Island Hall, Lagan Valley Civic Centre, Lisburn.


The @PoetryJukebox @BelfastFestival launch 12 Oct @CrescentArts


This innovative project from Belfast based poets Deirdre Cartmill and Maria McManus is part of the Qoutidian – Word on the Street project which seeks to put poetry into public space, to surprise and delight the unsuspecting. The Poetry Jukebox is brought to you in collaboration with Piana na ulici, Prague.

A special launch of the Poetry Jukebox on 12 October as part of Belfast International Arts Festival celebrates the arrival of this new, funky and permanent landmark to the island of Ireland for the first time. Come to Crescent Arts Centre and hear some of the first round of Poetry Jukebox poets read their works at 7pm. The event is free to attend. Just come along no need to book.

The Poetry Jukebox (now with its own twitter feed @PoetryJukebox ) first curation is a combination of open call and invited poets:

Joan Newmann
Michael Longley
Eavan Boland
Celia de Fréine
Stephen Sexton
Mark Granier
Paula Meehan
Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin
Katie Donovan
Padraic Fiacc
Mary Montague
Adam Trodd
Adrian Fox read by Matthew Rice
Nessa O’Mahony
David Braziel
Seanín Hughes
Olive Broderick
Eamon McGuinness
Afric McGlinchey

Find out more about the initiative in this Irish Times Article.

Here’s a sneak peek of me, courtesy of the Belfast Telegraph, reading ‘Friar’s Bush Cememtery’ (Night Divers 2017) – HERE

Find the sneak peek preview of those recorded in Belfast during the week HERE.

The Poetry Jukebox is a gorgeous new fixture. Contents will change every few months. If you are passing the Crescent Arts Centre in Belfast, you won’t miss. Do have a listen.