Booking now open

lit fest 2017
We are delighted to announce the programme of workshops for the 2017 West Cork Literary Festival. Lara Marlowe, John Spillane, Vona Groarke,  Jan Carson and Dean Backopoulos are among those coming to Bantry to tutor workshops in journalism, songwriting, poetry, short story, novel writing and other subjects.

Online booking is now open at

There will be further programme announcements in the new year, so please keep an eye on the Facebook page and the web site.


Workshops at the 2017 West Cork Literary Festival
Monday 17 - Friday 21 July 2017
9.30am - 12.30pm
Coláiste Pobail  Bheanntraí, Seskin, Bantry

Songwriting with John Spillane

John Spillane says, "At my song writing workshops we actually write songs. Having attended a few workshops where the participants play their songs to be criticised by experts who talk down to them, I was inspired to invent a novel approach, where we all sit down and write a finished song in one session. This teaches many lessons, including finishing things, which is often a big problem for writers. I create a space where all negativity, all criticism and judgment are locked outside."

John Spillane  is a musician, songwriter, performer, recording artist, storyteller and poet. John is a native of Cork, the county he lovingly describes as "the centre of the universe", and it has been a huge creative influence on him. Vocally, he is quite unique with an almost sean nós-like element in his singing and he is said to have a voice "full of honesty, commitment and sensitivity".

Two-time Meteor award winner, John is one of the most accomplished songwriters in Ireland today. Among those who have covered his songs are Christy Moore, Karan Casey, Pauline Scanlon, Cathy Ryan, Sharon Shannon, Sean Keane, George Murphy, to name a few.


Growing Poems: Poetry with Vona Groarke

 This five-day workshop will cover key aspects of the poem-writing process, including the subjects of metaphor and imagery, sound, form, language and content. Participants will write a poem per day to a set prompt in the time around the workshop, and during each morning workshop, we will respond to the poems generated the previous day, making editorial suggestions. By the end of the week, participants will have written four new poems and will have had the opportunity to develop and polish each one in a supportive and enthusiastic workshop environment.

Vona Groarke has published ten titles with Gallery Press, including seven poetry collections, the latest being Selected Poems,(2016). Her most recent publication is a book-length essay on art frames, Four Sides Full. Her poems have recently appeared in The New Yorker, Threepenny Review, The Guardian, Poetry and Poetry Review. Current editor of Poetry Ireland Review, selector for the UK's Poetry Book Society and member of Aosdána, she teaches poetry in the Centre for New Writing at the University of Manchester.


Drawing Maps: Poetry for Beginners with Doireann Ní Ghríofa

This workshop will be tailored to the needs of those who are beginning on their journeys as writers. The emphasis will be on surveying each writer's inner landscape and facilitating them to write from their own interests and experience. Together, we will explore contemporary poems, analyse poetic techniques, and use interesting prompts to write new poetry of their own. Each writer will leave this series of lessons with new poems and a renewed confidence in their work.

Doireann Ní Ghríofa is a bilingual writer working both in Irish and English. Her writing explores domesticity, desire, and the multiplicity of women's lives. Among her awards are the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, the Michael Hartnett Award and the Ireland Chair of Poetry bursary. She frequently participates in cross-disciplinary collaborations, fusing poetry with film, dance, music, and visual art; she is currently working on a major commission with Crash Ensemble under the Art Council of Ireland's Making Great Art Work project.  Doireann's writing has appeared widely both in Ireland and internationally, and has been translated into many languages, most recently to French, Macedonian, Gujarati, and English. Her fourth book is 'Oighear' (Coiscéim, 2017). She writes "with tenderness and unflinching curiosity" (Poetry Magazine, Chicago).

Novel Writing: Deepening the Waters with Dean Bakopoulos

In this workshop, appropriate for writers of book-length prose (fiction and creative nonfiction) of all levels of experience, we will examine the way writers use lists, maps, and inventories to add depth and texture to a work, with a special attention to how such things deepen character, solve sticky problems of momentum, shine light in dark corners, bring structure to chaos, and help us say what seems unsayable. We will make a series of lists, maps, and inventories to go with our own works, and students will leave this workshop with a variety of blueprints and strategies towards both generating new pages and revising existing ones. Students should bring to this workshop copies of an important scene, or opening scene, (12 pages max.) from a novel or memoir in progress, preferably a scene that they know needs some work. 

Handouts will be provided for the literature we will look at, but you may want to read William Maxwell's short and beautiful novel So Long, See You Tomorrow (Vintage), which is instructive to prose writers and poets alike and will be mentioned many times over the course of the week. (An excellent audio recording of Maxwell reading this novel is available on as well)

Dean Bakopoulos' first novel, Please Don't Come Back from the Moon, was a New York Times Notable Book; his second novel, My American Unhappiness, was named one of the year's best novels by The Chicago Tribune, and his latest novel, Summerlong was published to critical acclaim and made the independent bookstore bestseller list in June 2015. His fiction and essays have appeared in many publications including Zoetrope, Tin House, Virginia Quarterly Review, Real Simple, and the New York Times, and his screenplay adaptation of "Please Don't Come Back from the Moon" will soon be released as a film starring James Franco and Rashida Jones. The winner of Guggenheim Fellowship and two National Endowment for the Arts fellowships, Bakopoulos teaches in the Warren Wilson MFA Program and is writer-in-residence at Grinnell College in Iowa.


The Short Story with Alissa Nutting

This intensive workshop welcomes writers of all levels as we write and explore both traditional and experimental genres of short fiction - including flash fiction, autofiction, metafiction, hybrid forms, etc. Together, we will examine the successful techniques of characterization and conflict that are essential to every story's narrative, regardless of style. This workshop will be both generative and analytical, and is designed to have you emerge with practical, effective new approaches to writing and revising your short fiction.

Alissa Nutting is author of the short story collection Unclean Jobs for Women and Girls, selected by judge Ben Marcus as winner of the 6th Starcherone Prize for Innovative Fiction, and the novel, Tampa, (Ecco/HarperCollins, 2013), which has been optioned for film by Harmony Korrine & HBO. A new novel, Made for Love, is forthcoming from Ecco in July 2017. Her writing has appeared in Tin House, Fence, BOMB, Elle, The New York Times, Conduit, and O: The Oprah Magazine, as well as the fairy tale anthology My Mother She Killed Me, My Father He Ate Me. She holds and MFA from the University of Alabama, and a PhD from the University of Nevada Las Vegas and is now an assistant professor of English at Grinnell College in Iowa.


Introduction to the Short Story with Jan Carson

Join Belfast-based novelist and short story writer, Jan Carson for her workshop on the art of writing short stories. Learn how to develop an idea. Spend some time in the company of great short stories. Develop your own short story with workshops focused on all the key elements of the short: character, setting, structure, dialogue, pacing etc. Improve your editing technique. This workshop is suitable for beginner writers. 

Jan Carson is a writer based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Her first novel, Malcolm Orange Disappears was published by Liberties Press in 2014, followed by a short story collection, Children's Children in 2016. Her flash fiction anthology, Postcard Stories is forthcoming from the Emma Press in 2017. Her stories have appeared in journals such as Storm Cellar, Banshee, Harper's Bazaar and The Honest Ulsterman. In 2014 she was a recipient of the Arts Council NI Artist's Career Enhancement Bursary. She was longlisted for the Sean O'Faolain short story prize in 2015 and shortlisted in 2016, won the Harper's Bazaar short story competition in 2016 and was shortlisted for a Sabotage Award for best short story collection 2015/16.  

Words Allowed : Workshop for Teenage Writers with Dave Lordan

Back by popular demand, Dave Lordan's workshop returns to Bantry for the 7th year. Designed to build the creative confidence and expressive ability of teenagers with an interest in writing it combines a high-energy workshop approach with talks and Q and A sessions on being a writer in the contemporary world where multimedia technologies and performance writing are assuming more importance alongside traditional book publishing. As well as covering
traditional forms like poem, story and song, Words Allowed introduces participants to the basics of YouTube and online video production.

In an atmosphere of group support and encouragement for individual creativity, each participant will be facilitated to pursue their own writing interests and to generate new work. This is Ireland's leading workshop for teenage writers and demand is always high so please book early to avoid disappointment. There will be a special showcase reading of participants' work.

Dave Lordan is a multi-genre writer, performer, editor, and pathbreaking multimedia educator with four acclaimed books and twenty years experience in creativity education and cultural programme design. Check out his colourful new website at or follow Dave Lordan on YouTube or Facebook. 

As well as West Cork Literary Festival, Dave has provided workshops for RTÉ, the Irish Film Institute, Dublin City Libraries, Ledbury Poetry Festival, Courthouse Arts Centre, The Irish Countrywomen's Association, Youthreach, Youthspeaks, Children's Books Ireland and numerous other schools, institutions and festivals. He teaches creative writing at the Irish Writers Centre and the Big Smoke Writing Factory and he lectures on the MA in Poetry Studies at the Mater Dei Institute and at The American College Dublin.  

Tuesday 18 - Thursday 20 July 2017
9.30am - 12.30pm
Coláiste Pobail  Bheanntraí, Seskin, Bantry

Journalism with Lara Marlowe

The veteran foreign correspondent Lara Marlowe will teach a three-day journalism seminar which will address: the respective merits of television, radio and print journalism; how to become a freelance or staff correspondent; the changing status of the profession in the digital age; and, especially, the basic skills of writing and filing a newspaper story.

Lara will describe her own experiences and offer advice for hard news, war, disaster, terrorist attacks, political and cultural reporting, and writing opinion pieces. She has covered the following conflicts. (Several appear in her 2010 book The Things I've Seen; Nine Lives of a Foreign Correspondent): the Contra rebellion against the Sandinista government in Nicaragua in the early 1980s; the last years of the Lebanese civil war (1988-1990); the Algerian civil war of the 1990s; the disintegration of the former Yugoslavia, including conflicts in Croatia, Bosnia, Serbia and Kosovo from 1992 until 1999; flare-ups between Israel and Lebanon and Israel and the Palestinians over the last three decades; Afghanistan following the 9/11 attacks in 2001; the 2003 invasion of Iraq and the Sunni-Shia civil war that followed; the Russian invasion of south Ossetia and northern Georgia in 2008; the Central African Republic in 2014. She has also covered major disasters, including the 1997 Concorde crash and the 2015 Germanwings crash, the 2010 earthquake in Haiti and the wave of terrorist attacks that struck France in 2015-2016. 

Lara will also talk about the personalities and forces at play in French politics since 1996, including the 2017 presidential election. She witnessed the first administration of Barack Obama at close hand, and covered the 2012 US presidential election. She has also addressed wider political issues such as globalisation, climate change, the Sunni-Shia divide and the jihadist threat. 

It is recommended that all participants bring a laptop/tablet with them to the course and also that they read these two books in advance - The Things I've Seen: Nine Lives of a Foreign Correspondent by Lara Marlowe and Ryszard Kapuscinski's Imperium (both titles should be available from your local library or bookshop). 

Lara Marlowe is a Paris-based foreign correspondent for The Irish Times newspaper.  She has written extensively on the rise of Islamic State, and covered jihadist attacks in Paris and Tunisia in 2015.  As a journalist for more than three decades, she has lived in Paris, the Middle East and Washington DC, where she covered Barack Obama's first term in office. Lara holds degrees from UCLA, the Sorbonne and Oxford, and has won three press awards.  She is the author of The Things I've Seen;  Nine Lives of a Foreign Correspondent, and Painted With Words. The French government made her a Chevalier de la Légion d'honneur for her contribution to Franco-Irish relations.

Book online at
Festival office: +353 (0) 27 52788