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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Eimear Ryan is 2011 Over The Edge New Writer of The Year; Marybeth Rua-Larsen wins in poetry category

The winners of this year's Over The Edge New Writer of The Year competition announced
at this evening's Over The Edge: Open Reading in Galway City Library 
Eimear Ryan is 2011 Over The Edge New Writer of The Year

Results and Judges' Comments from Elaine Feeney


"This was an extremely strong competition with many entries on the shortlist very very capable and appealing voices. The entries ‘A Child Believes a Hand Can Be a Rose or a Tree’ by Damian Cunniffe (County Galway), ‘God’s Gift to Women’ by Evelyn Parsons (County Galway), ‘Queen of the Night’ by Natalie Ryan (Dublin) and 'New Year’s Day' by John Walsh (County Galway) are all highly commended in that order.

The winner in the fiction section is Eimear Ryan for her story ‘Livewire’.

‘Livewire’ opens with the most extraordinary brevity and immediate character development in the shape of Ogie and the first person narrator. "Ogie is not the prettiest sight; hair that makes me think of tarmac on a hot day, a scattering of freckles like a fistful of loose dirt". I quickly began to empathise with Ogie and his room mate. The story unfolds in the context of a hospital ward, St. Dymphna's. There is an innocence and distance to the characters in an effortless way. However it is seamless and you trust their development by the writer. Unforced metaphor weaves its way through the narrative. The writer also uses a modern angle often mentioning the everyday and setting the context without being overly specific or pedantic. It is a smart, cynical and satirical piece of prose, it is timely for the times we find ourselves in today. The inmates are doubting the system and the narrator becomes bitter when he finds out his roomate Ogie will be 'graduating' without him. "I'm in the lotus position in Eastern Meditation when Mentor Jack calls me into the corridor'. It becomes clear that Ogie was misdiagnosed, and while his brain has the scan of a sociopath, he was actually a genius, and this mistake can be made. This writer has come at a good time. Systems are flawed, but when writers try to write about this, it is often contrived. Here we have an excellent example of the passion of characters, while remaining simple and metaphorically brilliant."

Eimear Ryan was born in 1986 in Co Tipperary. She studied journalism in Dublin City University and has lived in Boston and New York, where she spent a year interning in publishing. Her short fiction has been published in The Sunday Tribune and The Stinging Fly, and she was the winner of the Hennessy Award for First Fiction 2008. She blogs at  


"Heidi Wickam (Sligo), Kerrie O’Brien (Dublin), Lauren Norton (California) & Tom Lavelle (Galway City) are highly commended in that order.

The overall winner in the poetry section  is Marybeth Rua-Larsen for her poems 'Summer of Want', 'Freestyle' & 'The Dylan Boys Map Out a Route for Cinderella'.

This poet shows a flair for the aesthetic as well as unusually juxtaposed ideas. I can almost taste and smell the blueberries and the juice from the nectarines that run down the speakers' shirtfronts, while the 'summer of want' opens before them. We are left with a withering ending, a realistic account of a chase, relationship or friendship. You cannot 'preserve' the sensual abundance, it is 'unfit for freezing' and the miles cause the ripening and the beauty to rot. Clever poetic technique and beautiful sensual imagery used.

'Freestyle' unearths again the use of colour and abundance of sensual awakening, while exploring the realms of a father and daughter relationship. It is startling in its oddness and its unusual juxtaposition of the task at hand, that of fishing and yet the trust that is between the two 'a colour scheme that flips the darkest hue on top, like fish in water'. This makes me consider the gentleness of relationship as it juxtaposes the cliché of one being out of water, or out of one's depth. There is a strange sense of suspense cleverly evoked, and while there is an abundance of aesthetically wonderful language and imagery, something about the ending conjures up a sense of 'settling' or 'acceptance'.

'The Dylan Boys map out a Route for Cinderella', makes clever use of Bob Dylans' 'Desolation Row' and 'One Headlight' by Jacob Dylan of the Wallflowers. This is a powerful poem, both in its clever use of repetition and word reversals. The poem is a move away from the lyrical, slow paced and beautifully moody other two poems. In this the poet shows an ability to alter style, to move away from the stricter technique used in the other poems, while still maintaining poetic integrity. The theme is modernized and 'Cinderella is sweeping up on Desolation Row, which was always where she was headed in my opinion. The poem, extraordinarily clever in its conclusion, laments and encourages, ' I can't take the dark out of the nighttime for you Cinderella. Row away from desolation. Whatever feels like daytime is independence'. I loved these poems, strong writer, well done!"

Marybeth Rua-Larsen lives, teaches and writes in Somerset, Massachusetts. Her poems have appeared in Measure, The Raintown Review, The Barefoot Muse and Two Review, among others.

The overall winner
and 2011 Over The Edge New Writer of The Year
is Eimear Ryan.

Marybeth Rua-Larsen will receive a cash prize of €300.

Eimear Ryan will receive a cash prize of €700
and will be a Featured Reader at an Over The Edge: Open Reading during 2012.

Over The Edge warmly thanks Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop, Niall Ó’Brolcháin, McGinn’s Bar, Senator Fidelma Healy-Eames & Mike Cubbard for sponsoring this year’s competition.