Follow Over The Edge on Twitter

Sunday, September 30, 2012


BREAKING NEWS Wednesday October 17th
The residents of Lisbrook House have received faxes informing them that they are to be moved within days, many to hostels outside of Galway. Supporters of the residents will be holding continuous protests now. The first will begin on THURSDAY (October 18th) AT 9AM, again on Friday at 9AM, to culminate with a large rally on Monday morning. All will be held outside Lisbrook House, moving back and forth to
the Kirwan Roundabout.

For more about the Lisbrook House support group

Ade Adekeye, who was a Featured Reader at the Over The Edge: Open Reading on August 30th in Galway City Library, is one of the people effected by the decision to close Lisbrook House which houses several hundred asylum-seeking residents.
Over The Edge considers it only reasonable that, if residents of Lisbrook House are to be relocated, they should be relocated within the Galway area. Many of the residents have lived in Galway for a number of years and, like Ade, have significant ties to the local community which would be lost were they to be relocated to, for example, Sligo or Limerick or Athlone.

For more about Ade’s Featured Reading at the August Over The Edge: Open Reading, at which he brilliantly read his poetry, see here

For more information about the campaign in support of the Lisbrook House residents, contact Joseph Loughnane on 087-2729021 .

Thursday, September 27, 2012

2012 Over The Edge New Writer of The Year WINNERS ANNOUNCED

Seán Kenny

Our competition judge John Corless has chosen Seán Kenny as the winner in the fiction section. Seán is also the 2012 Over The Edge New Writer of The Year. He will received €700 prize money, be a Featured Reader at an Over The Edge: Open Reading in Galway City Library next Spring and Doire Press will read a collection of his short stories.

Seán Kenny is 33 and from Dublin. As a journalist, he has written for The Irish Times and The Irish Examiner. He was shortlisted for the 2011 Swift Satire Award and his short fiction has been published in Crannóg, The Irish Times, Southword and Wordlegs. One of his stories can be read here
Sean's winning entry was his short story Ending It.

Fiona Smith
Our competition judge John Corless has chosen Fiona Smith as the winner in the poetry section. Fiona will receive €300 prize money and Salmon poetry will read a manuscript of her poems.

Fiona Smith is a freelance journalist and translator. She has published a wide range of journalistic work in both Irish and international publications. She currently writes on Irish topics for the German Press Agency dpa and translates from Scandinavian languages into English. 'Being Young', her first published poem was published in Southwords earlier this year and can be read here Fiona is working on a first collection of poems and lives in Kinsale, County Cork.

Fiona's winning entry was her poem At Letterfrack.

Over The Edge warmly congratulates Seán and Fiona as well as all those writers who made the shortlist and the longlist in what was another recording breaking year for the competition, in terms of the number of entries received: 457.



We thank our sponsors for this year's competition:

Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop,
ISupply Quay Street,
Ward’s Hotel,
Senator Lorraine Higgins,
Derek Nolan T.D.,
Trevor Sherlock
& The Creole Restaurant, Dominick Street

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Pussy Riot and Artistic Freedom: Essay by Roger Silverman

Absolute artistic freedom has always been central to what Over The Edge does. We give poets and fiction writers, many of them new emerging writers, a platform from which they can say anything they like. Below is an essay by the British Marxist writer and activist, Roger Silverman, about the Pussy Riot case. In this very informative and learned essay Roger talks in detail about Russian artists' rich history of resistance to authoritarianism. We think Roger's essay will be of interest to any writer who has struggled with the issue of what it is safe, or acceptable, to say.
Roger Silverman

Pussy Riot and Artistic Freedom

The defiance shown by Yekaterina Samutsevich, Maria Alyokhina and Nadezhda Tolokonnikova towards the dictatorship of Vladimir Putin has captured the public imagination everywhere, especially of young people. The daring exploit of the Pussy Riot women at the Christ the Saviour Cathedral has instantly enmeshed the cogs of growing revolt within Russia to the wheels of the worldwide anti-capitalist uprising manifested in street protests, general strikes and occupations around the world.

There is no country with a richer tradition of literary and artistic protest against autocracy than Russia. Stretching back to the aftermath of the Decembrist revolt against tsarism in 1825, successive generations of writers defied the censors and braved the living hell of Siberia to throw down their challenge to Tsars, commissars and oligarchs. Chernyshevsky was locked in the Peter-Paul Fortress; Dostoyevsky suffered a mock execution and years of hard labour in Siberia; and the list of brilliant writers and artists who perished in Stalin’s gulag is almost endless. Even the years of the so-called “thaw” only produced a new crop of victims.

The attitude of the writer towards the state has in Russia above all always been one of revolt. The revolution liberated the creative energies of a whole generation. From 1914 onwards especially, the youth were thrown into turmoil by the world war, soon to be followed by a decade of dizzying upheavals: the revolution, the civil war, and the rise of Stalinism. The first years of the revolution gave a tremendous impetus to artistic experimentation. Artistic freedom in the days of Lenin and the Bolsheviks flourished as never before or since: theatre, cinema, poetry, music, art and sculpture sprang up and touched the lives of the masses everywhere.

The Bolsheviks defended to the death the absolute right of artistic and literary freedom. At the same time, they did not always fully agree with the more extreme of these literary pioneers. Lenin expressed a kind of avuncular irritation with those who demanded the instant creation of a “proletarian culture”. For a start, he said, we’d be happy enough to get a decent bourgeois culture; a reasonable aspiration, after all, on the terrain of a peasant country still hobbling along on the technology of the medieval wooden plough amid a fog of feudal superstition and mass illiteracy.

Trotsky too argued against the impatience of some Futurists for the instant “overthrow” of the old culture. “To say that Futurism has freed art of its thousand-year-old bonds of bourgeoisdom is to estimate thousands of years very cheaply... The call of the Futurists to break with the past, to do away with Pushkin, to liquidate tradition, etc., has a meaning in so far as it is addressed to the old literary caste, to the closed- in circle of the intelligentsia.... But the meaninglessness of this call becomes evident as soon as it is addressed to the proletariat. The working-class does not have to, and cannot break with literary tradition, because the working-class is not in the grip of such tradition. The working-class does not know the old literature, it still has to commune with it, it still has to master Pushkin, to absorb him, and so overcome him.”

Nevertheless, it is noteworthy that even during the privations of the early 1920s, for all their reservations, Lenin and Trotsky willingly endorsed the publication at state expense of the full range of artistic output – if only, as they put it jokingly, for the sake of “cranks and charlatans”; the point being that even the most outlandish of tastes were still in those days provided for without question.

The young intelligentsia experimented with new modes of expression, in art, music, and poetry. The old forms and the old structures made no sense to them in an epoch of catastrophe. As the most talented of the new poets, Vladimir Mayakovsky, said of the turbulent period in which they had grown to adulthood: “these events made Futurists of us all.”

At one end of the poetic spectrum, there were those like Khlebnikov and Kruchenikh who busied themselves, literally, with inventing a new language composed of meaningless syllables; at the other, those who strove to overcome their past record of individual middle-class rebellion and fuse their hopes with the victory of the revolution.

The most prominent member of these was Mayakovsky himself, who went through an intense personal struggle to renounce his extraordinarily talented larger-than-life ego to place himself fully at the service of the revolutionary proletariat. “I stamped on the throat of my own song,” as he so eloquently put it, and for three years worked flat out composing advertising jingles for the thousands of public-information posters put out throughout the civil war by the agitprop agency ROSTA. By the end of the civil war, exhausted and still personally unfulfilled, he found himself increasingly at odds with the social elements thrown up by the ebb-tide of the fast-retreating world revolution: the speculators and NEPmen and the growing army of petty bureaucrats that were infesting the Soviet apparatus. He went on a trip to the USA, wrote a futuristic poem celebrating the engineering feat of Brooklyn Bridge, and returned with no worthier focus for his talent than a series of sharp satirical plays scourging the new Stalinist bureaucracy, including a play called The Bedbug in which the bureaucrat was identified with that most vile species of poisonous insect. For the last years of his life, Mayakovsky was hounded to despair by the Stalinist puppy-dog poet Demyan Bedny of the so-called “Association of Proletarian Poets”. When the romantic peasant poet Sergey Yesenin slashed his wrists and wrote a farewell suicide poem in his own blood, Mayakovsky wrote a scathing parody of it... but it was not long afterwards that this giant of literary talent himself went on to take his own life – asking in his own suicide note to be spared the duty of an explanation “because the dead hate gossip”. Neither individual rebellion, nor devotion to the Party cause, nor futuristic experimentation, nor political satire had provided sufficient outlet for his energies in these perplexing times.

As an integral part of his relentless struggle against the monstrous Stalinist tyranny, Trotsky insisted on the absolute right of artistic freedom. “Art, like science,” he wrote, “not only does not seek orders, but by its very essence, cannot tolerate them... Truly intellectual creation is incompatible with lies, hypocrisy and the spirit of conformity.”

The growing bureaucratic stranglehold on art and literature was an indispensable element in the consolidation of the Stalinist tyranny. Those writers that managed even temporarily to survive, resorted increasingly to grotesquerie, surrealism and satire, the better to hurl their barbs at the new regime more obliquely: Bulgakov, Zamyatin and others. Some kept to mere journalistic sketches, like Zoshchenko, Ilf and Petrov. Most ended up in Siberia or at best were muzzled into silence.

Some – including the Pussy Rioteers’ literary hero Vvedensky – gained a further temporary lease of life by seeking relative safety confining themselves to writing for children. Many of these showed remarkable ingenuity in their subversive use even of this genre – notably Evgeny Schwartz, who successfully smuggled past the censors a play for children about the slaying of a dragon by a hero called Lancelot; his place is usurped by the corrupt town mayor who fraudulently adopts the title Dragon-killer, and who later becomes haunted by the mysterious appearance on the town walls of the letter “L” – a reference that was certainly not lost on the delighted Moscow audiences who enthusiastically applauded its one-and-only performance on stage.

The Pussy Riot trio today have consciously modelled themselves on the last of the open literary rebels: the OBERIU group, led by Vvedensky and Scharms. In some ways like many Western writers during the madness of the twentieth century in Europe – Kafka, Ionesco, Beckett – these writers too created an entirely new genre that incorporated the madness of the world around them into their art.

Even Trotsky in his day engaged in some gentle mockery of the more exotic elements in the contemporary wave of artistic experimentation: “To be sure, a young Futurist did not go to the factories and to the mills, but he made a lot of noise in cafes, he banged his fist upon music stands, he put on a yellow blouse, he painted his cheeks and threatened vaguely with his fist.”

However, Trotsky explicitly acknowledged the absolute necessity at times of even the most flamboyant gestures to the further development of cultural life. He insisted: “Every new artistic or literary tendency... has begun with a ‘scandal’, breaking the old respected crockery, bruising many established authorities. This flowed not at all solely from publicity- seeking (although there was no lack of this). No, these people – artists, as well as literary critics – had something to say. They had friends, they had enemies, they fought, and exactly through this they demonstrated their right to exist.”

The performance of today’s punk rockers obviously owes something to this same colourful tradition of youthful rebellion; but the crucial difference today is the groundswell of public sympathy in their defence – a public mood that has even won reluctant acknowledgement in the form of the relatively mild sentence demanded by the prosecutors and the rather grudging hints by Putin himself that they should not be treated too harshly (judged, presumably, only by the none-too-gentle standards of his KGB heritage). This gives the Pussy Rioters a proud place in the deeper Russian tradition of artistic protest. What the Pussy Riot performers have done is the right and prerogative of artists throughout history: to find their own voice, no matter how “shocking” the initial effect. And they would have found no more enthusiastic champion than Trotsky at their side today.

Nadezhda Tolokonnikova in particular places the Pussy Riot act firmly in the tradition of two centuries of Russian protest. “This is a trial of the entire political system of the Russian Federation... repeating all of the worst moments of Russian history. What was behind our performance? Nothing other than the autocratic political system. Pussy Riot’s performances can either be called dissident art or political action that engages art forms. Either way, our performances are a kind of civic activity amidst the repressions of a corporate political system that directs its power against basic human rights and civil and political liberties... We put on political punk performances in response to a government that is rife with rigidity, reticence, and caste-like hierarchal structures. It is so clearly invested in serving only narrow corporate interests.”

She traces a direct link to that school of dissident Soviet writers who made the very last heroic stand of Russian modernism in the 1930s before the flame of artistic creativity was finally snuffed out by the Stalinist terror – to the members of the OBERIU group. Like their counterparts in the West, but on the even grander dimensions of the Russian steppes, writers like Kharms and Vvedensky used paradox and absurdity to mirror the horrors and irrationality of the epoch. What, after all, could be more grotesque, more absurd, let alone more horrifying, than the genocide of the Nazi extermination chambers, the millions incarcerated in the Stalinist gulag, the atom bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki?

Tolonnikova quotes Vvedensky’s aphorism: “The inexplicable is our friend”, and comments that “the OBERIU poets and their search for thought on the edge of meaning were finally embodied when they paid with their lives, which were taken by the senseless and inexplicable Great Terror.... Paying with their lives, these poets unintentionally proved that they were right to consider irrationality and senselessness the nerves of their era. Thus, the artistic became an historical fact.”

In their closing speeches to the court, the Pussy Riot women have turned the tables and placed the Russian state on trial. Maria Alyokhina rightly calls the performance that prompted their arrest “a small and somewhat absurd act” that has “snowballed into an enormous catastrophe”, and correctly concluded: “This would obviously not happen in a healthy society. Russia, as a state, has long resembled an organism sick to the core. And the sickness explodes out into the open when you rub up against its inflamed abscesses.... Having spent almost half a year in jail, I have come to understand that prison is just Russia in miniature.”

These courageous women have inspired millions by their example. Their sacrifice will not be in vain. Let them not be seduced by false friends who are shamelessly cashing in on their appeal, but who only represent other oligarchies and rival corporate interests to those of the Putin clique now ruling Russia. Let them join hands with the worldwide uprising against capitalism and let us together build a new world.

Roger Silverman is a seasoned British political activist and pamphleteer. His father, the late Sydney Silverman, was a Labour member of the House of Commons and an active campaigner for the abolition of the death penalty. Anyone who wishes to contact Roger to discuss this essay further can email him at    

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Claire Kilroy Featured Reader & Judge at Fourth Annual Over The Edge Fiction Slam

Claire Kilroy

After the event’s huge success in the past three years, Over The Edge presents its fourth annual fiction slam with Featured Reader, Claire Kilroy, at Galway Arts Centre, 47 Dominick Street, Galway on Friday, October 12th, 8pm.

Claire Kilroy was born in Dublin in 1973 and educated at Trinity College. She is the author of four novels, All Summer (2004), Tenderwire (2006), All Names Have Been Changed (2009), and, most recently, The Devil I Know, which was published in August by Faber & Faber. She was awarded the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature in 2004.

Poetry slams have grown in popularity during the past few years, but now it’s the fiction writers’ turn. The first twelve fiction writers to make it to Galway Arts Centre on the evening of Friday, October 12th and register will be guaranteed a place in the slam. All participating writers should bring two pieces of their own fiction, as there are two rounds. The time limit in both rounds is five minutes. Extracts from longer stories are admissible. Stories do not have to be memorised. The Fiction Slam will be judged by a three person jury made up of two audience members and Claire Kilroy. Three writers will go through to the second round and the prize for the winner is a bottle of wine.

There is no entrance fee. All welcome. For further information contact 087-6431748.

Over The Edge acknowledges the ongoing generous financial support of the Arts Council and Galway City Council.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Stephanie Brennan, Ndrek Gjini & Michael O’Loughlin for September Over The Edge: Open Reading PLUS announcement of the winners of the 2012 Over The Edge New Writer of the Year

Michael O'Loughlin

The September ‘Over The Edge: Open Reading’ takes place in Galway City Library on Thursday, September 27th, 6.30-8.00pm. The Featured Readers are Michael O’Loughlin, Ndrek Gjini & Stephanie Brennan. There will as usual be an open-mic after the Featured Readers have finished. The evening will also see the announcement of the winners in this year’s Over The Edge New Writer of The Year competition, which received a record number of entries. For details of the shortlist see here

Stephanie Brennan has been living on the Aran Islands since 2000. While she has always written, she has only begun to do so seriously in the last two years. She has contributed to open mic readings at Over the Edge, Galway and at Ó Bheal in Cork. Her poems have been published in Island Writings, Crannóg, and ROPES. In February 2011, she won first prize for a love poem in the Tigh Neachtain Sonnet and Love Poem Competition and was shortlisted for the 2011, Over the Edge New Writer of the Year competition.

Ndrek Gjini was born in Albania in the 1960s. From 1984 to 1988 he was a student at the University of Shkoder in Albania. After graduation he worked first as a teacher and then as a journalist. During these years he published poems and many newspaper articles in the Albanian language. In 2002, Ndrek moved to the West of Ireland. In 2004, he undertook a course that led to a National Certificate in Print Journalism; at GMIT he earned a BA honours in Heritage Studies. He is a graduate of the MA in Writing at NUI Galway and his poems have been published in Cyphers magazine. Ndrek’s first collection of poems in the English language, The Death of Night, was published last year by EMAL. Ndrek is currently working as Assistant Arts Officer with Galway City Council.

Michael O’Loughlin was born in Dublin in 1958. His poetry collections are Stalingrad: The Street Dictionary (Dublin, Raven Press, 1980); Atlantic Blues (Dublin, Raven Arts Press, 1982); The Diary of a Silence (Raven Arts Press, 1985); and Another Nation, New & Selected Poems (Dublin, New Island Books, 1994/UK Arc Publications, 1996). He has also published a collection of short stories, The Inside Story (Raven Arts Press, 1999); a critical essay, After Kavanagh: Patrick Kavanagh and the Discourse of Contemporary Irish Poetry (Raven Arts Press, 1985); and his translation of the Dutch poet Gerrit Achterberg’s selected poems, Hidden Weddings (Raven Arts Press, 1987). He lived for many years in continental Europe and now lives in Dublin. He has been Writer-in-Residence with both Galway City Council and Galway County Council. Michael’s most recent poetry collection, In This Life, was published by New Island in 2011.

As usual there will be an open-mic after the Featured Readers have finished. New readers are always most welcome. The MC for the evening will be Susan Millar DuMars. For further details phone 087-6431748.

Over The Edge acknowledges the ongoing generous financial support of Galway City Council & The Arts Council.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

2012 Over The Edge New Writer of The Year SHORT-LIST ANNOUNCED

At this evening's Over The Edge: Open Reading in Galway City Library our competition judge, John Corless, announced the short-list for the 2012 Over The Edge New Writer of The Year.

There were a record 457 entries for this year's Over The Edge New Writer of The Year competition: 199 poetry entries and 258 in the fiction category.

The short-list is as follows:
Ron Carey, Dublin

Marie Altzinger, Dublin

Alyn Fenn, Cork

Evan Costigan, Kildare

Christopher Meehan, Galway

Kevin Murtagh, Kildare

Phil McNulty, Southport, Merseyside

Diarmuid de Faoite, Galway

Fiona Smith, Cork

Rachel Coventry, Galway

Angela Carr, Dublin

Tom Lavelle, Galway

Sighle Meehan , Galway

Liam Duffy, Galway

Liz Quirke, Galway

Erin Fornoff, Dublin

Martin Casey , Mayo

Bernadette Ashe, Galway

Colm Reynor, Dublin

Chris Connolly, Dublin

Rejini Samuel, Galway

Aidan Hynes, Dublin

Christopher Rippingale, Mayo

Chris Walker, Cork

Simon Fay, Kildare

Micheál Ó’Síocháin, Cork

Marcella O’Connor, Kerry

Alex Hijmans, Brazil

Kevin Hora, Roscommon

Richard Gibney, Dublin

Alan M. Shine, Galway

Jennifer Davidson, Dublin

Pat McDonnell, Galway

Valerie Ryan, Kildare

Steve Wade, Dublin

David O’Dwyer, Dublin

Sean Kenny, Dublin

Eileen Keane, Kildare

Sheila Armstrong, Sligo

Louise Hegarty, Cork

Gerard O’Brien, Galway

Barbara Leahy, Cork

Paula Cunningham, Belfast

We would like to thank our competition sponsors:

Charlie Byrne’s Bookshop,

ISupply Quay Street,

Ward’s Hotel,

Senator Lorraine Higgins,

Derek Nolan T.D.,

Trevor Sherlock &

The Creole Restaurant, Dominick Street

the September Over The Edge: Open Reading
in Galway City Library,
Thursday, September 27th 6.30-8pm

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

SEPTEMBER 14TH Over The Edge Writers’ Gathering at Galway Arts Centre:Andy Kissane, Alex Skovron & Alison Wong PLUS The Tuesday Knights

The September Over The Edge Writers’ Gathering presents readings by visiting Australian poets Andy Kissane, Alex Skovron & Alison Wong. There will also be a reading by The Tuesday Knights, a group of poets and writers who regularly meet up in Galway to read, discuss, dissect and review poetry. The event will take place at Galway Arts Centre, 47 Dominick Street on Friday, September 14th, 8pm. All are welcome. There is no cover charge.

Andy Kissane is third-generation Irish-Australian and his people come from (and remain in) Kerry. He has published three books of poetry, Facing the Moon (1993), Every Night They Dance (2000) and Out to Lunch (2009) . His first novel was Under the Same Sun (Sceptre, 2000) and he has a new book of short stories The Swarm (2012). He has been awarded a number of grants and won or been placed in many poetry competitions.

Andy Kissane

Alex Skovron was born in Poland, lived briefly in Israel, and emigrated to Australia in 1958, aged nine. Multi-award-winning, he has five collections to date: The Rearrangement (1988), Sleeve Notes (1992), Infinite City (1999), The Man and the Map (2003); and Autographs (2008). He has also published a prose novella, The Poet (2005). A number of his short stories have appeared in print. His New & Selected Poems is due in 2012.
Alex Skovron

Alison Wong is a third-generation Chinese-New Zealand novelist and poet, now an Australian Resident living in Geelong Australia. Her first novel, As the Earth Turns Silver, was shortlisted for the prestigious 2010 Australian Prime Minister’s Literary Awards and was longlisted for the 2011 International IMPAC Dublin Award. It won the 2009 Janet Frame Award for Fiction and the 2010 New Zealand Post Book Award for Fiction. Her poetry collection Cup, was shortlisted for many awards.

Alison Wong

The Tuesday Knights are a group of poets and writers who meet up in Galway on Tuesdays to read, discuss, dissect and review poetry. The group members are Ruth Quinlan, Eileen Ní Shuilleabháin, Breege Wardein, Stephen Byrne, Anne Irwin, Dave Donovan & Bernie Ashe. The Tuesday Knights are currently putting together an anthology of their work, titled ‘Wayward Tuesdays’.

There is no entrance fee. All are welcome

For further information contact 087-6431748.

Over The Edge acknowledges the ongoing generous financial support
of the Arts Council and Galway City Council.

Saturday, September 01, 2012

Miceál Kearney at North Beach Poetry Nights

Miceál Kearney

The next North Beach Poetry Nights is on Monday 8th October in The Crane Bar, Sea Road, Galway at 6.30 pm
6.30 pm 6.30 pm

With special guests Lisa Allen and Miceál Kearney, winners of the Connacht Heat of the All-Ireland Poetry Slam.

Lisa and Miceál are travelling to The All-Ireland Slam at O'Bheal in Cork on Friday 30 November.

Poets wishing to enter the October North Beach Slam need 2 max. three minutes poems.
Door: 5/3 Euro

Info: john @091/593290