Saturday, 7 April 2018

Rachel Coventry's Launch Notes, Boyne Berries 23

Rachel Coventry

It’s a particular honour to launch the 23rd Boyne Berries. My first publication was in Boyne Berries in 2011 when Michael Farry was the editor. As you can imagine I really like Boyne Berries for this reason. No acceptance by any other magazine has ever felt as good as that first one. The writers among us know that up to the moment when you get that first precious publication there is absolutely no guarantee that you will actually ever be published and even though there is no guarantee that you will ever be published again it’s just not the same level of doubt. I remember being slightly embarrassed (embarrassment seems to go with the territory of writing) by the poem chosen and discussing this with Kevin Higgins. He told me that you have to trust the editor’s decision.  It was good advice and looking through this current issue it is clear that we can trust Orla’s decisions.

One of the most important things about Boyne Berries is precisely that it gives new writers an opportunity to see their work in print. Whatever way you look at it, without someone willing to take a risk on new, unknown writers there would be no new writing and without new writing there would be no writing whatsoever. It is imperative that we value publications that allow a writer to cut her teeth.

Of course Boyne Berries does not just publish new writers it is one of those lovely and rare platforms where the known and the unknown; the new and the old, are presented side by side. For example, in this edition, it is lovely to feature alongside Patrick Chapman, Jean O’Brien, and JA Sutherland as well as many familiar and well established names while also encountering work from some writers that I have not read up till now.

As writers often do when they pick up a shiny new magazine, I tend to head straight for back where you find the notes on contributors to have a good nose at other writer’s bios. This is a particularly gratifying exercise with a copy of Boyne Berries because it contains such a healthy cross section of Irish writing. For a while my own bio read, “Rachel Coventry is from Galway and she has a poem published in Boyne Berries.” In this edition, there is work from writers who have no publication credits and others that have many collections to their names. I have a word document on my laptop with all the various iterations of my bio. I can trace my development of my work by looking at it and whatever happens in the future Boyne Berries will be the start of the story and it is gratifying to think that someone’s publication journeys is beginning with this issue.

As we all know, it generally takes some time, effort and bravery to get that first publication and without someone willing to publish these poems and stories it would be difficult to go on. But it must be noted that that the quality of the work in Boyne Berries is of a high standard and has continued to be so over the years and that publishing new writers does not mean publishing bad writing.

Also, the wide range of writers published in Boyne Berries is a factor of particularly pertinence in these times when it is also tempting, when looking at the contributors list to work out the ratio of male to female writers in any a given publication. This has become particularly relevant in the wake of the Cambridge Companion to Irish Poets scandal. I wont go into it here, and probably the least said about it the better. But at the very least we can say that there are other well-known publications struggling to reach a gender balance and struggling with other biases but this is a problem that doesn’t seem to affect Boyne Berries.

It seem that at grass roots the Irish literary establishment has no difficulty including work from women writers and other marginalized groups and yet the lion’s share of the available arts funding seems to find its way to publications that continually show various biases. There is nothing controversial in this. Anyone who submits work to Poetry Ireland Review, for example, is informed, and I quote directly from the website: “We encourage more submissions from women and people from diverse ethnic backgrounds, who are currently under-represented in Poetry Ireland Review”. There clearly isn’t any need for such a disclaimer in a Boyne Berries  submission call. That there are biases that block entry into publication for various groups is simply a fact yet that this block is not evident in magazines like Boyne Berries is another fact that deserves a little more consideration especially by the Arts Council.

Boyne Berries is a safe haven for the new writer and the more experienced writer alike-a place the work is considered in its own terms and it is maybe for this reason that it attracts such a variety of work from such a braod spectrum of writers. In a literary world that is not an even playing field an magazine like Boyne Berries is crucial.

Of course, despite the variety of writers showcased there is a lovely coherence to this particular edition. I was very drawn to the Orla’s submission call in December; I couldn’t resist it. The work chosen and the feeling of renewal and freshness in this edition is certainly a testimony to Orla’s skills as an editor. I look forward to the other edition that will be published later in the year.

In this edition, I love Anne Walsh Donnelly’s poem that opens the edition. I look forward to seeing more of her work also Sara Mullen’s interesting poem, another name that I’m not familiar with but I’m sure I will be hearing more off.  There are wonderful poems from Jean O’Brien, Noelle Lynskey, John Noonan and many other poets.

At the moment my own focus is on poetry but it was really great to read the fiction included in this edition, which features work from Lorraine Bennet and Olivia Fitzsimmons among others. When I get over this poetry fixation I may submit a story myself.

I also must mention Rory O’Sullivan’s cover art, which is fresh and vivid and nicely mirrors the magazines content. Boyne Berries is always an attractive magazine but I really love this cover especially the use of colour.

Finally, for all these reasons, I think we should view the launch of this 23rd edition of Boyne Berries as a celebration of Irish and international writing; a celebration that the winter is over (or it will be soon, hopefully). As Orla says in the editorial, we writers have been working away all winter and it is great to see the fruits of this work in this beautiful, fresh, spring edition and it’s particularly lovely to gather here to launch it. The world of Irish literature is very lucky that Boyne Writers Group supports this venture and for the hard work that Orla and Frances do to keep the magazine going. With that I’ll declare Boyne Berries 23 launched and we can get on with the real work of listening to some of the contributors read.

-          Rachel Coventry, April 2018

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Boyne Berries 23 Launch

BB23 Cover Draft by Rory O'Sullivan
Boyne Berries 23 will be launched on Thursday, 05th April, at 8 p.m. in The Castle Arch Hotel, Trim, Co. Meath. Contributors to the magazine will read on the night.
Boyne Berries 23 will be launched by Rachel Coventry. Rachel’s poetry has featured in many journals including Poetry Ireland Review, The SHOp, Cyphers, Stony Thursday Book, and Honest Ulsterman. She was selected for the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series in 2014. In 2016 she won the Galway University Hospitals Arts Trust Annual Poetry Competition and was short-listed for the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award She is writing a PhD on Heidegger’s poetics at the National University of Ireland, Galway. Salmon Poetry will publish her debut collection this year.
Rachel Coventry

Boyne Berries 22 - The Ledwidge Issue Sold Out!

Boyne Berries 22, The Ledwidge Issue is now sold out. Thanks once again to the contributors to the magazine and to those who purchased a copy. It was a great opportunity to put such an issue together and it was much aided by a grant from Meath County Council Ledwidge Committee and the members of Boyne Writers.

Boyne Berries 23 will be available to purchase after the launch, details of which will follow imminently.

Saturday, 3 March 2018

Boyne Berries 23 Update

The twenty-third issue of Boyne Berries Magazine, the bi-annual magazine of the Boyne Writers Group is currently under production. This issue is edited by Orla Fay, copy-edited by Frances Browne and will feature cover design by Rory O’Sullivan. This Spring issue will be released in April. Boyne Berries 24 is also being prepared for a late September date.

Boyne Berries was previously edited by poet Michael Farry, and featured one guest editor, the poet Kate Dempsey. The magazine has been in circulation since 2007 and the group looks forward to its 25th edition next year.

Boyne Berries 23 will feature work by Anne Walsh Donnelly, Wiltrud Dull, Fiona Perry, Rachel Coventry, Derek Coyle, Patrick Chapman, Sara Mullen, Diarmuid Fitzgerald, Jack Little, Michael Durack, Audrey Molloy, John Conroy, Brendan Carey Kinnane, Jean O’Brien, Noelle Lynskey, Honor Duff, Christine Broe, John Noonan, Carolyne Van Der Meer, Frank McGivney, Sinéad Mac Devitt, Conor Kelly, Bayveen O’Connell, Ana Spehar, Edward Lee, J.A. Sutherland, Cathal Ennis, Teresa Godfrey, Lorraine Bennett, Olivia Fitzsimons, Caroline Carey Finn.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Boyne Berries 23 Submission Call

"Daffodils" - Charles Webster Hawthorne - oil on canvas

She wore her yellow sun-bonnet,
She wore her greenest gown;
She turned to the south wind
And curtsied up and down.
She turned to the sunlight
And shook her yellow head,
And whispered to her neighbor:
"Winter is dead.” 

The submission period for Boyne Berries 23 is now open and will close on Friday 12th January 2018 at midnight. Boyne Berries 23 will feature poetry and fiction or prose on an open theme.

Send up to 3 poems per poetry submission. Poems should be no more than 40 lines long. Fiction and prose submissions should be no more than 1500 words. Please use Times New Roman 12 and single spacing. Please include a short biographical note. Submissions should be placed in the body of the email and attached as a word document attachment. Submit to only.

Submissions which fail to adhere to the above criteria will be ignored.

The magazine will be published in Spring 2018.

Friday, 11 August 2017

Boyne Berries 22, The Ledwidge Issue Launch

Boyne Berries 22, The Ledwidge Issue will be launched on Friday, 22nd September at 8 p.m. in the Castle Arch Hotel, Trim, Co. Meath by Meath County Librarian Ciaran Mangan. Many of the included writers will read from the journal on the night. Entry to the event is free and tea and coffee will be served. This issue of Boyne Berries is a special issue commemorating the centenary of the death of the poet Francis Ledwidge. It will be available to purchase on the night for €10.

Boyne Berries 22 features work by Michael Farry, Eadbhard McGowan, Tomás De Faoite, Katherine Noone, Richard Hawtree, Jenny Andersson, A.M. Cousins, Greg Hastings, Patricia Nolan, Gabriel Rosenstock, Art Ó Súilleabháin, Eamonn Cooke, Gerard Smyth, Catherine Phil MacCarthy, Patrick Devaney, Noreen Walshe, Vinny Steed, Anne Irwin, Aoife Reilly, Fiona Joyce, Kate Ennals, Pearse Murray, Polly Richardson (Munnelly), Mary Turley-McGrath, Frank Murphy, Marie MacSweeney, Carolyne Van Der Meer, Maurice Devitt, Órla Fay, Colette MacAndrew, Michael Dooley, Garrett Igoe, Laura Carroll, Edel Burke, Noel King, Gaynor Kane, Tim Dwyer, Eithne Lannon, Anne Crinion, Gréagóir Ó Dúill, Maeve O’Sullivan, Adrienne Leavy, Tom Dredge, Alistair Graham, Colin Dardis, Frances Browne, Paul Jeffcutt, Simon Kearns, Susan Condon, Caroline Carey Finn, Barbara Flood, Liam Cahill, Jared Spears, Paddy Smith, John D. Kelly, Iseult Healy.

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Boyne Berries 22 Ledwidge Issue Submission Call

Boyne Berries 22 will be a special issue commemorating the centenary of the death of the County Meath WWI poet Francis Ledwidge. Francis Edward Ledwidge (19 August 1887 – 31 July 1917) was sometimes known as the "poet of the blackbirds", he was killed in action at the Battle of Passchendaele during World War I. Much of Ledwidge's work was published in newspapers and journals in Ireland and the UK. The only work published in book form during Ledwidge's lifetime was the original Songs of the Fields (1915), which was very well received.

A blackbird singing
On a moss-upholstered stone,
Bluebells swinging,
Shadows wildly blown,
A song in the wood,
A ship on the sea.
The song was for you
and the ship was for me.

- To One Dead

Submissions that cover subjects such as The Great War, Nature, The Trade Union Movement, Lord Dunsany and people and places in Meath are welcome. These themes are open to broad interpretation and all work related will be considered. Poetry, factual pieces, opinion pieces, memoir and fiction are all welcome and encouraged. On this occasion Photographs and art work will also be considered.

Send up to 3 poems per poetry submission. Poems should be no more than 40 lines long. Fiction and prose submissions should be no more than 1500 words. Please use Times New Roman 12 and single spacing. Please include a short biographical note. Submissions should be placed in the body of the email and attached as a word document attachment. Submit to only.
The submission period is now open and will close on Friday, 30th June.
Submissions which fail to adhere to the above criteria will be ignored.
The magazine will be published in late September 2017.
Boyne Writers Group and Boyne Berries Magazine acknowledges the generous assistance of the Meath County Council Francis Ledwidge Commemorative Grant Scheme.