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Beautiful Words: Nuala Ni Chonchuir

Writing.ie | Magazine | Interviews | Poets

Nuala Ní Chonchúir is a full-time fiction writer and poet. She has published three collections of short fiction, the most recent being Nudeby Salt Publishing and three poetry collections, including the bi-lingualTattoo: Tatu by Arlen House, and most recently one novel, Youpublished by New Island.

Welcome to writing.ie. Could you introduce yourself to the readers please?

I’m a full-time writer from Dublin living in County Galway. I write both fiction and poetry but my heart lies in fiction really. I have three kids and ten hours a week to write so I stuff a lot into those precious ten hours. At the moment I am writing a novel and am at the ‘enjoying it’ stage of that.

How did you get into writing?

I’ve been writing since I was a child, it grew from my love of reading. I came second in a national poetry competition when I was ten and that gave me a boost and a special interest in writing. Michael Hartnett was the judge of that comp and I remember my mother’s awe and reverence when we met him; it rubbed off.

What do you consider the highlights so far?

Winning the Francis MacManus Award in 2003 was brilliant – the money was great and it was just an all round positive experience. My first novel You coming out last year with New Island, after 5 years of schlepping it around publishers, was also a highlight.

Which came first, poetry or fiction?

Poetry came first for me, but I fell in love with short fiction after taking a course with Mike McCormack in Galway Arts Centre in the mid nineties. I still love short stories, as both reader and writer.

How do you change from one form to another? Do you feel the poetry helps the fiction and vice versa?

I write everything at the same time, I don’t totally neglect one form for another. So even though I am in the thick of a novel, if a poem or short story occurs to me, I will abandon the novel to write that.

I think poetry and fiction complement each other. Poets pay very close attention to language and individual word choices – that then becomes important in the fiction.

What have you got coming up?

My third full poetry collection The Juno Charm is due out from Salmon Poetry in November, so I am putting the finishing touches to the manuscript at the moment.

Which Irish poets, living or dead, do you recommend people search out and read?

Too many to mention but here are a few: Patrick Cotter, Mary O’Donnell, Cherry Smyth, Paul Durcan, Matthew Sweeney, Grace Wells.


About the author

Nuala Ní Chonchúir is an Irish short fiction writer and poet, with a passion for visual art. She was born in Dublin in 1970 and educated at Trinity College, Dublin, Dublin City University and NUI Galway. Her two short fiction collections The Wind Across the Grass (2004) and To the World of Men, Welcome (2005) were published by Arlen House. Her bilingual poetry collection Tattoo:Tatú (Arlen House, 2007) was shortlisted for the 2008 Rupert and Eithne Strong Award. Her first full poetry collection Molly’s Daughter appeared in the ¡DIVAS! Anthology New Irish Women’s Writing (Arlen House). She edited the second ¡DIVAS! Anthology – A Sense of Place.

Nuala lives in County Galway with her partner and children. She teaches creative writing part-time and has won many literary prizes, including the inaugural Cúirt New Writing Prize, RTÉ Radio’s Francis MacManus Award, the inaugural Jonathan Swift Award and the Cecil Day Lewis Award. She has twice been nominated for a Hennessy Award, and was awarded an Arts Council Bursary in Literature in 2004.

In 2007, she wrote a collaborative play, ‘Departure’, with three other writers, for Turtle Shell Productions in New York. The play was completed over several months and a staged reading took place at the Irish Arts Centre in New York. Other collaborations have included poetry about Liberty Hall, twinned with art by Cora Cummins, for the joint Stinging Fly and Circa publication Marks (2008); and Postcard Poems (2009) with poet Órfhlaith Foyle.

Her poetry and fiction have been published and anthologised in Ireland, the UK, France, Canada and the USA; and have been broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1 and Lyric FM. Nuala has judged many literary competitions including the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award (collection), and the Seán Ó Faoláin Short Story Prize. She has worked as guest fiction editor for literary journals Southword andHorizon Review.

As well as translating her own poetry, Nuala has translated and published the work of Irish language poets Caitlín Maude and Cathal ó Searcaigh.

Nuala has travelled to Paris, the USA, Wales, Portugal and Germany for readings. Her residencies have included a poetry writing project with long-term elderly residents in Merlin Park Hospital, Galway, and Writer-in-Residence at the Cúirt International Festival of Literature in 2009.

You can find out more about Nuala at ·http://www.nualanichonchuir.com/·and her lovely bloghttp://womenrulewriter.blogspot.com

(C) Kate Dempsey for writing.ie 2011

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