Two former MA in Writing students from the National University of Ireland, Galway, Ndrek Gjini and Máire Holmes spent hours and hours talking about literature and the vibrant literary scene in Galway, and they came out with the idea of creating a literary magazine akin to many big cities. They shared this idea with the director of their MA course programme, Prof. Adrian Frazier, he loved the idea and since then things have started to move.
Paris has one. London has one. Dublin has its own, so why not Galway? These were the thoughts that filtered through their heads as they contemplated setting up www.thegalwayreview.com. While on a work period as Arts Office Assistant in the Galway City Council, Ndrek Gjini, got more encouragement on this project by The Galway City’s Arts Officer James Harrold.
The nine month incubation period in the Arts Office certainly caught the mood in Galway’s literary circles and indeed further afield. “We have had quite a staggering response with in excess of 24000 hits in 8 weeks, over 250 subscribers who sent us poetry, prose, short stories and reflections that echo the writing talent in the city and county” said the Galway Review’s managing editor, Ndrek Gjini, originally from Albania and now a full Irish citizen.
Such is the success of the web edition that Gjini has formed a partnership with retired civil servant Uinseann Mac Thómais, with a view to getting a printed edition on the streets to raise money for the Galway Hospice and to invest in future Galway Review projects.
“Collaborations are the spirit of a digital age and encouraged by the contributions of Galway’s writers who provided content for the first edition gratis, we feel the idea of a printed review might be sustainable. We won’t know until we try! “ said Mac Thómais, who is acting General Administrator to the project.
Starting a printed soft-back book-form magazine in a recession and when technology is challenging printed media is a major undertaking. The first print run will be on the streets of Galway around the 20th March distributed through various outlets in the city. Advance orders of a digital version and the printed version can be obtained through the website www.thegalwayreview.com and orders, in anticipation of another literary milestone for Galway are trickling in.
Galway’s Education Centre has seen the potential for the review and has offered start-up assistance to the project itself. Galway’s top writers from poetry, prose, and journalism feature in the Review and there are contributors in Irish and English. Guest editor Máire Holmes, herself a poet, acknowledges the contributions on fellow notable Galway writers that include Fred Johnston, Ronnie O’ Gorman, Des Kenny, Adrian Frazier and many others. “I am happy to say that our notable Galway contributors are too numerous to mention, you will need to get a copy to see for yourself” says Holmes.
In keeping with the digital era the The Galway Review will be sold in digital form as well as the limited printed edition. “Galway Hospice, who very kindly are lending their name also to the project will benefit proportionally if the sales are good. We will be selling the 165 page review for a concessionary price of €12 on March 20th, a standard price of €15, and a digital pdf format price of €3 for the first edition” says Mac Thómais. Advance orders can be made by registering your details at http://www.surveymonkey.com/s/
There is an international element to the production also. The website acts as a magnet for Galway’s diaspora and readers and contributors from far-flung places in the world have been making an impact also. Contributions have come from the United States and Canada in particular. “I suppose it’s one way for people to keep in touch with what is going on at home and the flexibility of the internet allows people to interact and contribute too. If we can maintain the dynamic, it augurs well for Galway and its writers.” added Mac Thómais.
At present the Galway Review is a collective of interested writers and is currently being run on an informal and voluntary basis. An inaugural meeting will be held in an Taibhdhearc Theatre, Galway on March 20th next to examine issues of structure and finance that would allow the Galway Review to continue on a more sustainable footing. The agenda of the meeting will discuss issues of sustainability for the Galway Review and include the topics of an editorial board, finance, and general governance issues. “ A good meeting will give us a solid base from which to work and we are looking for good inputs from our invited audience of writers and other volunteers” explained Mac Thómais.
A Westport based printing company www.printforu.net has offered its services too at a very competitive rate to help get the fledgling Galway Review get up on its feet. Owner Darren Killeen has put faith in the Galway initiative. “Printforu is delighted to be able to support this start-up and to provide our service for the printed edition. I would like to wish the originators every good fortune with the venture and I sincerely hope that this will be the first of many editions.” he said.
All going to plan the Galway Review will have a mini-launching in An Taibhdhearc next week and its official launch will take place during the Cúirt Festival that will be in Galway from the 23rd – 28th of April next.