Let’s Do It: Banshee, A New Literary Journal
There is a trait I love in people, a trait not that many have: the “let’s actually do it” gene. Gene is probably the wrong word, come to think of it; it’s more about the choices you make than something woven into your DNA. Are you somebody who talks about all the things they’d like to do, or wouldn’t it be great if . . . or are you the person who goes, okay, let’s do it.
On the ‘about’ page of new literary journal Banshee (www.bansheelit.com) myself, Claire Hennessy, and my co-founders and co-editors, Laura Jane Cassidy and Eimear Ryan, have a picture of the twitter exchange that led to Banshee’s creation.
And underneath, this: “(We believe in doing, rather than wishing.)”
It had been something we’d discussed previously, idly, but then the flurries of emails began and meetings were organised. We were doing this. There you go. We’re all writers; we know that talking and dreaming and hoping only take you so far. We also know what anything creative in any way is like – it is almost inevitably more work, and takes longer, than you imagine it will be.
But we’re doing this anyway. In part because several great outlets for Irish writing, such as The SHOp and wordlegs, are now closed; in part because there are lots of marvellous newer outlets, like The Penny Dreadful and The Bohemyth and Colony and Gorse , going from strength to strength. In part because there are longstanding outlets like Hennessy (no relation, alas) New Irish Writing, now in The Irish Times , and The Stinging Fly , continuing to do a great job; and in part because there is always a need for new blood, for new editorial eyes, in anything creative. And mostly because we love words and language and what people can do with them.
The first submissions window for Banshee will be open from 1st-31st March, and we aim to reply to all submissions by the end of May. Over the summer, alongside preparing the first issue, we’ll be fundraising to help cover the costs of the first year of publication – mostly what we’d love to do is just get as many annual subscriptions as possible (two issues), to ensure that we’re providing a quality print journal which is able to pay its writers and contributes to the Irish literary world in some way. Our first issue will be available in the autumn, and we’ll be opening submissions for issue 2 (Spring 2016) in October.
What are we looking for? Accessible and exciting contemporary writing, work that is literary without being pretentious or tired (think Twitter’s @GuyInYourMFA for some tropes we’d rather not see), work that uses language well but also says something. We’re not terribly proscriptive; on our website www.bansheelit.com there’s a very long list of our favourite writers and other cultural influences, but as you’ll quickly gather, it’s fairly eclectic. We’re interested in flash fiction, short stories, essays, and poetry; we’d hope that you’re sending us work that has been revised and is as good as you can make it.
In Irish folklore the banshee keens for the dead and mourns their loss. Our Banshee would prefer to bid farewell to the past, and to look firmly at our present, in all its particular pleasures and problems, and towards the future. Writers and readers alike – we’d love you to join us.
BANSHEE (www.bansheelit.com) literary journal co-founders and co-editors:
Laura Jane Cassidy is a writer from Co. Kildare, represented by the Darley Anderson Literary Agency. Her first two novels were published by Puffin. She received the 2014 Cecil Day Lewis Literary Bursary Award, and is currently working on her next novel. She gives writing workshops and enjoys volunteering with teenagers in Fighting Words. Tweet her at @ljcassidy.
Claire Hennessy is a writer, editor, and creative writing facilitator from Dublin. She is the author of several novels for young adults and children, and is currently working on a collection of short fiction, supported by an Arts Council bursary. She is powered almost entirely by tea and is tweetable at @clairehennessy.
Eimear Ryan is an award-winning short story writer from Co. Tipperary. Her fiction has appeared in The Dublin Review, The Stinging Fly, New Irish Writing and the Faber anthology Town & Country. She was previously an editorial assistant for Conjunctions literary journal in New York. She now lives in Cork and works in educational publishing. Tweet her at @eimear_ryan.
(c) Claire Hennessy