Welcome to the Munster
Founded in 1993, the Munster Literature Centre (Tigh Litríochta) is a non-profit arts organisation dedicated to the promotion and celebration of literature, especially that of Munster. To this end, we organise festivals, workshops, readings and competitions. Our publishing section, Southword Editions, publishes a biannual journal, poetry collections and short stories. We actively seek to support new and emerging writers and are assisted in our efforts through funding from Cork City Council, Cork County Council and the Arts Council of Ireland.
Originally located in Sullivan's Quay, the centre moved to its current premises in the Frank O'Connor House (the author's birthplace) at 84 Douglas Street, in 2006.
In 2000, the Munster Literature Centre organised the first Frank O'Connor International Short Story Festival, an event dedicated to the celebration of the short story and named for one of Cork's most beloved authors. The festival showcases readings, literary forums and workshops. Following continued growth and additional funding, the Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award was introduced in 2005, coinciding with Cork's designation as that year's European Capital of Culture. The award is now recognised as the single biggest prize for a short story collection in the world and is presented at the end of the festival.
In 2002, the Munster Literature Centre introduced the Seán Ó Faoláin Short Story Prize, an annual short story competition dedicated to one of Ireland's most accomplished story writers and theorists. This too is presented during the FOC festival. The centre also hosts the Éigse festival in the spring of each year.
Workshops are held by featured authors in both autumn and spring, allowing the general public to receive creative guidance in an intimate setting for a minimal fee. In addition, the centre sponsors a Writer in Residence each year.
We invite you to browse our website for further information regarding our events, Munster literature, and other literary information. Should you have any queries, we would be happy to hear from you.
Southword Editions, 2005.
Poems by Kristin Dimitrova. Translated from Bulgarian by Gregory O'Donoghue.
Kristin Dimitrova exploits quirky, often dark, humour, intelligence, irony, wit, dialogue, in a low-key minimalist, frequently open-ended style. Constantly reversing expectations, hers is a refreshing poetry of sharp individuality. A significant voice in the new Bulgarian poetry (which began to emerge in the early 1990s) she is, quite simply, a poet of the first rank.
What the critics have said:
"She comes across as utterly clear in what she has to say, with a touch of anarchy and a glib sense of irony, epigrammatic and intriguing whether in short or long poems." -Books Ireland
"For me, the gem of the books is to be found in the translations by Gregory O'Donoghue of Bulgarian poet Kristin Dimitrova, whose mordant, skewed perspective on the world is rendered in precise, sharp language that allows her to ask serious questions in witty poems." -The Irish Book Review
"Dimitrova is adept. She handles language with supreme dexterity and can startle an insight from its cover in very few words." - The Penniless Press
Selected Poems from A Visit to the Clockmaker
Searching for an Answer
I asked the sky
“Why am I here?”
my words & waited for more.
what else I could add.
I asked the earth
“Why am I here?”
it shrugged its mountains.
I asked the fire
“Why am I here?”
it did not hear a word.
I went to the well
& asked the water
“Why am I here?”
— “Come down to me
& I will tell you.”
“Actually” I said
“I was only asking”.
“The Messenger does not Matter”
Three hooded men have long
been walking the clouds
asking about you.
But you know, of course.
You breed pet moths in your room
& move chessmen, waiting for an answer.
It comes late, with your voice.
“Is that my voice?”
Yes, your own voice
under the dying candlelight
you will jump faster & faster.
“I’d rather not.”
& copy life
in soft letters.
Noah, the Carrier
Noah, told it differently.
To the Jewish delegation he said
after the raven he had sent out a dove —
Lo! She returned with an olive leaf.
The dove is the white herald of joy, pure soul of the innocent
foretokening new life.
The founding fathers approved the tale
& include it.
To Gilgamesh, however, he put it like this:
I sent out a dove but she came back.
I sent out a swallow, she also returned.
Finally, I sent a raven:
never saw him again—
then I knew he had found
dry land & prey.
The raven is the black warrior among birds, a circling cut
in the good sky, first witness of the last transformation.
This was the language of Gilgamesh.
Left to himself,
“Truth does not
make a good myth
yet only myth can carry it.”
He could clearly remember
it was the flies
that discovered the ark.
Copyright ©2005 Kristin Dimitrova
English translation Copyright ©2005 Gregory O'Donoghue
Kristin Dimitrova was born in 1963 in Sofia, Bulgaria. One of the defining Bulgarian poets of her generation, Dimitrova has published the collections Jacob’s Thirteenth Child (1992), A Face Under the Ice (1997), Closed Figures (1998), Faces with Twisted Tongues (1998), Talisman Repair (2001), and The People with the Lanterns (2003). In 2002, a selection of Dimitrova’s work was published in a trilingual volume in Bulgarian, Greek and English. She has received many awards for her work, including the 1996 Poems of the Year Award Zlaten Lanets, the Vek 21 weekly Best Poetry award for 1997, the Golden Metaphor AB Publishers’ Annual Award for 1997 and 1998, and the Ivan Nikolov Award for 1997 and 1998. She lives in Sofia.
Gregory O’Donoghue was born in Cork in 1951, son of the poet and playwright Robert O’Donoghue. He studied English literature in UCC under Sean Lucy and John Montague and was part of what Thomas Dillon Redshaw has described as “that remarkable generation” which also included Theo Dorgan, Maurice Riordan, Gerry Murphy, Thomas McCarthy and Séan Dunne.
After completing an M.A. he studied for a doctorate at Queen’s College Ontario, Canada where he taught and was married for the first time.
O’Donoghue published his first book Kicking (1975) with the Gallery Press when he was just 24 and became the youngest poet to be included in the Faber Book of Irish Verse. Later he crossed the Atlantic to settle in Lincolnshire in the United Kingdom where he worked freight trains between South Derbyshire and King’s Cross, Nottingham and Skegness. His book Making Tracks (Dedalus 2001) contains many of the poems recounting such experiences.
In the early 1990s he returned to Cork where he started to write again after many years of silence. He published an interim collection The Permanent Way with the local Three Spires Press and subsequently became workshop leader at the Munster Literature Centre and poetry editor of the journal Southword. In 2005 he died unexpectedly and his final collection Ghost Dance (Dedalus) was published posthumously in 2006.
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Supplement 18 now online.
Sean Ó Faoláin Short Story Competition
now closed. Thanks to everyone who contributed.
Best Irish Poetry in English 2010
Visit our bookstore here.
The Munster Literature Centre produces the Irish section of this prestigious poetry site. Current featured poets are from Landing Places, the new Dedalus anthology of immigrant poets. For further information, please visit the site at www.poetryinternational.org.
The Munster Literature Centre hosts two annual festivals. The larger Cork City - Frank O'Connor International Short Story Festival takes place each September, while the Cork Spring Literary Festival, with varying themes, is presented each spring. Further information is available on our drop down menus.
Workshops in poetry and fiction run in Spring and Winter at MLC. Contact Jennifer for more information.
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