ANYONE wishing to check the health of creative writing in Cork needs only pick up a copy of the most recent publication from Cork City Libraries.
Cork Words 2, An Anthology of Contemporary Cork Writing, features contemporary writers from Cork, based in Cork or whose writing is influenced by Cork. It follows on from the success of the first anthology, published in 2020.
“To see this second edition emerge is a testament to the success of the initial volume and it offers a resounding reminder to us of the wealth of writing talent in Cork,” Cork City Librarian David O’Brien says in his foreword.
Here is a range of short stories, extracts and poems that show the depth and range of writers and poets around the city and county.
The collection offers an ideal opportunity for a reader to sample work from both well-known names and new faces.
“It is unique in that it includes work by award-winning established writers such as Thomas McCarthy, Greg Delanty and Theo Dorgan (to name just some) as well as new voices including those from the MA in Creative Writing, UCC, and this year a writing group based in Cork City Libraries who worked with our Writer in Residence, Tina Pisco,” editor Patricia Looney explains.
Naturally, a broad range of locations and themes feature in an eclectic collection like this, although Cork looms large in its pages.
Readers find themselves propped up at the bar absorbing the chat in Danny Denton’s Evening At The Friary (an extract from All Along The Echo).
My breath caught at the emotion captured in To My Mother (Marymount Hospice, Cork) by Greg Delanty -
“Your name has just been noble-called Sing South of the Border one last time.
You raise your voice above the Lee,
the town you hauled A lifetime of plastic bags through”
The same poet writes of the beloved Cork sport of road bowling, while Stanley Notte pays tribute to one of the city’s best-known voices, telling the reader that ‘Neil Prendiville is some Feen for one Feen’.
There are universal themes here too, Niamh Prior captures the thrill of early adolescence in the gorgeous Slipway -
“and it was magic when we talked unseeing
when we were 12 years old, going on 13”
Showcasing the supportive and interconnected nature of Cork writing is Róisín Leggett Bohan’s poem Mentor, dedicated to well-known Cork poet Afric McGlinchey, who featured in the first Cork Words anthology.
Extracts of work from Cónal Creedon, Catherine Kirwan, Gaye Shortland and Lisa McInerney will have you adding the full works to your to-be-read pile.
All in all, a collection that is a must-have for any Cork bookshelf.
If you dream of featuring in a future anthology, Mr O’Brien also highlighted the encouragement and assistance available in so many groups, courses and centres in Cork.
“There are many supports for writers in our city,” he writes.
“Our libraries are popular places for book launches and writing groups, Munster Literature Centre, Fiction at the Friary, Ó Bhéal, and the MA in Creative Writing in UCC all nurture the creative effort.”
Cork Words 2, An Anthology of Contemporary Cork Writing, edited by Patricia Looney and published by Cork City Libraries, is out now. Available for purchase at the City Library, Grand Parade and Waterstones Cork, price €15.