Beginning to Write Poetry

Writing is by its very nature a solitary pursuit. It’s one of the things that I love about it; it gives me licence to spend what might otherwise be seen as an unhealthy amount of time inside my own head. However, community is important. While writing can be solitary, creativity is communal. You create work for other people to enjoy and so you have to make other people a part of your process (within reason and in a manner that works for you). When I was beginning to write seriously, I had the good fortune to be accepted onto the Creative Writing MA in UCD (this was also in the days when we were fortunate enough to have grants to cover college fees.) The Creative Writing MA didn’t magically turn me into a fully fledged writer, but it gave me the luxury of spending a year sharing my work and ideas with some extremely talented and supportive students and lecturers.

After the MA, I felt the lack of community and so I did a number of creative writing courses with different organisations. The quality varied, but I always found myself refreshed by taking part in these courses, and I found myself producing more and better work. After a few courses, I was lucky enough to be invited to become part of a small writing group with four other poets. We meet once monthly and share work – we’re tough but fair and we’re focused. It’s not a social outing, but a serious part of our  work practice. I had a similar group during my time in Edinburgh, and I wouldn’t be without it now.

Now I’ve got to the point where I’m teaching my own poetry course for beginners, through Big Smoke Writing Factory. I’m  really excited about experiencing the atmosphere of  possibility that seems to be magically invoked by getting a group of people who want to share their creative ideas in a room together. I’m also intrigued by the challenge of having to scrutinise my own approaches to poetry; to define and discuss the sources of my own inspiration. I’m hoping to be surprised by the subject matter and range of the poetry I read, and hoping to offer people some challenges and inspiration in return.

Now, at the end of the blog noodling, the plug: My six week Beginning to Write Poetry course starts on 3rd February at Big Smoke Writing Factory’s brilliant new premises in Temple Bar. Anyone who’s interested is more than welcome and can sign up at the link below, as I believe we have a few places left.

Poetry and playwriting courses




My new poetry and playwriting courses are kicking off next week in Big Smoke Writing Factory’s new premises in Temple Bar. Sign up if you want to kickstart your creativity in the new year – I can promise good fun, great value and a supportive atmosphere in which to develop your writing skills.

Info and bookings below:

Beginning To Write Poetry (6 weeks – €150)
MONDAYS, starting 20th January 2014, 6.30pm-8.30pm

Write The Play – Fundamentals (8 weeks – €200)
THURSDAYS, starting 23rd January 2014, 7pm-9pm

…or you can contact me at if you’d like more information about course content.

Here are some testimonials from previous participants to give you a flavour of the atmosphere of the courses. If any of you recognise your own words, thanks again!

“A brilliant course. Compact and practical (just what I wanted) but with enough room to explore individual participant’s writing. Jessica is very generous with her time and feedback and the reading examples were spot on. I would highly recommend this course as an excellent way to start writing that play you have in mind!”

“A great course. Brilliant notes and Jessica was very generous with her time and knowledge. There was also a lovely atmosphere and our little group enjoyed lots of tea & chocolate biscuits to fuel the creativity!!”

“Really enjoyed and learned so much from doing this course. Jessica is very generous with her time, knowledge and feedback and makes writing that play much less daunting. An equally lovely and sharing group of people was the cherry on top.”

“A great course, Jessica’s enthusiasm was contagious! It opened me up to other styles of play-writing, some great choices of writing. It has given me the motivation and confidence to get going and keep going until the play is complete!”




Reading on Arena on New Year’s Eve

Here’s a link to my reading on Arena on New Year’s Eve with Dave Lordan,  Nuala Ni Chonchuir, Dave Rudden, Rob Doyle,  Paul Timoney, Kathy D’Arcy and Temper Mental MissElayneous – most of us reading our writing from the New Planet Cabaret Anthology. There may have been more readers but I was too busy concentrating on not sneezing/ falling over/ accidentally swallowing the microphone to notice (all common first-time-on-radio anxieties apparently). I’m on in the last five minutes but why not listen to the whole thing to hear some exciting new voices from the Irish writing scene.

And afterwards, why not buy the book?  It’s available from New Island Press and all proceeds go to the Writers in Schools scheme. Available here: