Nuala Ní Chonchúir’s Speech from Cúirt

Cúirt was fantastic, great fun, great festival and great readings from our anthology. Everyone is now looking forward to the launch of the print edition on the 17th May in Trinity College Dublin. The wonderful Nuala Ní Chonchúir launched our ebook last Saturday and has kindly provided us with a transcript of her speech from the night, included below for your entertainment:

A Thoroughly Good Blue

It’s always great to see writers at the start of their journey, though there are some in this anthology who appear to be well on their way. A Thoroughly Good Blue is an exuberant and diverse collection of fiction and poetry from the students on the M. Phil. in Creative Writing at Trinity’s Oscar Wilde Centre. It is a multicultural collection, which adds to its rich tone; here are writers who are from, or who have lived in, Ontario, Hong Kong, Missouri, Mayo, The Netherlands, Meath, Colorado and New Mexico. They bring with them to their work all of the exotic words and occurrences of these places. From the spareness of Melony Bethala’s ‘Boat Ride on Lake Pontchartrain’, to the rich prose and slowly delivered beauties of Sara Mullen’s ‘On the Hill of Speculation’, A Thoroughly Good Blue is an impressive gathering of finger-on-the-pulse work.

Humour is provided by John Dodge in ‘Mile High Circus’ with Pickles the clown and a crazy but ultimately kind Mayor. Yaseena McKendry does mystery well in the opening to the novel ‘Winter Trees’; there is a menacing, melancholic atmosphere in this piece – we are at a funeral in chapter one. Liz McManus’s masterful novel extract ‘The Disappeared’ is marked out by assured writing, delight in the natural world, great dialogue, and a beautifully described swan.

A story of a life squandered, by Vanessa Baker ,sees a 12 year old girl brought to her first gig by her brother; this sets the girl up for life as a groupie and, ultimately, regret.

Zach Hively dazzles the reader with a menacing story set in Germany. A little boy falls in love with a woman and wants to rescue her, whether she needs rescuing or not. His mission brings him into a dark, dusty and creepy hostel that is peopled with mutant toys. The language is exuberant – there are lots of lively images such as the clubfooted pigeon whose foot looks like melted plastic, and an old man with ‘wet tissue paper hair’.

I’m a writer who delights in language, I love a good stylist, and I found plenty of that in this book. In Hsiang-En’s poem ‘Monday Morning Tram’ we find ‘like sculpture in an art exhibition, the passengers all look the same’, and in the poem ‘Tsingtao Brothers’, beer ‘softly sputters to kiss the nose / When held close to parched lips.’ Here is a poet who revels in delicate language and apt visuals. Much like fiction writer Malu Bremer in ‘After the Tone’, where a mother loses her unborn baby while saving her daughter from drowning in an ice-hole. The mother goes slowly mad, which makes the daughter leave. The language is stunning in this piece. We have ‘a smile thin as a paper cut’; ‘a necktie the colour of old sweat’; and ‘marzipan light’ that ‘hangs low over the town’ where icicles ‘weep themselves smaller’.

In this anthology there are talking wolves, corruption in a third world country, unreliable narrators who want to be ill, and young girls facing their mortality. We have mythology in the form of a modern day Cú Chulainn in ‘Mrs Culann’s Dog’. As well as in ‘Lament’ by Eimear Ryan, where a group of teenagers entertain themselves by pretending to be banshees by night, keening outside people’s homes. Eerily, the victims often soon die. The narrator lives with her feisty but ailing granny. Granny likes to tell it like it is: ‘Put [the egg] in water,’ she says. ‘If it floats, it’s fucked. Like a goldfish.’ This story is interwoven with the legend of Diarmuid and Gráinne – Gráinne was doomed to roam as a shapeshifter, keening her lost love. The banshee game turns sour, however, when the ringleader decides the narrator’s granny is next on the list.

Poet  Eamonn Lynskey looks at life’s big questions: religion and how the earth was made. His poem ‘Early Christian Chronicle’ is a list poem of prayers, Popes and presences. As a teenager the narrator ‘felt the axe descend / and split in two the breastplate of my faith’.

All I can give you is a flavour of what is in this anthology. What you really need to do is buy it, as an e-book or in hard copy, and enjoy it for yourself.

I wish all the writers within the pages of A Thoroughly Good Blue the very best of luck with completing the M. Phil. in Creative Writing at Trinity and with their writing careers. May your ink always flow.

Nuala Ní Chonchúir, Cúirt, April 2012

Praise for A Thoroughly Good Blue

Here are some of the lovely things people have been saying about our anthology, it will be launched in May

“It is always a pleasure to welcome good new writing, to celebrate the vigour and freshness and generosity of new attitudes.

“A THOROUGHLY GOOD BLUE is the launch-pad for writers in a creative writing course at T.C.D.. These students have something to say and they speak with skill and confidence. But their circling round the mystery—which lies at the core of their excavations and is the magnet for all writing—is conducted with respect and appropriate diffidence.”

Brian Friel

“Imagination and eloquence characterise much of the fiction and poetry in this outstanding collection. The writers—some already professional and published—investigate the only subject: the nature of being alive, and the quest for clarity in the babble of experience. Within these pages are humour, poignancy, and the dawning of many kinds of truth. The result is luminous work from gifted artists.”
Mary O’Donnell

“These stories and poems, whether in their leaning back into myth, their wandering in Orients and Deep Souths of the mind, their unravellings of childhood pain or their lament over irreligion, are as united as they are modern, by their search for lost origins.”

Harry Clifton

A Thoroughly Good Blue introduces authentic new voices that ask the reader to look again at what might be thought entirely familiar in the sensual world, and that is important work.”

Philip Davison

“An exuberant, rich collection of fiction and poetry, the writing in this anthology soars; from the assured writing in ‘The Disappeared,’ to the menace of ‘In the Haus of Broken Toys,’ each of the writers here offers their gifts to the reader with style.”

Nuala Ní Chonchúir

“Stories and poems that channel the zeitgeist in all its glory and terror, this year’s offering from the M. Phil students of Creative Writing at Trinity is particularly powerful. Every contribution earns its place in a collection that spans imagist poems, traditional short fiction, zany satire, horror fantasy, existentialist fable and tantalizing extracts from longer works. It’s both unpredictable and reassuring: it engages at the simplest and most important level of reading—what will happen next?—and it delights with crafty moves and elegant gestures in language.”

Paula Meehan

“The work here is considered and subtle, involving and moving and often funny. There is a consistent precision to the language and an attention to salient details that makes this collection highly impressive and a pleasure to read.”

Chris Binchy

“The novel excerpts, short stories and poems collected here are eclectic and intriguing, covering life, death and everything in between (by way of myths, clowns and childhood chance encounters). The big moments and the small details are captured expertly, leaving the reader to enjoy and engage with a strong selection of work that is sometimes moving, sometimes funny, but consistently surprising and gripping.”

Claire Hennessy

“Genres twist and collide, poems battle it out against prose, and many vibrant new voices burn up the pages in this strange and hugely engaging anthology.”

Kevin Barry

“The stories and poems of A Thoroughly Good Blue are ablaze with life and the encounter with language. There’s great variousness and an appetite to record sparkles on every page: Don’t miss it!”

Gerald Dawe