Poet and fiction-writer Mary O’Donnell’s work is often cited as key in expanding the horizons of Ireland’s traditionally male-dominated literary world. O’Donnell’s fiction includes the novels The Light-Makers (1992 & 2018), The Elysium Testament (1999), and Where They Lie (2014). She has also published works of short fiction, including Strong Pagans (1991), Storm over Belfast (2008) and Empire (2018).
Since 1990 she has published numerous collections of poetry, including Unlegendary Heroes (Salmon, 1998), The Ark Builders (Arc UK, 2009) and Those April Fevers (Arc UK, 2015). Her eighth collection of poetry Massacre of the Birds was published in October 2020 and she has recently completed a new novel. A collection of essays on O’Donnell’s work appeared during 2018: Giving Shape to the Moment: the Art of Mary O’Donnell, Poet, Novelist, Short-story Writer (Peter Lang), initiated and edited by Prof Elena Jaime de Pablos, with contributions from Spanish and Irish academics and writers.
She has held residencies in the Centre Culturel Irlandais Paris, in Australia at Varuna House, Katoomba, and in the future will take up a residency in KU Leuven. She holds a PhD in Creative Writing and taught for many years as an adjunct professor on Carlow College Pittsburgh’s MA in Creative Writing, as well as holding posts at Maynooth University and Galway University. During 2019, she contributed briefly to the Irish Literature programme at the University of São Paulo and is keenly interested in the expansion of Irish Studies in South America, both in Brazil and Argentina. She is an active member of Ireland’s affiliation of artists, Aosdána.
Jan Carson is a writer and community arts facilitator based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. She has a novel, Malcolm Orange Disappears and short story collection, Children’s Children, (Liberties Press), two micro-fiction collections, Postcard Stories 1 and 2 (Emma Press) and a short story collection, The Last Resort (Doubleday). Her novel The Fire Starters (Doubleday) won the EU Prize for Literature for Ireland 2019, the Kitschies Prize for Speculative Fiction 2020 and was shortlisted for the Dalkey Book Prize 2020. Jan won the Harper’s Bazaar short story competition in 2016 and has been shortlisted for the BBC National Story Prize (2020), Sean O’Faolain Short Story Prize (2016) and the An Post Irish Short Story of the Year Award (2021). Jan’s latest novel, The Raptures was published by Doubleday in early 2022.