I’m absolutely thrilled to be the new IWC Roaming Writer-in Residence. Travelling from north to south on Translink and Irish Rail railway lines, I will listen to voices and conversations of people on the trains, accumulating stories and building a treasure chest of potential workshops or essay ideas. I’m working with Creative Writing students all over Ireland at QUB, Ulster University Coleraine, NUIG and UCD.
It’s a dream opportunity for me. I love writing on trains – the sights, the sounds, the rhythm of the train just create the perfect setting for inspiration.
I’ll be writing a sequence of haiku about my experiences. I’ll also be approaching willing passengers on the trains and gently encouraging them to write their own haiku, with my help, giving them a unique experience as they travel.
Before I became a writer, I worked for both British Rail and Irish Rail as a Signal & Telecoms engineer. I walked the lines with the maintenance teams. I drank tea in signal boxes. I crossed boggy fields to site radio masts. Because of this it’s important for me to explore some unusual and behind the scenes stories during my residency. I’m looking forward to getting some haiku from railway staff and seeing the journey through their eyes.
When working the Creative Writing students I’m encouraging them to write about ‘invisible people’ – the people behind the scenes who don’t normally get a mention.
I was living in Dublin and working for Irish Rail when I first started to write – and my first writers group was in the Irish Writers Centre with Thomas Kilroy. It’s lovely to feel it all coming full circle through this residency.”
You can get involved too. Check out the dedicated Instagram page @roamingwriterstories or http://www.instagram.com/roamingwriterstories/ where I will regularly post Writing Ideas – inspirational writing exercises to get the creativity flowing. I’d love you to take part and post samples of your writing in the comments on the Instagram Page.
I’ll also be publishing some of my own haiku and the students’ stories on this Instagram page throughout the residency.
I’ve previously been the IWC Community Writer-in-Residence with Womens Aid in 2018, Artist-in-Residence at The Belfast International Arts Festival 2017, and Writer-in-Residence at the Belfast Book Festival and An Creagan