Launch of Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing

I was very honoured to read at the recent launch of the Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing at the Linen Hall Library, Belfast.

Bob Collins, Chair of the Arts Council, Connor Shields, CEO of Community Arts Partnership (CAP) and Chelley McLear, CAP Project Coordinator addressed the audience at the event and local poets Deirdre Cartmill, Paula Cunningham and Chris Morrow read their work from several CAP anthologies.

I read a selection of my haiku and senryu that had been published in the last three anthologies, The Poet’s Place, Moment and Still and explained how delighted I’d been to discover, several years ago, that Seamus Heaney was a great haiku enthusiast and he had penned several over the course of his writing career. The final haiku I read at the award launch was one I had written last September just after learning of his death.

The event was also a good opportunity to catch up with some local writers, including Colin Dardis, Geraldine O’Kane and Patricia Devlin-Hill and to chat about haiku with Damian Smyth, Arts Council Head of Literature and Drama.

The award is part of the most recent CAP Poetry in Motion Community’s project, ‘Making Memories’. It is supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Heaney family to encourage and recognise new writing from our wee corner of the world. So if you are a budding or newly established poet from the North – check it out here!


Back: Chris Morrow, Connor Sheilds
Front L-R: Marion Clarke, Deirdre Cartmill, Chelley McLear


Posted in Anthology, haiku, My Poetry, Uncategorized, Writing, Writing Events | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Narrow Water at Twilight

I will be showing my latest oil painting of the keep at Narrow Water Castle during the Newcastle Arts Festival this week. It will be on display in a new exhibition space next to the Avoca Hotel. I will be around on Saturday as I’m attending a couple of poetry workshops during the day – looking forward to participating in this festival for the first time. :)


Here is is a photo of the painting, just back from the framer.





Posted in Narrow Water Castle, Narrow Water Keep, Oil Painting, Original Irish Art, Places, Warrenpoint | Tagged , | 8 Comments

Thanks to Libraries NI

I had a very enjoyable launch of my joint art exhibition, EXPO 2014, with Eirian McKay on Wednesday evening with family and invited guests in Warrenpoint Library.

I first met Eirian at an art group some years ago and, although we have shown our work together on previous occasions alongside other Warrenpoint artists, this was our first joint exhibition. We both had a range of mixed media paintings and prints on display.

My artwork is inspired by the local scenery in the area. I also write haiku poetry which is nature-based, so it’s no surprise that the sea and shore are major subjects for me when it comes to painting. I guess my work is a kind of celebration of the beauty of our local environment. However, I also quite like anything gothic and can also see beauty in the urban or unusual, and the subject of one of my pieces is a backstreet in Venice which is more of a deliciously dark and gloomy atmosphere, which is at odds with the more popular, tourist view of the city.

The pieces by Eirian, who is a creative arts outreach worker for Surestart South Armagh, are more conceptual. In other words, the concept or idea that has produced a particular painting is the most important aspect of her work. She is inspired by people, animals and places and uses a range of different mediums. She is also very interested in art as a therapeutic outlet and through her work she enjoys helping children to benefit from art as a form of self-expression.

I think our paintings really complement each other. At the launch, quite a few people commented on our poppies and sunflowers paintings working well together. I also imagine a solo exhibition might be a lonely experience, but we had a lovely time setting it all up together and chatting with lots of guests on the launch night.

Thanks to branch manager Rosemary Lavery and her library staff and our husbands who did the heavy lifting for us!

Any artists in the area seeking to exhibit their artwork should contact the library. It’s great that the library is now offering this free facility for local artists and exhibition spaces are extremely difficult to come by in Warrenpoint.

The exhibition runs until Friday 29th of August during library opening hours.

Everyone had great craic, conversation and glasses of wine on the evening  – I could definitely get used to this… :)

Here are some shots of our work.

2014-08-06 16.52.17

2014-08-06 16.56.21

Posted in Art | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , | 4 Comments

EXPO 2014

My artist friend Rian McKay and I will be exhibiting our paintings and prints in Warrenpoint library during the month of August. If you would like to attend the launch this Wednesday evening, please message me on Facebook, Twitter (MarionSClarke) or send an email to

Library-Expo-poster Library Expo poster

Posted in Art | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

History of the Book Cover For Find My Baby


This is an interesting blog post from Mitch Lavender, author of the newly-released crime thriller ‘Find My Baby’ on how he arrived at the final cover for his novel. I would also have gone with the one he selected.

More details at

Originally posted on - A Writer's Survival Blog:

Over the course of writing, editing, rewriting, revising, cursing, etc., I toyed with different covers for Find My Baby. These are several iterations of the covers I considered at one time or another.

Find my baby cover

This was the first cover, developed for my Nanowrimo author’s page way back in November of 2011. I liked this one at the time, but then an artist friend pointed out that the shadow on FIND and the shadows on my name were opposite of each other. My name was also a little too prominent on the cover. This works for known authors but does nothing for me. Eventually, I abandoned this one in favor of the next.

Find my baby cover-3

The font changed to give it a ransom note feel, and my name was reduced to a smaller font. It has a very dreary feel to it, and I abandoned this one pretty quickly.

cryptic FMB cover3

This was the second cover…

View original 343 more words

Posted in Uncategorized | 3 Comments

Collection of winning short stories – free to download


Last year, GKBCInc held its inaugural short story competition judged by crime writer Tim Weaver. Tim is the Sunday Times bestselling author of novels Chasing the Dead,  The Dead Tracks and Vanished published by Penguin Books.
Tim Weaver


The theme for the first year of the competition was (perhaps not surprisingly) ‘crime’ and I was delighted to learn earlier this year that my entry, ‘One Stop Beyond’, came second. The story was based on a strange event I heard about years ago – but I added a wee twist of my own!

I have been informed that the winning and short-listed stories have just been published in an eBook collection. Please click here to download a free copy.




Posted in Anthology, ghost story, Short Story, Writing, writing competitions | Tagged , , , , | 4 Comments

Heaney and haiku

Some years ago, I was pleasantly surprised to find that Seamus Heaney greatly appreciated the Japanese-style poetry form, haiku, and even wrote several himself. After the tragic news of his death last September, I submitted a tribute haiku to the ‘Seamus Heaney – In Memorium’ website, inspired by the great poet’s poem ‘Digging’. It was published on 5th September.

I decided to combine the haiku with a detail from one of my paintings of a cottage in the Mourne Mountains to produce a haiga (haiku with artwork)


The ‘turf’ haiku was also published on Chen-ou Liu’s ‘NeverEnding Story’, a bilingual haiku and tanka site where he translates poetry into traditional and contemporary Chinese.

The following haiku, ‘Ulster hedgerow’, is also featured on Chen-ou’s site.

Ulster hedgerow
the steady click
of golf balls


‘Ulster hedgerow’ was a tribute to the following haiku by Heaney. I love how he compares the sound of the army patrol’s walkie-talkies to birds squawking in the hedges of Ulster:

Springtime in Ulster:
aerials in hedges, squawk
of walkie-talkies

Stepping Stones: Interviews with Seamus Heaney, 2008

‘Springtime in Ulster’ came back to me during a residential writing weekend in the countryside near the town of Banbridge, here in Northern Ireland. One of the group pointed out the continuous sound of golf balls being hit on a nearby course and it struck me how this contrasted with the sound described in the hedges of Heaney’s haiku, written during The Troubles.

Chen-ou Liu has written an interesting article on Heaney’s thoughts about how this Japanese poetry form may have influenced Western literature, with a subsequent online discussion.

Anatoly Kudryavitsky , editor of the Irish Haiku Society’s Shamrock Journal, has also written an informative article about the development of haiku in Ireland. This piece was first published in Bamboo Dreams, an Anthology of Haiku Poetry from Ireland. Doghouse Books, 2012

Posted in artwork and poetry, haiga, haiku | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments