By Mattie Lennon

       When a passing stranger sees the bronze bust in the quiet hamlet of Finuge, County Kerry does he or she ask if it is commemorating a local, a soldier or a literary figure. In fact it commemorates all three. When we hear Shanagolden, Red Haired Mary or The Beating of the Drum do we think of the author?

   Sean McCarthy wrote 164 songs, an autobiography, several stories, articles, poems and newspaper columns. He was a soldier, labourer, MC, storyteller, broadcaster, singer and all round entertainer. A visitor to that part of Kerry during the August weekend wouldn’t have to ask any questions about its famous son. His memory is kept alive every year since 1992 by the Sean McCarthy Memorial Festival. It consists of competitions, Ballad-sessions, storytelling and a bog-walk; all the things that Sean loved. One of the people on board from the beginning is Finuge native Minister fot Arts, Heritage and the Gaelteacht, Jimy Deenihan.

   Sean McCarthy was one of ten children. He was born in Listowel, County Kerry, on 05th July 1923.   He didn’t ever make any secret of the poverty as he was growing up. In a radio interview in 1987 he said, “ . . .the only saving grace was the imagination.” (In one of his articles he wrote, “My uncle Jim was as honest a man as hard-times would allow.”)

   He started school at five years old.  Brian McMahon, his teacher remembered, “merry mutinous eyes where gaiety and an absolute freedom of the spirit had wondrously mated.” 

   In his first song, written when he was seven with a little help from his uncle, “the tailor” Roche, he professed his superior intellect;




I’m intelligent Sean McCarthy

And I’m known to all the boys,

I live at the foot of Healy’s wood

With muck up to my eyes.


   He grew up in a home which was a house of entertainment. Years later in America, on Arthur Godfrey’s Radio Show, Sean was disappointed at his own attempt to describe,  “. . . the sheer magic, lunacy of the Rambling house as experienced by a barefoot boy.” 

   In his book I Never Saw a Purple Cow he wrote, “I heard music in the shining water of the river Feale, laughter in the flight of the wild geese, sadness in the passing of a friend and hope in the crying winds that tormented the bogs near my home.”

   From an early age he had what he described as, “. . .  an ache in my brain to write a song that would be put down on paper” but, his sensitivity and artistic leanings could be the cause of ridicule. “A songwriter was regarded as a sissy the heroic game was football.”

   There is a strong bird motif running through many of Sean’s Songs; “Wild Geese, “The proud eagle” etc. His friends claim that this symbolises freedom.

   Willing to partly relinquish the freedom of the open country, at fourteen years of age, he headed for Limerick to join the Irish Army. He was accompanied by Willy Sweeney, who was six months older, but of course they were both rejected. They spent four days picking potatoes for a west Limerick farmer who told them the story of “Willie” who died during the troubles. A quarter century later, in an apartment high above Manhattan, Sean wrote the story in song when he remembered the potato-field in “Shanagolden.”

   When he left Listowel the railway company may have suffered a minor loss of revenue. Recounting his departure  Sean refereed to, “dodging from carriage to carriage.” His literary career was influenced by poachers, politicians, footballers, storytellers, tragedy, pain and death. And, as Byran McMahon observed, he “… took as the natural food of his mind the rompings of the wren-boys and the grace-noted songs of the ballad singers.”  And ” . . . the tensions of a people whose land was broken in two.”

   He had an unusual insight into the Irish rural psyche. Exploitation in any form pained him. Like John B. Keane with Sive, Sean emphasises the tragedy of a young girl being forced to marry an older man for economic reasons in his poem Darling Kate.

You are fair of face, dear Kate, now you’re nearing twenty-one,

I hesitate to spoil your dreams, when your life has just begun.

Your father, he is old, a grah, and I am far from strong,

A dowry from John Hogan’s son would help us all along.

Just think of it, my darling Kate, you would own a motor car,

You’d wear fine linen next your skin and travel near and far.

Hogan’s lands stretch far and wide, from Rathea to Drummahead;

He owns sheep and cows and fine fat sows; pyjamas for the bed.

I know he’s tall and skinny, Kate, and his looks are not the best,

But beggars can’t be choosers, love, when you’re feathering your nest!

He’s been to college in the town; his shirts are always new,

What does it matter if he’s old, he’s just the man for you.

I know you love young Paddy Joe, him with the rakish eye,

I’ve seen the way you look at him whenever he goes by.

I will admit he’s handsome, Kate, but he doesn’t own a car,

Sure, he likes to fight and drink all night above in Sheehan’s bar.

Did I ever tell you, Kate a grah… that I was pretty too?

The summer days seemed longer then, and the sky was alwas blue!

I was only gone nineteen, and your father fifty-three,

But he owned the land on which we stand and he seemed the man for me.

There was a young man lived next door, I loved with all my might,

It was his face that haunted me when your father held me tight;

I longed, dear Kate, down through the years, for the soft touch of his hand.

But young love is no substitute for ten acres of fine land.

You will wear a long white dress and a red rose in your hair,

I will throw confetti, Kate, the whole town will be there;

You will make a promise true, to honour and obey,

I will stand on your right hand, and I’ll sell my love away.

Tears are not for daytime, Kate, but only for the night,

You’ll have a daughter of your own and teach her wrong from right;

Rear her strong and healthy, Kate, pray guidance from above.

Then one fine day when she’s nineteen—she might marry just for love.


    Each one of his 164 songs tells  a story.

 “The Key Above The Door“, (put to music by Jim Gornal) encompasses the titles of the works of Maurice Walshe with whom Sean shared a profound sense of place. Maurice said ” A place acquires an entity of its own, an entity that is the essence of all the life and thoughts and grief’s and joys that have gone before.”  And Sean was in total agreement with that sentiment.

   As Brendan O ‘Reilly of RTE said, ” Against the backdrop of his beloved Kerry with its mountains and flowers, its toughness and gentleness, its harmonies, rhythms and outrages of nature, he has written about life and love.” When he first attained prominence as a songwriter Bryan McMahon said, “A new and vital voice was raised in the land.”     `

   During World War Two, in England, he wasn’t too young to be conscripted into the BritishArmy. He said he was a reluctant soldier who left the army “not having seen an angry German.”  While there he wrote a song called, Rudolph Hess which was sung all over the Middle East; A comic song written by a man who wrote mostly of sadness. “Why is there no humour in your songs” he once asked Euin McColl. McColl, probably because he was talking to a Kerryman, answered with a question, “Why does somebody have to die in all the Sean McCarthy songs?”

  His consciousness seemed to rise and his sensitivity sharpen when he wrote or talked of death.

   John O’ Halloran, an 83 year old toil-worn Kerryman died a lonely death in London. There were four people at his funeral including a Priest and Sean McCarthy, who went back to his digs and wrote John O’ Halloran a song about life in the raw. Sean described it as “brutal.”

   It was judged “The Best Contemporary People’s Song” by the English Folk Song and Dance Society but proved unpopular with women. Not so its author who had a Joyceian ability to empathise with females. In his Kerryman column McCarthy’s Women he profiled 100 of the fairer sex. As one old Kerry nun put it, “His women came out best, no scar or ill favour found an outlet but with his light gossamer touch he brought out the good, the honesty, the joyousness of one and all . . .“

   At one stage he claimed the affections of a, seemingly, soft-hearted New York policewoman, Marie Adele Baraloni, for whom a sentimental ballad meant tears. Sean was impressed … until he remembered the words of his uncle “the tumbler” McCarthy, “Remember Seaneen be careful of the mule with the calm look. You know what to expect from the mule with the mad eyes, but the one with the docile eyes will kick you when your mind is on other things.”       

        His wit and talent paled beside his generosity and compassion. Perhaps if there were more like him his sister Peggy wouldn’t have met a tragic end on 10th February 1946. Peggy McCarthy gave birth out of wedlock and a victim of the times, of attitude and of gossip she died of shame.

Sean, uncharacteristically harboured a resentment for years until, I suppose you could say, he became a child again, spoke to his old teacher Bryan McMahon, telling him how the hatred was festering and eating his Soul.

”Write about the bloody thing” was Bryan’s advice, which Sean took, as he said himself, “to try and get the hatred out of my system and unsnarl my gut.” The hate grew less and less each day after he wrote, In Shame Love in Shame. Tony Guerien’s play Solo Run is based on the same tragedy.

   He said, “The writing of songs or poetry or indeed any type of creative writing is a drug to me, I can do without whiskey, wine, even food for long stretches but a week without writing something if only a four line poem, would be to me a wasted week.”

 For a number of years Sean ran the Crubeen Club at Clapton Junction in London. He had a Dublin man who used to “acquire “ glasses for him. In the beginning he was bringing in “hotel-quality” glasses, too posh for the Crubeen Club. So Sean had a word with him and he started to supply more modest imbibing receptacles.

     One night a young Dublin singer Danny Doyle walked up the rickety stairs and heard Sean McCarthy singing. That was when Danny’s singing career took off and he makes no secret of the fact that it was launched by Sean McCarthy. He reached the top of the charts with his first record, “Step it Out Mary.”The song, based on a skipping rhyme, was later recorded by 26 other artists.

    On one memorable occasion, on Friday 31st October 1969, somewhere over the Atlantic, Sean was straying around the aisle of an Aer Lingus plane and a stewardess eventually got him seated beside Carol Hannon, an American of German and Irish/French parentage.   This meeting prompted Sean to dismiss the advice of his uncle “The Tumbler” who told him, “ . . . a woman is different from a greyhound. When the greyhound can’t chase the hare anymore he can sit by the fire. But once a female has you fettered to a piece of Holy Paper she’ll sit by the fire and nag you day and night.”    Carol and Sean were married on Saturday 16th January 1971 and it was such a good arrangement that, ever after, Sean would describe himself as “a happily married bachelor.”

   When Sean returned from his global travels and settled back in his beloved Kerry he was one of the founders of The Rambling House programme, which went on to win a Jacob’s Award, on Radio Kerry.

   Weeshie Fogarty of Radio Kerry has this to say, “Kerry has produced many legendary sporting men and women down through the decades. And even away from the sporting fields The Kingdom has given many sons and daughters who helped shape the destiny of this country. If a list was compiled of these legendary people in my opinion Sean McCarthy would stand shoulder to shoulder with many of those great names.

 I was fortunate and privileged to have met and spend time with him and he was one of these people who you came away from and felt so much better in yourself. Very few people have this gift but Sean was special and unique. And indeed I suppose the word unique would be as accurate as any to describe this native of North Kerry. I have never met anyone remotely as charming and special in that unique way as Sean.

He had a wonderful way of telling stories and his songs all written by himself have stood the test of time and are still frequently heard on radio and wherever people celebrate together.  His melodious and highly distinctive voice is for me a joy to listen to and he was one of these people of whom we can safely say ‘there will never, ever be another Sean McCarthy’. He was a once off.” 

  In 1992 when I was compiling a programme for RTE Radio 1, on Sean McCarthy, that other Kerry historian and songwriter, the late  Dan Keane told me, “If I was sad he would cheer me. If I was in need he would help me. If I was a child he would love me.”

   Sean was diagnosed with throat cancer in 1989 and on 31st October he was visited in Cork Hospital by award-winning singer Peggy Sweeney. Sean had often said that Peggy was “the only one who can sing my songs. He asked her to do two things; to turn him in the bed “so that I can see the stars” and “Won’t you record my songs?” She complied with both requests. Sean died on 01st November 1990 and on 15th January 1991 Peggy Sweeney launched her album “The Songs of Sean McCarthy.”  She brought out a DVD of the same name and, later, another album  More Songs of Sean McCarthy. They are available from; or from the singer herself at; Mountcoal, Listowel, Co. Kerry.

   At his graveside his old schoolmaster Bryan McMahon said, “When a schoolmaster stands at the grave of a beloved scholar there is a sense of loss added to loss . . . The voice of Kerry was in Sean. He had a very lovable personality and a profound truth.”

   I wrote a play And All his Songs Were Sad about Sean’s life and works. I kept fairly faithful to the true story. It was staged by the Pantagleize Theatre Company in Fort worth, Texas in 2010 (My script, including stage directions, must have been all right, because I only got one trans- Atlantic phone-call during rehearsals. It was from Richard Blake, the Technical Director; a Texan actor had asked him how to pronounce “Lyreacrompane.”) But so far no company in Ireland has bothered to produce it.

This year’s Sean McCarthy festival is 01st August to 04th August.

      Mattie Lennon


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Australian Writers’ Centre July 23, 2014- Many Writing Courses & Exercising your but & Other Things

24 July 2014
24/7. It’s today’s date – as well as a common way to say “open all hours”. Plenty of businesses these days claim to be there for you “24 by 7”, and it’s all thanks to the internet.

I love the internet. In fact, the thought of not having it around me “24/7” gives me a panic attack! Nothing else on the planet has revolutionised how we live in such a short amount of time (20 years ago, “www” was to stutter and @ or # were just obscure accounting keys). I simply couldn’t run things without the internet. And neither can you.

For any writer today, the internet is your lifeline – your connection to editors, agents and publishers, as well as a vital research tool and community builder. The freedom to be able to make a living from home is what attracts so many to a career of writing – as plenty of our graduates continue to prove.

Here at Australian Writers’ Centre, it’s vital. Our regular video chats with interstate team members, recording my podcast, our workflow, this newsletter – all happen via the web. I was on the road last week, travelling through rural Victoria, and really had to plan for any potential pockets of “1994 life” and manage my offline time. But they were rare. It turns out you can connect from almost anywhere these days.

That’s great news for you too. Our growing range of online courses means that you can be anywhere (with an internet connection) and still access quality AWC content. Maybe you have young kids, transport challenges, work late hours or simply live somewhere beautiful yet remote. Our online courses are open for business “24/7”. Check out the full set here.

So I’m glad to have the ability to connect 24/7. And also glad I don’t live in the States, where they call today 7/24 and I’d have struggled with my intro…


Have a great wwweek!


What our students are saying


We love hearing what you think of us. Not only is it a great little writing assignment, it also gives you the chance to identify what we’re doing right or not. Here’s this week’s selection:

“It was very easy to do the course online. I liked that there was a whole week to do the modules and the fact that the classroom stays open after the course has finished.”
– Lara Tulloch (Online course: Magazine and Newspaper Writing Stage 1)

“I now feel confident that I know how to approach publishers professionally with book proposals”
– Belinda Marsh (How to Get Your Book Published)
“I benefited from the real life insights. It wasn’t just theory. Our presenter was generous with her knowledge and even her intellectual property. I am confident that I can write travel stories.”
– Craig Eardley (Travel Writing)

Q&A: Exercising your but


This week inspired by alert reader Susan Smith…

Q: Hi AWC, I was wondering why you keep putting commas before a conjunction like “but”? I was taught that this is a no-no…
A: It’s true, we love comma-buts and we cannot lie. (Sorry for the earworm.) Your English teacher did lie however, because putting a comma before conjunctions like “but”, “and”, “because” or “so” is fine if it leads to an independent clause. (Not to be confused with an independent Claus, which is Santa whenever Mrs Claus is away visiting her mother.)

Q: Are you sure?
A: Not about the Santa thing, that was a joke. But the other thing, yes. In fact, many of us were indeed taught that a conjunction should replace a comma, but sometimes – just like the Oxford comma (putting a comma before “and”), and just like twice in this sentence already, it’s important to have both to aid the readability of a sentence. It’s a similar thing to those who say you should never begin a sentence with a conjunction. But we love doing that! It’s more about syntax than semantics.

Q: So when should I use one?
A: It’s when you are beginning a new thought that could live happily without the first part. “I can do today but not tomorrow” is fine left alone. However, “I can do today, but let’s see if I can squeeze you in tomorrow” is better with the comma. Like the Oxford comma, it is both a personal preference and style thing, so be prepared for inconsistencies! But we definitely recommend using it to help clear up reader ambiguities. It’s all about sculpting a more desirable “but”…

Q: On a slightly related note, what about people saying things that end with it? Personally I wouldn’t do it, but.
A: It’s a common affliction here in Australia (and Scotland apparently), to add “but” to the butt-end of a sentence when speaking. But it should never be written this way!

Podcast: Episode 21


In Episode 21, Valerie and Allison are hunting ghostwriters, as well as discussing crime writing and getting writing tips from HarperCollins editors. They also catch up with one of Australia’s more prolific novelists (and AWC presenter!), Kate Forsyth, to discuss her new novel Dancing on Knives, her writing process (plotter, pantser, both?) and how she finds the time for everything!

You can listen to the podcast here or find it on iTunes here. If you don’t use iTunes you can get the feed here.

Courses starting soon

You’ll find a course starting soon to suit your writing goals:


Enrol now!

Your course is on:

Saturday 26 and Sunday 27 July 2014

Stir, dice, chop and julienne your recipe
for success.
Book now


Competition winners


Wow, so many “fantåstico” ways to describe Brazil! “Vibrant” was popular, but we really loved “flamboyant”, “kaleidoscopic”, “carnivalesque”, “exotic” and even “Brazerk” to name but a few! Congrats to our 10 movie double pass winners: Rachel B, Susie P, Michael P, Amy D, Jo K, Robert F, Diane C, Christine R, David J and Pauline O. They’ll be sent to you shortly.

Bloomsbury giveaway closes 31 July!


Those magical two words that all writers love: WIN BOOKS! There’s only one week left to enter the Bloomsbury book giveaway and win yourself some serious shelf-esteem: a pack containing their top five books (valued at $134)! Follow the link to our blog, enter the competition, win the books. Easy!

I’m on the blog!


Can you trademark your own name? Can you trademark your book title? We had a quick chat with IP attorney Barry Newman to explain some of the issues around protecting your name and your work as an author. Read about it right here on the blog.

Tip: No-one vs no one vs noone


No one seemed to know which macaron was poisoned. No-one could remember. So they decided that noone would leave the room until they figured it out.

First up, you can completely ignore the last one – “noone” is not a word! Apparently it was taught in schools about 40 years ago, and there is a logical argument that words like “nobody” joined, so why not “noone”? But it’s incorrect. As for the other two, “no one” is universally used across North America (they’ve never even heard of a hyphenated version). However, here in Australia, the hyphen has become a common way to go and by choosing to use both, you can avoid some ambiguity.

i.e. If you’re referring to the collective group, go with the hyphen: “no-one stands a chance!”. If you want to convey an individual (“no one person is to blame”), then write it as two separate words.

If you’re not comfy with the hyphen, that’s cool too. The main thing (as always) is consistency!

PS: Yes those things are “macarons”, made famous by Adriano Zumbo on Masterchef four years ago this month, and not “macaroons” (shredded coconut biscuits).

Plan Ahead: Images and imagination
Enrol now!

We all grew up on them; perhaps we’ve read them to our own kids. They’re humble picture books – one of our first literary rites of passage. From cats in hats to ravenous caterpillars and Gruffalos roaming the deep dark woods, picture books can have a powerful hold on us – sticking in our mind far longer than a novel.

Yet behind the scenes, they’re not so humble. There’s a lot to learn about crafting a great picture book, and presenter Cathie Tasker will show you how in this five-week course. From working with illustrations to rhythm, structure, pace and more. If you’ve always wanted to write a picture book, this is your chance to do it right!
“Cathie is extremely knowledgeable on the topic of picture books, and with so much relevant industry experience, her tips and insights were invaluable. The workshop aspect of the course and meeting other writers was terrific. Cathie was awesome. She was direct, honest, informative, funny – perfect!”
– Natalie Keen

Course: Writing Picture Books with Cathie Tasker
When: Every Tuesday for 5 weeks from Tuesday 2 September 2014
Time: 6.30–8.30pm
Picture This
Geena Leigh

“O Caption! My Caption!”
This week, send us your best caption for this scene (image below). Deliver it first person, third person, even in person so long as it’s with us by midday Tuesday 29 July 2014. We want funny. We want tears. We want drama and suspense. Our favourite and best will win a copy of “Call Me Sasha (Secret Confessions of an Australian Callgirl)” from AWC graduate Geena Leigh!


Simply reply to this email with your caption and change the subject to CAPTION. Don’t forget to include your postal address. Good luck!


Caption this
Oops Word


Lexus clearly wants to make an “impact” in this ad. The only way this would be right is if the model were the new Lexus Impac or similar, and the headline was a play on words. But no, it’s not. And so, it’s wrong!

WEBPICK: King hits

Stephen King has famously said “If you don’t have time to read, you don’t have the time (or the tools) to write.” So take a look at the almost 180 books – across part 1 and 2 – that have influenced his writing just in the past few years. Even if you don’t run out and read them yourself, it’s still an interesting insight into his reading and writing habits!

Here’s the list.

Upcoming course dates

Online courses


Online course: Creative Writing Stage 1 with Cathie Tasker/Pamela Freeman
Week beginning Monday 28 July 2014 for five weeks



Online course: Magazine and Newspaper Writing Stage 1 with Allison
Week beginning Monday 11 August 2014 for five weeks


Online course: Writing Books for Children and Young Adults with Judith Ridge/Cathie Tasker
Week beginning Monday 11 August 2014 for five weeks


Online course: Writing Picture Books with Cathie Tasker
Week beginning Monday 11 August 2014 for five weeks


Online course: Travel Writing with Julietta Jameson
Week beginning Monday 11 August 2014 for five weeks




Online course: Advanced Fiction Writing Techniques with Cathie Tasker/Pamela Freeman – NEW DATE
Week beginning Monday 18 August 2014 for five weeks





Sydney courses
Course: Writing Books for Children and Young Adults with Judith Ridge
Starting Thursday 24 July 2014 for five weeks

Course: Life Writing Masterclass with Patti Miller
Starting Friday 25 July 2014 for eight weeks

Course: Food Writing with Carli Ratcliff
Saturday 26 July and Sunday 27 July 2014 (2 consecutive days)


Seminar: Blogging for Beginners with Kim Berry
Wednesday 30 July 2014 (two-hour evening seminar)


Course: Professional Business Writing with Kate Hennessy
Thursday 31 July 2014 (one-day course)


Course: Plotting and Planning with Kate Forsyth
Saturday 2 August 2014 (one-day course)


Course: Magazine and Newspaper Writing Stage 1 with Alexandra Spring
Starting Monday 4 August 2014 for five weeks


Seminar: How to Get Your Book Published with Geoff Bartlett
Monday 4 August 2014 (two-hour evening seminar)


Course: Creative Writing Stage 1 with Jeni Mawter
Starting Wednesday 6 August 2014 for five weeks


Weekend course: Creative Writing Stage 1 with Claire Scobie
Saturday 9 and Sunday 10 August 2014 (2 consecutive days)


Course: Writing for the Web with Grant Doyle
Monday 11 August 2014 (one-day course)


Course: Grammar and Punctuation Essentials with Deb Doyle
Thursday 14 August 2014 (one-day course)


Course: Writing Picture Books with Cathie Tasker
Starting Tuesday 2 September 2014 for five weeks

Course: Screenwriting Stage 1 with Tim Gooding
Starting Thursday 4 September 2014 for five weeks


Seminar: Blogging for Beginners with Kim Berry
Saturday 13 September 2014 (two-hour morning seminar)

Weekend course: Fantasy, Science Fiction and More with Pamela Freeman
Saturday 13 September and Sunday 14 September 2014 (2 consecutive days)


Course: Business Writing Essentials with Kate Hennessy – NEW DATE
Tuesday 2 September 2014 (one-day course)


Course: Editing Essentials with Deb Doyle
Thursday 9 October 2014 (one-day course)


Course: Advanced Fiction Writing Techniques with Jeni Mawter
Starting Thursday 9 October 2014 for five weeks

Course: Introduction to Novel Writing with Pamela Freeman
Starting Monday 13 October 2014 for six weeks


Weekend course: Travel Memoir with Claire Scobie
Saturday 1 November and Sunday 2 November 2014 (2 consecutive days)


Weekend course: Write a Chick Lit Novel with Lisa Heidke – NEW DATE
Saturday 1 November and Sunday 2 November 2014 (2 consecutive days)


Course: Writing About Interiors, Style and Design with Nigel Bartlett
Starting Wednesday 5 November 2014 for two weeks


Course: PR and Media Releases That Get Results with Catriona
Thursday 6 November 2014 (one-day course)


Course: Screenwriting Stage 2 with Tim Gooding
Starting Monday 10 November 2014 for five weeks


Seminar: Self-publishing: How to do it with Geoff Bartlett
When: Thursday 13 November 2014



Course: Life Writing with Patti Miller

Starting Friday 16 January 2015 for six weeks


Course: Write Your Novel with Pamela Freeman
Starts Monday 2 February 2015 (6 month program)


Course: History, Mystery and Magic with Kate Forsyth – NEW DATE

Saturday 7 March and Sunday 8 Sunday March 2015 (2 consecutive days)




Overseas writing tours – 2014

Writing in Oxford with Kate Forsyth
When: Sunday 7 September to Monday 15 September 2014


Memoir Writing in Paris with Patti Miller
When: Thursday 23 October to Saturday 8 November 2014



Overseas writing tours – 2015

Writing in Vietnam with Carli Ratcliff – NEW DATE

When: Friday 11 September to Saturday 19 September 2015


Memoir Writing in Paris with Patti Miller – NEW DATE
When: Thursday 22 October to Saturday 8 November 2015

Best wishes,
Valerie Khoo
National Director


Australian Writers’ Centre

Sydney and Online: (02) 9929 0088
Melbourne: (03) 9005 6737
Perth: (08) 9468 0177

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The 37th Annual Playwrights Festival- Final Weekend Four Plays


Come for a play, stay for the day!
6 plays + 4 extraordinary events this weekend


Join us this July 25-27 for the final weekend of the Bay Area Playwrights Festival and the numerous special events that come along with it!

A VIP or Flex Pass is a great way to SAVE on tickets and ensure a seat at any and all Special Events!

Staging the Now

Addressing Real Time Issues Through Theater

July 25, 2 – 5 pm


Featuring Beth Hersh (Shelter in Place), Michael Gene Sullivan (SF Mime Troupe), Lily Janiak (reviewer) and many more! Join us on Twitter with #bapf37 #stagingthenow
This is a discussion of the mysterious process of keeping a step ahead of the zeitgeist, having timely work available for an audience the moment they are ready to receive it. How do playwrights write about circumstances still developing before their eyes? How do directors and producers get those plays to stage while the issues are still fresh and engaging? Join the roundtable discussion of how theater artists can help lead the conversations most important to the community and the nation. This is a FREE Event and Pizza will be provided.

Almost No One Sees Your Facebook Posts

Be More Effective at Marketing your Show

July 26, 9 – 11 am

Featuring Prince Gomolvilas and Susan Shay


The digital market has become the foremost arena for publicizing and selling a show – whether you are a playwright, director, or an actor, Internet literacy is only the beginning. This is a Hands On Marketing Experience!

Reserve your Seat NOW with our PAY-WHAT-YOU-CAN window!

Translating the Untenable

Staging Thorny Issues in Ways That Matter


July 26, 2:30 – 3:30 pm

Featuring playwrights Phillip Howze (abominable), TD Mitchell (Queens for a Year, Army Wives) and E. Hunter Spreen (Split the Stick)


Three of our playwrights who tackle intricate real-world issues – from postcolonialism to social justice, the war in Iraq to the inequalities between male and female soldiers – will explore the process of transforming these issues into plays that are able to inform and engage audiences as only the theater can. Bring your own questions and thoughts to the discussion of how to translate what may not be discussed at the dinner table into a conversation with the community at large.


Free and open to the public, no RSVP required.

Deepening the Talent Pool

Radical Inclusion of Deaf Artists and Artists with Disabilities

July 27, 2 – 3:30 pm

Featuring: Michaela Goldhaber, Doug Gordy, JW Guido, Don Nguyen, Marilee Talkington

Moderator: Erin Merritt


This talk will be ASL interpreted by Kendra Keller.


Beginning with the notion that the Deaf theater community and performers with disabilities should be employed to fill roles written about them, we’ll explore the reasons and means to employ them in more mainstream roles as well. Come make new connections and share your own success stories.


This is a FREE Event and Pizza will be provided. 

Will You Be There? 
Photo courtesy of Jim Norrena

JOIN US for the Final #BAPF Weekend!
Friday, July 25

2-5pm Staging the Now

8pm Ozma of Oz

Saturday, July 26

9am Marketing Your Work in the Digital Age

12pm Split the Stick

2:30pm Translating the Untenable

4pm Queens for a Year

8pm abominable

Sunday, July 27

12pm Shelter in Place

2:30pm Deepening the Talent Pool

4pm Sound

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Randy Ford Author- INTRUSION Chapter Two Installment Four


Randy Ford Author- INTRUSION  Chapter Two   Installment Four

After the “big move” …as Alice always referred to her move to San Antonio … she tried to live a normal life. It happened all of a sudden, or it seemed, and no one could figure it out except Alice and Albert, but she was beginning to do a lot of things differently, which confused people even more. She only talked about it with Maggie.


Alice insisted on finding her own place and living alone with her two girls, so it wasn’t surprising it was difficult at first. It would’ve been difficult anyway, but she made it more difficult by not accepting help. Her new home was near the bus route on St. Mary’s. She lived in an apartment in a Spanish neighborhood, and it didn’t bother her. She had other things on her mind. She had nothing to fear. She liked her neighbors.


Her next-door neighbor was older than her mother, and in many ways became a substitute for her real mother. Alice suspected she needed a second family since her children rarely saw her. As hard as it was to believe, she lived alone, without a husband, and Mrs. Coats’ children rarely saw her. Though she had vivid memories of a life she once had, Alice had to fill in the gaps one by one.


How could Mrs. Coats be as old as she said was? How could she be as old as she said she was and still live alone? How could she do her shopping? How could she still drive? How could she stay busy? Did Alice dare entrust her with her daughters? Alice needed help with the girls, but could she trust Mrs. Coats? Could she? Would she? Did she dare ask? She needed help. Alice knew she would do it.


Alice worried about her next-door neighbor, who she referred to as grandma Coats, Grandma Coats was certainly an old woman with poor eyesight, so the question remained, could she see well enough to keep an eye on her girls? Was she alert enough? Yes, she lived alone, but was she alert enough to look after two young girls who already were a handful.


Grandma Coats became Alice’s only confidant. They saw each other every morning, met for coffee. Alice was more concerned for Grandma Coats than herself and went to see her every morning with the two girls in tow. This helped her get through this difficult time. This helped helped, helped before she was really settled with a job and knew she could survive on her own. She would need a job; however it wasn’t easy. She needed to work before.


Just make sure she remembered to take her medicine. Grandma Coats was getting forgetful. At first it was hardly noticeable, so Alice felt she could count on her.


After a stay in the hospital, Grandma Coats didn’t recover as fast as she wanted. She wasn’t her old self for a long time. It took a long time for her to recover, and Alice assumed responsibility for her. It wasn’t like she had enough to deal with. Still she nursed Grandma back to health. However Grandma Coat was never the same, and Alice witnessed this.


Alice was aware then that Grandma Coats was dying. Grandma Coats never complained, wasn’t a complainer, and seemed to be improving. Alice saw her every morning. She made sure she ate. Even so Grandma Coats lost her appetite, Alice did what she could to make sure she ate. Alice couldn’t see every day changes, small changes that were involved … lack of appetite, listlessness, unresponsiveness … until it was too late. She was too close to Grandma Coats to recognize the signs and see that something was wrong. By then Grandma Goats was bedridden.


By then Alice didn’t have a husband to rely on. He came to San Antonio once a week, if that often. He came on Mondays to see the girls. He took the Interstate and drove fast. How else did he manage it? Note he didn’t come to see Alice. None of their attempts at reconciliation worked. Instead, on her own, Alice became more independent, hardened and independent. And when she looked around, she could finally say, “I am lucky.”


In spite of everything Alice still loved Albert. Now they had separated, and she had gone with the girls to live in San Antonio. Maybe it was for the best, maybe … maybe since Albert’s interests were elsewhere and since she felt Dallas was not big enough for both of them. She also grew up in San Antonio, and her parents sill lived there.


That was why, or what she told herself. She knew San Antonio, knew people there, and had family there, but how was she going to explain to her family? How could she explain and protect Albert? She wanted to protect Albert. Why did she want to protect Albert? By then it was pretty clear that Albert had other interests and had no need for her. And she thought Grandma Coats would recover. And with her parents involved with their own lives, it seemed likely they didn’t need her anymore, that like Albert they didn’t need her anymore. Her sister never came to see her. And with her parents’ attitude, she felt more alone than ever. And when Grandma Coats died, she felt like she had no one. She wondered why her family was how they were. Was it possible that they didn’t need her anymore? It was inevitable, maybe. Yes, they lived across town, but was that any excuse. And now after Grandma Coats was gone, she saw no reason for staying in San Antonio. But where could she go? “As far … as far away as possible, she thought. But she was afraid. So she talked to her parents, and they offered to help her find a house. It was clear then that she wanted a house. They were afraid she would go away, far away. They were relieved when she decided to stay in San Antonio, but they didn’t yet know what was going on.


And she didn’t tell them yet. She couldn’t tell them. They hadn’t seen Albert since he and their daughter broke up. Mother and daughter had once been close, but now Alice didn’t confide in her. The truth was she didn’t know how to approach the subject. She felt afraid, but she knew there would come a time when it would come out. She needed Albert’s help. She had thought of calling Albert and asking for help. But she was afraid of the consequences, so she left it up to him.


“Why are you here?” Alice’s mother finally asked. Alice smiled nervously as she tried to ignore the question but there was no way to ignore the question. And there was no way to avoid questions. She looked at her mother, then her father, and with tears in her eyes said, “he left me.” “He left me” … it was all she could come up with. “He left me” it was the first thing that came out of her mouth. She said it without thinking. So many men and women were then separating and getting a divorce that she wasn’t prepared for her mother’s next question. “For another woman?”


Alice, who had barely began dealing with the separation, was now faced with this question. She felt like telling her mother that it was none of her business, but she knew it wouldn’t satisfy her parents. And what business did she have in betraying Albert? She needed Albert’s help on this one. What right did they have? Why couldn’t they wait … wait for Albert … wait until she was ready to tell. It would come out sometime, so why couldn’t they wait? “For another woman?”


While Albert was now away from his family, he imagined his girl growing up without him. When he had been away from them before, it had only been for a short time. Now he missed them, missed them very much. He missed them more than he missed Alice. He never thought he would think that. Now that he had other interests, he didn’t miss her as much as he otherwise would have. And it was easier for him, now that he had other interests. It still wasn’t easy.


It had not occurred to him that he and Alice could have joint custody of their girls. In any event he knew because of their ages the girls shouldn’t be separated from their mother for any length of time. So she decided to move back to San Antonio where she had family. He knew she needed a support system. At this particular time in her life he knew it.


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Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering- 26th Annual Celebration

Durango Cowboy Poetry Gathering- 26th Annual Celebration

October 2-5, 2014

Featuring Tom Russell and Many More Poets and Musicians

Celebrating the Culture of the American Cowboy

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Navy SEAL Marc Beale and nine other members of his SEAL Team 3 embark on a cruise from Italy to Brazil.  Suffering from survivor guilt over the death of ideal woman, he engages in a risky but exciting one-night affair with a beautiful Italian lady who begins to heal his damaged soul.

Italian-American Sophia Negri,  a dance instructor, is ready for one last contract aboard an Italian Cruise line before meeting her fiancee in Brazil.  She falls for the handsome American and decides one night of anonymous sex might ease her wedding jitters.  She doesn’t let on she knows English, as their bodies do the talking.

When they discover each other on board ship, sparks are rekindles and their affair blooms hot enough to consume them both, just before terrorist strike, holding the passengers hostage for ransom.  Will Marc’s actions be enough to rescue the woman he loves or will he have to make the ultimate sacrifice in order to save her?



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Abingdon Theatre Company- Become an Abingdon Subscriber. 3 New Plays Only $70.

Abingdon Theatre Company- Become an Abingdon Subscriber. 3 New Plays Only $70.

Jul 21, 2014
Join us for one of these Upcoming Events:
Saturday, August 9 at 7:00pmCUT THROAT
by J.B. Reich
Page2Stage Reading
Monday, August 11 at 7:00pm

by Hal Borden
Page2Stage Reading
Thursday, August 14 at 2:00pm

Benefit Concert
Tickets $45
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Sunday, August 17 at 7:00pmJINXED
By Stacey LLuftig
Directed by
Donald Brenner
Page2Stage Reading
Monday, August 18 at 7:00pm

Abingdon Theatre
Arts Complex
312 West 36th St., NYC
First Floor

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A subscription to Abingdon Theatre Company’s 2014-2015 Season includes one ticket to each of our three Mainstage productions: Iddo Netanyahu’s A Happy End, directed by Alex Dmitriev, in the June Havoc Theatre; and Catherine Butterfield’s It Has to Be You, directed by Stuart Ross, and Sheldon Bull’s Mallorca, directed by Donald Brenner, in the Dorothy Strelsin Theatre.

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