Armagh Here I Come!

I’ve already announced this on social media but, in case you missed it, or if you wanted further explanation of what it all means: I have been awarded a full bursary to the John Hewitt International Summer School this year.

This summer school – based in Armagh, Northern Ireland – runs all of next week and is an intensive programme of events for writers.

There are talks, workshops, theatre shows, showcases, panels, exhibitions, and more (see table, below). I’m about as excited as I am intimidated.

The list of people taking part is impressive and, here’s the best part, I’m getting it all for free! This is made possible via the bursary scheme, which offers the opportunity to people who wouldn’t be able to avail of such events and teaching otherwise, and is funded in part by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. My particular bursary sponsor is the Community Relations Council.

For my set of three creative writing workshops, I’ve picked studying fiction under Bernie McGill, though I’m sure I’ll glean lots of things about poetry from other parts of the schedule, too. Oh, to be spoilt for choice! Already I have my reading material for the week picked out, though I’m not sure where I’ll find time to read the book of poems by the man himself. 

During my time in Armagh, I will be staying at the Royal School, this accommodation also provided for free as part of the bursary. This is such a big deal for me, and I’m so grateful. My husband has been so supportive, even though I’m essentially abandoning him for a week.

And to think, I almost didn’t apply. “It isn’t practical,” said my anxiety. “We’ll find a way,” said Steve.

Two years ago, I would have let my anxiety overwhelm me and wouldn’t even put my hat in the ring. I didn’t consider myself good enough, or deserving enough. “I’ll do it when I’m more established,” I would think to myself. But these are the things that make one established, surely? Steve’s been so good at keeping me right on that one.

So, the house has been stocked with food, the laundry is all up to date, my bag is almost packed – I’ve pulled it out of storage and made a list of things to put in it – and everything else is in place. I’m heading up a day early, on Sunday, to get settled and hopefully be well rested for Monday morning. It’s going to be an early one.

I’ll keep this blog updated with how it all goes. Watch this space!

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