It’s been said that Ireland has produced some of the most beautiful and profound works of literature in the world, and with writers such as James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, Elizabeth Bowen and Joseph O’Connor part of our literary past, it’s hard to disagree.
Specifically aimed at Irish writers between the ages of 16 – 30, the organisation which was set up in September by Dr. Stephen Doherty, aims to showcase Irish fiction at home and abroad. ‘Under Thirty’ is made up of a group of expert panellists and provides a platform for young writers to have their work published and critiqued by experienced peers. The most promising submissions are published in the group’s bi – annual journal which will be distributed as an e –book and a printed book throughout Ireland, the United States and Australia.
‘It’s quite experimental and it’s not something that has really been done before within the creative writing world’, explains Dr. Doherty, who is an author and a lecturer at Dublin City University.
‘It came from talking to young writers who were struggling to have their work read, and I thought it would be an interesting idea to set up a organisation where people can submit their work, get constructive advice and have a chance to be published.’
At the moment the organisation has fifty panellists from a mixture of professional backgrounds; they include Irish Times journalist – Tim O’Brien, author – Yvonne Cassidy, literary scholar – Professor Margaret Kelleher and historian/ author – Turtle Bunbury. All the organisers and panellists work voluntarily to ‘review submissions, provide feedback and encouragement to the country’s aspiring writers.’
Valerie Sirr, winner of the Hennessy New Irish Writer award in 2007 and writer for the Irish Times, outlined her view on the initiative – ‘I think it's a great idea to reach young writers. I wish it had existed when I started out. I hope my own input will be of benefit to young writers because it's a great feeling to see new writers develop and in my experience they often come on in leaps and bounds with the right guidance’.
The most outstanding contributor will be awarded with a prize of either, a creative writing scholarship or a writing retreat which will be funded by eBook and book sales. Plans are in place to have the journal put together in December with the finished product ready for sale in the run up to Christmas.
‘The group is a non profit organisation with the idea essentially based around people being generous with their time. There has been a great reaction so far and I’d encourage anyone who is interested to submit their work before the November deadline’, says Dr. Doherty.
Currently ‘Under Thirty’ is only open to Irish writers based at home and abroad but organisers are optimistic that if interest continues it will expand to the ‘UK and USA, and include younger writer’s as well’.
The deadline for this year’s submissions is midnight the 7th of November. Further details are available on the website http://under-30.org/or join the conversation on Twitter -www.twitter.com/underthirty and Facebook – www.facebook.com/underthirty.