Red Line Book Festival, Oct 11 -17

Check out the terrific line up at this year’s Red Line Book Festival, loads of great poetry events in particular. I am really looking forward to heading to the new library in North Clondalkin which has a garden, to run two (free) workshops both based around A Gap in the Clouds. You can book for adults here:

Glimpses: Nature Poetry Workshop: Nell Regan Tickets, Mon 11 Oct 2021 at 18:00 | Eventbrite

And children here:

Wild Poem: Children’s Nature Poetry Workshop with Nell Regan Tickets, Sat 16 Oct 2021 at 12:00 | Eventbrite

Virtual Poetry Workshop

A few ideas from a workshop I was going to be giving on writing and rewriting poetry for M2S at dlr LexIcon this weekend you might enjoy/ find of use.

“No one knows how to write a poem. Congratulations!” Dean Young

‘Poetry is a real DIY art – you learn it by doing it.’ Marvin Bell

Three Poetry Prompts

  • A Poem sparked by a Painting.

    Read Ciaran Carson’s extraordinary last collection Still Life.  Find a painting you love and use it as a starting point for a poem. You could write about it from the point of view of a person/ object in it OR from the pov of the artist. Browse poems by other famous poets based on or sparked by paintings. Go to the cover image of Sunlight on the River at this link and you can access the first few pages.

  • Write a poem about the current situation from the point of view of – a bird, the Corona Virus, your hands…Consider tone of voice, things they might see/ feel that we can’t.
  • Have a read of this poem by ‘What Is Worth Knowing’ by Sujat Bhatt and write your own list poem with the same title ( or ‘What I Know’)

Some Ideas to Help you Revise your Poems
To re-vise = to see again

W.S. Merwin “Sometimes going over something is a way of entering into a whole new process of writing, finding new layers in a piece of writing. I think of it that way. Again, one of the people I learned a great deal from was Robert Graves, who felt that going over a piece—the revisions—was almost more valuable than producing an original draft.”

One immediate way to make a poem stronger, leaner and to make every word earn its keep, is to go through the poem and strike out all the adjectives and adverbs – then go through it deciding whether or not to insert each one again. For each word ask yourself – is it essential? Does it add to or weaken the line? (Think about it this way, which is stronger – the statement ‘I love you’ or ‘I really love you’?) Matthew Sweeny called this the ‘frisk draft’.

You could also experiment with quickly cutting a third of your poem and rereading it. How does it look now?  There are editing extremes – American poet Marianne Moore published a 29 line version of her poem ‘Poetry’ in the 1920’s which began, ‘I too dislike it..’ and by 1967 she had cut it to 4 lines;


I, too, dislike it.
              Reading it, however, with a perfect contempt for it, one discovers

              it, after all, a place for the genuine.

Marianne Moore

If a poem hasn’t even got to the ‘frisk draft’ stage and just isn’t taking flight you could try writing it from another perspective (first person instead of second and vica versa)  

You could also:

  • Try writing your first draft out by hand if you wrote it on a screen and vica versa – you’ll spot things that are unclear this way.
  • Stick it in a drawer for a few days/ weeks/ months (some poems take years to finish!)
  • Experiment with taking off the first 2 or 3 lines – sometimes these are necessary scaffolding for a poem but …scaffolding comes down once construction is done.
  • Likewise look at your last two lines –have you tied it all up to neatly or ‘poetically’. The best poems end on a line that sends us back up to read the poem again. Robert Frost said ‘No surprise for the writer, no surprise for the reader.’
  • Read it aloud yourself and then get someone else to read it back to you, exactly as you have written it. The things you thought you wrote may not be what the reader has on the page!
  • Read, read and read poetry – that way you’ll hone your instinct for what works, what’s fresh and what’s not.  

You might decide in the end that the poem that doesn’t work, is in fact a prelude or preparation for the next one.

Finally – don’t forget to keep saving your drafts (rather than always revising the original document) as you go – often we can revise one or two versions too far and need to go back.

Happy Writing and Revising! Nell Regan Mar 2020

Cork International Poetry Festival

Thursday 26th March @10pm Cork Arts Theatre

I’ll be reading in along with James Harpur and Noel Duffy as part of the Kavanagh Fellowship Reading. Tickets are available here along with more information about this year’s Cork International Poetry Festival, choc a bloc as ever with great poets and poetry events. Thanks to the Kavanagh Trust for a Fellowship in 2016.

Red Line Book Festival Poetry Night 9th October Announcement of 2019 Poetry Competition

The Red Line Book Festival kicks off today – check out the terrific line up starting off with the wonderful Children’s Laureate Sarah Crossan #WeAreThePoets and ending with Fiction Laureate Sebastian Barry and We Are Internet Famous (two separate events!) full programme here.

Really looking forward to reading and announcing the results of the Red Line poetry competition on Poetry Night, 9th October Wed 6pm Civic Theatre – it’s free and the evening also has  ‘How to get Ahead in Poetry’  with Jessie Lendennie of Salmon Poetry, Lisa Frank and John Walsh of Doire Press and Peter Fallon of Gallery Press), in conversation with poet Angela T. Carr.

April Events – Féile Londubh and Poetry Day

Really looking forward to doing a slew of poetry readings & events this month.

First up is Féile Londubh in Ashford. Check out the great programme of events 13 – 15 April 2018. On 13 April the free launch concert takes place after a workshop w/ Oisin McGann in the Mobile Library & a Fighting Words workshop . As well as trad group Perfect Friction and students rappers with Music Network, I’ll be introducing work of the Transition Year students of Colaiste Chill Mhaintain where I undertook a World Wise Global Schools series of workshops in association with Poetry Ireland WIS.

On Saturday 14 April @8pm  I’m delighted to be introducing Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin Ireland Professor of Poetry at a concert in Nun’s Cross Church ‘If Music and Sweet Poetry Agree’ who will be reading with the wonderful trad and jazz singer Aoife Doyle and musicians, Cormac Breathnach and Greg Felton. Booking now at


Next up are three events for Poetry Day ( or week!) 23-28th April

  • Monday 23rd April @ 6.30pm I’ll be giving a free workshop in

The Coach house, Old Lucan Road, Palmerstown, Dublin 20

  • Thursday 26th April @ 7.30pm

Come to a  reading and open mike in The Mermaid Arts Centre

I’ll also be taking part in the wonderful @lablelit #PoetryDayIRL project – keep an eye out for luggage labels with poetry on them!

  • Saturday 28th April 2pm I’ll be introducing and talking with poet Catriona O’Reilly as part of in Blessington Library.