Poetry books literally fly off the shelves for Letterkenny author

Michelle Nic Phaidin


Michelle Nic Phaidin

Deirdre Hines’s first collection of poetry sold out in Letterkenny less than three weeks following the official launch of her work in Listowel.

Deirdre Hines’s first collection of poetry sold out in Letterkenny less than three weeks following the official launch of her work in Listowel.

The collection ‘The Language of Coats’ includes six poems that won her the prestigious Listowel Poetry Collection competition prize in 2011, alongside over two dozen other poems.

Her insightful and elegant poetry addresses our times in metrically precise rhythms, weaving luminous images through the media of various characters in recognisable poetic forms.

Deirdre Hines was born in Liverpool, moved to Belfast shortly thereafter and from there to Letterkenny when she was four years of age.

She attended Scoil Mhuire Gan Smál as a child and later attended Loreto, Letterkenny. In 1989, She graduated from Trinity College Dublin with a double-honours degree in English and Theatre Studies.

“I think at the time I went to college, I wanted to act and to take part in plays and direct them. I then got involved Dublin University Players and they used to stage a show every week. I directed a piece and I really enjoyed that,” she recalls.

A piece of paper which caught her eye on a Trinity notice board was one that would cultivate and nurture the young academic’s mind in a significant manner. She paused to read the notice and learnt that Interplay was looking for people from all countries to write a play and represent them in Australia.

Deirdre was working on one at the time and decided to hand it in when she had finished it. To her delight, she was accepted and chosen to represent Ireland in Australia.

“I went to Sydney. I met playwrights from all over the world. Everyone who was there was very serious about being a playwright. There was a 13-year-old girl from Russia there who was considered a genius. She had written a play about a mathematical conundrum that children would enjoy. There were Chinese writers there as well. However, they were older than us as in China they do not take you seriously as a writer until you reach a certain age,” she said.

The events in Sydney were awash with people from all countries, the French, the German, the Spanish were all present as was their eastern counterparts. There was a wealth of knowledge to be sought and got by those who had a hunger for their craft.

Deirdre’s experience in Australia played a significant part in moulding her determination to become a serious writer.

She remains in contact with a number of those whom she met and actually went to France later to help playwrights pen a play.

“It was before the time of skype and e-mail and so you had to travel,” she said.

At university she found that working with a stage and willing actors was of great benefit to her.

“An actress can say that the line or part of a play doesn’t really suit her and you both sit down and work together at crafting. I think that I learnt more from that than from lecturers,” she said.

While she was concentrating on writing plays for the stage she recalls a conversation she had with good friends which changed her attitude towards the balance of gender in her future work.

“I remember a conversation I had with friends at a time when I was literally immersed in theatre. My friends complained that the parts were not big enough, or meaty enough for them, They said that men were always given the power roles. That they were given the better parts and that women just supported them or played alongside them. I took that on board. All the theatre I wrote after that gave good parts to women,” she said.

Deirdre has written several magnificent plays, of which ‘Howling Moons, Silent Sons’ won the Stewart Parker Award for Best New Play in 1992. She went on to write ‘Ghost Acreage at Vixen Time’ for Passion Machine’s ‘Songs of the Reaper’ festival in 1994. Other plays include ‘A Moving Destiny and Dreamframe’. Plays for children include ‘Golden Moon’ and ‘Borrowed Days’.

The love of writing was realised by the author at a very young age and as a young child she used to pen poetry. The art of writing poetry has secured her many national awards.

Deirdre was short-listed for the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award in 2010. She then bettered that, winning the Listowel Poetry Collection competition the following year. Her work has been published in several magazines, including ‘The Countryman’, ‘Ireland’s Own’ and ‘Escape’.

“It’s been a long road and that’s the road I have chosen to take. Right now I am concentrating on smaller theatre pieces and poetry pieces.

“For many years you have had to please a whole audience and now you find that you are pleasing yourself more,” she said.

Deirdre was formerly the playwright in residence with the Verbal Arts Centre, Derry and was a community development worker for travellers, as well as having been a sub primary school teacher in Letterkenny and a freelance writer.

Deirdre will be doing a reading in Buncrana in Tullyarvan Mill at 7.30pm and as part of the Errigal Arts Festival she will be reading in Gortahork on July 17.