Monday, 28 March 2011


The Fish Poetry Prize closes in 2 days. Brian Turner, author of Here Bullet and Phantom Noise is judging and this is an opportunity to be recognized by one of the most interesting and powerful poets of our time, and be published in the 2011 Fish Anthology. The first prize is €1,000 and the best ten poems will be published.

Brian Turner will launch the Anthology on July 6 at the West Cork Literary Festival.

Poetry is just the evidence of life.  If your life is burning well, poetry is just the ash.
Leonard Cohen

Entry is online – €14, or by post – €16.

If posting, the address is:

Fish Publishing,
Co. Cork,

Make cheques payable to Fish Publishing. Do not put your name or address or any other details on the poem – use a separate sheet. Receipt of entry will be acknowleged by email. Poems will not be returned.
Maximum words for each poem is 200, and you may enter as many as you wish, provided there is an entry fee for each one. Full details and rules are here, and are listed below in brief. Entry is deemed to be acceptance of these rules.

Publishing rights of the ten winning poems are held by Fish Publishing for one year after the publication of the Anthology.

Last year the prize was won by Catherine Phil MacCarthy with Limbo.  reproduced here –


The firstborn   was handed back to them 
in a small cask   not much bigger than
a shoebox   only wooden   no more about it
they took it home by pony and trap
wasn’t the river in flood at the gate?
they had to climb down   and wade through it  
and she went alone with him
to the corner of a field   below the house
a dry shaded place   where he opened a grave
for it was April then   and the pinkish
blossoms of whitethorn were emerging
and they lifted it low together
onto sods of damp earth  
placed holy water with it
and everything she could to lay  
a holy innocent to rest
as far as  giving the boy    a name
it was Martin    the brother in Chicago
and when it came to saying good-bye
he had to draw her away    she was so
lonely   that shook him   while
he covered it with clay   for up to then
never a care   but a demon for style
high heels   you’ve never seen the like
though she gave birth again 
she was often seen    alone   in that field

Catherine Phil MacCarthy

For writers who wish to improve their skills, the Fish online course in Flash Fiction offers a ten module course over three months. It is designed to be useful and fun, and includes free entry to next year’s One-Page Prize.

The 2011 Fish Short Story Prize will open on 1 June and close 30 Sept 2011.

Out of the quarrel with others we make rhetoric; out of the quarrel with ourselves we make poetry
W.B. Yeats

Poetry Contest Rules
No entry form is needed. Entry is mostly on-line, or by post if required.
You can enter as many times as you wish. One poem per entry.
The poetry contest is open to poets of any nationality writing in English.
There is no restriction on theme or style.
Poem length is restricted to 200 words.
The winning poems must be available for the anthology and, therefore, must not have been published previously.
Fish holds publishing rights for one year after publication. Copyright remains with the author.
Notification of receipt of entry will normally be by email.
The judges' verdict is final.
No correspondence will be entered into once work has been submitted.
Poems cannot be altered or changed after they have been entered. Do not put name or address with the poem, but on a separate sheet if entering by post, or in the correct place on the online entry system.
Overall winners of the Fish Poetry Prize may enter again, but will not be eligible for the first prize.
A poet who has had two poems in Fish Anthologies may not enter for three years. They may enter other Fish Prizes in that time. (This is designed to give opportunities to a wider circle of emerging poets).
Entry is taken to be acceptance of these rules.

"Therefore" is a word the poet must not know
André Gide


Thursday, 17 March 2011


17 March. St Patrick’s Day


WINNERS OF THE 2010/11 FISH SHORT STORY PRIZE AS CHOSEN BY SIMON MAWER. (See Simon’s thoughts on the judging process and the stories below).


The Space Between Louis And Me by Mary O’Donnell (Ireland)


La Paix by Hannah-Fleur Fitz-Gibbon (UK)


Big Spirit Blow by Robert Porteous (Australia)

Runners-up, not in order:

Bread and Stone by Sylvia Torti (USA)

The Yellow Cardigan by Vicky Woodcraft (UK)

The Blue Notes by Jenni Lawson (USA)

You Only Know Who Your Mummy Is by Kelly Holman (UK)

Off My Trolley by Jude Bridge (Australia)

Casting for Parts by Caitlin Greene (Australia)

Daddy's Rich and Mummy's Good-Looking by Jo Campbell (UK)

All of us at Fish would like to congratulate these ten writers. The Fish editorial staff worked diligently over the winter to read and shortlist the 1,900 stories that were entered, and I want to thank them for their time and care.

There will be some very disappointed writers on the shortlist that were not selected for the Anthology, and I would like to commend them highly on their achievement. As Simon Mawer indicates in his notes below, all on the shortlist were worthy of inclusion and there was little or nothing separating them from the winners. On another day, they might have been the ones. On another day, they will be.

The prizes will be awarded at the launch of the 2011 Fish Anthology of short stories, flash fiction and poetry. Bantry in west Cork is the location, on Wednesday 6 July, at the West Cork Literary Festival. The ten winning stories will appear in the Anthology alongside the winners of the Fish One-Page and Poetry Prizes.

Winner Mary O’Donnell, already a prominent Irish poet, receives €3,000. Second Hannah-Fleur Fitz-Gibbon gets a week at Anam Cara Writers’ and Artists’ Retreat in West Cork and €300, and third Robert Porteus receives €300. We at Fish hope that all of the writers can join Mary O’Donnell and read from their work at the launch.

Simon Mawer on Judging the Fish Short Story Competition, 2010/2011

“Short story writing is a bit like painting in water colours. It’s an art of precise strokes in which you need to be deft, accurate and sensitive to the faintest imbalance. And if it’s good then the finished whole is somehow more than the sum of its parts. On the other hand, novel writing is more like painting in oils. You can layer, rework, scrub things out, move near, stand back, live with the thing in your studio for a year or more, counterbalance a lapse here with a successful passage there. And all too often the whole is somehow less than its various parts. As a writer I feel I can do the oil painting, more or less; it’s the water colours that make me feel inadequate.

So it was with some trepidation that I received the stories that had made the cut in the Fish Short Story competition this year. No committee decision from now on: it was up to me alone. Aside from being a novelist I have also been a teacher – not of English or Creative Writing but of workaday Biology – and as soon as I turned to the first story I found the teacher in me asking questions: what are the criteria? where is the mark scheme? how can you be objective about this? The answer is, of course, you cannot. Assuming all the stories are competently written (they were) any further judgement must be purely subjective. So, feeling guilty, I threw years of pedagogical conditioning out of the window and sat down to read. I wasn’t a teacher marking exams, I was a writer doing the impossible: trying to rank works of art. And the only way I could do it was by deciding which of these stories I liked best.

What struck me forcibly was the preponderance of family anguish stories among the twenty. Isn’t this theme a trifle hackneyed? Perhaps it comes from that injunction of the Creative Writing course, that you should write about what you know. I’d say, write about what you imagine. Let your imagination take you to places and inside people whom you couldn’t possibly otherwise have known. Imagination is the key, the crux, the hinge on which all art turns.
So I was captivated by the desolate mining world evoked in Big Spirit Blow with its awful shrivelled corpses and the bewildered Ozzies trying to make out what was going on. And the biologist in me loved the gruesome mutated Cordyceps fungus attacking humans as the current species attack insects. The tone is right, the language is right, threat is expertly hinted at. You breathe in the spores as you read.

Closer to home, La Paix seemed a beautifully oblique portrait of a marriage broken by a single, mundane tragedy – half a lifetime distilled into a few thousand words, emotions alluded to rather than stated bluntly. I enjoyed the bleak detachment of the narration and the bitter irony of “insurance”, which is the leitmotiv of the story.

Finally my winner was The Space Between Louis and Me, for its humour and its gentle mockery of our current obsession with the virtual world. With social networks and online gaming replacing human interaction, who can doubt that someone like Louis, or Louisa, is waiting just round the corner for you? Yet beneath the veneer of humour was a real evocation of the isolation that imbues so much of modern life. And, as with a fine water colour, this piece was created with minimal brushstrokes.” 

Simon Mawer, March 2011. Rome.

Finally, there are just three days left to the close of the Fish One-Page Prize, which will be judged by Chris Stewart. You can enter a story of 300 words or less online or by post – as long as they are post-marked before the closing date they will qualify.

The Fish Poetry Prize closes in 13 days. Brian Turner is judging and this is an opportunity to be recognized by one of the most interesting and powerful poets of our time.

Fish Publishing, Durrus, Bantry, Co. Cork, Ireland is the postal address. Entry for each competition is €14 and the first prize is €1,000. The ten best from each competition will be published in the 2011 Fish Anthology.

For writers who wish to improve their skills, the Fish online course in Flash Fiction offers a ten module course over three months. It is designed to be useful and fun, and includes free entry to next year’s One-Page Prize.

The 2011 Fish Short Story Prize will open on 1 June and close 30 Sept 2011.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day, wherever you are in the world.

Clem Cairns

Tuesday, 15 March 2011

Short Short Story Contest

Flash fiction, sudden fiction, microfiction, micro-story, short short, postcard fiction, prosetry and short short story are but a few of the terms used to describe the increasingly popular genre of the short short story. ‘One-page story’ is Fish’s preferred title, and The Fish One-Page Story Prize has been an annual event since 2004.
10 short short stories are selected each year to be published in the annual Fish Anthology. This year novelist Chris Stewart (author of Driving Over Lemons, A Parrot in the Pepper Tree, The Almond Blossom Appreciation Society and Three Ways to Capsize a Boat: An Optimist Afloat) will be put to the pin of his collar to select 10 stories from the entries - a difficult task when, if history is to repeats itself, writing quality is so high, themes so varied and styles so unique.

Quote from our website:
This is an opportunity to attempt what is one of the most difficult and rewarding tasks - to create, in a tiny fragment, a completely resolved and compelling story in 300 words or less. Flash Fiction is wonderfully entertaining to read and challenging to write, but we love it and so do the readers of our Anthology. This is another chance to get a story, however small, into this year's Fish Anthology.

P.S Only 5 more days until closing date

Wednesday, 9 March 2011


Flash Fiction or One-page Short Stories are due in 11 days, on March 20, 2011! Polish up your ideas, turn a draft for a Short Story into a One-page Story  or start from scratch. You can do it! Send in your entries now, time is of the essence. Good Luck!

Sunday, 6 March 2011

Fish Publishing

Fish Publishing adds a new Facebook Page to widen our scope as we're going global.
Check out the Fish image from the first Fish Publishing Anthology published in 1994!
Please join us and tell your friends - no matter where you are! With your help this can become
a vibrant connecting place for writers from around the world.

Who is Brian Turner?

Fish Poetry Prize judge this year is acclaimed poet and US Army veteran Brian Turner, who has earned nine major literary awards with his poetry collection Here, Bullet, (Bloodaxe Books, 2007). Turner has been the recipient of several literary fellowships, as detailed on our website, and his second collection Phantom Noise was published in the US as well as in the UK in 2010. He can’t wait to read your entries!

Deadlines coming up!

Fish Fans everywhere, please spread the word:
Don't miss your chance to win and get published at current
Fish Publishing contests for Poetry and Short Fiction!
One-Page Short Fiction (Flash Fiction) = March 20, 2011
Poetry = March 30, 2011
Send or E-mail your entries now!
Go to and check out more details.