The Moth at 10“It’s a very important moment in a writer’s life when somebody actually wants to publish a piece of your work.”

As heard on arena

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They grow up so fast, don’t they? The Moth, a quarterly arts and literature magazine, featuring poetry, fiction and art by established and up-and-coming writers and artists turns 10 this year and on Monday, Arena threw them a party. Kay Sheehy welcomed editor and co-founder Rebacca O’Connor, as well as contributors June Caldwell, Alan McMonagle and Niamh Boyce.

The magazine was founded when the last recession was hitting its zenith and, Rebecca tells Kay, it feels odd to be celebrating ten years of the magazine as the world stares down the barrel of something even worse than the most recent economic meltdown. So how did The Moth come about? Kay asked.

“We really started very small, we didn’t have big ambitions… We just kind of took it step by step. Like I say, we had no big plans. It was, you know, to publish work that we thought was exceptional.”

The magazine has certainly done that in its time, including work from the likes of Dermot Healy, Sara Baume and John Boyne. Rebecca and her partner Will run the magazine and an associated writers’ retreat in County Cavan.

Writer June Caldwell joined the celebration to tell Kay how she first got involved with the magazine. She was volunteering in the Irish Writers’ Centre and the magazine was there on the counter and June read it on her lunch break. She was trying to get started as a writer and decided to send a story off to The Moth. Getting a one-line email from Rebecca saying she wanted to publish the story meant a huge amount to June at the time:

“I remember just jumping up and down for joy because it’s a very important moment in a writer’s life when somebody actually wants to publish a piece of your work and you know that it’s not just you writing into the ether in your pyjamas, you know? That someone actually thinks it’s good enough to be on the printed page.”

Author of Ithaca, Alan McMonagle, also joined the party and told Kay how he first got published in The Moth. He’d finished an MA in Writing and returned home from abroad when some friends told him about a new literary magazine. He submitted some poems and was delighted when he got that one-line email response from Rebecca:

“There’s no feeling quite like it when you get one of these emails. Again it was another one-line email, but suitably enthusiastic.”

Niamh Boyce, author of The Herbalist, came across The Moth online and successfully submitted a poem called Petronella, which ended up becoming a novel. The fact that her poem got accepted by The Moth was particularly pleasing for Niamh because she had started writing poems that she liked to write, rather than ones she thought would be successful.

“When The Moth accepted them, it was a real thumbs-up for me. Your confidence goes up and down as a writer, depending on whether you’ve been published or not and all sorts of different things.”

To hear more from Arena’s celebration of The Moth’s 10 years of existence, including excerpts from work by June Caldwell, Alan McMonagle and Niamh Boyce, as well details from the current issue, point your cursor or finger here.

And you can get the current issue of The Moth, as well as back issues, directly from themothmagazine.com.

Niall Ó Sioradáin

 

 

© The Listener 2020

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