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Welcome to the Munster
Literature Centre

Founded in 1993, the Munster Literature Centre (Ionad Litríochta an Deiscirt) is a non-profit arts organisation dedicated to the promotion and celebration of literature, especially that of Munster. To this end, we organise festivals, workshops, readings and competitions. Our publishing section, Southword Editions, publishes a biannual journal, poetry collections and short stories. We actively seek to support new and emerging writers and are assisted in our efforts through funding from Cork City Council, Cork County Council and the Arts Council of Ireland.Originally located in Sullivan's Quay, the centre moved to its current premises in the Frank O'Connor House (the author's birthplace) at 84 Douglas Street, in 2003.

In 2000, the Munster Literature Centre organised the first Frank O'Connor International Short Story Festival, an event dedicated to the celebration of the short story and named for one of Cork's most beloved authors. The festival showcases readings, literary forums and workshops. Following continued growth and additional funding, the Cork City - Frank O'Connor International Short Story Award was introduced in 2005, coinciding with Cork's designation as that year's European Capital of Culture. The award is now recognised as the single biggest prize for a short story collection in the world and is presented at the end of the festival.In 2002, the Munster Literature Centre introduced the Seán Ó Faoláin Short Story Prize, an annual short story competition dedicated to one of Ireland's most accomplished story writers and theorists. This too is presented during the FOC festival. The centre also hosts the Cork Spring Literary Festival each year, at which the Gregory O'Donoghue International Poetry Prize is awarded (established 2010).

Workshops are held by featured authors in both autumn and spring, allowing the general public to receive creative guidance in an intimate setting for a minimal fee. In addition, the centre sponsors a Writer in Residence each year. We invite you to browse our website for further information regarding our events, Munster literature, and other literary information. Should you have any queries, we would be happy to hear from you.




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Munster Literature Centre






Buy Zhao Lihong's Boat to Heaven


A Boat to Heaven
Southword Editions, 2010. Hardback.
Poems by Zhao Lihon, translations by Xu Qin

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"A Boat to Heaven represents a Shanghai poetic career that has stretched over forty years. The poet Zhao Lihong has worked quietly but determinedly for more than half a lifetime to create a body of work that makes the Chinese landscape sing. His is a very long-term conversation; he has listened for signals, not from the rhetoric of the present moment but from the movement of tectonic plates. His conversation is with the enduring centuries, with what is permanent in Chinese landscape, art and memory. There is a Yeatsean ambition in this perspective, and a ferocious political stubbornness in the silences. There are no County Galway tower houses here but the Asia-centred perspective of the great Bengali, and hero f Yeats, Rabindranath Tagore. History and landscape create a massive brickwork and this Chinese poet speaks to us from atop these battlements. Here is a poet of Shanghai who is part of the great circle of Tagore enthusiasts in Asia, organising lectures and conversations, participating in film projects. In structure, tone, assumptions and loyalties, Zhao Lhong stands confident with Tagore to face the West and speak."

--Thomas McCarthy from his introduction.



Poem from A Boat to Heaven


from Dreamland

My mother is lying on the bed, spitting blood
Her lips are a flower of red
Oh, Mother,
What would you like to say to me?
I am standing in the field
My shoulders are covered with snow
I want to walk towards you, Mother,
But my feet are frozen
Mother gazes at me, smiling
Her eyes are a flower blooming
She spits into the sky
Petals dancing and scattering
All over me
The snow on my body is melting
Taking me together
Into a river that is flowing
Across the river,
Red petals are whirling


Copyright ©2010 Zhao Lihong






Zhao Lihong in translation published by Southword Editions


Zhao Lihong, one of China’s most gifted poets and authors, was born in Shanghai in 1952. He started writing in 1970 and graduated in Chinese literature from the East
China Normal University. Zhao currently holds several positions, namely – director of
the China Writers Association, vice-president of the Shanghai Writers Association, the
publisher of Shanghai Literature a monthly magazine, and editor-in-chief of Shanghai
Poets a bi-monthly journal. He is also a guest professor with East China Normal University and Shanghai Jiao Tong University. So far, Zhao has published more than 70 works in poetry, prose and report literature. His writings have influenced many new writers and he has won several literary awards. A number of his works are part of the Chinese primary and secondary schools and college syllabus. His works have been translated into several foreign languages.




























Read all the latest issues
of Southword journal
online here


Visit our Youtube channel
to view events from
previous festivals and more

Words Ireland

The Munster Literature Centre
is a constituent member
of Words Ireland.


Seán Ó Faoláin Short Story Competition 2018


Judge Paul McVeigh

Read the 2017 winning story by Louise Nealon


The Cork International
Short Story Festival

Cork International Short Story Festival

Wednesday Septmeber 12-
Saturday September 15 2018


The Cork International
Poetry Festival


Wednesday March 27-
Saturday March 30 2019


The 2018 Southword Fiction
Chapbook Competition
is now accepting entries.
Deadline 31st October



The 2018 Fool for Poetry
Chapbook Competition
is now closed



Southword Editions

on sale in
our bookstore


including Fool For Poetry
winners, the New Irish
Voices series & more



The Gregory O'Donoghue
Poetry Competition

Gregory O Donoghue

This year's winner is Rob Lipton
whose poem will be published
in the next issue of Southword

The competition will reopen
for submissions in
September 2018



Frank O'Connor
Short Story Fellowship

2018 Fellow Carys Davies



Poetry International

Recent additions:

Michelle O'Sullivan
Paddy Bushe
Doireann Ní Gríofa
Paul Casey







The Munster Literature Centre

Frank O'Connor House, 84 Douglas Street, Cork, Ireland.

Tel. (353) 021 4312955, Email: munsterlit(AT)eircom(DOT)net

Irish Registered Charity No.12374