Winning tales of diversity
2015-08-15 14:54:50 -
Education
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Six talented emerging writers with an interest in diversity have been awarded €3,500 in a new literary prize for young people.

 

The winners of the first annual Metro Éireann-Kenan Institute Writing Competition were awarded at the Chester Beatty Library recently. The competition challenged young writers in two age group – 14 to 17 and 18 to 21 – to write original fiction and non-fiction about the benefits of intercultural diversity in Ireland. 

 

First-place winners Aindrias O’Sullivan (14-17) and Karl O’Reilly (18-21) were awarded €1,000 each for their work, with prizes of €500 and €250 going to second and third place in each category respectively.

 

Suzanne Shanahan, co-director of the Kenan Institite for Ethics at Duke University, spoke about the competition, saying the institute “is honoured to partner with Metro Éireann” on the initiative, which received entries from across the country.

 

“For most young people in Ireland – both those born in Ireland and newcomers – their country is a culturally rich and diverse community, a blend of religions, races and nationalities. The submissions to this contest were a wonderful tribute to what Ireland is today and can be tomorrow ”

 

In total, Metro Éireann received 46 entries from youth across Ireland writing poetry, short stories and novel extracts. Five judges reviewed the top submissions before collectively choosing the winners in each age division.

 

The panel consisted of Kunle Animashaun, a Nigerian-Irish poet, theatre director and Trinity College assistant lecturer; Declan Hayden of Dublin City Council; Mairéad Finn, a Trinity College sociologist working in youth migration; Dave Lordan, an Irish author, editor and creative writing educator; and Jeanette Rehnstrom, a Swedish-Irish writer, member of the Irish Writer’s Exchange and regular contributor of book reviews to Metro Éireann.

 

First prize in the 14-17 group went to 17-year-old Ashbourne resident Aindrias O’Sullivan for his story ‘A New Beginning’, written from the perspective of Muhammad al-Walid, a refugee forced to make a treacherous journey from Syria to Ireland where he transitions to a new life and makes an unexpected friend.

 

On receiving his prize, O’Sullivan said he was “fascinated in the theme” of the contest because “it’s only been two decades or so and the [Irish] landscape has changed completely in terms of ethnicity and culture.”

 

He noted that in Ireland, there are “all these different people from all around the world searching for a better life.”

 

Nigerian-born Vanessa Mordi, who placed second in the same category for her story ‘Radio-Cultural’, said that she “thought of how I could introduce intercultural diversity” and decided to stress the importance of forming “community” and educating the ignorant.

 

Describing racism, she said: “If you taught people about it, if you taught people about where you were from and how you felt about being discriminated against for your race, it would be more encouraging.”

 

Third prize went to 16-year-old Maria Butt for her story of cross-cultural understanding, ‘The Only Difference’. Her story, along with Mordi’s and O’Sullivan’s, will be published in the next issue of Metro Éireann.

 

In the 18-21 group, 20-year-old Karl O’Reilly of Cabinteely, south Dublin was awarded first prize for his short story titled ‘Sweet Jùjú’, which follows the happenings of a night in the life of a music-loving Nigerian taxi driver in Dublin. O’Reilly was unable to attend the prize-giving due to illness.

 

Jamie Samson, 21, took second prize for ‘The Kitchen Maid’, and third prize went to 19-year-old Joe Gorman for his story ‘History Lesson’. Their stories will appear in a future issue of Metro Éireann.

 

 

- Metro Éireann also hosted a 19 July writing workshop at the Chester Beatty Library for the first 25 entrants to reserve a place. In order to further develop their submissions, participants learned more about the competition, were given examples of how to construct poetry and short fiction and participated in writing exercises.

TAGS : Writing Competition Metro Eireann-Kenan Institute Writing Workshop
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