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Last year’s winners: Ruth Quinlan for First Fiction Category, John O’Donnell who won the Emerging Fiction Category and poet Jessica Traynor who won the Emerging Poetry Category and the Hennessy New Irish Writer of the Year

Last year’s winners: Ruth Quinlan for First Fiction Category, John O’Donnell who won the Emerging Fiction Category and poet Jessica Traynor who won the Emerging Poetry Category and the Hennessy New Irish Writer of the Year

Last year’s winners: Ruth Quinlan for First Fiction Category, John O’Donnell who won the Emerging Fiction Category and poet Jessica Traynor who won the Emerging Poetry Category and the Hennessy New Irish Writer of the Year

Eighteen emerging Irish writers can look forward to having their stories and poems being read by one of London's top literary agents, Peter Straus. He has joined poet and broadcaster Theo Dorgan as a judge for the 2013 Hennessy Literary Awards.

Now with Rogers, Coleridge and White, after 10 years as publisher of Picador, Straus numbers among his writers Colm Toibin, Carol Ann Duffy Adam Thirwell and Rupert Thomson. His latest discovery, former journalist Audrey Magee published her debut novel The Undertaking to glowing reviews last month, following a bidding war.

The judges held their first judging session, under the chairmanship of New Irish Writing editor Ciaran Carty, at the Westin Hotel on Tuesday. Their eventual decisions will be announced at a gala reception at the Westin on April 8. The 12th Hennessy Hall of Fame, for writers originally published in New Irish Writing who have gone on to become stabled literary figures, will also be announced.

They will choose three winners from the 18 short-listed writers, whose stories and poems were published in the Irish Independent's monthly New Irish Writing Page in 2013. Awards are in three categories, First Fiction, Emerging Fiction and Emerging Poetry, and an overall Hennessy New Irish Writer of the Year will be chosen from the category winners. Each category winner will receive €1,500 and a Hennessy trophy, and the Hennessy New Irish Writer of the Year will receive an additional €2,500 and a trophy. The New Irish Writing Page, established in the Irish Press in 1968, and edited since 1988 by Mr Carty, is the longest-running creative writing feature of its kind in any Irish or UK newspaper.

The Hennessy Literary Awards were launched in 1971 to celebrate the best writing from the page, which over the years has published the first stories and poems of many of today's leading literary figures, including Sebastian Barry, Deirdre Madden, Neil Jordan, Anne Enright, Dermot Bolger, Mary O'Donnell, Dermot Healy, Paula Meehan, Joseph O'Connor, Colum McCann, Vona Groarke, John Boyne, Frank McGuinness and Hugo Hamilton.

Last year's Hennessy Writer of the Year was poet Jessica Traynor, who also won the Emerging Poetry award, and Ruth Quinlan and John O'Donnell were winners of First Fiction and Emerging Fiction.

Stories submitted to New Irish Writing for 2014 should not exceed 2,000 words. Up to six poems may be submitted. There is no entry fee. Writers whose work is accepted for publication receive a €130 fee for fiction and €65 for poetry. Entries (with stamp addressed envelope) to Ciaran Carty, New Irish Writing, the Irish Independent, 27-32 Talbot Street, Dublin 1, along with name, phone number and email address (where available).

Stories and poems may also be emailed to newirishwriting@independent.ie. Please indicate previous publications, if any. The page is open to all Irish writers, or writers normally resident in Ireland.

Since the inauguration of the Hennessy Awards in 1971, adjudicated by William Trevor and Elizabeth Bowen, the judges have changed each year to ensure openness and independence. Among the many distinguished writers who have acted as judges are Brian Friel. Edna O'Brien, Sean O'Faolain, DM Thomas, Paul Durcan, Glenn Patterson. Colm Toibin, Roddy Doyle, Bernard Farrell, Fay Weldon, Patrick McGrath, Carlo Gebler, Philp Hensher and Beryl Bainbridge.

This year's judges Theo Dorgan and Peter Straus continue this tradition. Cork-born Dorgan's poetry collections include The Ordinary House of Love, Rosa Mundi and Sappho's Daughter.

A new collection, Greek, was published by Dedalus in 2010 and his first novel, Making Way, came out last year.

A former director of Poetry Ireland, and co-director of Cork Film Festival, he has worked extensively as a broadcaster of literary programmes on radio and television, notably Poetry Now and The Invisible Thread. He was co-editor of The Great Book of Ireland and Revising the Rising.

Peter Straus has been in the book world for over 20 years, working with Hodder and Stoughton, Hamish Hamilton and Macmillan, where he worked with authors such as Cormac McCarthy, Don De Lillo, Helen Fielding, VS Naipaul and Michael Ondaatje.

His advice to writers is not to second-guess the market, but to persevere and write authentically.

"Passion, commitment and drive can take you far – underpinned, of course, by the requisite talent. One needs to have a thick skin for criticism of any kind. Evelyn Waugh's rubric 'when someone criticises me I think what an ass and when someone praises me I think what an ass' is a tad extreme, but worth having in the back of one's mind at all times."

Emerging Fiction

SEAN KENNY

Seán's fiction has appeared in Crannóg, The Irish Times, Southword and Wordlegs. He won the 2012 Over The Edge New Writer of the Year competition. In 2011, he was shortlisted for the Swift Satire Award. He is from Dublin and divides his time between upstairs and downstairs.

RACHEL DONOHUE

Rachel is from Dublin and works in communications. She was short-listed for the Hennessy First Fiction Award in 2013 and has also been a runner up in the RTÉ Guide/Penguin Ireland short story competition. Rachel is a philosophy and politics graduate from UCD.

ROBERT HIGGINS

Robert (24) is originally from Granard, Co Longford. His stories have appeared in publications by Doire Press, Ropes, Wordlegs, Abandoned Darlings and The Galway Review and have been featured on RTÉ Radio One's Arena. He completed an MA in Writing in NUI Galway in 2012. He is represented by the Marianne Gunn O'Connor Literary Agency. He is currently working on a novel.

KIERAN MARSH

Kieran's short fiction has appeared in many publications including New Planet Cabaret, Southword Journal and Writer's Forum. He has been shortlisted on the Irish Times' Legends of the Fall competition and other awards. He recently read his story Snow Can't Last on RTÉ's Arena programme.

EILEEN KEANE

Eileen is a Roscommon-born writer and artist now living in Newbridge, Co Kildare. She won the inaugural James Plunkett short story award last October for The Peace of Evening. Her story Woman Walking on Nassau Street has been recorded as part of Stories for the Ear Volume 1. She has written two novels and her first collection of short stories is being considered for publication.

NEIL BANKS

Neil is 47 and lives in Bray, Co Wicklow. He works in the insurance industry in Dublin. He started writing again in recent years after a break. He was shortlisted in the Francis McManus Awards and in the Fish Short Story Competition, and since 2009 his work has appeared in The Stinging Fly and in Shot Glass Journal.

CHRIS CONNOLLY

Chris Connolly was born in Dublin in 1983. His work has appeared in Boston Literary Magazine, and has been broadcast on RTÉ Radio. In 2012, he was the winner of the Canon Sheehan Perpetual Literary Award and was a runner-up in the Penguin/RTÉ Short Story competition.

First Fiction

MICHAEL LAWLOR

Michael Lawlor studied English at the University of Roehampton, London, then undertook a Masters in the same subject at the University of Limerick. He now lives in Galway City.

BRENDAN MCLOUGHLIN

Brendan was born in Dublin in 1991. He studied Economics, Politics and Law at Dublin City University. His short stories explore the themes of isolation, the individual and the role of the family in modern Ireland. He is currently undertaking an MA in Creative Writing at Queen's University Belfast, where he is working on a novel.

HELEN MURRAY

Helen is a full-time mother who lives in Kilkenny with her three children. Her background is in journalism having worked for the Kilkenny People with a weekly column and the Avondhu Press, where many pieces were republished and used for radio. She has recently obtained an honours certificate from NUI Maynooth for Creative Writing for Publication. The Science of Falling is her first published work of fiction and she is currently editing her first novel.

COLM O'SHEA

Colm is originally from Leixlip, Co Kildare, and currently lives in Dublin city where he works as a civil engineer. He was one of the inaugural winners of the Irish Writers' Centre Novel Fair Competition in 2012 and is currently working on another novel.

HILARY DULLY

Hilary is a documentary filmmaker, teacher and writer. Her film work has been shown on RTÉ, Channel Four and TG4. She is currently making a film about six Irish women, survivors of institutional abuse, who emigrated to Britain in the 50s, 60s and 70s. Hilary is presently doing a practice-based PhD in Digital Arts at NUI, Galway. Her research, through film, will explore and critique 30 years of the televised abortion debate in Ireland. She lives in East Clare with her family.

Emerging Poetry

LAURA MCKENNA

After years working as a child psychiatrist, Laura took up writing and last year received a Masters in Creative Writing from UCD. Also in 2012 she won the RTÉ Guide/ Penguin short story prize. Her poetry has won the Edmund Spenser Poetry Prize in 2011, been shortlisted in the 2012 Fish Poetry competition, and will be published in The SHOp this year. She is working on her novel Forfeit which won the 2012 JG Farrell award for best novel-in-progress.

KEVIN GRAHAM

Kevin Graham lives and works in Dublin. His poems have appeared in Poetry Ireland Review, The Shop, Crannóg, Poetry Salzburg Review, Interpreter's House, Magma and others. In 2010 he was awarded an Arts Council bursary and in 2012 he was selected for the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series.

EVAN COSTIGAN

Evan's poems have appeared in New Irish Writing, Burning Bush 2, Cyphers, The Moth, Cúirt Annual, Crannóg, Revival, Boyne Berries, Census 3 Anthology and elsewhere. He won the 2012 Francis Ledwidge International Poetry Award. In the past year his work has been shortlisted in the Listowel Writers' Week Single Poem competition. He was the recipient of a poetry bursary from Kildare County Council in 2012.

DAVID CAMERON

A Scottish poet with family roots in Sligo and Tyrone, David has lived in Leitrim for the past decade. His poems have appeared in the London Magazine and Stand. His varied freelance career has involved writing speeches for Dutch royals. A short novel, The Ghost of Alice Fields, has recently been published by Greenwich Exchange (London). He is married to the glass artist Louise Rice, and they have three young children.

NORA MCGILLEN

A former civil servant in Sligo, Nora has been published in New Irish Writing Sunday Tribune, Poetry Ireland, Cyphers, Force 10, Flaming Arrows, and in the USA in Atlanta Review. She is a prize winner in Dún Laoghaire international poetry, Allingham, Boyle arts, Nora Fahey literary awards, and first prize in the National Women's Poetry competition. She has a Masters in creative writing (poetry) from Lancaster University.

JANE CLARKE

Originally from Roscommon, Jane lives in Co Wicklow. Her work is widely published, including in The Rialto, The Irish Independent, The SHop and Southword. Awards for her poetry include Poems for Patience (2013). She was runner-up in the Poetry Ireland/Trocaire Competition (2013) and the Listowel Writers' Week Poetry Collection Competition (2013). She holds an MPhil in Writing from the University of South Wales.

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