“Jillian Buckley had us spellbound with her beautiful poems straight from her heart; she delivers with a disarming innocence. Her writing is wise and touchingly emotional far beyond her years. A poet surely on her way to wider and wider acclaim. We can’t wait to have her back.” David Goldman, singer/songwriter

“Listening to Jillian’s poetry was wonderful. We all witnessed the combined power of a young talent emerging with deep vulnerability, truth, and sincerity.” Martha Pinson, Filmmaker/Director


And we received this from John Buckley, Jillian’s father:

“I can’t express enough my appreciation for the opportunity for Jillian to perform, but even more so the opportunity for her to experience the artistic environment that was provided.    As I’ve mentioned to many people it is one thing for her to hear from Mom & Dad or friends how great we think her writing is, but for her to share it and hear from fellow artists means so much more.

And I could tell (from a distance) that the conversations she had afterwards with fellow performers were not perfunctory “Oh, you were good…” but legitimate feedback and conversation with her.


Your website suggested that you had very talented performers, but I must admit I was really impressed with the quality and diversity of talent that performed.   While Jillian probably would have performed the same no matter what, I was happy you placed her second because after your opening act I wondered if any pressure was building up in her to perform at that level.  And then to have Niamh follow her and say “Tough to get up and speak after that performance” brought even more tears to my eyes.

I know Jillian enjoyed the experience and the conversations, and I hope she uses it as a springboard to search out additional artist venues/workshops to continue her development. It is through opportunities like this that she will grow and determine where she wants to go with her writing;   the more exposure to different environments will only help her in her journey.

Thank you again for the opportunity;   greatly appreciated.   Looking forward to the next gathering.



Photos by Mitch Traphagen



written by Charles R. Hale


Given a cruel childhood how does anyone function psychologically at a far greater level than his or her experiences might predict? It’s a question I’ve often pondered when thinking of my grandfather Allie’s extremely difficult youth.


Connie Roberts
Connie Roberts

Recently, I had a discussion with poet Connie Roberts about this same topic. Connie suffered through an equally difficult childhood but survived as one of the most talented, vivacious people I’ve ever met. I asked her when she was going to write a memoir and she said, “I have. It’s all in my poetry.”


Now you have an opportunity to read this great woman’s work. The winner of the Patrick Kavanagh Award as Ireland’s top poet in 2010 and winner of the Listowel Writer’s Week Poetry Collection Award, her debut book of  poems Little Witness has been published by Arlen House Dublin. You can buy a copy and learn more about Connie by clicking here. 


Paywright/actress Erin Layton and Connie Roberts
Playwright/actress Erin Layton and Connie Roberts

Here’s what Dan Barry wrote about Connie’s work in the NY Times: “The concrete language of Connie Roberts hits you hard; leaves a mark. You smell the brutal father’s soured Guinness breath before his next abomination; you taste the succulent orange spirited into an orphanage bed; you feel the sting of a nun’s wooden spoon, the warm piss of fear, the run of blood. 
In her vivid recounting of a childhood spent in one of Ireland’s notorious industrial schools, truth hides behind no “masquerade of metaphors.” Roberts honors children, holds adults accountable, and finds acceptance, all with a reportorial rigor that, through her soaring language and big-hearted vision, achieves poetic art. This is the poetry of rock-hard experience. It will skin your soul.”


Connie Roberts
Connie Roberts

It’s been a good few weeks for Irish poet and Artists Without Walls’ member Connie Roberts: She was declared the winner of the 2014 Boyle Arts Festival Poetry Competition, Roscommon, and she received—for the second year in a row—the Highly Commended Award in the iYeats International Poetry Competition, Sligo. The Boyle Arts Festival Poetry Competition awards ceremony was held in King House, a magnificently restored Georgian Mansion located in Boyle, County Roscommon on July 27th. Connie’s winning poem “Seeing”—a three-part sequence about sight and blindness, set on both sides of the Atlantic—will be posted to the Boyle Arts Festival website soon.


The winners of the iYeats International Poetry competition was announced on July 31st at a ceremony at the Hawk’s Well Theatre, Sligo during the 55th Yeats International Summer School. Connie read her poem “Oasis”—an homage to her foster-mother Eileen—via video link. (You can see and hear Connie at the end of this article.) The two judges, Peter Sirr and Catherine Phil McCarthy, remarked on Connie’s poem: “Oasis”, we thought, managed to communicate convincingly a striking life-force and feeling. The voice had vividness and humour and the sharpness of pain and sense of abandonment beneath the language.”


Noel Lawlor, far right
Noel Lawlor, far right

As it happens, fellow AWoW member Noel Lawlor is in Sligo at the moment, attending the Yeats Summer School. He attended the awards ceremony and celebratory luncheon on Connie’s behalf. Noel’s Wexford wit was in full swing in his follow-up e-mail to Connie:  “I had a great time being you for a day—star treatment, paparazzi, free lunch. [I even] got a ticket for a sold out show at the Hawks Well Theatre last night also. So your influence is far and wide.”


“Team effort and collaboration—that’s what AWoW’s all about!” said Connie.