Connie Roberts Poet


Looking forward to reading at Boston College on March 21, and to visiting Prof. Jim Smith’s READING IRISH CHILDHOOD class. (I’m honored and humbled to have my poetry collection LITTLE WITNESS on the syllabus.)
March 21, 4:30 PM, Connolly House, Boston College. FREE & OPEN TO THE PUBLIC. Drop by if you’re in that neck of the woods. Would love to see you!


Thrilled with this review of Little Witness in the Dublin Review of Books:  Suffer Little Children, October 1st, 2016

“Witness poetry has always been associated with the articulation of extreme experiences of events like war, dictatorial regimes or political persecution. In 1983, the poet Czesław Miłosz wrote that, due to the “extraordinary and lethal events” that occurred in eastern Europe in the twentieth century, people from that part of the world “tend to view [poetry] as a witness and participant in one of mankind’s major transformations”. But Connie Roberts’s aptly named debut collection of poetry, Little Witness, alerts us to the fact that in Ireland, “lethal events” also took place within the private sphere, that barbarism occurred in people’s homes and in institutional settings.”


Here’s an interview with the Tullamore Tribune following my Exceptional Offaly Person of the Year 2016 Award: Harrowing Childhood Of Exceptional Offaly Person Award Recipient, Thursday, October 6, 2016

“Home is a place where you feel safe and secure, a refuge from the chaos. Home is a stake you put in the ground at nine years old and declare, this is where I’m going to flourish, and nobody is going to take it from me.”


Terrific response to my article on the Irish news site The Journal, August 1st, 2016

‘One way of healing yourself is to own your own story’: Growing up in an abusive home


Irish Central Review of Little Witness.

Emmanuel Touhey does it again: Here’s another review he wrote for Irish Central: “An Irish poet in America recalls the dark secrets of her youth”


Exceptional Offaly Person of the Year 2016: Connie Roberts

I’m thrilled to announce the wonderful news that the Executive Committee of the Tullamore Show has selected me as the Exceptional Offaly Person of the Year 2016. I will be presented with the award at the Tullamore Show on August 14th.


Irish Times Review: “Connie Roberts, a poetic witness who will not be silenced”

Powerful review from Emmanuel Touhey:

“It is a haunting and harrowing accounting of a beleaguered young life. These poems are not for the faint of heart. They will grab you when you want to look the other way.”


Notre Dame University Irish Studies Journal Breac Review: “A call to bear witness, brazen”

A great review from Brian F. McCabe:

“A dark and entirely moving work, Little Witness emerges from a history Ireland might prefer to forget, one of Magdalen laundries, poorhouses, and in which the buried children, like those of Tuam, continue to cry out for an advocate. Roberts fills this role, as she writes in one poem, with blazing truth.”


RTE Radio One Poetry Programme: Connie Roberts, Catriona O’Reilly & Peter Duffy

Rick O’Shea interviews me for the Poetry Programme. Great chat about Seamus Heaney, Mary Raftery and Peter Tyrrell.


Irish Times Review of Little Witness

John McAuliffe reviews Little Witness and Medbh McGuckian’s Blaris Moor.


2016 Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh Fellowship Award

2016 is off to a great start, between the Shine/Strong Award shortlisting and now this bit of wonderful news: The trustees of the estate of Katherine Kavanagh have awarded me a Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh Fellowship Award worth 8,000 euros.

Fellow recipients include Nell Regan, Fred Johnston, Nicholas McLachlan and Dairena Ní Chinnéide. The awards are made in recognition of a number of factors, balancing the criteria of need, commitment to the literary life, achievement so far and promise for the future.


The Shine/Strong Poetry Award

I am thrilled with the news that Little Witness has been shortlisted for the Shine/Strong Poetry Award. The Shine/Strong Poetry Award is presented annually to the author of the best first collection of poems published in English or Irish by an Irish poet in the previous year. Recent winners of the Award include Caoilinn Hughes, Tara Bergin, Michelle O’Sullivan, Grace Wells and Peadar Ó hUallaigh. This year’s award is judged by Kevin Barry and the recipient will receive €1,000. The award will be announced on Sunday 13th March 2016 at the Mountains to Sea dlr Book Festival, Dun Laoghaire, County Dublin.


From Hard Times to the New York Times

Thrilled with this profile of me in The New York Times.


The Bogman’s Cannon

Delighted and honored to have a poem from my book Little Witness published on Irish poet Dave Lordan‘s website, the Bogman’s Cannon.

“Inheritance” is an eight-part poem about the 1943 Poor Clare orphanage fire in Cavan in which 35 children and one old woman perished.

Dave has truly been shaking things up in the Irish poetry scene for years now – a brilliant and exciting performer of his own work, as you will see from his YouTube video.

Lost Tribe of The Wicklow Mountains, Dave’s third collection is available from Salmon Poetry, web retailers, and from all good bookshops.


Permutations, Transformation and AWoW: A Review of Artists Without Walls’ Premier Gallery Series, featuring Kathleen Bennett Bastis’ Solo Exhibition Permutations

by Connie Roberts

In this week’s New York Times Style Magazine there is a piece about the 78-year-old experimental performance artist Joan Jonas, who lives in a loft in SoHo and who, since the late-60s, has been practicing her own unique art form: “Jonas has pursued a category-defying, perpetually exploratory practice that melds performance, drawing, film, video, sculpture, installation, sound and literature.” Jonas is a woman not constrained by any discipline. She would have fit in well with the sisterhood of artists—visual, performance, and musical—at the Artists Without Walls: Gallery Series, featuring Kathleen Bennett Bastis’ Permutations at the First Street Gallery, NYC this past Friday night. Mixed media artist Kathleen Bennett Bastis, singer-songwriter Martina Fišerova, violinist Annette Homann and performance artist Allison Sylvia, like Jonas, do not fit neatly into a pre-packaged brand: all are difficult—in the best way possible—to pin down. The aptly named exhibition Permutations served them all well. There was alteration and transformation in spades on the night! [click here for the complete article]



Hi Everyone. I’d like to announce the publication of my debut volume Little Witness, a collection of poems inspired by my experiences growing up in an industrial school (orphanage) in Ireland. Little Witness is published by Arlen House, Dublin. (Thank you, Alan Hayes!) Read the reviews on the HOME page. To purchase a copy, click the appropriate link in the sidebar.

When you get a chance, I’d really appreciate it if you could share news of my publication on your respective social media platforms. Every bit helps in spreading the good word. Thank you all so much! And I hope you enjoy Little Witness.
Connie xoxo

Well Versed: A Celebration of Poetry from Ireland and America
Saturday, November 8, 2014

Click here for details.


Allingham Arts Festival Poetry Competition
October 2014

The poem “The Potato Picker and the TV Rental Man” was shortlisted for the Allingham Arts Festival Poetry Competition. Donegal, Ireland. Judge: Monica Corish.


2014 Over the Edge New Writer of the Year Award
September 25, 2014

I just found out that I’m on the shortlist for the Over The Edge New Writer of The Year Award.

The Over the Edge New Writer of the Year Competition is open to poets and fiction writers worldwide. Since its inception in 2007, it has grown to become one of the most important competitions for emerging writers in Ireland and internationally. The competition is open to both poets and fiction writers worldwide. The total prize money is €1,000.

The best fiction entry will win €300.

The best poetry entry will win €300.

One of these will then be chosen as the overall winner and will receive an additional €400, giving the overall winner total prize money of €700 and the title Over The Edge New Writer of The Year 2014.

The 2014 Over The Edge New Writer of The Year will be a Featured Reader at Ireland’s leading literary reading series, the Over The Edge: Open Readings in Galway City Library, on a date to be scheduled in Winter 2014/15.

Salmon Poetry will read, without commitment to publish, a manuscript submitted to them by the winner in the poetry category. Doire Press will read, without commitment to publish, a manuscript of short stories submitted to them by the winner in the fiction category. The winner in the poetry category will have one of the poems from her or his winning entry published in the January 2015 issue of Skylight 47 magazine.

This year’s competition judge is Eleanor Hooker. Eleanor  lives in NorthTipperary. She has a BA (Hons 1st) from the Open University, an MA (Hons.) in Cultural History from the University of Northumbria, and an MPhil in Creative Writing (Distinction) from Trinity College, Dublin. She was selected for the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series in 2011. Her poetry has been published widely in journals in Ireland and the UK. She is a founding member, Vice-Chairperson and PRO for the Dromineer Literary Festival. She is a helm and Press Officer for the Lough Derg RNLI Lifeboat. She began her career as a nurse and midwife. The Shadow Owner’s Companion, Eleanor’s debut collection of poems is published by Dedalus Press and has been very favorably received.
Eleanor Hooker


Well Versed: A Celebration of Poetry from Ireland and America
November 8, 2014

I will be a featured poet—along with poets Terrence Winch and Sean Nevin—at the Annual American Irish Teachers Association’s 2014 National Conference, NYC. Once again I will be collaborating with the premier uilleann piper Jerry O’Sullivan, as well as the Irish singer/songwriter, and Artists Without Walls co-founder, Niamh Hyland.

Well Versed: A Celebration of Poetry from Ireland and America
Saturday, November 8th, 2014, 9—5pm
The Liederkranz
6 East 87th Street (between Madison Avenue and Fifth Avenue)
New York, NY 10128


Summer News

Summer 2014 was especially good to me poetrywise.

In August my poem “Wounds” was longlisted for the Over the Edge New Writer of the Year Award, Galway. (Shortlist announced at the end of September.) Judge: Eleanor Hooker. The competition is open to both poets and fiction writers worldwide.

The same month, my poem “The Cardigan” was longlisted for the Dermot Healy International Poetry Competition, Leitrim. Ireland Professor of Poetry, Paula Meehan, judged the shortlisted poems after the sad and unexpected passing of Dermot Healy.

In July my poem “Seeing” won the Boyle Arts Festival Poetry Competition, Roscommon. In a follow-up e-mail to me, the judge, Michael O’Dea, wrote about “Seeing”:

“…it conveys a level of assuredness in its subject matter, art, facility with words/language, and taste, that marks you out as a very gifted poet. I liked the McGahernish portrayal of the country-woman in the first stanza, and I think you got her to perfection, and again the wonderful sales pitch in the third (not easily done, much less your achieving it with great verve and humour).”

Also in July, my poem “Oasis”, a homage to my foster-mother, Eileen Sheerin, received the Highly Commended Award in the International iYeats Poetry Competition, Sligo. The judges, Peter Sirr and Catherine Phil McCarthy, said of the 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.”

North West Words Magazine, Donegal published my poem “Pallas Lake” in its inaugural online edition:

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