A poem in this issue by Nessa O'Mahony

To visit Dublin Writers Workshop

Electric Acorn The Dublin Writers Workshop

by Nessa O'Mahony

The Dublin Writers Workshop is one of the country's longest established writers groups. It was set up in Dublin in 1981 and first met in the Oak Tavern, Dame Street. Since then, it has convened in a variety of different public houses in the city centre but the Workshop has always ensured that the many anthologies it has published in the interim have kept the word "Acorn" in their title, in memory of the pub where it was first set up. This tradition was maintained when the Workshop established an online presence and began publishing electronically the title of Ireland's first ever quarterly literary "ezine" is Electric Acorn.

The Dublin Writers Workshop (DWW) has an active programme of workshops, readings and publications. It holds weekly meetings in the upper lounge of Bowes Public House, Fleet Street. The workshop regularly attracts between 20 and 30 people, each of whom comes to read their own work, to listen to the work of other workshop members and to offer constructive criticism and feedback.

Over the years DWW members have gone on to publish novels and poetry collections and have won many prestigious awards, including the Sunday Tribune/ Hennessy New Irish Writing Award and the Kavanagh Prize. It regularly holds readings by its members and with other writers' groups around the country, and, every two years, publishes an anthology of work by our members, and by other writers, entitled Acorn.

DWW ONLINE

In November 1997 the Workshop launched its own website, which featured an online version of the DWW's latest anthology, Acorn V. It also included a number of other resources for writers, including information about competitions, readings, journals and publishers, and links to other literary sites. The DWW was delighted with the initial response to the site, as hundreds of visitors browsed the pages, left highly complementary comments on the guestbook and requested further contacts and interaction with our Group. The site has been averaging between 50 and 100 hits a day since it came online.

In the following months the DWW gradually expanded the site, incorporating a haiku section and a new, quarterly electronic magazine called Electric Acorn. However it soon realised that it had insufficient server space to meet its requirements. Thus in late March in 1998 it purchased its own domain name and virtual server at URL http://www.dublinwriters.org and relaunched the new site, complete with the first issue of Electric Acorn. The site was subsequently featured in the International Herald Tribune, was reported on by The Irish Times and The Irish Independent and received excellent reviews in specialist PC magazines PC Live and Web Ireland.

The DWW has continued to further expand the site. In June 1998 it began a collaboration with Haiku Spirit, Ireland's premier haiku journal. The DWW website now hosts the online version of Haiku Spirit as well as many other pages related to haiku and haibun. There is also a thriving discussion list where site visitors post their work and receive feedback from other participants.

Additional features continue to be added to the site. In November 1998 the DWW launched a threaded discussion group and discussion forum for site visitors. This has proved highly popular, with many debates on Irish literature, and standards in world literature generally, ensuing. The DWW has also set up a virtual creative writing workshop , with members posting their own work and getting feedback from others. DWW members moderate this workshop.

POTENTIAL OF THE DWW SITE

Experience to date has shown that the DWW site can provide many benefits for its members, both real and virtual. The site is offering an important platform to Irish talent in an international arena. Members have already received much positive feedback from site visitors. This in itself is an important encouragement to writers at the outset of their careers. Furthermore, many writers have gained sufficient confidence from their first experience with publication via Electric Acorn to submit their work to other editors, and have been achieving considerable success.

The website also offers opportunities for literary exchanges. Many foreign writers who have travelled to the city following initial contact with the DWW site have already visited the workshop in Dublin. This has provided a very enriching cultural exchange for workshop members.