Fish Anthology 2015

Fish Anthology 2015

ISBN: 978-0-9562721-7-1

Fish Anthology 2015 –

Jennifer JohnstonShort Story
Carmen BuganShort Memoir
Bret Anthony JohnstonFlash Fiction
Nick LairdPoetry

How do we transform personal experience of pain into literature? How do we create and then chisel away at those images of others, of loss, of suffering, of unspeakable helplessness so that they become works of art that aim for a shared humanity? What is the role of language—lyrical, descriptive or confessional in portraying these strong experiences? What exactly is the language of memory? The pieces selected here seem to prompt all these questions and the best of them offer some great answers.
Carmen Bugan  

Read an excerpt from winning short story – The Pace of Change by Chris Weldon.

Read winning poem – Saint John’s Primary School Nativity. Nineteen Years On. By Tessa Maude.



Fish Anthology 2015




The Pace of Change


Chris Weldon



Keren Heenan

Two Funerals


Kara Moskowitz

Blind White Worm


Bill Davis

American Holiday


Grace French

Thieving in a Minor Key


Jacob M. Appel

The Journey


Kate Mahony



Katherine West

Of Things That Fall From The Sky


Omar Al-Khayatt

Unfinished Business


Pauline Brown



Pippa Gough






Chloe Wilson



Nicholas Ruddock

Forwards, Backwards, Sideways


Jackie Burgoyne

Land of Stones


Mark Smith



Robert Barrett

The Ride


Rucha Modak



Charlie Weaver Rolfe



Nancy Ludmerer



Mark Sutz

TV vs Walking


Katerina Protopsaltis





Throat of Morning


Wendell Hawken

The Torso and the Lotus


David Horovitch

The Baby Dictates


Saffron Marchant

Van Men


John Harris

Dutch Scene Before Divorce


Nicola Waldron



Elizabeth Browne

The Beach Umbrella


Eva Faber

A Caseful of Ostrich Feathers


Aida Lennon

Symphony Date


Cathy A. Beres

Christmas is Coming


Alan Coley




Saint John’s Primary School Nativity. Nineteen Years On.


Tessa Maude



Jessica Magee

Waiting for Verlaine


Penny Ouvry

Icarus in Donegal


Sighle Meehan

After the Museum


Peter Blair

Dean of Studies


Frank Farrelly

Into my lavender suitcase, I pack:


Laura Jan Shore

The Finest Specimen


Jane Clarke



Roger Vickery



Polly Atkin



Excerpt from short story

The Pace of Change by Chris Weldon

Brendan soothed the horse by stroking under its jaw and the huge animal opened its mouth, allowing him to slide the bit in to the back of its teeth. He pulled the bridle over the ears and held firm on the reins as the horse jerked his head upwards. After a few moments it became still and then lowered its head to munch on the grass.
‘Come up,’ said Brendan gently. ‘Come up out of that.’
He rubbed the horse’s nose and leant forward to buckle the bridle.  Taking the reins again he led the horse across the field towards a five bar aluminium gate. Set in a gap in the hedge, it offered a view across a narrow road and beyond to an oak lined avenue, the tree tops blurred by the Westmeath morning mist. He stopped and listened and the horse listened too, its ears moving like radars trying to pick up the direction of the sound, the sound of a motor car. It’ll be Kit Lee, thought Brendan. Kit was the only man he knew who owned a motor car, an old black one.
At that time it was the only car around those parts, not that it was around that much. Kit spent an average of two out of three days at home in bed, convinced he had a fatal illness. One illness or another, it didn’t matter so long as it was fatal. When the due date for his death would pass Kit would get up and go about as if nothing had happened, which, of course, it hadn’t.  Brendan never tired of telling the story of the day when Kit stood at the counter in Briody’s shop in the village.
‘“Twenty Sweet Afton is it, Kit?” says Mrs. Briody, reaching behind her to where the cigarettes were stacked on the shelf. “Ten,” says Kit.  “Ten?” says Mrs. Briody.  “The doctor gave me three feckin’ days to live and there’s two of them gone by already,” says Kit. “Ten will see me out, Mrs. Briody.”’
And Brendan would look around the bar to see who was laughing and to see if there was anyone who hadn’t heard it before.  Once a man had said that he had heard the same story down in Kerry but no more was said about that.
There was a name for Kit’s condition but it kept slipping Brendan’s mind. Lots of things were slipping his mind these days: names, lots of things. He’d never married; said he hadn’t time enough for himself never mind a wife.
The car went past, visible only for the second it took to pass the gate. It wasn’t Kit’s car. It was red and newer looking. Brendan had never seen it before and wondered who it could be. One of them fellahs down from Dublin, he thought. There were more cars in Dublin where they didn’t need them, of course, than anywhere out in the country.
But it wouldn’t have been Kit, in any case, because Kit had taken to his bed the morning before with his latest fatal illness. Brendan had seen Tommy McCormack, the doctor, in Mullingar later that afternoon. He had taken the bus in to look at some cattle for Mr. Hope who owned the farm where Brendan worked when he was needed. The doctor was leaning against the top rail of the cattle pen in the street where the market had been set up.
‘What’s up with him this time, Tommy?’ Brendan had asked.
‘He has the plague,’ the doctor answered
‘The plague?’ said Brendan. ‘We’re all doomed, so.’
‘I’d say we are,’ said Tommy. ‘I’ll just go in there, now, to the Bar and Grill, and take my last glass of Guinness. Will you send for the priest?’
‘I will,’ said Brendan, ‘after I’ve had a look at these heifers.’ The doctor walked across the street to the bar. As he opened the door the strains of ‘Heartbreak Hotel’ emerged and mingled with lowing of the cattle and the shouts of the farmers bargaining in the market.  Brendan shook his head and moved away down the street.
Kit had never married either so, there they were, two old batchelors going about together, whenever Kit was about, anyway. Brendan with his weather beaten face, lean and wiry: Kit tall and pale, his jet black toupee perched on his head ‘Like a cat on a mantelpiece,’ said Mrs. Keogh in the post office. Brendan was older than Kit. He had been drawing his pension these three years and Kit still had a year before he could draw his.
‘I’ll never get there,’ he would say. ‘I’ll never see the day.’
The only time their friendship was ever strained was that time twenty or twenty-five years before, he had lost track, when Brendan went over to England for the work. Kit’s older sister, Maggie, was living in Sheffield with her husband and Kit had written to her asking if she could find room in the house for Brendan so he could earn a bit of money on the roads over there. Maggie had written back and said she could but not for too long now, as her husband wasn’t too happy about it at all. So Brendan took the mail boat over to Holyhead and caught the train to Sheffield, changing at Crewe. Maggie had moved her two sons into one room and given Brendan the small bedroom. After he had laid his case on the bed he came downstairs to the cramped sitting room where Maggie’s husband Dermot was hunched in an armchair with his pipe and a paper.
‘Good man,’ said Brendan.
‘Mmmuhh,’ said Dermot without looking up.
Dermot was from County Cork. Stocky and short, he either said nothing or spoke so fast, so passionately and for so long that he exhausted you. Over the weeks that Brendan was there he made the effort to break the ice with Dermot but he generally got the silence or, at best, the grunts.  He felt for Maggie. She was a handsome woman, a good mother, funny and warm. Any man would be glad of her but Dermot didn’t seem to have any appreciation of her at all.
One afternoon Brendan was in the kitchen with Maggie. He couldn’t get a start on the roads that week and Maggie had offered to cut his hair. There was more of it then and it was a kind of reddy-brown.
‘It’s falling in your eyes,’ said Maggie. ‘Sit down there and I’ll cut it for you.’ She leant over from behind him and placed a tea towel round his neck, tucking it into the shirt collar. He felt her softness and it stirred him.
‘I remember you leaving home,’ said Brendan.
‘That was twenty years ago.’
‘No! Twenty years?’ said Brendan
‘Will you sit still,’ said Maggie. ‘I’ll be sticking the scissors in you.’
‘Twenty years?’
‘It was,’ said Maggie resting her hand for a moment on Brendan’s head. ‘It was 1913, just before the war. Some bloody great idea it was to come to Sheffield.’
‘Why did you do it?’
‘Dermot had work in the steel factory.’
‘Ah, sure Jaysus, Maggie, it’s not Dermot’s fault the war broke out.’
‘I know that,’ said Maggie quietly.
There was a silence between them as Maggie clipped away with the scissors, carefully holding his ears down with her cool fingers while snipping around them.
‘I was sorry to see you leave,’ said Brendan.
‘You were not.’ Maggie laughed.
‘I was so.’
‘Why would you be sorry to see me leave?’
‘Well there wasn’t exactly a crowd of good looking girls around the village in those days.’
‘Now stop,’ said Maggie. ‘Stop now. You mustn’t be saying those things.’ But although she was behind him he could sense that she was pleased and when her fingers came to rest gently on the back of his neck he felt a tingling and he knew they rested there longer than they needed to.  


Saint John’s Primary School Nativity. Nineteen Years On.
by Tessa Maude

The Virgin Mary lights a fag
Behind the vestry door
She’s pregnant for the fourth time
At only twenty-four.

Herod dies in Helmand
And Caspar deals in crack and
Melchior rapes Gabriel
And stabs him in the back.

The shepherds beat up Joseph
And steal his mobile phone
Miss Stevens gives up teaching
And drinks and dies alone.

The Star stands by her lamp post
And sore afraid acts tough
By bridges and in doorways
The Inn Keeper sleeps rough.

The mothers and the fathers
The chief priests and the scribes
Are gathered in the court house
Where Balthazar takes bribes.

The Heavenly Choir disbanded
And went their separate ways
Three wise men went to Wandsworth
The shepherds to The Maze.

A suicidal Jesus
Curses God then leaps
And in his stained glass window
Saint John the Baptist weeps.

Fish Books

Fish Anthology 2023

Fish Anthology 2023

… a showcase of disquiet, tension, subversion and surprise …
so many skilled pieces … gem-like, compressed and glinting, little worlds in entirety that refracted life and ideas … What a joy!
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… memoirs pinpointing precise
feelings of loss and longing and desire.
– Sean Lusk

What a pleasure to watch these poets’ minds at work, guiding us this way and that.
– Billy Collins


Fish Anthology 2022

‘… delightful, lively send-up … A vivid imagination is at play here, and a fine frenzy is the result.’ – Billy Collins
‘… laying frames of scenic detail to compose a lyric collage … enticing … resonates compellingly. … explosive off-screen drama arises through subtly-selected detail. Sharp, clever, economical, tongue-in-cheek.’ – Tracey Slaughter

Fish Anthology 2021

Fish Anthology 2021

Brave stories of danger and heart and sincerity.
Some risk everything outright, some are desperately quiet, but their intensity lies in what is unsaid and off the page.
These are brilliant pieces from bright, new voices.
A thrill to read.
~ Emily Ruskovich

Fish Anthology 2020

Fish Anthology 2020

I could see great stretches of imagination. I saw experimentation. I saw novelty with voice and style. I saw sentences that embraced both meaning and music. ~ Colum McCann


Fish Anthology 2019

These glorious pieces have spun across the globe – pit-stopping in Japan, the Aussie outback, Vancouver, Paris, Amsterdam and our own Hibernian shores – traversing times past, present and imagined future as deftly as they mine the secret tunnels of the human heart. Enjoy the cavalcade. – Mia Gallagher

Fish Anthology 2019

Fish Anthology 2018

The standard is high, in terms of the emotional impact these writers managed to wring from just a few pages. – Billy O’Callaghan

Loop-de-loopy, fizz, and dazzle … unique and compelling—compressed, expansive, and surprising. – Sherrie Flick

Every page oozes with a sense of place and time. – Marti Leimbach

Energetic, dense with detail … engages us in the act of seeing, reminds us that attention is itself a form of praise. – Ellen Bass

Fish Anthology 2017

Fish Anthology 2017

Dead Souls has the magic surplus of meaning that characterises fine examples of the form – Neel Mukherjee
I was looking for terrific writing of course – something Fish attracts in spades, and I was richly rewarded right across the spectrum – Vanessa Gebbie
Really excellent – skilfully woven – Chris Stewart
Remarkable – Jo Shapcott


Fish Anthology 2016

The practitioners of the art of brevity and super-brevity whose work is in this book have mastered the skills and distilled and double-distilled their work like the finest whiskey.

Sunrise Sunset by Tina Pisco

Sunrise Sunset

€12  (incl. p&p)   Sunrise Sunset by Tina Pisco Read Irish Times review by Claire Looby Surreal, sad, zany, funny, Tina Pisco’s stories are drawn from gritty experience as much as the swirling clouds of the imagination.  An astute, empathetic, sometimes savage observer, she brings her characters to life. They dance themselves onto the pages, […]

Fish Anthology 2015

Fish Anthology 2015

How do we transform personal experience of pain into literature? How do we create and then chisel away at those images of others, of loss, of suffering, of unspeakable helplessness so that they become works of art that aim for a shared humanity? The pieces selected here seem to prompt all these questions and the best of them offer some great answers.
– Carmen Bugan.

Fish Anthology 2014

Fish Anthology 2014

What a high standard all round – of craft, imagination and originality: and what a wide range of feeling and vision.
Ruth Padel

I was struck by how funny many of the stories are, several of them joyously so – they are madcap and eccentric and great fun. Others – despite restrained and elegant prose – managed to be devastating. All of them are the work of writers with talent.
Claire Kilroy

Fish Anthology 2013

Fish Anthology 2013

The writing comes first, the bottom line comes last. And sandwiched between is an eye for the innovative, the inventive and the extraordinary.


Fish Anthology 2012

A new collection from around the globe: innovative, exciting, invigorating work from the writers and poets who will be making waves for some time to come. David Mitchell, Michael Collins, David Shields and Billy Collins selected the stories, flash fiction, memoirs and poems in this anthology.


Fish Anthology 2011

Reading the one page stories I was a little dazzled, and disappointed that I couldn’t give the prize to everybody. It’s such a tight format, every word must count, every punctuation mark. ‘The Long Wet Grass’ is a masterly bit of story telling … I still can’t get it out of my mind.
– Chris Stewart


Fish Anthology 2010

The perfectly achieved story transcends the limitations of space with profundity and insight. What I look for in fiction, of whatever length, is authenticity and intensity of feeling. I demand to be moved, to be transported, to be introduced into other lives. The stories I have selected for this anthology have managed this. – Ronan Bennett, Short Story Judge.


Fish Anthology 2009 – Ten Pint Ted

I sing those who are published here – they have done a very fine job. It is difficult to create from dust, which is what writers do. It is an honour to have read your work. – Colum McCann


Fish Anthology 2008 – Harlem River Blues

The entries into this year’s Fish Short Story Prize were universally strong. From these the judges have selected winners, we believe, of exceptional virtue. – Carlo Gebler


Fish Anthology 2007

I was amazed and delighted at the range and quality of these stories. Every one of them was interesting, well-written, beautifully crafted and, as a short-story must, every one of them focused my attention on that very curtailed tableau which a short-story necessarily sets before us. – Michael Collins


Fish Anthology 2006 – Grandmother, Girl, Wolf and Other Stories

These stories voice all that is vibrant about the form. – Gerard Donovan. Very short stories pack a poetic punch. Each of these holds its own surprise, or two. Dive into these seemingly small worlds. You’ll come up anew. – Angela Jane Fountas


All the King’s Horses – Anthology of Historical Short Stories

Each of the pieces here has been chosen for its excellence. They are a delightfully varied assortment. More than usual for an anthology, this is a compendium of all the different ways that fiction can succeed. I invite you to turn to ‘All the King’s Horses’. The past is here. Begin.
– Michel Faber


Fish Anthology 2005 – The Mountains of Mars and Other Stories

Literary anthologies, especially of new work, act as a kind of indicator to a society’s concerns. This Short Story collection, such a sharp and useful enterprise, goes beyond that. Its internationality demonstrates how our concerns are held in common across the globe. – Frank Delaney


Fish Anthology 2004 – Spoonface and Other Stories

From the daily routine of a career in ‘Spoonface’, to the powerful, recurring image of a freezer in ‘Shadow Lives’. It was the remarkable focus on the ordinary that made these Fish short stories such a pleasure to read. – Hugo Hamilton


Feathers & Cigarettes

In a world where twenty screens of bullshit seem to be revolving without respite … there is nothing that can surpass the ‘explosion of art’ and its obstinate insistence on making sense of things. These dedicated scribes, as though some secret society, heroically, humbly, are espousing a noble cause.
– Pat McCabe


Franklin’s Grace

It’s supposed to be a short form, the good story, but it has about it a largeness I love. There is something to admire in all these tales, these strange, insistent invention. They take place in a rich and satisfying mixture of places, countries of the mind and heart. – Christopher Hope


Asylum 1928

There are fine stories in this new anthology, some small and intimate, some reaching out through the personal for a wider, more universal perspective, wishing to tell a story – grand, simple, complex or everyday, wishing to engage you the reader. – Kate O’Riodan


Five O’Clock Shadow

I feel like issuing a health warning with this Fish Anthology ­ these stories may seriously damage your outlook – Here the writers view the world in their unique way, and have the imagination, talent, and the courage to refine it into that most surprising of all art forms ­ the short story. – Clem Cairns.


From the Bering Strait

Every story in this book makes its own original way in the world. knowing which are the telling moments, and showing them to us. And as the narrator of the winning story casually remarks, ‘Sometimes its the small things that amaze me’ – Molly McCloskey


Scrap Magic

The stories here possess the difference, the quirkiness and the spark. They follow their own road and their own ideas their own way. It is a valuable quality which makes this collection a varied one. Read it, I hope you say to yourself like I did on many occasions, ‘That’s deadly. How did they think of that?’ – Eamonn Sweeney


Dog Day

Really good short stories like these, don’t read like they were written. They read like they simply grew on the page. – Joseph O’Connor


The Stranger

The writers in this collection can write short stories . . . their quality is the only thing they have in common. – Roddy Doyle


The Fish Garden

This is the first volume of short stories from Ireland’s newest publishing house. We are proud that fish has enabled 15 budding new writers be published in this anthology, and I look forward to seeing many of them in print again.


12 Miles Out – a novel by Nick Wright

12 Miles Out was selected by David Mitchell as the winner of the Fish Unpublished Novel Award.
A love story, thriller and historical novel; funny and sad, uplifting and enlightening.


Altergeist – a novel by Tim Booth

You only know who you can’t trust. You can’t trust the law, because there’s none in New Ireland. You can’t trust the Church, because they think they’re the law. And you can’t trust the State, because they think they’re the Church And most of all, you can’t trust your friends, because you can’t remember who they were anymore.


Small City Blues numbers 1 to 51 – a novel by Martin Kelleher

A memoir of urban life, chronicled through its central character, Mackey. From momentary reflections to stories about his break with childhood and adolescence, the early introduction to the Big World, the discovery of romance and then love, the powerlessness of ordinary people, the weaknesses that end in disappointment and the strengths that help them seek redemption and belonging.


The Woman Who Swallowed the Book of Kells – Collection of Short Stories by Ian Wild

Ian Wild’s stories mix Monty Python with Hammer Horror, and the Beatles with Shakespeare, but his anarchic style and sense of humour remain very much his own in this collection of tall tales from another planet. Where else would you find vengeful organs, the inside story of Eleanor Rigby, mobile moustaches, and Vikings looting a Cork City branch of Abracababra?


News & Articles

Fish Anthology 2024

Fish Anthology 2024 LAUNCH

11th June 2024
Monday 15th July at 6:30 Marino (Old Methodist) Church Bantry, West Cork, Ireland FREE ENTRY   The Launch of the Fish Anthology 2024 is being held in this charming old methodist church. Many of the authors published in the Anthology will be reading from their work, so come along to get a sample of  the […]

Poetry Prize 2024: Results

15th May 2024
  Winners Short-list Long-list     Here are the winners of the Fish Poetry Prize 2024, selected by Billy Collins, to be published in the Fish Anthology 2024. Below you will find short biographies of the winners and the Long and Short Lists. From all of us at Fish we congratulate the poets whose poems […]

Short Story Prize 2023/24: RESULTS

10th April 2024
Winners Short-list Long-list   On behalf of all of us at Fish, congratulations to all of you who made the long and the short-lists.  Apologies for the delay in this announcement. The 10 winners will be published in the Fish Anthology 2024. The launch will be during the West Cork Literary Festival, Bantry, Ireland – […]

Flash Fiction Prize 2024: RESULTS

10th April 2024
Winners Short-list Long-list   From all of us at Fish, thank you for entering your flashes. Congratulations to the writers who  were short or long-listed, and in particular to the 11 winners whose flash stories will be published in the Fish Anthology 2024. The launch will be during the West Cork Literary Festival, Bantry, Ireland […]

Short Memoir Prize 2024: RESULTS

1st April 2024
Winners Short-list Long-list   On behalf of all of us at Fish, we congratulate the 10 winners who’s memoir made it into the Fish Anthology 2024 (due to be launched in July ’24 at the West Cork Literary Festival), and to those writers who made the long and short-lists, well done too.  Thank you to Sean […]

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