9 – Laura McKenna

Genres: Cork | Debut | Historical Fiction | Irish Writing | Novel

Welcome to Day 9 of our West Cork Literary Festival Advent Calendar. Our author today is Laura McKenna.


Laura McKenna is a writer of fiction and poetry and worked for many years as a child psychiatrist. Words to Shape My Name was longlisted for the 2019 Bath Novel Award and formed the creative element of her PhD in creative writing awarded from UCC in 2019 (her critical paper examined the ethics and aesthetics of voice in fiction). Published by New Island Books in 2021, Words to Shape My Name was shortlisted for the Kerry Group Irish Novel of the Year award. She is the recipient of Tyrone Guthrie, Cork County Council, Arts Council and John Montague Mentorship (Munster Literature Centre) bursaries. Twice nominated for a Hennessy Literary Award and a Forward Prize for poetry, Laura’s work has been published in The RTÉ Guide, SouthwordBanshee and New Irish Writing.


Laura is reading an extract from Words to Shape My Name which was published by New Island Books in January 2021. Today’s video unlocked on 9th December 2021 and may be viewed below. Closed caption subtitles are available and may be turned on or off. Click on “youtube” or “full screen” icon in the video to watch it in full screen or visit youtube here.



About our WCLF Literary Advent Calendar

2021 was another wonderful year for Irish writing and so many incredible books by Irish authors and authors living in Ireland were released this year. Even though festivals returned in-person and online not every author had the opportunity to launch their books with a public celebration or to engage with audiences in the “usual” way. We’re delighted to bring you a small selection of these authors and we’ve invited twenty-four writers to submit a short video reading from their new books. Our selection is an attempt to show the wide range of Irish writing and in particular to focus on writers whose books we feel deserve more attention and those who were not previously featured in WCLF 2021 events. We hope that you will enjoy the chance to hear these writers reading their own work and to discover some new books for your reading piles.

Arts Council - funding literature
Fáilte Ireland
Wild Atlantic Way
CCC Library & Arts Service
Cork County Council
Pure Cork
Creative Places West Cork Islands
RTÉ Supporting The Arts
Maritime Hotel