The Monthly interviews Lauren O’Donovan from “HOWL: New Irish Writing” magazine – Part 1 – The genesis of a poetry magazine.

How do you get to be interested in poetry and writing?

I’ve always been a bit of a bookworm and I started writing poetry in my teens. I ran an online poetry community on DeviantArt for a good while, nearly twenty years ago now.

With regards my education, I did English and Philosophy as my primary degree. I then had a sliding doors sort of moment in my life where I applied for a journalism course and a computer science masters, and I had no idea which one I would accept if I was offered both. Turns out I was only offered that computer science course, so that made the choice easy. Once that was completed I ended up in Vancouver for ten years working in the industry.

What happens then?

I was working at an international agency but I decided to go home with my family to Ireland. It was around the time of COVID and I really was a bit tired of making money for big companies which produced packaged goods. I decided I wanted to get back into creative writing, so I did the Masters in Creative Writing up in UCC (University College Cork) a couple of years ago. And since then I’ve been focusing on writing, editing and putting out a few books.

And now you are producing “HOWL”

In the period I was working for an international agency I would have been involved in project management and development. I’m combining those skills now with the creative writing to work on projects like the HOWL magazine. I’m doing the websites and the social media side as well.

Why a new poetry magazine?

It’s a great question, because there’s so many poetry magazines that we did ask ourselves, that is me and Róisín Leggett Bohan, my partner in writing crime, “do we really need another one?”.

Róisín Leggett Bohan

When we finally sat down and discussed what we were going to do, and we were doing that right from when we first met at UCC, it seemed to make sense.

Both of us had been subscribers to the Stinging Fly, Banshee and those kind of publications and it was just our dream to do something like that, produce a poetry magazine. It just seemed so exciting from the start to the end of the project.

Was it a challenge?

If we go back a little, we had some challenges especially because of COVID at UCC. We couldn’t do the normal work experience that was part of the programme; normally you would volunteer at the literary festival or if you were very lucky you might get an editorial internship or something like that, but we couldn’t do that. So in the end, UCC funded us to put together an Anthology of Irish writing. I was the project manager of that particular project and it was absolutely fantastic. But it was a huge amount of work as well.

University College, Cork


And once that was done you started up “HOWL”?

I guess we’re gluttons for punishment. 11 of us edited the UCC Anthology, but just myself and Róisín were really driven yp keep going and do another publication. And that is how “HOWL” was conceived.

For more information about “HOWL New Irish Writing” see the following link –

part two of this interview is here

artist forms link
New Belfast Community Arts Initiative trading as Community Arts Partnership is a registered charity (XR 36570) and a company limited by guarantee (Northern Ireland NI 37645).Registered with The Charity Commission as New Belfast Community Arts Initiative - NIC105169.