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Website maintenance, Sunday, 18 August from 11:30am GMT

The South Circular website is feeling a little poorly under the hood, so we’re bringing it in for an NCT on Sunday, 18 August. We’ll be taking the site offline for most of the day to bring it back to you spick and span! A gentle tweak of code here and a lick of paint there and it’ll be good as new! The site will be offline from about 11:30am GMT until we’re finished. We hope this interruption won’t affect you and look forward to continuing our great product from later that evening.

Thanks very much for your understanding.

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Editor’s note issue 6

Cover issue 6 June 2013 (detail) © Hannah Doyle,

In the aftermath of the party we threw for THE SOUTH CIRCULAR’s first birthday, a familiar vapour of uncertainty began to parade around my workspace and I began to doubt. Again. For with the affirmation, the highs of the live readings, the sugar rush of the cake my sister had baked and the comedown, I wondered ‘Is that it?’ and ‘Is that all we had to do to get to this point?’

Something happened here. In your life there are a few places, or maybe only the one place, where something happened, and then there are all the other places.

In Too Much Happiness, Alice Munro resists calling this happening a ‘moment’ but here I will throw the words catalysis, catharsis and chrysalis at you and trust that your imagination will bring you to such happenings as you have known in your own life. When the before and after are so clearly defined that you cannot believe or accept that either state relates to the same life or you, the same person.

But by avoiding such hackneyed terms, Munro shows that what constituted a life is often only the result of fabrication in hindsight and known after the event. Fiction is this creation before.

We consider the four stories (by Seán Kenny, Helen Chandler, Pierce Gleeson and Tim Smyth) in issue 6 of THE SOUTH CIRCULAR to be about such happenings, confidently executed with singular voices and employing a tingling tension inside the ordinary. This tension is possible in fiction, when a tale is told with imperfect detail and the reader addresses at once the quotidian as well as the irresistible pull of change. Because we cannot draw the arc in our own lives in advance, we find in these stories that happening which does, someplace else, for someone else, at some other time.

Overt or not, the happenings of these stories set an image, a sense, a sign for the next time we glimpse animals in a field, kiss the wrong person or take a job we never wanted.

And the process used by our long-time collaborator, Hannah Doyle, to create her cover perfectly mirrors the register of at least one of the stories in this issue: ‘A moment passes and nothing has changed, or maybe it has changed dramatically, only for us to see. The window was painted on wood with spray paint, gouache and acrylic, then literally dragged through a thorny field. The dots are vinyl composed on clear acetate, and the text was written on a steamy window and digitally cut-out. Everything was then layered in Photoshop. This is how I usually work: get an idea, gather imagery, draw, paint, sculpt, experiment, photograph. Through trial and error, and trial again, things happen.’

By mentioning ‘other places’, Alice Munro faces the fact that life goes on and what once was sacred to you is now in the hands or heart or mind of another. So after our party we got up and began work on this issue almost immediately and we turned again to Object Lessons: the Paris Review presents the art of the short story. We listened to New Yorker fiction podcasts and we took notes when Jon Hamm spoke to Pete Holmes about curiosity, certainty over arrogance and becoming undeniable. And we took heart from points made in Art and Fear and decided that no, that’s not all we had to do to get to this point. For you our readers, we’ll work now and draw the arc later.

Aoife Walsh


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The South Circular 1st Birthday Party

The South Circular 1st Birthday Party cake © Mark Duggan
The South Circular 1st Birthday Party cake © Mark Duggan
Cake by Esther Walsh. Photo by Mark Duggan 

Well, we had a swell time.

Anthony Colclough (issue 4), Albert Moore (issue 2), Elizabeth Reapy (issue 5), Nathan O’Donnell (issue 3) and Adrian Duncan (issue 1) read extracts from their stories published in THE SOUTH CIRCULAR and they made us giggle, shuffle, laugh out loud and wonder for the first half of the night. They were followed by djs Sally Foran and Lil’ Dave who did what they do best: made us dance!

Before we knew it, everyone dancing was also wearing some shape of vintage spectacle or brandishing an optical tool a long-time obsolete. In our wildest dreams of what the 1st Birthday Party would be, we did not see this coming.

It was an extraordinary thing to watch writers we have published read the same stories to a live audience and we were struck how firstly, these stories have stood the test of time (well, a year) and then how they were different but the same said out loud, spoken from the mouths of those who created them first. We always considered a celebration of the writers and their work an essential part of what THE SOUTH CIRCULAR is all about but we never reckoned on how actually delivering such a happening would transport us so much outside of that moment so that it suddenly became weird to take any credit for the ejournal itself.

What we’re getting at is, it was great to gather, it was great to hear the stories said out loud, it was great to meet ‘our’ writers in the flesh and it was great to know that we have even more reasons to continue into our second year with a bit more confidence and an awareness of the effect THE SOUTH CIRCULAR has on some folk.

If we could, we’d go back and live it all again. But we will never repeat the special vibe in the room that night. We cannot say thank you enough to those who contributed their time, skills and energy to making our first event so much fun.

So for the time being we’re getting back to work: reading submissions for issue 6, due in June. We’re going to put all ideas of a second birthday out of our minds for now. Well, maybe just to the back.

Photos © Mark Duggan 

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The South Circular 1st Birthday Party :: Friday 26 April 2013

The South Circular 1st Birthday Party Poster

We are celebrating one year in publication with a very special evening of readings, nibbles (tbc) and music. This will be an opportunity for us to say THANK YOU to all of the writers, readers, artists, editors, friends and collaborators who have made the first five issues of THE SOUTH CIRCULAR possible. And it will give you the chance to say HI! to our virtual journal.

Stories from the back issues of our ejournal will be read to you and djs Sally Foran and Lil’ Dave will play to our hearts’ content until midnight. We’re delighted to be able to hold our party in the cosy surroundings of Molloy & Dowling Dispensing Opticians, one of Dublin’s newest stores. We are confident that the space will encourage intimate listening and showstopping dancing in equal measure. They even have outdoor/indoor caves for you smokers!

Our party will be BYOB, doors are at 7:30pm and capacity is under 100 so do come early to hear some of our favourite stories from the last year. We’re putting a €5.00 admission fee on the door. All proceeds from this will go back into the costs of the night and anything left over will go towards our next year of publication. We’ll also be selling A3 posters of the five front covers by some of the best visual creators in the business today. This is a unique opportunity to take home a piece of our commissioned artwork.

So, put your best gúna/geansaí on and join us for a night of stories, beats and baked treats.


Aoife x


*Party poster designed by Hannah Doyle/Doyley Designs

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Editor’s note issue 5

The South Circular issue 5 © M&E

Then we could pick it up and spin it again. This is just what people do, isn’t it? Keep it spinning.

From the one that got away, Alice Walsh’s original submission to THE SOUTH CIRCULAR last summer, we take our lead for this issue.* Keeping it spinning, thinking about throwing the first punch, rubbing the wrong way and residing in drawn-out goodbyes are these stories’ routes out of conflict, out of love, out of grief.

I’m calling this the fightin’ and ridin’ issue. Certainly the most perpetual acts in life provoke fabulous and familiar renderings in literature. Often daily life is only the movement in and out of orbits of old and new acquaintances, each encounter more or less interesting, more or less useful, more or less healthful than the last. And with each penetration of another’s (un)safely guarded orbit, the stories here by Patrick Gleeson, Barry McKinley, EM Reapy and Alice Walsh show us a little more about our own limits and our own tastes.

I used to think it impolite to lose the flavour of another’s environment after I’d moved away out of it. I’d honour that person by remembering their many properties; I’d swear to never think less of them for as long as I should breathe; and I’d relive our moments over and over again. But now I know that this exhausting baggage of liaisons come and gone was only really possible when their number was few. And with emigration’s paws reaching out for my nearest and dearest, with circumstances and needs growing inwards, finding a new way to honour that past is itself a lesson in the limits of the shades of friendship and love.

Our cover stars M&E have created a sublime work which captures the exquisite complexity of life’s necessary liaisons. And like all good visual responses it will exist and triumph apart from the stories in issue 5.

Finally, I must admit to a certain pride in reaching a fifth issue of THE SOUTH CIRCULAR. We are one year old, we have learned much, we are still young and we still care to bring you the work of new writers four times a year. I’m proud of throwing a punch at the digital publishing revolution and I’m glad to still be in the ring. And I’m especially proud of the small but growing orbit of writers, artists, editors and readers who have gathered round this spinning top.


Aoife Walsh


* Alice’s story, ‘It’s Crazy What You Could’ve Had’ went on to be published in issue 13 of wordlegs.


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Editor’s note issue 4


To predict or measure the workings of another human’s mind, exact motives and expectations that are not our own, is near impossible. To know a little is just about all we can hope for. And in some way, it’s what we live for. Giving a part of ourselves, however small and packaged it may be, is an act of generosity and bravery not easily taken back. Every day, we send ourselves out to the world and every day, we risk not receiving a similar gift in return.

That the emerging writers in this issue, Anthony Colclough, Michael Naghten Shanks, Margaret O’Brien and Cathal Wogan, have taken the risk to write what are in effect fantasies and to hand them over to us to publish here, is a testament to the kind of trust and risk we at THE SOUTH CIRCULAR are thriving on. For like The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry, in which a young couple in love sell their most prized possessions to purchase a stunning gift for each other, it is often not the gift itself which resounds with the receiver but the intent to locate, create or procure the gift.

At the same time, when a writer takes it upon themselves to first imagine a mind not their own, to then describe an experience not lived by themselves, to find an outcome not yet known to them and then hands that story over to be published and read, we as readers hold our breath. For what can we give in return? Of course, the simple act of reading the thing is often enough to warrant the effort of creating it. This is the deal struck every time we begin to put an issue of THE SOUTH CIRCULAR together and it’s an ancient barter system of which we are proud to be a part. As our world encounters yet another economically challenged era, where known values and aged ethics are tested, we see more and more the exchange of skills, customs and talents by our esteemed peers becoming a currency; a currency perhaps impossible to make redundant.

So, for the jacket of issue 4, we commissioned Reuben Whitehouse of Rocketfuelled and Jessica Herbert, British graphic designers based in Montréal, Canada, to create a typographical cover. Of the work, Reuben says: ‘This is largely inspired by the futuristic aesthetic that’s at large in Montréal’s metro system. I had the idea of making a design which you could read whichever way round you held it. So this one evolved from a sketch to Illustrator to a rough screen print to a scanner to Photoshop and finally to the JPEG you see here.’

We are delighted these four writers and two artists decided to attach extraordinary traits to such familiar pursuits as urban travel, addiction, an Easter school play, a holiday abroad and the peeling of potatoes. We hope you can accept theirs and our simple gift as a stunning piece of generosity and risk.



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The New Generation of Publishers: ebooks vs books, Dublin Book Festival 2012

Dublin Book Festival 2012

There was a lively and sparky panel discussion last night in Smock Alley Theatre, as part of the 2012 Dublin Book Festival, when Kemberlee Shortland (Tirgearr Publishing), Antony Farrell (Lilliput Press), Eoin Purcell (New Island, Irish Publishing News, and I came together to compare experiences of working in digital publishing and to hazard guesses on the future of the industry. Eoin chaired the discussion and I must say, he played a blinder in prompting honest and stimulating responses from us, giving time to each of our distinct and lucid positions and steering the debate between us and our informed and ready audience.

I was delighted to be given the opportunity to talk about the beginnings of THE SOUTH CIRCULAR, our experience so far and our dreams for the future of our ejournal. Preparing for the discussion, as it would place our work alongside such literary stalwarts as Lilliput Press and dynamic personae as Eoin and Kemberlee, was an extraordinary way to focus my mind on one particular aspect of our work which has become more and more important of late. Where to next? And how do we get there?

A lively debate also ensued on Twitter after the event and now seems a good time to finish a train of thought I began during the talk itself. It has since been suggested that I don’t actually like digital. I never said I don’t like digital. I said that ePub, the free publishing tool we use to produce each issue, has suited THE SOUTH CIRCULAR for starting out and for the time being. But that in order for our ejournal to compete on an international stage of digital periodical publications (like the McSweeney’s app, Letter to Jane, Moving Tales) we must gather a team of extremely talented, technologically creative practitioners; those who work every day in creative discovery via interactive design, graphic design, art direction and digital development. Those who are willing to consider the sociological, philosophical and anthropological consequences of the development of digital texts, what we now call eBooks. Those who are able to take the basic principles of text consumption, as it happens now and to think about and then create ways for the form to meet the challenge of the hypervoluminousness of digital.

Because I thoroughly agree with Craig Mod when he says the question is not ‘How do we change books to read them digitally?’ The more interesting question is, ‘How does digital change books?’

In order to bring these people together, in the hope that they may find a way to work together, I and my present team will continue to study the movements in these disciplines and will work towards an opportunity for collaboration. This is one of the huge advantages of working on a labour of love like THE SOUTH CIRCULAR; we can learn so much as we move towards a better format for our ejournal. Our aim is the same as any self-respecting literary publisher: to publish good work. It seems to us that the most expressively and coherent digital manifestations of this work are and will continue to be the textual products made for iPads, iPhones & Android phones. This is why we look at newspapers, magazines, other periodicals of short content. And so we applaud and we respect those publishers who are actively engaging with these coherent expressions as they are realized by interactive design, graphic design and digital art. And because we are not driven by sales or markets, we can afford to take the time to find the best digital form for the best textual content.


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Editor’s note issue 3

Issue 3

The party’s over. Let’s take half a day to pack away her Pimms, that Wilson Phillips single, his long denim shorts, the pop-up tent and my hand-sanitizer for another nine months. With the seasons’ handover already upon us, these quiet and orderly September evenings find me in a welcome lull, not waiting, not wanting, just seeing the city of Dublin bathed in oblique amber sunshine.

I hope you had a good summer. For me the satisfaction of a day well lazed near a scuffy beach or a move well busted in a field among friends proportionally bends my attention towards that most ancient of human pursuits: work and its consequences. These days are the calm before the slog, of simply doing, while I await the active pursuit of ideas, collaborations and new projects.

It’s a sort of ‘moving on’, an acknowledgment of the way we were and a shedding of a reckless innocence gently stashed away until later. I put a label on that pleasure and I wait for the next. Then, I will work and pursue deals and ideas. In all of us, these weeks, there will be many quietly-made decisions to ‘produce something’ during the coming months, to make the best of the darkness and some-time isolation imposed upon us. Knowing we must try harder to connect, knowing we cannot, in fact, just sleep until spring, every September, every new term, every new collection, every new issue, every new release is a lonely and powerful decision.

In issue 3 we bring you stories by four emerging writers, Colm Brennan, Donna McCabe, Oisín McKenna and Nathan O’Donnell. Stories which give us a glimpse of the party and all its debris. The specially-commissioned cover by Sarah Bodil came in soon after the last fling of this Irish summer, Electric Picnic, and was an instant mirror to our happily shattered selves.

The party’s over. It’s OK to lose yourself sometimes. While you’re there, take some moments to watch these tales rave against the crystal morning light.



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My Prairie Song Bird cover of sheet music © Drislane & Meyer 1909

Back in the spring, I was asked to write guest blogs for and (no longer available) about the whys, the hows, the whats of setting up THE SOUTH CIRCULAR. After over a year of planning the project and the first issue (published in March 2012), I felt more than ready to describe my reasons for venturing onto an unknown publishing, entrepreneurial and creative prairie. I couldn’t be happier about the way things are going at the moment and the possibilities and collaborations that are beginning to present themselves. What started as a boozy conversation with a friend in a souless late-night joint, has now become just the beginning of an undeniable journey of commissioning, making and doing. Thanks for all of your support so far.

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Prudence Magazine, Sept/Oct 2012

Prudence Magazine, Sept-Oct 2012

Our editor and publisher, Aoife Walsh, was featured in the September/October issue of Prudence Magazine, the Irish glossy for prudent shoppers. my life in style was a fun chance to express some sartorial favourites and to give Paris and Berlin a friendly plug.

September is always a time of turning attentions toward the substantial, reliable and fierce. The theme was continued when we went to see the Diana Vreeland documentary, The Eye Has To Travel, as part of the monthly fashion/filmclub, Fashion Screen, in the Lighthouse cinema. Vreeland was fashion editor of Harper’s Bazaar and Vogue for most of her career and appears to have inspired The Devil Wears Prada more than Anna Wintour would care to acknowledge. Major publication envy ensued.