Stanzas Storytime: Out

Hi Guys!

This week’s blog is another story from everyone’s favourite misanthrope, Messer Shane Vaughan. So sit back, grab a cup of hope and listen to him figure out his new microphone set-up!

Stanzas Storytime: Out

On Being Accepted: Part ii, Who’s Who in the Who’s You?

Last week we discussed the importance of having a professional and high-quality Headshot. If you’re the kind of writer that’s applying for festivals, book launches, and funding opportunities, then you also need to be the kind of writer that will do the simple things right.

Now, ok, there’s an argument to be made that doing things the way everyone else does things will just make you blend in, and you want your work to stand out, right? And that’s a fine argument. If you can make your own headshot and bio stand out in a way that is also crafted and creative then go for it! But most people won’t, can’t, or just couldn’t be bothered. Because who needs to go into that much effort for a formality?

So that’s headshots. Get one done. What’s next? The Bio.

Your bio is the Who’s Who of Being You! It’s a short, concise description of what you do.

Here’s an example:

“Stanzas is a poetry-focused arts organisation which gives emerging writers a platform to perform their work both in an open-mic environment and also in print via their monthly chapbooks and readings. They meet once a month in Ormston House, and you can find out more at or by emailing”

This example outlines, in brief, that we have regular meetings, an open mic, a paper series, and gives information about our website and email: in 52 words. Fifty Two! That’s one third what you’re given for most bio word counts.

Here’s another example:

“Stanzas formed in July 2014 in an environment of changing arts practices in Limerick City following years of apathy and flight. We approached our work with the clear dedication of wide-eyed infants, unaware of the barriers, costs, procedures, and histories. Our first event…”

etc, etc. You can imagine how the rest goes, right? That kind of a bio would detail, in minute, every event held, who was there, what the theme was, why it was totally amazeballs, and more. That kind of a bio would go on for 1500 words. That kind of a bio isn’t a bio, it’s a personal history. And there’s nothing wrong with a personal history. In the About section of your personal website.

The absolute worst kinds of bios are the ones that say: So-and-so began reading at the age of three and was instantly spellbound by the imagination of Humpty-Dumpty and Winnie the Poo.

Well done, you and every other poet was an early adopter of reading. The only reason it would be important to note your reading habits would be if you learned how to read in prison following fifteen years of political exile and now have a Nobel winning book of poems. That’s interesting. That’s unique. That is something you have claim to.

Well, not you. You read from the age of three. Like the rest of us.

Maybe all that is a little harsh. But let’s face it, Bios are boring, because most people are fairly boring. And that’s ok. Boring is fine. We read, we write, we wonder should we eat pizza or pasta. Some people have non-boring lives, but they’re the ones fleeing war and persecution, and would gladly trade for a life of peaceful boredom.

So next time you’re asked to write a bio, don’t make a big deal out of it. Don’t try to fluff up your life. Just say it as it is.

“So-and-so is a poet and painter. S/he likes art deco and was recently involved in the production of “Theatre & Co”. Their house is full of daffodils.”

Lovely. Boring, but lovely.


This blog was written by Shane “Is a Poet and Photographer” Vaughan. If you have something to say and nowhere to say it why not get in touch at



On Being Accepted: Part ii, Who’s Who in the Who’s You?

On Being Accepted: Part i, “The Unbearable Likeness of Image”

So you’ve sent your poems off, got a response, and hey presto! You’re being published/booked for a reading/accepted for a slam. And then comes the dreaded email…

“Hi Mx, can you fire on a headshot and bio when you get a chance? Thanks!”

Now, some of you may know all about headshots, and that’s great – but how many of you have one? And no, that selfie you took by the window is not going to work.

First, let’s find out what a headshot really isn’t: It’s not a selfie, it’s not done by your mate who’s into photos, it’s not frivolous, it’s not taken by your phone no matter how good you think it is at taking photos. A Headshot is an accurate representation of how you currently look. It’s designed primarily for the acting industry so that agents can picture you in a variety of roles, but it’s super useful for loads of places and f reasons. And one of those reasons, increasingly, is at festivals.

Poets now take up premium stage space at a field of festivals (Field? a tent a festivals? A disappointment of festivals??) and those poets need to have their faces plastered on posters and billboards and flyers and brochures. Not to mention the actual poetry festivals that are around.

Now, there’s nothing wrong, per se, with using a photo from the ’80s that you had you niece takes photo of on her phone and that you then sent in a word file to the festival organiser to use. Just like there’s nothing “wrong” with going hunting for pears. You can do it, but it leaves one asking questions. There’s also nothing wrong, per se, with using a file that is 6 kilo bytes big. Yes, that is your face, no the poster isn’t printed to the size of a stamp. There’s even nothing wrong with that shot of you by the window that you took on your phone! You’re right! You’re really really good at taking selfies. The problem is it looks like a selfie. Not a headshot. And even if you did take it on a plain background with would lights, it would still be too small for larger printing.

So when it comes to headshots, you’re best off getting it done right. Spend a few quid and get something that will last you a few years, give or take a radical haircut. Go to an actual photographer with an actual photo-making box. Get a few varieties, a nice plain background, make sure it’s big enough that someone could use it on a flyer or a billboard if they wanted to. Make sure it’s your actual face. Make sure it’s your actual face as it actually is now.

It might seem silly, even egotistic, but it’s professional. Be proud of your work. If someone asks for a headshot, send them a headshot, not a photo, but that unbearable likeness of image: the profile shot.


This post was written by Shane ‘Photo Baby” Vaughan. If you have something to say and nowhere to say it then email us at


On Being Accepted: Part i, “The Unbearable Likeness of Image”


Ah, Christmas, the feast of the unconquered sun! Yes, that’s right, your traditional celebration of virginal birth is actually a celebration of the sun – but you probably knew that. We know quite a lot these days. The internet has taught us much. Or, at least, the internet has shown us much – it’s not so great at contextualising or interpreting anything, that’s the job of the human mind, that very same human mind which decided we needed a festival in case the sun forgot to come up. So, eh, *memes frivolously*

But the thing about Christmas (read: Saturnalia; read: Yule) is that even though we know it’s a load of hogswash and the sun will swoop back up to shine light on our hungover heads on Christmas day;,we still like to believe.

Belief is a fabulous thing. It’s so very human. It’s the mind trying to sooth itself with whispers of magic. We know the sun will rise and the sun will set and the sun will rise again, but there’s always that little shiver running down the spine, the tingle of what if this time it doesn’t. So we trick ourselves. We eat, drink, and be merry. We sacrifice sherry to the god of gifts; carrot sticks to his mighty steed; turkey as an act of gluttony when all the land is barren and struck down with frost. Some of us still go to the temples and chant and hymn and sing songs of praise. We don’t call it Saturnalia anymore, but, in essence, we’re still trying to make the sun shine a little brighter during the dark period.

Here at Stanzas HQ, we’ll be feasting on tofu and singing songs of praise to the god of forms. It’s been a peculiar year, but we have faith in that sun of ours, the one that keeps peeping up over yonder hill, catching you in the good light and nodding knowingly.

So this Christmas, be ye saint or sinner, grinch, scrooge, or treacle monster, raise a toast to the unconquered sun: yule be glad for it.


This blog post was written by Shane ‘Christmas Jumper’ Vaughan. If you have something to say and nowhere to say it, get in touch!

Stanzas will return with the sun, January 5th 2018 for SLAMZAS in the Stormy Teacup.




Hey everyone! This week’s blog is a little different, as we like to change things up whenever we can. This week, we’re reading a short story!

So put on the kettle, drape a blanket around your shoulders, and have a listen to Johnyy55, written and read by Shane Vaughan.


This week’s blog was written by Shane Vaughan. If you have something to say and nowhere to say it, get in touch at


Lemons to the Aid

When Life Gives You Lemons, Make Lemonade. It’s an old cliche, and yet cliche doesn’t have to be worthless if it’s making a decent point.

Our December Stanzas has been in the works for a while, and we wanted a fun, light-hearted Christmassy event, showcasing our new Solstice Sounds audio-mag, and generally having a merry time. And yet organising it has been anything but merry.

First the initial venue we wanted to use was unavailable, so we tried for somewhere else, only the dates didn’t match up; then we swapped the dates, only to find out we’d been double booked; then we swapped the dates again, finally thinking it was all going to be ok, when the USBs arrived and the logo wasn’t engraved, wasting time and money and aesthetics; then we were delayed getting a final list for the event organised because of a technical hiccup; then we realised we hadn’t actually told anyone what was happening in the first place so no one knew we were even having an event; and then… and then… and then…

Sometimes, you wonder if the universe is trying to tell you something. And other times, you think, is it giving me lemons?

We all have days, sometimes weeks, where everything just seems to go wrong. And yet, in the middle of all this wrongness, we’ve also had a whole bunch of really awesome things happen that we’re really excited to share with you guys when we can. So much is going right for us, and so much potential is just around the corner. We have big plans for 2018, and we’re more excited than ever. Even if this week has been a disaster.

It’s easy to get bogged down and think, well, this thing didn’t work, therefore everything isn’t working. But that’s not true. That’s actually never true.

At the moment, our December event IS going ahead. It’s just not going ahead quite the way we thought it would. and that’s ok too. Turns out we had to move it to a Thursday. Turns out there’s a beer sampling session on Thursday in mother macs, so we all get free beer at the end. It might not be making lemons with lemonade, but we like to think it’s better.

How’s that for merry, eh?


FB Year 4 - Dec

The Next Stanzas Takes Place in The Stormy Teacup on Thursday December 14th, from 19:00 – 21:00, followed by merry-making in Mother Macs from 21:00 – Late.


This blog post was written by Shane ‘ffs’ Vaughan. If you have something to say and nowhere to say it, get in touch at

Lemons to the Aid

What Makes Something ‘Good’?

I’ve been having a lot of conversations lately, mostly with myself, about the nature of ‘Good’. I don’t mean good in an ethical or moral sense, but in an aesthetic sense.

Specifically, what is the difference between Good Art and Bad Art? Can art be bad? Isn’t it all just subjective anyway?

I said to myself, It’s Got to be Inherently Aesthetic.

Perugino, ‘christ delivering the keys of the kingdom to saint peter’

Good Art uses methods which lend themselves well to a sense of beauty. These are techniques that an artist can employ, such as the Golden Ratio, or Leading Lines, or Complimentary Colours, etc. These are tools which, when put to good use, cause the viewer to feel something good.

And yet… there are plenty of things that use these techniques and that I would not consider to be Good Art. Plenty of Michael Bay’s movies are technically very good, but they make me feel sick.

So then I said to myself, It’s Not What It Looks Like, It’s What It’s About.


Good Art intends to portray emotion x, topic y, and thought z, and the consumer of the art feels emotion x, topic z, and thought z,

But then, why wrap it up in art? Why not just go around telling people exactly what you think? Why do we wrap up the intention in subterfuge? What is the benefit of subtlety? Why try to express an idea as a piece of art, instead of as a lecture or a speech?

So then I said to myself, It’s A Combination, Of Course!

Steve McCurry, Afghan Girl

Good Art is both inherently aesthetic and sure about what it’s trying to say!  Duh! Not only is it expressing an emotion, or highlighting an idea, but it’s doing it in a way that is also pleasing to the eye on a technical level.

Ok. Great. Sure.

But what about Good Art that isn’t either of those things?

Let’s stop for a moment and look at this

Jackson Pollock, Vivid Anomaly

This is a painting by Jackson Pollock. It’s not very pleasing to look it, it’s just a bunch of lines and blobs, random colours flying together with no reason or meaning, it’s not trying to say anything, it’s not expressing anything other than a frenetic energy of sorts, and yet it is Good Art.


Because, I said to myself, It Has To Take Us Somewhere New

Philippe Halsman, Portrait of Salvador Dalí

A lot of modern and postmodern art isn’t considered art by Joe Public, because they say: I Could Do That, or, My Four Year Old Could Do That. But, of course, they didn’t do that. And indeed their four-year-old didn’t do that, either. Pollock did that. He brought it into the fold of our imagination. He was the first.

When you take something that is the first of its kind, it’s very hard to explain, because there is nothing to compare it to. You can’t say it’s better or worse than other things, because it is unlike other things.

So Good Art Pushes Borders.

René Magritte The Treachery of Images

But then…. ah, but then I thought… Two Girls One Cup pushed borders, and that is not Good Art… No, sir… that is not good anything…

And then I thought, after I washed out my mind, that even IF something DID satisfy some sense of aesthetics, while conveying a thought, feeling, or idea, AND managed to push the borders of what is known AND was accessible to the public in a way that changes things  – would it even get picked up?

The world of art dealers and galleries is corrupt beyond salvage, to the point that Fine Art is now hoarded as an investment, rather than bought and sold for their Good.

I bought some art today from, a local artist with bucket loads of talent. I think her work is aesthetic, expressive, and, indeed, at times it pushes the borders just a little on what we look for when we look for art. It’s probably never going to be bought and sold for 445million dollars. Sorry. But I’d rather have some Grimes hanging on my wall than some dead painting by some dead painter.

Because at the end of the day, it really is individual. If you like something, like that you like it. Stop trying to explain everything to everyone. You just end up thinking about Two G-, no, enough, enough of that…

And anyway, stop analysing other peoples work: go out there and make some of your own. That’s where the gold lies. It’s not about the Art. It’s about the Creating.


This blog post was written by Shane ‘Artsy Fartsy’ Vaughan. If you have something to say and nowhere it, why not get in touch at

What Makes Something ‘Good’?