BY JACKIE KEOGH
RETREAT Anam Cara is a special place for working writers, artists and academics, as well as being the home of Sue Booth-Forbes. It has also been listed as one of the top five retreats in the world.
The judge, writing in The Globe And Mail in Canada, chose Anam Cara, which is located in the village of Eyeries on the Beara Peninsula, because it offers ‘a place of warmth and solitude for aspiring writers and experienced authors alike.’
But it’s not just the Canadians who are impressed with the award-winning centre, the Spirit & Destiny magazine in the UK, and a literary journal in Wales, have also listed Anam Cara as the place to kick start the creative process and hone one’s craft.
Anam Cara – which is run by writer and former Cambridge University Press editor Sue Booth-Forbes – is famous for its comfortable ‘at home’ atmosphere, which is predicated on operating a smooth, daily working schedule offset by good company and animated conversation around the table at meal times.
Sue said: ‘My job is to provide creative people with support, and in that regard I am something of a literary midwife. I am in charge and responsible, but we are in this together, and together it works for everyone.’
At this five-acre retreat, writers find they can overcome creative blocks by feeding the ducks and drakes, collecting hens’ eggs, or walking the 2km paths and the labyrinth in the meadow, or – in extreme cases – by taking a baptismal plunge in the chilly but invigorating cascade.
As a former editor and communications director, Sue’s dual role includes checking and correcting copy. But, as a no-nonsense, straight-talking woman (the pioneering sort, straight from the plains of Utah) she also has an ear for a writer’s authentic voice.
Supporting writers, poets, artists and academics has been a life-long labour of love for Sue, so when the Fish Anthology was launched as part of the West Cork Literary Festival, Sue didn’t hesitate in offering the second prize in the short story competition – a week’s stay at Anam Cara.
Sue said: ‘I was impressed with the quality of the writing and the publication. I had just moved here to write short stories and wanted to support other writers. I also decided to sponsor the second prize in the poetry competition in honour of my father, the poet, Clinton Foster Larson.’
The launch of this year’s anthology will take place at 6.30pm at The Maritime Hotel on Wednesday, July 20th. All are welcome.
Sue Booth-Forbes bought Anam Cara in December 1997 and moved in six months later. Over the last 18 years it has – with the support of Sue’s neighbours and friends throughout Beara – continued to evolve, so much so that it is now known and respected internationally.
But Anam Cara is also Sue’s home. ‘Here,’ she said, ‘I discovered for myself a place where I could slow down inside – enough to hear my own voice. I knew this was a place where I could do my best creative work. I am grateful to be here, living my dream, and to be able to share it with others.’