Anna Jordan and the “Write Stuff”

Michelle Heffernan Reports

Anna Jordan is a literary, and literal, tour de force. Most working single mothers wouldn’t find time to comb their hair, let alone pen plays, run classes and launch major literary festivals and events. Bashfully, she swats away my compliments on her writing and production repertoire, while I quizzed her in a café on her multi tasking super powers. “I just try to find balance and wear different hats” she says. Smiling through a bold pout of red lipstick she recounts with an infectious energy her relationship with writing and her path to launching ‘Modwords’, Waterford’s first open mic festival for original writers, poets and wordsmiths.
“When I was a little girl, I drew pictures and out stories to them” Anna recalls. That was it. I’ve been writing ever since”.

Anna Jordan; A Waterford Woman of many words, both spoken and written

Anna Jordan; A Waterford Woman of many words, both spoken and written


As a teenager Anna attended writing workshops by much loved Waterford playwright, the late Jim Daly, and was inspired to not only write, but to one day teach writing by Eugene Broderick, a respected local English teacher and author.
As part of the Seán Dunne Young Writers’ Group, Anna was afforded the opportunity once a year to share her work with a public audience. “Back then I liked sharing my work-whereas the older I got the more afraid I was” she laughs.

While Anna was grateful for the opportunity Seán Dunne afforded her, she felt dismayed there was no other platform for new writers, poets or indeed artists of any kind to share their new work in the city. “A lot of the time I couldn’t share the plays I wrote as school always got in the way”. Her enthusiasm for opening up the writing arena in Waterford led her to launch Modwords, a wonderful open-mic event which allows writers of all ages, or levels of experience to air their words of poetry, prose, music, even rap in front of a live audience.
“The idea for Modwords was born out of my past” says Anna, “and the lack of opportunity I had when I was younger”.
“When I was asked to run an open mic night for a Writers Weekend here, it went so positively it has now turned into a festival and become a platform for people of all ages to write and share what they write”

In 2017 alone, Modwords ran 10 open mic sessions, where any person of any age/ability could sign up to share their work in the intimate and friendly setting of a local bar or café. The Modwords movement then culminated in a two-day festival event where Anna brought spoken word, short plays, music, secret shows, art exhibitions, dancing, film, book sales and book swaps to a variety of Waterford venues. “Modwords encouraged writers of all types to stand up, be terrified, but know that their words matter” Anna says. “We’ve had people from ages 13 to 80 share their work and it’s so great to see a room in Waterford full of people of different voices, generations and art forms sharing their work.”

Amazingly, Anna Jordan has not only launched Modwords in the last year, but produced plays, put together youth groups, and turned her helping hand towards volunteering in her local community.“Last year I ran an open mic night for the Lit Young Writers Festival and it was just wonderful; I think this festival of reading and writing for young people is one of the brightest ideas Waterford has ever had,” she adds. Anna also spent spring 2017 penning and producing much acclaimed play, ‘The January Show’ a piece of writing that Anna confesses, came from a very personal place within. “The January Show was my struggle to recover from a bad patch in my own life and really went into what’s it’s like to be at rock bottom and drag yourself up. I wrote, directed and scored the show, and it was incredibly straining, but I’ll never regret it”.
A real highlight of this literarian’s career has been her work in Shine Discovery Waterford, a community resource which supports people and their families with self experience of mental ill health.

“Volunteering at Shine has been an incredible experience for me. A week after enquiring with them I began running writing classes and little did I know all the people at the table would be people I would grow to love and adore. It ranges from all ages and abilities and everyone has so much creativity and compassion. I am now running drama classes there too with Waterford playwright Martina Collender!”

The talent and experience of this prolific lady goes on and on. Before she swallows her last sip of coffee and rushes out to another meeting I hurriedly ask “what’s in store in 2018/19?. “Well, Modwords has begun in Cork” she proudly explains, “and the festival will return this July to Waterford, possibly running over two weekends”.
Her Modwords classes and relaxed open-mic nights will continue to run all year long and she will also work on the Waterford Walls Production team.
Most excitingly, Anna has acquired a building to launch an “Art start Centre” in the next 24 months. “It’s very early days” she tells me, “but it will hopefully give people a platform and space to develop their creativity and mental health in whatever form”

“Any final words of wisdom to aspiring wordsmiths out there?” I query hurriedly as she rushes to her next meeting. “Just do it” she says. “and if no one wants to listen to you, then do it anyway”. In the same gust of breath she is gone through the sliding doors, and I am left piqued by thoughts of the next project up Anna Jordan’s sleeves.
If you would like to participate in Modwords Spoken Word Festival or get in touch with Anna Jordan for any information or advice, you’re very welcome to email her at modwords@gmail.com. She is always open to a cuppa and a natter!

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