Contemporary Problems No 53 & 54

Rosemary Jenkinson

About the book…

Rosemary Jenkinson’s debut collection of short stories, Contemporary Problems Nos. 53 & 54, defies the tired orthodoxies of Irish writing.

With stories set in Belfast, England or eastern Europe, Jenkinson writes with an off-beat cosmopolitan sensibility, bringing to life those whose lives are lived on the transitory margins: the unemployed and unemployable; the bored civil servants; lingerie shop assistants; migrants longing to be home or those longing to get away. Yet her characters go beyond the ciphers of social protest. Rather they are flesh and blood, given to miraculous flights of imagination, defying the sometimes grim realities of the world around them.

Whether writing of ‘troubles’ Northern Ireland or working-class life in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, her stories resist the easy stereotypes.

Refreshingly modern, Jenkinson displays a keen eye and an acute lyric ear for the way we live today.

Photo of the author, Rosemary Jenkinson

About the author…

Rosemary Jenkinson was born in Belfast in 1967.  She studied Medieval Literature at Durham University and taught English in Greece, France, the Czech Republic and Poland before returning to live in Belfast in 2002.  

Her collection of short stories, Contemporary Problems Nos. 53 & 54, was published by Lagan Press in 2004 while her first play, The Bonefire, was published by Methuen in 2006.  As a short story writer, her stories have appeared in many publications, including as Editor’s choice in The Fish Anthology, the Breaking the Skin Anthology, the Let’s Be Alone Together Anthology, The Northern Short Story Anthology, The Stinging Fly and The Sunday Tribune’s Hennessy Award for New Irish Writing.  

She was short-listed for the Asham Prize, came third in the Brian Moore Short Story Awards and won the Black Hill Books Short Story Competition.  Her stories, The Bonefire and Revival, were published in Verbal Arts Magazine.

In addition to writing short stories, Rosemary is a playwright and her plays have been performed in New York, Washington DC, Dublin, Edinburgh and Belfast.  She was part of Rough Magic’s Seeds Project in 2004 and was commissioned to write The Bonefire which went on to be produced at the Dublin Theatre Festival and won the Stewart Parker BBC Radio Drama Award.  

Other plays include The Winners (Ransom, Belfast), Johnny Meister + the Stitch (Jigsaw, Belfast, the Edinburgh Fringe and the Dublin Fringe and Solas Nua, Washington DC), Bruised (Tinderbox, Belfast), The Lemon Tree (Origin, New York as part of the 1st Irish Festival), and 1 in 5 (Kabosh).  She has had three plays, Stella Morgan, Basra Boy and Cuchullain, produced by the Keegan Theatre in Washington DC and Basra Boy was subsequently revived by Brassneck Theatre Company at the Feile an Phobail and East Belfast Arts Festival in 2012.  

Also in 2012, White Star of the North was produced by the Lyric Theatre as part of the Titanic commemorations and Ghosts of Drumglass was performed by Kabosh in the Belfast Festival.  Short plays include Meeting Miss Ireland (Abbey Theatre, Dublin), Wonderwall, Titanic and Collecting Cultures (Kabosh, Belfast).  Readings include Star-struck (Tinderbox), Outcast (Soho), Basra Boy (Royal Court) and The Winners (Irish Repertory Theatre) and she was part of ‘Come to where I’m from’ with Paines Plough.  Her radio play, Castlereagh to Kandahar, was broadcast on BBC3’s The Wire.  

Her play, The Dealer of Ballynafeigh, came third in the BBC Tony Doyle Awards and she was short-listed for the King’s Cross and Verity Bargate Awards.  She took part in the BBC College of Comedy and was writer-on-attachment at The National Theatre Studio in London 2010.  She has received Oppenheim-John Downes and Peggy Ramsay Awards for her writing and recently received a further Arts Council Award.  She is also currently working on Bo Strategy which is an update of Farquhar’s The Beaux Strategem and her upcoming play is Planet Belfast with Tinderbox.