About Maria


Poet, writer of short fiction and memoir, performer, social networker, workshop leader.

Maria's first poetry collection, 'strange fruits' is published by Cultured Llama in association with WordAid with all profits going to Macmillan Cancer Support. 

She has recently completed a collection of short stories As Long as it Takes, about first and second-generation Irish women living in England.

Writing as Maria Bradley, she was a regular columnist on BBC Radio 4's 'Home Truths'.

Maria has arranged themed events at libraries in the Medway towns, Canterbury and Swale, and at The Avenue Theatre, Sittingbourne, featuring her own work and that of other local writers and musicians. She has also taken part in events at the University of Kent, at the Medway Fringe Festival 2006, and at Foyles Bookshop in London.

She leads creative writing workshops in her writing room - a converted shed at the end of her garden - and has also taught short fiction at the Hazlitt Arts Centre, Maidstone, with poetry workshops planned at Medway libraries in 2012.

Maria has an MA with Distinction in Creative Writing from the University of Kent. She is winner of the Save As Prose Awards 2011, having also won the 2009 Award, and gained second place in Canterbury Festival Poet of the Year 2010.


Maria finishes five sentences for Canterbury Laureate Sarah Salway - featuring a photo of her writing shed


What people say about Maria's writing:

First Place: ‘A Tea Party’. I loved this story on first reading, and I loved it even more with each subsequent reading. It is an intimate tale of an Irish family in England. The home is full to bursting with children, until the mother withholds sex, and the father takes a mistress. All of this is witnessed with unflinching tenderness through the eyes of a child. As her impressions accumulate, we build up a complete picture of the family’s life, their secrets and circumstances. Tightly-wrought, the point of view is skilfully developed and sustained, bringing the reader to a logical (but not predictable) conclusion. There are no concessions to nostalgia or sentimentality here--it is charming, funny, truthful, quirky and deeply moving. 

Nancy Gaffield, from the Save As Prose Competition 2011 Adjudicator's Report


'We are really pleased to publish "Our Father" in issue 8 [of 14 Magazine]. It is an intelligent and moving poem...Your work is always a welcome read, so we hope to hear from you again in the future...'

Mike Loveday, editor, 14 magazine.

'This is a well-made and thoughtful collection of linked short stories on the theme of Irish migration. The stories are subtle and sophisticated, the characters well drawn and the world they occupy made vivid for the reader. Miss McCarthy handles the emotional and moving material very well, these are never mawkish or sentimental stories and the larger themes the stories inevitably touch on are implied and suggested rather than addressed directly. The writing overall is of a high standard and I can well imagine that these stories might form the basis of a published collection in due course.'

Stewart Brown (external examiner, MA in Creative Writing, on four stories from Maria's collection As Long As it Takes)

'1st Prize

And I’ve given first place to ‘Cold Salt Water’ for its stunning rendering of voice. From the first words, as a young man ‘comes in with his shirt splattered with blood’, the author of this piece grabs us with economic and yet effective dialogue: ‘”Honest to God, Kieran.”’ Kieran’s response to his mother captures the relationship aptly: “Don’t fuss, Mum,” he says like it’s nothing to walk in your house with you nose spread across your face.’ Depicting Anglo-Irish relations, this is a deceptively simple story, offering an account of a family struggling to cope with identity and difference through the eyes of a mother. The central image of a blood-stained shirt soaking in cold salt water haunts the story, and as the narrator ‘push[es] it down so it’s covered’, we’re reminded of the ways in which historical, cultural and domestic violence is often pushed down, again and again, until it’s covered. It’s a quietly shocking story, beautifully written with a powerful voice, and thoroughly deserves to win this competition.'

Sarah Jackson, (‘Save As’ Prose Competition 2009, Judge’s Report)

'Dear Maria

It was very thoughtful of you to send me your pamphlets. I have read many of the poems in 'nothing but', and look forward to 'Learning to be English'. I certainly do remember July 1969 - it was so sharp and moving. In fact so many of your poems are sharp and moving, richly
suggestive with evocative details. I alighted on 'Flowerpot' in 'Learning to be English' - a very surprising, quietly devasting poem!

... Are you working towards a full-length collection?

Wishing you all the best,

Moniza Alvi'

See also the Books and Services page for reviews of 'strange fruits'.


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