finuala-dowling-south-africaFINUALA DOWLING, born in Cape Town in 1962, has an MA from UCT and a D.Lit. Phil from Unisa, where she was a lecturer in the English department from 1989 to 1995. Finuala began writing short stories in her twenties, many of which currently appear in local and international anthologies.She penned two unpublished novels, a series of comic skits and an award-winning comedy before turning to poetry.

Finuala’s first volume of poetry, I Flying, was awarded the Ingrid Jonker Prize for a debut collection. Of these poems Gus Ferguson has written: “At first glance Dowling’s poems are light, entertaining and easy to read – the result of careful craftsmanship. However, beneath the surface they can be touching and deal with a variety of disparate topics.” Ferguson adds that Dowling is: “resolutely unique in her insistence – despite an ironical stance – in locating her poems within the geographical scope of her life. Exposure to her work introduces the reader to the community that she lives in, her family, her friends, who are portrayed with wit and with great affection. In a way, this insistence to such a poetic microcosm, requires courage and great skill.”

Finuala’s second volume of poetry, Doo-Wop Girls of the Universe, published by Penguin in 2006, was the co-winner of the Sanlam Award for Poetry. Her poems have appeared in several recent school anthologies as well as in Portraits of African Writers by George Hallett (Wits University Press, 2006) and Lovely Beyond Any Singing: Landscape in South African Literature(Double Storey, 2006).

She is one of the poets in the “Art for Humanity: Women for Children's Rights” project in which a poem of hers accompanies an artwork by Beverley Samler. Finuala returned to fiction, but with a poetic theme, in her first novel,What Poets Need, published by Penguin in 2005. Her second novel will be published in 2007. Finuala writes: “There are things I need to say that don't fit into ordinary conversations. When I feel that the world has put a piece of sticky-tape across my mouth, then I turn to poetry.”

Finuala works as a freelance writer, lecturer, editor and materials developer. She lives in Kalk Bay with her daughter, Beatrice, and extended family.