Still pinching myself …

In my previous post, I mentioned that I had a bit of good news while I was staying in the Tyrone Guthrie Centre. I had to keep my mouth shut until the public announcement a week ago. My poem Driftwood made it to the shortlist of the Irish Poem of the Year at the An Post Irish Book Awards 2021. The poetry award is sponsored by Listowel Writers’ Week, which makes it extra special in my eyes.

Listowel Writers’ Week has been a pillar of the Irish writing community for 50 years. I’ve a huge fondness for them: after Storm Emma forced the cancellation of the 2018 Ennis Book Club Festival, Listowel offered EBCF a slot later in the year in their own festival. Such a generous act of solidarity.  A few years ago, I managed to get to the festival and spent a fab week attending a travel writing workshop with Mary Russell in the mornings then going to events the rest of the time. More recently, I read there as part of a festival event hosted by poet Annemarie Ní Churreáin. That was a lovely evening, made all the more magical when I realised that Brendan Kennelly was in the audience.

Co. Kerry and the Irish poetry community bid farewell to Brendan recently and – in the same few days – we bid a farewell to Máire Mhac an tSaoi. Quite a blow. If you are new to their work, click on their names for links to their bios and work. Many Irish people have their ‘Brendan’ story. I have one myself – maybe I’ll share it another day.

My thanks to everyone in the Writers’ Week office, especially Sharon who broke the good news and kept me in the loop! Thanks also to poet Ian McMillan who chose the four shortlisted poems. I’m in fine company; the big celebration is being on the list at all!

You can read our poems here and you can vote here. Voting closes on 15 November and, COVID numbers permitting, the winners will be announced at a live event in Dublin on the 23rd. Just the idea of meeting people in person is a joy!

Irish Poem of the Year shortlist 2021