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2014 iYeats poetry competition

The winner of the The Hawk’s Well Theatre’s iYeats International Poetry competition was announced on Thursday 31st July at a ceremony at the Hawk’s Well Theatre during the 55th Yeats International Summer School. This year’s winner is Winifred McNulty for her poem ‘Tawnytallon’ and the judges decided to commend three further poets this year – Connie Roberts for ‘Oasis’, Phil Lynch for ‘Changing Light’ and Heather Richardson for ‘Telling’.

The iYeats Poetry competition was launched by the Hawk's Well Theatre in 2009 to mark the 50th Yeats International Summer School and the 70th anniversary of the death of W. B Yeats.  The iYeats Poetry competition is an online national and international poetry competition which has won a prestigious reputation for the calibre of both entrants and judges. The judges for 2014 are Peter Sirr and Catherine Phil MacCarthy.
There was no winner in the Emerging Talent category for 2014 as the number and standard of entries in the General category was so high.
Katie Donovan and James Harpur were the competition judges in 2013. Previous judges have included Theo Dorgan and Paula Meehan (2012) Gerald Dawe & Enda Wyley (2011), Vincent Woods & Rita Ann Higgins (2010) and Niall MacMonagle & Mary Branley (2009). The winning poems are published on the Hawk’s Well website.
First Prize €500
Commended X 3 €50

Statement from the judges Peter Sirr and Catherine Phil McCarthy

“I think what you’re after as a judge is a sense of surprise – you want to be shaken a little, you want to see the language used in a bold and exciting way, you want to feel that something is being said that needed to be said. In the case of the iYeats Poetry Competition we both felt that three poems deserved to be commended. ‘Oasis’, we thought, managed to communicate convincingly a striking life-force and feeling. The voice had vividness and humour and the sharpness of pain and sense of abandonment beneath the language. We both felt ‘Telling’ was very good, precise and stark in the way it handled difficult material, combining passion and control in a way we felt deserved singling out. Likewise we were struck by the economy of language and detail in ‘Changing Light’, which charts a significant moment in history in a way that is understated and impressive.

When it came to deciding the winner, the poem that spoke to both of us was ‘Tawnytallon’. Its a quiet and meditative poem, With wonderful, rich phrasing which creates a memorable sense of place and people. We admired the boldness of metaphor and the particular distinctness of the voice in lines like ‘The grassed fort shrinks like an old muscle’ or ‘The house sleeps rough, its small rooms/and careful trunk open to rain and swallows.’ As the poem unfolded we had the sense that we were in the hands of a real poet, and it was a pleasure for us to award it the prize.”

The Judges:
Peter Sirr lives in Dublin where he works as a freelance writer and translator. He was educated at Trinity College Dublin and won the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award in 1982 and  the poetry prize at Listowel Writers’ Week in 1983. He has divided much of his time between Ireland, Italy, and Holland, though he has now settled back in Dublin. He was director of the Irish Writers’ Centre from 1991 to 2002, and was editor of Poetry Ireland Review from 2003 to 2007. He was on the shortlist twice for the Poetry Now Award for his collection Nonetheless in 2005 and for The Thing Is in 2010. In 2011, he won the Michael Hartnett award for The Thing Is.
His most recent collection of poems is The Thing Is, published by Gallery Press in 2009, for which he was awarded the Michael Hartnett in 2011. The Gallery Press has also published Marginal Zones (1984), Talk, Talk (1987), Ways of Falling (1991), The Ledger of Fruitful Exchange (1995), Bring Everything (2000), Selected Poems and Nonetheless (both 2004). He is a member of Aosdána.
Catherine Phil MacCarthy was born in Co. Limerick in 1954 and studied at University College Cork, Trinity College Dublin, and Central School of Speech and Drama, London. She taught at Waterford Institute of Technology (WIT) and at The Drama Centre, University College Dublin, before turning full-time to writing in 1999.She has won several prizes since 1991, most recently The Fish International Poetry Prize in 2010, the Dromineer Prize for Poetry in 2012, and recently completed an artist’s residency at Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris during Spring 2013.  The Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealíon awarded her bursaries for poetry in 1994, 1998, 2007/8, and 2013. She received the eighteenth Lawrence O’Shaughnessy Award for Poetry of the University of St Thomas Center for Irish Studies in April 2014.She is a former editor of Poetry Ireland Review (Nos. 57–60). Writer in Residence for the City of Dublin (1994), and at the Department of Anglo-Irish Literature, University College, Dublin (2002), she has also worked as guest writer at Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design & Technology, and at St. Patrick’s College and is a freelance tutor in Poetry and Creative Writing.
She has been funded by the Artsflight scheme and Culture Ireland for readings at Ireland House in New York University, Boston College, Villanova University, the University of Massachusetts in Boston, and at many Irish Studies Centres, Art Centres and festivals including The London Irish Book Fair. She has published This Hour of the Tide (Salmon, 1994); the blue globe (1998), One Room an Everywhere, a novel, (2003), Suntrap (2007), with Blackstaff Press and The Invisible Threshold (2012) with Dedalus Press, shortlisted for The Irish Times Poetry Now Award in 2013.

Winner 2014 iYeats International Poetry Competition:
Winifred McNulty
Winifred has published poetry in Myslexia, Revival, the sHop and other journals. She was joint winner of the Boyle poetry competition in 2013 and was shortlisted for the Listowel Poetry collection in 2014. She is co author with photographer Heike Thiele of ‘High Shelves and Long Counters’ a book about the last of the old style shops in the North West. Along with actor Margot Jones she wrote and performed in ‘At home with Everina Wollstonecraft’ for the 2013 Allingham Festival. Winifred has read her work at festivals and on RTE’s Sunday Miscellany. Winifred is from Leitrim and Leicester and now lives with Larry and Patrick on Blissberry Farm in Mountcharles, Co. Donegal.

Commended: 2014 iYeats International Poetry Competition:

Connie Roberts, a County Offaly native, emigrated to the United States in 1983.  Her poetry has been published in journals in the U.S. and Europe.  In 2010 she received the Patrick Kavanagh Award for Not the Delft School, a collection of poetry inspired by her experiences growing up in an industrial school in the midlands.  That same year she was awarded first prize in the Dromineer Literary Festival Poetry Competition.  In 2011 Ms. Roberts received a Literature Bursary Award from the Irish Arts Council.  She was nominated for the Hennessy X.O. Literary Awards and was awarded a space in the 2010 Poetry Ireland Introductions Series.   Ms. Roberts has been a finalist in several poetry contests, including the Strokestown International Poetry Competition, the Fish Poetry Prize, the iYeats Competition, and the Dana Awards.  May 2013 she received the Poetry Collection Award at the Listowel Writers’ Week Festival.  And this past week, she won the 2014 Boyle Arts Festival Poetry Competition.  She teaches creative writing at Hofstra University, New York.


Phil Lynch lives in Dublin. Recent publications in which his work has appeared include: Boyne Berries, Wordlegs, Bare Hands Anthology, Revival Literary Journal, The Poetry Bus, Circle Time, Outburst and Census. He is a regular reader/performer at spoken word events and his work has featured on national and local radio, including RTE’s Arena Arts Show. He is a member of Dalkey Writers' Workshop and co-editor of the forthcoming Seven Towers Anthology, Census 4.

Heather Richardson was born in Northern Ireland in 1964. She is one of three featured writers in Short Story Introductions 1 (Lagan Press 2007), and had a story included in Brace: A New Generation in Short Fiction (Comma Press 2008). Her fiction and poetry has also been published in magazines in the UK and Ireland, including The Stinging Fly, QWF,, Black Mountain Review and In the Red. In 2000 she was winner of the Brian Moore Short Story Award. Her poem 'Wedding at Sea' was runner up in the 2007 Academi Cardiff International Poetry Competition. Her first novel, Magdeburg, (Lagan Press 2010) is set in Germany during the Thirty Years War. Historical Novels Review described Magdeburg as ‘an accomplished debut by a writer who has worked hard to embrace the tough, bleak and uncompromising atmosphere of the times’. She is currently working on a novel set in Edinburgh in the late seventeenth century based on the true story of the last man to be executed for blasphemy in Britain.

View winning poems 2014 here


View last year's winning poems here.