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2016 Judges

iYeats 2016 Judges

Moya Cannon

Moya Cannon has published five collections of poetry, her most recent being Keats Lives (2015) from Carcanet Press. Her poems reflect preoccupations with landscape and seascape, with archaeology, with music, with language itself and with our visceral attachment to the beauty of the earth. Her work has been widely translated and anthologised. She has been editor of Poetry Ireland Review and is a member of Aosdána, the affiliation of Irish creative artists.

Colin Dardis

Colin Dardis is a poet, editor, freelance arts facilitator, creative writing tutor and mental health advocate, based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. He is one of Eyewear Publishing's Best New British and Irish Poets 2016, and currently an ACES (Artists Career Enhancement Scheme) '15-16 recipient from Arts Council Northern Ireland. Colin is also the founder of Poetry NI and online editor for Lagan Press. His work has been published widely throughout Ireland, the UK and USA.


iYeats 2015 Judges

Jane Clarke

(photo by Isobel O'Duffy)

Roscommon-born, Wicklow resident Jane Clarke combines writing with her work as a management consultant. She holds a BA in English and Philosophy from Trinity College, Dublin and an MPhil in Writing from the University of South Wales. She won the Listowel Writer’s Week Poetry Collection Prize (2014), the Trocaire/Poetry Ireland Competition (2014), Poems for Patience (2013), iYeats (2010) and Listowel Writers Week (2007). Her poems have been published widely, including The Irish Times, Irish Independent, Rialto, The North, Agenda, Southword, The Stinging Fly, The Shop, Cyphers. Her first collection, The River, is published by Bloodaxe Books.
(Photo of Jane Clarke – credit Isobel O'Duffy is the photographer)

Dave Lordan

Dave Lordan is the first writer to win all 3 of Ireland's national prizes for young poets, the Kavanagh Award, the Strong Award, and the Chair Of Ireland Bursary Award.  He has published 3 acclaimed collections of poetry with Salmon Poetry, including 2014's Lost Tribe of The Wicklow Mountains. Dave is a renowned performer of his own work and has read by invitation at numerous festivals worldwide. He is also a recognized pioneer in creative writing education and he teaches creative writing at 1st, 2nd and 3rd level, as well as teacher-training in the subject. In 2012 he collaborated with RTE and New Island Press to design and broadcast Ireland's first ever on-air creative-writing programme New Planet Cabaret. He works on collaborative projects in translation, sound art, drama, performance, and film. He is the editor of the popular and iconoclastic cultural and political website

iYeats 2014 Judges

Peter Sirr

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.

Judges Commentary 2015: Jane Clarke and Dave Lordan

"We are glad to say that there was a bumper entry to the competition this year. Congratulations first of all to everyone who entered and made the substantial creative effort it requires to produce a poem. Such effort is never wasted. The diversity of styles, themes and poetic voices we encountered gives cause for great optimism about the future of poetry in Ireland. Many poems were of or close to publishable standard. Among those we chose to highly commend in the General Category, we found evidence of an extra effort, an extra insight, an extra range, an extra layer, an extra something that set our poetic antennae tingling, provoked our curiosity, encouraged re-reading and led both of us to praise the artistry on show and contemplate the shaded meanings. Well done to all those poets; it was a delight to encounter your work.

The poem which stood out for both of us in the Emerging Category, ‘Dead Ends’, is an intense, moving poem in which striking language and imagery is carried by the music of the lines through resonating sounds. The winning entry, ‘Ward Warning’ was one we both zoned in on as exhibiting a superior understanding of the relationship between form and meaning in the short poem, as well as being an original and evocative handling of the unfortunately all too-topical theme of mental illness. We heartily congratulate both winning poets and look forward to reading more of their work in the future."

Catherine Phil MacCarthy

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.

Statement of guidance from former 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

iYeats 2013 Judges

Katie Donovan

Katie Donovan was born in 1962 and spent her youth on a farm near Camolin in Co. Wexford. She studied at Trinity College Dublin and at the University of California at Berkeley. She spent a year teaching English in Hungary, 1987 – 1988. She moved back to Dublin where she worked for “The Irish Times” for 13 years as a journalist in the Features Dept. She qualified as an Amatsu practitioner (a form of Japanese osteopathy) and now combines this work with part-time lecturing in Creative Writing at IADT, Dun Laoghaire. She has two children, Phoebe and Felix.
She has published four books of poetry, all with Bloodaxe Books, UK. Her first, “Watermelon Man” appeared to acclaim in 1993. Her second, “Entering the Mare”, was published in 1997; and her third, “Day of the Dead”, in 2002. Her most recent book, “Rootling: New and Selected Poems” appeared in 2010. She is currently working on a novel for children.
She is co-editor, with Brendan Kennelly and A. Norman Jeffares, of the anthology, “Ireland’s Women: Writings Past and Present” (Gill and Macmillan, Ireland; Kyle Cathie, UK, 1994; Norton & Norton, US, 1996). She is the author of “Irish Women Writers: Marginalised by Whom?” (Raven Arts Press, 1988, 1991). With Brendan Kennelly she is the co-editor of “Dublines” (Bloodaxe, 1996), an anthology of writings about Dublin.
Her poems have appeared in numerous periodicals and anthologies in Ireland, the UK and the US. She has given readings of her work in many venues in Ireland, England, Belgium, Denmark, Portugal, the US and Canada. She has read her work on RTE Radio One and on BBC Radio 4 and BBC Radio 3. Her short fiction has appeared in “The Sunday Tribune” and “The Cork Literary Review”.

James Harpur

James Harpur has had five poetry collections published by Anvil Press. His latest book, Angels and Harvesters (2012), was a Poetry Book Society Recommendation; The Dark Age (2007) won the Michael Hartnett Award; Oracle Bones (2001) was a Tablet Book of the Year; The Monk’s Dream (1996) includes the sonnet sequence that won the British National Poetry Competition; and A Vision of Comets (1993) was based on poems that won an Eric Gregory Award. Anvil have also published his Fortune’s Prisoner (2007), a translation of the poems of the Roman philosopher Boethius. He is poetry editor of the Temenos Academy Review.

‘There is a deceptive clarity, an almost translucent surface to the poems which belies their complexity and ambition. These are poems in search of – and in response to – the numinous, the sacred, but they never settle for easy pieties or shortcuts.’
Michael Symmons Roberts and Moniza Alvi, PBS Bulletin, on Angels and Harvesters.

‘Melancholy, monastic, mystical, like prayers shaped out of despair with the hearsay of some small light just over the horizon.’ George Szirtes

‘His poetry, always strongly imbued with a sense of the sacred, makes great play of light’s spiritual resonance … his brilliant imagery and luxuriant natural descriptions offer plenty to enjoy.’ Sarah Crown, The Guardian

‘Harpur is all rock and soul, a spiritual poet, the visionary in the desert.’
Rory Brennan, Books Ireland

‘His is an amazingly consistent voice, compelling in intensity… his is a world of insight and intuitions … If you’re brave enough, read him. He will take you into a world you will find difficult to forget.’ R.J. Bailey, Envoi

‘Harpur’s sensibility is attuned to love, time, myth, the numinous – the makings of poetry … Harpur has an imaginative wonder.’

Andrew Waterman, London Magazine

iYeats 2012 Judges

Theo Dorgan

Theo Dorgan was born in Cork in 1953; he has made his home in Dublin for many years. Poet, prose writer, editor and translator, he has also written scripts for film documentaries and worked as a presenter of literature programmes on radio and television for over 25 years.

Paula Meehan

Paula Meehan was born in 1955 in Dublin where she still lives. She has received many awards, including the Marten Toonder Award for Literature, The Butler Literary Award for Poetry, the Denis Devlin Memorial Award and the PPI Award for Radio Drama. She has published five collections of poetry, the most recent being Painting Rain. She has collaborated throughout her working life with dancers, visual artists and film makers.

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