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iYeats 2019 Judges

John F. Deane

John F. Deane was born on Achill Island off the west coast of Ireland. He is founder of Poetry Ireland, Ireland’s national poetry society, and its journal The Poetry Ireland Review. He is also founder and first editor of The Dedalus Press. He has published many collections of poetry, including “Snow Falling on Chestnut Hill”: New & Selected poems, Carcanet 2012; most recently “Semibreve”, Carcanet 2015, and a ‘poetry and faith memoir’, “Give Dust a Tongue”, Columba Press 2015. A new collection “Dear Pilgrims” appeared from Carcanet in 2018 and a collection of poems set on Achill Island with paintings by John Behan, “Achill: The Island” published by Currach Press also appeared in 2018. In 2016 Deane was the Teilhard de Chardin Fellow in Catholic Studies in Loyola University, Chicago and taught a course in poetry.

Rafeef Ziadah

Rafeef is a Palestinian spoken word artist and human rights activist based in London, UK. Her performance of poems like ‘We Teach Life, Sir’ and ‘Shades of Anger’ went viral within days of its release. Her live readings offer a moving blend of poetry and music. Since releasing her first album, Rafeef has headlined prestigious performance venues across several countries with powerful readings on war, exile, gender and racism.

We Teach Life, her second album, is a powerful collection of spoken word with original music compositions, which she brings to the stage with Australian guitarist and We Teach Life producer Phil Monsour.  Rafeef received the Ontario Arts Council Grant from the Word of Mouth programme to create her debut spoken-word album Hadeel. She regularly conducts spoken word workshops with the aim of empowering expression through writing and performance. She was chosen to represent Palestine at the South Bank Centre Poets Olympiad in 2012.


iYeats 2018 Judges

Martin Dyar

Martin Dyar grew up in Swinford, County Mayo. His debut poetry collection Maiden Names (Arlen House), described by the poet Bernard O’Donoghue as ‘a thrilling new development in Irish poetry’, was shortlisted for both the Pigott Poetry Prize and the Shine/Strong Award. He won the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award in 2009, and the Strokestown International Poetry Award in 2001. He has also written a play, Tom Loves a Lord, about the Irish poet Thomas Moore. His work has been added to the Leaving Cert prescribed poetry syllabus and has been included in the anthologies Windharp: Poems of Ireland Since 1916 (Penguin); and Everything to Play For: Ninety-nine Poems About Sport (Poetry Ireland). Formerly a fellow in creative writing at the University of Iowa, and a writer in residence at the Washington Ireland Programme, he holds the 2018 Arts Council writer in residence fellowship at the University of Limerick.

Grace Wells

Grace Wells’ debut poetry collection, When God Has Been Called Away to Greater Things (Dedalus Press, 2010), won the Rupert and Eithne Strong Award and was shortlisted for the London Festival Fringe New Poetry Award. Her second collection Fur (Dedalus Press, 2015) expanded the boundaries of eco-poetics, and was lauded by Poetry Ireland Review as 'a book that enlarges the possibilities of poetry’.


iYeats 2017 Judges

Jessica Traynor

Jessica Traynor’s debut poetry collection, Liffey Swim (Dedalus Press, 2014), was shortlisted for the 2015 Strong/Shine Award and was named one of the fourteen best poetry debuts of the past five years on U.S. website Her work has appeared in Poetry Ireland Review, The Penny Dreadful, The Irish Times, and The Stinging Fly among others and has been broadcast on the Poetry Programme, Arena and Sunday Miscellany. She won the 2011 Listowel Poetry Prize and was named the Hennessy New Irish Writer of the Year in 2013. Jessica was recipient of the Ireland Chair of Poetry Bursary in 2014 and a runner up in the 2015 Troubadour International Poetry Prize. 

Billy Ramsell

Billy Ramsell was born in Cork in 1977 and educated at the North Monastery and UCC. He has published two collections with Dedalus Press, Complicated Pleasures in 2007 and The Architect’s Dream of Winter in 2013, which was shortlisted for the Irish Times Poetry Now Award. He was awarded the Chair of Ireland Bursary for 2013 and the Poetry Ireland Residency Bursary for 2015. He has been invited to read his work at many festivals and literary events around the world. He lives in Cork where he co-runs an educational publishing company. 


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.

Dave Lordan

Dave Lordan is the first writer to win all three 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- 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). Peter is a member of Aosdána.

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.

Catherine is 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.

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.

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



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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