Mahon wins 'Irish Times' poetry prize for new collection

Sat, Mar 28, 2009, 00:00

THE IRISH TimesPoetry Now Award for 2008 has been won by Derek Mahon for his collection, Life on Earth, published by The Gallery Press.

Mahon is a previous winner of the €5,000 award in 2006 for his last book, Harbour Lights.

Mahon was shortlisted for the award with four other poets who had new collections published in 2008: Colette Bryce (for Self-Portrait in the Dark, Picador); Ciarán Carson ( For All We Know, The Gallery Press); Leontia Flynn ( Drives, Cape Poetry ) and Pearse Hutchinson ( At Least For A While, The Gallery Press).

Mahon, who is one of the country’s most highly regarded poets, was born in Belfast in 1941, and has held journalistic and academic appointments in London and New York where he taught at Barnard and New York University.

A member of Aosdána and a fellow of the Royal Society of Literature, he has received numerous awards as well as Lannan and Guggenheim Fellowships and the David Cohen Prize for Literature in recognition of his “lifetime’s achievement”.

His publications include The Hudson Letter(1995), The Yellow Book(1997), Harbour Lights, Adaptations(2006) and Collected Poemsin 1999. He has translated the work of French poets including Philippe Jaccottet and Saint John Perse. His work for the theatre includes versions of Molière’s The School for Wives, Racine’s Phaedra, Rostand’s Cyrano de Bergerac, as well as Oedipusfor the National Theatre in London.

The annual award is run in conjunction with the DLR Poetry Now festival which is taking place in Dún Laoghaire this weekend and includes a 70th birthday tribute to Seamus Heaney this afternoon.

The winner of last year’s Irish TimesPoetry Now award, Harry Clifton, read at the festival last night with Lithuanian poet Tomas Venclova. Other previous winners include Seamus Heaney and Dorothy Molloy who won for her posthumously published collection Hare Soupin 2004.

The judges for the award this year were British poet, critic, and playwright Seán O’Brien, Kit Fryatt who lectures in English at Mater Dei Institute of Education in Dublin, and Joseph Woods, poet and director of Poetry Ireland.