“There is no single best poem as there is no single best flower or fruit,” commented this year’s judge, Nobel laureate Louise Glück. “Every prize reflects the personal taste of a particular judge … or the taste of a committee, which is hardly taste since it so often involves compromise. My own preference inclines to the irregular over the regular, to suggestion over assertion, to dissonance over harmony, to the demotic over the vatic. I respond to poems that surprise me.”
To that end, Glück’s shortlist is made up of the following: Parkland Walk by Laurie Bolger, Workers Leaving the Lumière Factory by Kit Fan, Last Year in Baltimore by JP Grasser and Travel Advisory by Tom Laichas.
Bolger is the founder of The Creative Writing Breakfast Club. Her writing has featured at Glastonbury, TATE, RA & Sky Arts, and her poems have appeared in Poetry Review, The London Magazine and The Moth, among others. This year, her writing was shortlisted for The Bridport, Winchester and Sylvia Plath Prizes. She is currently working on her first full-length collection, Lady, celebrating autonomy, love and her working-class Irish heritage.
Fan’s third poetry collection, The Ink Cloud Reader, is published by Carcanet next month. He is the author of two previous books of poems, As Slow As Possible and Paper Scissors Stone. His debut novel, Diamond Hill, was published in 2021 and he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2022.
A former Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, Grasser holds a PhD from the University of Utah, where he edited Quarterly West. He lives in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley and serves as an associate editor for 32 Poems.
Laichas is author of Three Hundred Streets of Venice California, Sixty-Three Photographs from the End of a War and Empire of Eden. His recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in Salt, Jabberwock, The High Window, Stand and elsewhere. He lives in Venice, California.
Glück also commended poems by Savkar Altinel (UK), Matt Hohner (USA), Mary-Jane Holmes (UK), Dane Holt (Northern Ireland), Anthony Lawrence (Australia), Joanna Lowry (UK), Carolyn Peck (UK) and Eleanor Simpson (UK).
The overall winner, who will be announced at a special award ceremony at Poetry Ireland on April 27th, will receive €6,000, with the remaining shortlisted poets each receiving €1,000, and the commended poets €250.
The shortlisted poems will appear in the spring issue of The Moth, which also happens to be the final instalment of the magazine. The Moth was founded by Rebecca O’Connor and Will Govan back in 2010, and its junior counterpart, The Caterpillar, followed in 2013.
O’Connor and Govan intend to concentrate on their four annual literary prizes. Michael Rosen is to judge The Caterpillar Poetry Prize, which closes on March 31st, and entries are now welcome for The Moth Short Story Prize 2023, judged by Ottessa Mosfegh. The winners of each of their prizes will be published in The Irish Times online, while the first prize-winner of The Moth Short Story Prize will be printed in the newspaper’s summer fiction series.
For more details see themothmagazine.com