London-Irish poet wins €6,000 Moth Poetry Prize judged by Nobel laureate

Laurie Bolger’s work in progress celebrates autonomy, love and her working-class Irish heritage

London-Irish poet Laurie Bolger has won this year’s Moth Poetry Prize with her poem Parkland Walk. She was presented with her €6,000 prize by The Moth founders, Rebecca O’Connor and Will Govan, at an award ceremony which was part of the Poetry Day Ireland celebrations yesterday.

The prize was judged by Nobel Laureate Louise Glück. ‘My own preference inclines to the irregular over the regular, to suggestion over assertion, to dissonance over harmony, to the demotic over the vatic,’ said Glück. ‘I respond to poems that surprise me.’ Parkland Walk reflects this definition of originality. It sounds like speech, at once utterly natural and deeply odd.

‘On the surface, it concerns a pair of rebellious and sassy girls, who like to do things they’ve been warned against. Slowly, almost invisibly, the anecdotal becomes the archetypal: the relatively innocent walk becomes some larger, more fated journey into the unknown and perilous.’

Described by comedian Phil Jupitus as ‘the poet in residence of my heart’, the young poet has been performing across the UK and Ireland for the past decade. She set up The Creative Writing Breakfast Club in lockdown, which featured in Time Out’s One Good Thing and has performed at Glastonbury and the Royal Albert Hall.


Bolger’s writing has featured at TATE, RA & Sky Arts, and her poems have appeared in numerous publications, including Poetry Review and The Moth.

She is working on her first full-length collection, Lady, celebrating autonomy, love and her working-class Irish heritage. Her grandparents are from Co Wexford, and she studied English and Irish literature in Limerick before kick-starting her performance career touring with a punk band speaking poems at the start of gigs.

The three other shortlisted poets – Kit Fan, JP Grasser and Tom Laichas – each received €1,000, and the commended poets, of which there were eight, received €250 each.

All four shortlisted poems appear in the final issue of The Moth, released in March. The next closing date to look out for is The Moth Short Story Prize, which is judged this year by New York Times bestselling author Ottessa Moshfegh and closes on June 30th. The winner will be printed in the Irish Times summer fiction series in August.

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Martin Doyle

Martin Doyle

Martin Doyle is Books Editor of The Irish Times