Patrick James Errington wins Pollard Poetry Prize; Lance Larsen wins Moth Poetry Prize

Canadian poet wins €10,000 Pollard award while American wins €6,000 Moth prize

Patrick James Errington has won the 2024 John Pollard Foundation International Poetry Prize for his debut poetry collection the swailing at an award ceremony in Trinity College Dublin this evening.

This is the sixth year of the prize, which is awarded annually for an outstanding debut collection of poetry in the English language. Valued at €10,000, the prize is sponsored by the John Pollard Foundation and administered by the Trinity Oscar Wilde Centre in the School of English at Trinity.

Errington is a Canadian-born poet, translator and researcher. He lives in Scotland where he is a lecturer at the School of Literatures, Languages and Cultures in the University of Edinburgh.

Previous winners are Victoria Adukwei Bulley, Gail McConnell, Diane Louie, Isabel Galleymore and Hannah Sullivan.


“I really have no words to describe the thrill of finding my little book alongside the previous winners of the John Pollard International Poetry Prize,” Errington said, “and amongst those daring, electrifying and luminous works on this year’s shortlist.

“I am unspeakably grateful to Stephen Vernon, Provost Linda Doyle, and Trinity College Dublin for continuing to value and celebrate that little, invaluable labour of poetry, and to the judges for the time, care, and generosity they brought to reading these collections. It took me the best part of 10 years to find the words for the swailing – give me another 10 and maybe – maybe – I’ll be able to articulate what an honour this is to me.”

Announcing the 2024 winner, chair of the judging panel, Prof Eoin McNamee, director of the Trinity Oscar Wilde Centre, said: “Along with my fellow judging panellists I am delighted to award the John Pollard International Poetry Prize to this remarkable first collection. You fall through the zig-zagging synapses of the work, the spiralling fractals. You fall past Canadian skies full of an unspeakable history of snow, the ice fields of family and illness, past Einstein and the Tao, promises kept and broken, cancer, the forensics of the self. It is work of remarkable virtuosity which always grounds itself in emotion, in the hard-earned poetics of the heart.”

The patron of the John Pollard Foundation Stephen Vernon, who named the foundation in memory of his grandfather John Pollard, congratulated the winner on his achievement: “I am delighted to have Patrick James Errington as the winner of this year’s John Pollard Foundation International Poetry Prize. The judges have picked an outstanding example of emerging literary talent. Patrick’s poems are evocative, and his voice is distinctive. I am thrilled to add Patrick’s name to our prestigious list of prize-winning poets.”

The overall winner of The Moth Poetry Prize was announced by the directors of The Moth magazine at a special award ceremony last night, where the eight commended poets joined the four shortlistees to read their poems before the announcement was made. Judge Hannah Sullivan admitted there was some agonising over the shortlist, but she had no difficulty in picking her winner: Lance Larsen’s Things I’m Against.

“Framed as a list poem, this perfectly-timed meditation in syllabics soon becomes much more than a charmingly odd list of deprecated things (rhubarb, hockey, suede shoes),” said Sullivan. “A countercurrent begins to be set up of stays: the speaker may dislike golf, but loves “the word mulligan, oozy with second/ chances”. And, through a slippery series of tonal slides, the witty, conversational list items turn out to have a much more serious purpose. What this poem really dislikes is what we all dislike: death. And what it imagines in its final, much more personal stanzas, is a modest second chance: against seances, it’s “all-in/ on impromptu chats with the dead/ especially my dad”. The stuff of this final imagined conversation – both as banal and beautifully scattered as the earlier lists – is heartbreaking.”

Former Utah poet laureate and Chair of English at Brigham Young University, Lance Larsen grew up in Idaho “mowing lawns, delivering newspapers and dreaming of catching Bigfoot on film”. He is the author of five poetry collections, most recently What the Body Knows (Tampa 2018), and his work has appeared in New York Review of Books, the Times Literary Supplement, London Magazine, Paris Review, Poetry Magazine, Best American Poetry and elsewhere. His previous awards include a Pushcart Prize, The Tampa Review Prize, The Alpine Poetry Fellowship, The Missouri Review Prize, and fellowships from Ragdale and the National Endowment for the Arts. He sometimes juggles, he says, and likes to fool around with aphorisms, like A woman needs a man the way a manatee needs a glockenspiel.

“What an incredible honour!” Larsen said of winning The Moth Poetry Prize. “I love Wordsworth’s reminder that ‘the prison, into which we doom ourselves, no prison is.’ As much as I love the solitude of writing, I also like to poke my head up once in a while to celebrate the communal dimensions of poetry and see that I may have a place at the table after all. And maybe pick up a new reader or two in the process.”

Larsen will receive €6,000, while his three fellow shortlistees, Catherine Ann Cullen, Jade Angeles Fitton and Craig van Rooyen, will each receive €1,000.

Martin Doyle

Martin Doyle

Martin Doyle is Books Editor of The Irish Times