And then there were five: Poetry Now shortlist announced

Four women and one man will vie for this year’s €2,000 best Irish collection prize

The shortlist for this year's Irish Times Poetry Now Award has been announced. The competition recognises the best collection by an Irish poet in the previous year.

Five poets have been included on the shortlist. The winner of the €2,000 prize will be announced at this year’s Poetry Now festival, which is part of the Mountains to Sea DLR Book Festival, which takes place in Dún Laoghaire in March.

The poets whose collections were selected are: John F Deane, for Semibreve (Carcanet Press ), Medbh McGuckian, for Blaris Moor (Gallery Press); Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, for The Boys of Bluehill (Gallery Press); Doireann Ní Ghríofa, for Clasp (Dedalus Press); and Caitríona O'Reilly, for Geis (Bloodaxe Books).

Previous winners of the prize, which is now in its 11th year, include Seamus Heaney, Derek Mahon, Michael Longley, Harry Clifton, Sinéad Morrissey, Dennis O'Driscoll and Theo Dorgan, who won last year for his collection Nine Bright Shiners.


The judges for this year's prize are Colin Graham, Lia Mills and Gerard Smyth. Graham is a lecturer at Maynooth University and joint editor of the Irish Review. Mills's latest novel, Fallen, is the Dublin: One City, One Book choice for this year. Smyth, a former managing editor of The Irish Times and now its Poetry Editor, has written eight poetry collections, including A Song of Elsewhere, published by Dedalus Press last year.

The shortlisted poets

John F Deane has been previously shortlisted for the Irish Times Poetry Now prize as well as the TS Eliot Prize. He is the founder of Poetry Ireland (the national poetry society) and Dedalus Press. He won the 2002 Premio Internazionale di Poesia Città di Marineo and also the O'Shaughnessy Poetry Prize. He has also published novels, short stories and a memoir, Give Dust a Tongue.

Medbh McGuckian is on the shortlist for her collection Blaris Moore. She teaches at the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen's University Belfast and has published more than a dozen books of poetry, including The Flower Master and Other Poems, Marconi's Cottage, Captain Lavender, Shelmalier, and The High Caul Cap. Her awards include the Rooney Prize and the American Ireland Fund Literary Award.

Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin has been nominated for The Boys of Bluehill. She is one of the founders of the poetry journal Cyphers, which has been published continuously since 1975. Her first collection, Acts and Monuments, won the Patrick Kavanagh Award, and The Sun-fish won the Griffin International Poetry Prize. Other books include her Selected Poems. She is a fellow and emeritus professor of Englishat Trinity College Dublin.

Doireann Ní Ghríofa is a bilingual poet who has been nominated for her collection, Clasp. This is her first English- language collection. She was awarded the Ireland Chair of Poetry bursary for 2014-15 and was nominated for the Pushcart Prize in the US and the Venture Award in the UK.

Caitríona O'Reilly was born in Dublin and now lives in Lincoln. Her debut collection from Bloodaxe, The Nowhere Birds, was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for best first collection in 2001 and won the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature the following year. Her second collection, The Sea Cabinet, was shortlisted for the Irish Times Poetry Now Award in 2007. This year's nominated collection, Geis, is also a Poetry Book Society recommendation.

  • This year's winner will be announced in The Irish Times on March 12th. The award will be marked with a ceremony at the Mountains to Sea DLR Book Festival. Among the poets scheduled to appear at this year's festival are Ciaran Carson, Paula Cunningham and AE Stallings (at an event on March 11th), and Paul Muldoon (on March 12th)