Diane Louie wins 2021 John Pollard Foundation International Poetry Prize

A preview of Saturday’s pages and a round-up of the latest literary news

Diane Louie

Diane Louie has won the 2021 John Pollard Foundation International Poetry Prize for her first book of poems, Fractal Shores (University of Georgia Press).

Awarded annually to the author of an outstanding first poetry book collection in the English language and 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, Trinity College Dublin.

Prof Eoin Mc Namee, director of the Oscar Wilde Centre, Trinity College Dublin and chair of the prize jury, said: “The work in Diane Louie’s Fractal Shores is vivid and cosmopolitan, an exquisite combination of intellectual fire and lyric craft, and we are delighted to see it emerge as the winner of the 2021 John Pollard Foundation International Poetry Prize.”

Louie said: “I am elated and profoundly honoured to be the recipient of the third annual John Pollard Foundation International Poetry Prize. Made possible by the generosity of Stephen Vernon, the foundation’s vision celebrates English literature’s international vitality. This past year, the global confinement has brought home how connected we are across cultures and political boundaries, and in our shared isolation, how deeply important literature is to our well-being. It has been such a long year for all of us.


“ For me personally, the foundation’s recognition is a sweet reminder that even though we have been kept apart, a book – of poems! – can connect us. The foundation’s confidence in my work means the world to me; this recognition will give my book independent wings and allow me to continue with the work I love. I look forward to sharing the vitality of our poetic endeavour as we go forward: even in a pandemic, poetry never needs a mask!”

The other judges were Alice Lyons, writer; Vona Groarke, poet; Prof Philip Coleman, School of English, Trinity College Dublin.

When you buy The Irish Times at any Eason branch this weekend, you can also purchase The Silent Wife by Karin Slaughter for only €4.99, a saving of €5.

Saturday’s books coverage includes an interview by Rosita Boland with Claire McGowan, author of The Vanishing Triangle, a new audiobook exploring the disappearances of eight Irish women. Tuesday Reitano and Mark Shaw write about their new book, Criminal Contagion: How Mafias, Gangsters and Scammers Profit from a Pandemic. Reviews are Colm Tóibín on A Very Strange Man by Alannah Hopkin; Sarah Moss on Boys Don’t Cry by Fiona Scarlett; Declan Hughes on the best new crime fiction; Michael Cronin on White City by Kevin Power; Paul Clements on the latest local history; Edel Coffey on Listening Still by Anne Griffin; Rachel Andrews on Everybody by Olivia Laing; Sarah Gilmartin on The Seven Necessary Sins for Women and Girls by Mona Eltahawy.

Four independent bookshops from Ireland and Wales have joined forces to bring you a very special evening in the company of bestselling Irish authors Graham Norton and Anne Griffin. This unmissable online event, hosted by Griffin Books in Wales, and Ireland's A Tale of Three Indies collective (Antonia's Bookstore, The Maynooth Bookshop and Woodbine Books), will take place on Thursday 6 May via Zoom. Tickets available here.


To commemorate the 1500th anniversary of Colm Cille’s birth, the Royal Irish Academy has commissioned seven new artworks with the support of the Department of Foreign Affairs.

Colm Cille, who was born in Gartan in Donegal, was a hugely influential figure in Ireland and Scotland in the sixth century. He is credited with spreading Christianity in what is today Scotland and founded the important abbey on Iona, which became a dominant religious and political institution in the region for centuries. He was a member of the ruling family dynasty of the time and today is one of Ireland’s three patron saints. His legacy is international, both secular and religious.

Dr Mary Canning, president of the RIA, said: “Colm Cille symbolises the very close ties between Scotland and Ireland. Our shared heritage is diverse, multilingual and cross-denominational. The Royal Irish Academy hopes that this commission will celebrate the deep cultural and artistic ties linking Ireland and Scotland, and will foster ever greater collaboration between all the peoples of our two countries, in particular the Scottish Gaelic and Irish language communities.”

The artists carrying out the commissions are:

Timothy O’Neill, a master calligrapher, will celebrate Colm Cille’s work as a scribe in an artwork reflecting his contribution to the manuscript tradition.

Róisín de Buitléar, an award-winning glass artist, will draw her inspiration from Colm Cille’s belief that there are ‘three ways to draw people to belief’.

Musicians and singers, Julie Fowlis, Éamon Doorley, Zoë Conway and John McIntyre, will compose a new song inspired by Colm Cille’s life and work.

Biddy Jenkinson, the Irish-language poet and dramatist, will write a drama titled Iona, which will reflect on the dilemmas Colm Cille faced when called to make his most important decisions.

Proinsias Mac a’ Bhaird, an Irish-language writer, will produce a novel that re-imagines Colm Cille’s youth in Ireland and the circumstances that led to his departure to Iona.

Sandy NicDhòmhnaill Jones, the Crowned Gaelic Bard in Scotland, will work on a suite of poems based on Colm Cille’s experiences and the influence and legacy of his life.

Simon Ó Faoláin, a poet, is working on a series of poems looking at the various and contrasting stages of the life of Colm Cille.

The artworks are due to be completed around the time of Colm Cille’s feast day on June 9th and will be unveiled later in the year.

The Royal Irish Academy will also host a public lecture series in the autumn, which it is hoped to make available subsequently as a series of podcasts. Supported by the Irish-Scottish partnership, Colmcille.net, this series will be accompanied by a digital exhibition.