Five poets named on 2020 Irish Times Poetry Now award shortlist

Jane Clarke, Vona Groarke, Medbh McGuckian, Paul Muldoon and Eileán Ni Chuilleanáin in running for €2,000 prize

Five poets have been named on the shortlist for this year’s Irish Times Poetry Now award. The poets in contention for the €2000 prize are Jane Clarke, for When The Tree Falls (Bloodaxe), Vona Groarke for Double Negative (Gallery Press), Medbh McGuckian for Marine Cloud Brightening (Gallery), Paul Muldoon for Frolic and Detour (Faber & Faber) and Eileán Ni Chuilleanáin for The Mother House (Gallery Press).

The award will be presented to the winner as part of the Mountains-to-Sea literary festival in the dlr Lexicon in Dún Laoghaire on Saturday, March 28th (full programme

When The Tree Falls is Clarke’s second Bloodaxe collection. She has also published All the Way Home, an illustrated booklet of poems in response to a first World War family archive in the Mary Evans Picture Library in London. Groarke has published 11 books of poetry with Gallery. Her Selected Poems won the Pigott Prize. She teaches at the Centre for New Writing in the University of Manchester.

McGuckian is honorary lecturer at Queen’s University’s School of Arts, English and Languages. She has been a recipient of the American Ireland Fund Literary Award and the Rooney Prize for Literature. Muldoon is the author of numerous collections since his first, New Weather, appeared in 1973. He is a former winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry and the Griffin Poetry Prize.


Ni Chuilleanáin is a fellow and professor of English ( emeritus ) in Trinity College, Dublin. She has published nine collections and has also won the Griffin Poetry Prize. She is founding editor of Cyphers magazine and was Ireland’s Professor of Poetry ( 2016-19).

This year’s judges are poet Colette Bryce, editor of Poetry Ireland Review; Scottish poet and novelist Jackie Kay, who has been Scotland’s national poet laureate since 2016 and is chancellor of the University of Salford; and anthologist, broadcaster and author of poetry text books for students, Niall MacMonagle.

Last year’s winning collection was Derek Mahon’s Against the Clock (Gallery Press). Other previous winners include Seamus Heaney, Michael Longley, Dorothy Molloy, Harry Clifton, Sinead Morrissey, Dennis O’Driscoll, Theo Dorgan, Caitriona O’Reilly, Paddy Bushe and Leontia Flynn.