Irish Times Poetry Now: shortlist of five

Harry Clifton, James Harpur, Dennis O’Driscoll, Catherine Phil MacCarthy and Mark Roper are all up for €2,500 prize

The shortlist has been announced for The Irish Times Poetry Now award, which celebrates the best collection of poems published by an Irish poet in 2012. The five will each compete for a prize of €2,500. A winner will be announced on September 7th at the Mountains to Sea DLR book festival (see Previous winners include Seamus Heaney, Derek Mahon, Dorothy Molloy, Harry Clifton and Sinéad Morrissey. The judges of the Poetry Now award are writer, editor and translator Peter Sirr, poet Mary O'Donnell, and bookseller Ruth Webster.
Harry Clifton has been nominated for The Winter Sleep of Captain Lemass, which is published by Bloodaxe Books. The remaining shortlist is published by two houses. Anvil Press has published James Harpur's Angels and Harvesters and Dennis O'Driscoll's Dear Life. Dedalus Press brought out Catherine Phil MacCarthy's The Invisible Threshold and Mark Roper's A Gather of Shadow.

Harry Clifton was nominated for The Winter Sleep of Captain Lemass, which is published by Bloodaxe Books. Clifton was Ireland professor of Poetry in 2010 to 2013, and won the Patrick Kavanagh award in 1981. He has published six collections, and is a previous winner of the Irish Times Poetry Now award. The Winter Sleep is "a reckoning with a lost political legacy, a meditation on love, marriage and middle age, and a reaching-back into foreign ancestry".

James Harpur has published five poetry books and is poetry editor of the Temenos Academy Review. His latest collection "jour- neys into realms seen and unseen, ranging from the landscapes of Ireland to the visionary realms of the mystics".

Dennis O'Driscoll has published nine
collections of poetry, a collection of essays and reviews and Stepping Stones: Interviews with Seamus Heaney. He has previously won a Lannan Literary Award and the EM Forster Award. He died late last year. Dear Life features "contemporary issues – the internet era, global warming – as well as providing fresh perspectives on the timeless topics of working and ageing, loving and dying, God and Mammon".


Catherine Phil MacCarthy is the author of four poetry books, a former editor of Poetry Ireland Review, and was writer in residence for the city of Dublin. The Invisible Threshold explores "the 'liminal', the state of being in transition from one moment to the next".

Mark Roper won the 1992 Aldeburgh Prize for best first collection was editor of Poetry Ireland Review. A Gather of Shadow is"a deeply personal record of the loss of his mother".

Laurence Mackin