Leanne O’Sullivan wins first Farmgate Market Cafe National Poetry Award

New award exclusively for books by poets resident in Ireland

The inaugural winner of the Farmgate Cafe National Poetry Award is A Quarter of an Hour by Leanne O’Sullivan, published by Bloodaxe Books.

The award is for the best original collection published in the previous calendar year by a poet living in Ireland. Over forty titles were in contention.

The award includes a €2000 cash prize and is sponsored by the Farmgate Cafe in the English Market, Cork, and is an initiative of the Munster Literature Centre.

O’Sullivan said: “I’m honoured to be the inaugural recipient of the Farmgate Market Cafe National Poetry Award, particularly for this book which means so much to me. I’m grateful to the judges for choosing that book and to Kay and Rebecca of the Farmgate for all the support they have shown poetry down through the years.”


Prize judge Maurice Riordan said of the winning title, “Leanne O’Sullivan is possessed of a haunting lyric voice which, in A Quarter of an Hour, draws us into an area of surface tension where personal crisis – a husband stricken and then recovering from a deadly illness – interacts with our experience of the non-human. Dawn, the poem that gives the book its particular title and focus, captures in its evocation of the dawning world the ‘here to not here’ of becoming; and as readers we are given access throughout to that dimension between the mundane and the mythic that normally eludes articulation, but here finds expression in limpid, precise poems. At once tender, exploratory and grace-filled, this finely orchestrated collection attests to the wholeness of natural life and, resonant with folkloric wisdom, it re-awakens the spirit to a fresh sense of the mystery and precariousness of our world. It is an astonishing achievement.”

Rebecca Harte of the Farmgate Market Cafe said: “We opened the doors of the Farmgate Cafe in the English Market in 1987. Since that time poetry, and in particular Cork’s community of poets, has been part of our working life and is a key element of what makes the Farmgate Cafe special. So it seems fitting, in our 25th year, that we would inaugurate the Farmgate Cafe National Poetry Award, and support richness and diversity of poetry in Ireland.”

Director of the Award Patrick Cotter said: “I’m delighted we have a new award exclusively for poets living and working in Ireland. Without the generosity of the Farmgate Market Cafe, stalwarts, in their support for the arts, this award would not be possible.”

Six other titles were highly commended by the judges: Orpheus by Theo Dorgan, The Last Straw by Tom French, The White Silhouette by James Harpur, Notions by John Kelly, Love The Magician by Medbh McGuckian and This One High Field by Michelle O’Sullivan.

The award is different from any other in that it is exclusively for books of new work by poets living in Ireland. Books translated into English for the first time are also considered and this year included works originally written in Irish and Galician. The jury consisted of Cork-based Ailbhe Ní Ghearbhuigh, London-based Maurice Riordan and Paris-based Prof Cliona Ní Riordáin.