New Irish Writing: June 2019’s winning poems

Seagulls and Prayer by Darren Donohue


Cliffs find themselves again
And again behind stone walls
The same colour as the sea.
My tiny sailboat secured bodily
To the waves breathes its ups
And downs. Pushing harbour hard,
I seek open water, leaving behind
Burnt gorse and scorched beaches.
Can my manufactured rage find me
Here? I remember old documentaries,
Grainy footage of lava encountering
The ocean, the steaming hiss, the
Defiant fire unstoppable, unquenchable.
My anger exhausts me and yet,
Appears inexhaustible. I press my
Oars through something which resists
And gives way, I'm moving away and
In to. Seagulls cry out and give up
Their chase, nothing can follow me here.


Is there anything as tragic
As an unfinished poem? That
Cul-de-sac where words and inspiration
Fail. All those beginnings and lost endings,

I'll pray for. Given a chance, oh how I'd
Gather you up in my arms, comfort you,
Ease your suffering. I'd become
The ending you seek and release
You into conclusion. So, come to me,
Your first letter is enough,
That initial flourish, a fencer's salute,
A hand reaching out in the dark.

Darren Donohue’s poetry is published with The Irish Times, Irish Independent, Cyphers, Sixteen Magazine, Poetry Ireland, Rebel Poetry, Best of Vine Leaves, The Poetry Box. In 2017, Darren was invited onto Poetry Ireland’s Introduction Series and he is writer-in-residence at Carlow College, St Patrick’s, 2019



The New Irish Writing Page, edited by Ciaran Carty, and appearing in The Irish Times on the last Saturday of each month, is open to writers who are Irish or resident in Ireland. Stories submitted should not exceed 2,000 words (please indicate if you have been published before). Up to six poems may be submitted. There is no entry fee. Writers whose work is selected with receive €100 for fiction and €50 for poetry.

You can email your entry, preferably as a Word document or pasted into your email to or post it (with stamped addressed envelope) to Ciaran Carty, New Irish Writing, The Irish Times, 24-28 Tara Street, Dublin 2. Include your telephone number and email address, if you have one.