The winner of this year's Irish Times Poetry Now award is the Belfast-born poet Derek Mahon for Against the Clock (Gallery Press). This is the third time Mahon has won this award, having previously received it for Harbour Lights (2005) and Life on Earth (2008).
Speaking on behalf of the judges, poet and Emeritus Fellow of Wadham College in Oxford, Bernard O'Donoghue said that Against The Clock is simply a masterpiece, dwelling with style and wit on "love and loss, transience, age and time. It is a model too of how to write autobiographically without being self-absorbed". The book was "driven by an unfailing poetic energy 'still singing, still going strong'".
Mahon, who lives in Kinsale, was shortlisted with five other poets: Eva Bourke for Seeing Yellow (Dedalus Press ), Ailbhe Darcy, Insistence ( Bloodaxe ), Martina Evans, Now We Can Talk Openly About Men ( Carcanet Press ), Tom French, The Last Straw (Gallery) and Leanne O'Sullivan, A Quarter of an Hour ( Bloodaxe).
O’Donoghue said “Any of the six shortlisted books would have been a worthy winner. All we can say is that the other five writers on the short list were unfortunate to be in competition with Derek Mahon, one of the great poets of our time, at the top of his form.”
The other judges for this year's award were poet Moya Cannon, Lucy Collins, Associate Professor of English in UCD and co-founder of the Irish Poetry Archive in the UCD School of English, Drama and Film. The €2,000 prize will be presented on Saturday at a free event in the dlr Lexicon in Dun Laoghaire at 12pm as part of the Mountains-to-Sea dlr Book Festival taking place this weekend (see www.mountainstosea.ie ).
Derek Mahon’s other recent collections include New Collected Poems (Gallery).
This is the fourteenth year of the prize and recipients have included Seamus Heaney, Michael Longley, Dorothy Molloy, Harry Clifton, Sinead Morrissey, Dennis O'Driscoll, Theo Dorgan, Caitriona O'Reilly, Paddy Bushe and last year's recipient, Leontia Flynn.