Heaney wins 'Irish Times' poetry award


THE WINNER of this year’s Irish TimesPoetry Now Award is Seamus Heaney for his 12th collection, Human Chain.

Heaney was one of five poets shortlisted for the award. Others on the list were Sara Berkeley for The View from Here(Gallery Press), Ciarán Carson for Until Before After(Gallery Press), Dermot Healy for A Fool’s Errand (Gallery Press) and Paul Muldoon for Maggot(Faber and Faber).

The €5,000 prize has been presented annually for the past six years for the best single volume published in the previous 12 months.

Heaney also won the award for District and Circle, his previous collection, published in 2006.

Other past winners include Derek Mahon, twice, for Life on Earthand for Harbour Lights, Harry Clifton for Secular Eden: Paris Notebooks 1994-2004,and Dorothy Molloy, who won posthumously in the first year of the prize for her debut collection Hare Soup.

Last year’s winning collection was Through the Square Windowby Sinéad Morrissey, who takes part in a reading in the Poetry Now festival in Dún Laoghaire this evening.

Human Chain (Faber and Faber) was widely acclaimed on publication last year.

In the New York Review of Books, John Banville wrote that “in these marvellous poems, Heaney displays all that sweetness and ease of gesture, that colloquial accommodation, that are the unmissable traits of his art; but the thinking in these lines evinces new ‘torsions’ – a word that Heaney used tellingly in his Nobel acceptance speech – that Donne and Dowland would have recognised and approved”.

This collection also won the Forward Prize last October.

The judges for the award are poet, novelist and screen writer Brian Lynch, author of the novel The Winner of Sorrow;Cork poet Leanne O’Sullivan, who is the author of two collections, most recently Cailleach: The Hag of Bearaand a winner of the 2010 Rooney Prize for Literature; and Borbála Faragó, lecturer, critic and co-editor of Landing Places, Immigrant Poets in Ireland.

The Poetry Now festival continues today and tomorrow in the Pavilion in Dún Laoghaire, with readings by Fiona Sampson, Gerald Stern, Jaan Kaplinski, Don Paterson and Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill.