Michael Longley wins €5,000 poetry prize


THE WINNER of this year’s DLR Poetry Now award is Michael Longley, for his collection A Hundred Doors.

The €5,000 prize will be presented at the Assembly Rooms in County Hall, Dún Laoghaire, at 1pm today as part of the Poetry Now strand at the Mountains to Sea book festival.

The competition, sponsored by The Irish Times and Dún Laoghaire Rathdown County Council (DLR), which has been running for the past seven years, recognises the best single volume of poems by an Irish poet published in the previous 12 months. Seamus Heaney won the award in 2011 for Human Chain and for his book District and Circle in 2006.

Derek Mahon has also won the award twice, for his collections Life on Earth and Harbour Lights.

Other winners include Harry Clifton, Sinéad Morrissey and Dorothy Molloy, who won posthumously in the first year of the prize for her debut collection Hare Soup.

The other shortlisted volumes this year were Moya Cannon’s Hands (Carcanet Press); John Montague’s Speech Lessons (Gallery Press); Bernard O’Donoghue’s Farmers Cross (Faber and Faber); and Macdara Woods’s The Cotard Dimension (Dedalus Press).

The competition judges were poets James Harpur, Mary Shine Thompson and Gerald Dawe.

Longley was born in Belfast in 1939. His collection Gorse Fires won the 1991 Whitbread Prize; he also won the 2000 TS Eliot Prize for The Weather in Japan. One of his best-known poems, Ceasefire, was published in The Irish Times in 1994, the week the IRA ceasefire was declared.

A Hundred Doors, which was shortlisted for the Forward Poetry Prize 2011, was published by Cape Poetry. The title of the book refers to a story about a church on the Greek island of Paros, built by St Helena, mother of Constantine the Great.

The building is said to have 100 doors, 99 of which are known; according to local legend the 100th will be found only when Constantinople is Greek again.

In his review of A Hundred Doors for this newspaper, poet Theo Dorgan described it as “a luminous book . . . a creaturely work of blessing and acceptance, crafted and generous and sure”.