Veterans battle it out for prestigious Poetry Now award for best collection


FIVE POETRY collections have been shortlisted for The Irish Times dlr Poetry Now award 2012. They are Moya Cannon’s Hands (Carcanet Press), Michael Longley’s A Hundred Doors (Cape Poetry), 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 €5,000 prize has been presented annually for the past seven years for the best single volume published in the previous 12 months. The winner will be announced in The Irish Times on Saturday, September 8th, and an award ceremony will be held at this year’s Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Mountains to Sea book festival, which runs from September 4th to 9th. The competition judges are poets James Harpur, Mary Shine Thompson and Gerald Dawe.

“The Irish Times dlr Poetry Now Award is a unique prize in Irish poetry,” said Paul Perry, the curator of the award. “We’re delighted to announce the 2012 shortlist, which showcases the finest poetry collections of the last year. Congratulations to the five poets and their publishers. A sincere thank you to The Irish Times for its continued support of the award. And thank you to our judges too. We look forward to hearing their final decision.”

Previous winners of the prize have included Seamus Heaney, who won in 2011 for his 12th collection, Human Chain, and also for District and Circle. Derek Mahon also won the award twice, for Life on Earth and Harbour Lights. Other previous winners include Harry Clifton, Sinéad Morrissey and Dorothy Molloy, who won posthumously for her debut collection Hare Soup.

Hands (Carcanet Press) Moya Cannon was born in Dunfanaghy, Co Donegal in 1956 and now lives in Galway. Her first collection, Oar, won the inaugural Brendan Behan award. She is also the author of The Parchment Boat and Carrying the Songs. A number of her poems have been set to music by Jane O’Leary, Philip Martin and Ellen Cranitch.

A Hundred Doors (Cape Poetry) Michael Longley was born in Belfast in 1939. His collection Gorse Fires won the 1991 Whitbread Prize; he won the 2000 TS Eliot Prize for The Weather in Japan.

He is a recipient of the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry and the Wilfred Owen award. A Hundred Doors was shortlisted for the Forward Poetry Prize 2011.

Speech Lessons (Gallery Press) John Montague was born in New York in 1929 and brought up in Tyrone. In 1998 he became the first Ireland Professor of Poetry, and in 2010 was awarded the Chevalier de la Legion d’Honneur. His books include Time in Armagh and Smashing the Piano.

Farmers Cross (Faber Faber) Bernard O’Donoghue was born in Cullen, Co Cork in 1945. He is a fellow of Wadham College, Oxford, where he teaches medieval English.

He has published five collections including Gunpowder, winner of the 1995 Whitbread Award. Farmer Cross was shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize.

The Cotard Dimension (Dedalus Press) Macdara Woods was born in Dublin in 1942 and has published a number of collections, including his Selected Poems (1996), The Nightingale Water and Knowledge in the Blood.

His work has been translated into 12 languages, and set to music by Anúna and Benita Hill.