Although we had to cancel this years 25th Anniversary Literary Festival we were still able to hold our Poetry and Short Story Competitions. We had some excellent entries this year and our judges had some tough decisions to make but we got our first, second and third places. This post showcases the poetry section, judged by Annemarie Ní Churreáin a poet from northwest Donegal. Her debut collection Bloodroot (Doire Press, 2017) was shortlisted for the Shine Strong Award for best first collection in Ireland and for the 2018 Julie Suk Award in the U.S.A. She is the author of a suite of letterpress poems about Dublin titled Town (The Salvage Press, 2018). Ní Churreáin has been awarded literary fellowships from Akademie Schloss Solitude Germany, Jack Kerouac House Orlando and Hawthornden Castle Scotland. She is the 2019 Commissioned Writer at Templebar Gallery and Studios Dublin and the 2019-20 Writer In Residence at Maynooth University. We’d like to thank Annemarie for agreeing to judge for us and i am sure there will those sorry to have missed out on the workshop she was due to have held during the Festival weekend. We’d also like to thank the authors for allowing us to share their work
So here are our winners… First prize went to David Butler for his poem Liffey Boardwalk. Congratulations David
Single-file they line the rail and eye
the blow-ins, or ride a wave of falling
air to scrap over a sodden crust,
their bickering old as Viking gutturals
and the march of Cambro-Normans.
Seagulls are the first citizens of a town
built on scraps – chain and manacle
dug from tidal loam, claymore, pike,
English musketry – they’ve seen it all.
Farther down a drunken spat erupts
over beer-cans, and who’s to say
it hasn’t all the bitterness of
civil war? The gulls are unmoved.
The wind shifts. The tide changes.
Second and Third prizes went to the same person Lynn Caldwell – 2nd prize to the poem Weathering and 3rd prize to the poem Her son, he breaks. Congratulations to Lynn.
In the end, it’s all strastruga: wind
shaping snow into ridges, lines
But it starts with sugar weather —
hot blue afternoons that last
evenings chilly enough
to cosy up in.
We don’t even notice
the moonbroch, delicate light
shouldering the moon
but it means storm’s coming.
You’ll be glad of the rift
in the air, after
nights with the sheets stuck to you.
It’s only hunch weather,
collars up, heads down,
till the williwaw blows
straight in from the north, frazils
of ice crystalising
around each spoken word.
Maybe it’ll be cold enough
a full spectrum
over our upturned faces.
Her son, he breaks
like she is made of glass, like nothing
she’s ever felt before
birthing just the first of many breaks
fingernails, once a tooth
her heart of course
and now he splits her wide again
it’s hard to see where cracks begin
never once dreaming the silk of her skin
was so fragile
but somehow through all this ripping
a spun web holding
a tracing of dew
never thought she would find
the beauty of wounds
like a feathering of veins
just under the skin
or a bruise blooming
all autumn, blood red
not of feeling
but of being filled in.