2020 Literary Festival Poetry Competition Winners

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

Liffey Boardwalk

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.

Weathering

In the end, it’s all strastruga: wind

shaping snow into ridges, lines

dividing land.

But it starts with sugar weather —

hot blue afternoons that last

forever,

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

swullocking days,

nights with the sheets stuck to you.

It’s only hunch weather,

collars up, heads down,

drizzle

till the williwaw blows

straight in from the north, frazils

of ice crystalising

around each spoken word.

Maybe it’ll be cold enough

for glorioles

casting light

a full spectrum

over our upturned faces.

Her son, he breaks

her open

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

and end

 

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

chrysanthemum

all autumn, blood red

 

 

an absence

not of feeling

but of being filled in.