The Fingal Poetry Prize 2021
First Prize: Anne Frances O’Reilly for Shipwrecked
Second Prize: Laurence O’Dwyer for Blanqueta de la col, Pieris rapae (Linnaeus, 1758)
Third Prize: Casey Anne Jarrin for Comorbidities
An Fiach Dubh
First Prize: Áine Ní Ghlinn for Scáth
Second Prize: Proinsias Mac a’ Bhaird for Doirling
Third Prize: Gormfhlaith Ní Shíocháin Ní Bheoláin for Sliabh na mBan
Eoin McEvoy was Highly Commended for his poem Dubhfhiach
On the Saturday afternoon of the 2021 Fingal Poetry Festival, the winners of the Fingal Poetry Prize and An Fiach Dubh were announced during a happy ceremony in the Mills. Along with the successful poets and their friends and family members, we were delighted to be joined by representatives from our generous sponsors for both awards, Maurice Meade, Managing Director of DHL Global Forwarding, and Michael Hoey, Managing Director of Country Crest, both of whom presented the prizes.
This year, for the first time ever, both first-placed poets also received a signed print by artist Deirdre McKenna. Depicting the raven, the mythical symbol of Fingal, both are limited edition (the only two in existence!) and were specially commissioned for the Fingal Poetry Festival.
Skerries News were at the event and shared the following photos with us – thank you, Emily!
Out of a substantial number of entries submitted, our judges for both awards, poets Adam Wyeth and Aifric Mac Aodha, were very impressed by the quality of the entries and remarked on the difficulty of choosing winners from so many promising poems. But there had to be winners…
Beginning with the Fingal Poetry Prize, in reverse order, here are Adam Wyeth’s comments on the top three poems.
‘The poem which takes third prize is a piece that is striking both for its singular and strange syntax and psychological enquiry. It’s a poem that brings into focus the everyday domestic detritus, the leftover stuff from our lives… turning these invisible sweepings into a probing and moving meditation on life and death. It’s a poem for me that makes room for the lost aspects of life, literal, metaphorical, personal and impersonal… it’s this combination where the true heart of the poem transcends.. echoing I think critic Harold Bloom’s sentiments when he says ‘strong poems are always omens of resurrection. The dead may or may not return but their voices comes alive.’
I’m delighted to announce that in third place of the Fingal Poetry Prize goes to Casey Anne Jarrin for the poem Comorbidities. Congratulations!
The second prize poem struck me for its compelling pitch, tone and strong sense of narrative drive. It’s a poem that does what all strong poems do – which is set up a strong pitch and tone right from the start, holding its nerve right to the end. It’s a poem full of lucid and filmic details, beautifully balancing a sense of intimate voice, subtle lyricism with great clarity. A poem is a marriage between the seen and unseen, the familiar and strange and this poem effortlessly slips between these elements as it takes readers on a journey to other places. This poem is a synthesis of opposites with its rich sense of teacher/ student, master/disciple.
Poetry is multi-layered. A lot of the strongest poems are often are a commentary or a celebration on poetry itself I think. The mystery and magic of navigation for the speaker contrasted with the experience and knowledge of the guide becomes a wonderful metaphor for the act of reading and writing poetry itself, or any creative activity which entails cunning, experience and craft.
I’m delighted to give the second prize to – Laurence O’Dwyer for his poem Blanqueta del Col Pieris rapae (Linnaeus 1758) Congratulations!
And now we come to the first prize. The winning poem is a poem where every line is brimming with lucid and fresh memorable images and arresting descriptions. There’s a superb eye and ear here. A fluidity, elegance, ease and a compelling voice: Dynamic, conversational story-telling married with economy and precision. It’s a poem of fantastic verbs too, and a great example-poem of how a strong verb can do so much to lift a line. It’s a poem full of rhythm, texture, onomatopoeia, sensory perception and personal feeling. It evokes a life with such fluency and flair, and is all done with such seemingly effortless ease while being honed with stunning craft. It’s also a poem about loss which is timely for the present moment. As well as the richness of language, its ability to always find the mot juste, it’s also a poem with empty spaces which are left open for the reader’s imagination to fill. Another reason I think this is such a deserving first prize winner. It’s an elegy that doesn’t fall into the tired elegiac mode. Rather than over-indulging in nostalgia it again makes the subject come alive through its voice, so an invocation takes place. Carl Jung said that life is a short pause between two great mysteries. Poetry with its deep focus, brevity and metaphor is perhaps the perfect form to describe this short pause. The central unflinching metaphor of the title hangs over the poem reminding us finally of our ultimate democracy, which is mortality.
It’s a singular elegy that brings alive a singular life and recreates for us a little bit of that magic.
I’m delighted to give the first prize of the Fingal poetry prize 2021 to Anne Frances O’Reilly for her poem ‘Shipwrecked’.
And here, also in reverse order, are Aifric Mac Aodha’s comments on the top three poems in An Fiach Dubh…
B’iontach an rud é a bheith ag plé le comórtas An Fhéich Dhuibh, aimsir dhubh na paindéime, agus chuaigh na hiarrachtaí go léir go domhain ionam.
Is trua liom go mór nach bhfuilim féin i bhur láthair inniu chun na duaisdánta a fhógairt agus tá mé an-bhuíoch de Cheaití Ní Bhéildiúin as seasamh sa bhearna dom.
Trí dhán a roghnaigh mé ar deireadh agus iad an-éagsúil óna chéile:
Sula bhfógraítear na torthaí, ba den tábhacht é dán an fhile Eoin Mc Evoy as a dhán snoite, ábhartha, ‘Dubhfhiach’:
Tuigtear dó dúchas, taibhsítear dó brí,
Braitheann sé ceangal dúrúnda le tír.
Éiríonn an branán ar eití mar scáth
Is eitlíonn sé uaidh ina phréachán.
Maidir leis na buaiteoirí oifigiúla, is í Gormfhlaith Ní Shíocháin Ní Bheoláin a bhain an tríú háit amach. Dán greannmhar atá ina hiarracht féin, ‘Sliabh na mBan’. Tá iarsma den fhilíocht Chlasaiceach le brath ar cheol lom an dáin seo agus moladh ar leith ag dul dá línte láir:
Fainic ort má thugair fé
Na cruacha a dhreapadh go hard sa spéir;
Cuir uait do phár is do pháipéar —
Ní ghlacaimidne ach le litríocht bhéil.
Is é Proinsias Mac a’ Bhaird a bhain an dara duais amach. Is breá liom an nóta neamhspleáchais sa dán seo:
Agus mé ag siúl
Cladach seo na n-uilechloch
Tráth a fhoilmhe,
Tógaim an chloch ait
An spalla glas
An púróg dhonn
Is caithim leis na toinn iad.
Is iad an dóchas atá in uachtar i ndeireadh an dáin seo, dar liom féin.
‘Tá stíl thaitneamhach réidh comhráiteach atá i leith na drámatúlachta ag [an bhfile seo].’ Ciarán Ó Coigligh a bhreac na focail sin faoi Áine Ní Ghlinn, thiar sa bhliain 1986 agus is dóigh liom go bhfuil siad fíor i gcónaí faoi shaothar ár bpríomhbhuaiteora:
Thagadh sé ar ais ó am go chéile is
sheasadh sé sa halla. Dhéanadh sé cóta
a chuimilt nó smearadh láibe a ghlanadh de bhuatais.
Cuireann an dán seo ‘The Listeners’ le Walter de la Mare i mo cheann, dán eile a léiríonn nach féidir an diamhracht a shárú.Aifric Mac Aodha
Many thanks to everyone who entered this year and congratulations to our 2021 prize winners!