Thursday, 4 December 2008

Patrick Kavanagh Award Winner announced

They're announced. 4 prize winners this year.

1st Prize
The overall winner was Geraldine Mitchell from Co. Mayo with her manuscript WORLD WITHOUT MAPS.

It is only fair to say that the distance between the first and second prize-winners this year was unprecedentedly close, but this entry shaded it by virtue of poems that are lucid, technically accomplished, at times daring, at times salvific. These are the poems of a considered and considering intelligence, surefooted, meditative and clear. One is in the presence of a clear-eyed sensibility that considers, but does not judge, human fallibility.

The poems draw strength from understatement, and the poet has the courage to leave gaps in the narrative. In poetry, as in conversation, the unsaid is often more eloquent than what is said. It is across the carefully constructed gaps that the imagination of the reader takes flight, that the intelligence of the reader is engaged. The language of these poems is succinct, the imagery crisp and, again, the poet has the confidence to allow the images and rhythms to work their chemistry upon us without too much commentary. In the best of these poems we are left with an image which resonates and opens out into mystery - something which is at the core of the poetic.

Congratulations Geraldine.

2nd Prize
2nd Prize went to David McLoghlin with his collection, entitled WAITING FOR SAINT BRENDAN. These are big, ambitious, sometimes sprawling poems, rich in narrative and in detail, an autobiography of sorts, where the voyaging soul is concerned to find home and meaning in a dialogue between self and other. Like Saint Brendan, the author seems to understand that if home is where you set out from, home is also where you hope to find journey’s end.

Yet, if the title poem draws on the mythological, these poems are surely rooted in our century of migration and displacement, where identities are negotiated as much as given. It is the candid engagement with the difficult choices and trade-offs made in a search for some omphalos, some centre, in an ever more shifting world, which energizes this collection.

3rd Prize
This year we have decided to break with tradition, and award the third prize jointly to two collections: Jim Maguire, Wexford Town with his manuscript entitled PIANO LESSONS,

and Cormac O’Leary, Co. Leitrim with his manuscript entitled SIGNS ON A WHITEFIELD.

PIANO LESSONS is a tightly-controlled and disciplined set of meditations, the first section revolving around and drawing light from music as fact and as metaphor. It is ambitious in taking as a central theme “the language where language ends” - this is a brave and successful opening out of music through poetry. Here, we are drawn in by the precise detail we are given of the musician’s world. A number of poems relating to seafaring open the second section - a very different imagery but no less precisely rendered.

SIGNS ON A WHITEFIELD is a loving evocation of times and people past, rich in anecdote, shot through with illuminating insights and images. The poems of place successfully resist the tug of nostalgia and, as with the poems in ‘Waiting for St. Brendan’, a number of them reflect for us the unsettled decade in which we are now living, where mobility is a given and a small street in an Irish city can play host to many nationalities. In the compassionate and tender poems of loss at the end of the collection it is again, perhaps, the writer’s detachment and ability to trust the images which allow the poems to impact on the reader’s sensibility.

3 comments: said...

So ,now we have the white smoke;I still have my sour grapes; she will have the champagne-but more importantly does she have an MA? Yes, I too am insanely jealous but nonetheless very well done to Geraldine, she must be over the moon.Now for next year. If I take these four out, and these four,and these four, and these four , I'm left with two maybes and a couple of duds, ah well.

BarbaraS said...

Thanks EW for the results and excerpts from the judge reports. They sound like the standard was high. I had two people from my CW class who were at the prize-giving, but they couldn't remember the winner's name..! Talk about tenterhooks.

Emerging Writer said...

Pretty sure Geraldine doesn't have an MA. You can google some o her poems online.