Ailbhe Darcy & Leanne O'Sullivan on Pigott Poetry Prize Shortlist

Ailbhe Darcy & Leanne O'Sullivan on Pigott Poetry Prize Shortlist

The shortlist for the €10,000 Pigott Poetry Prize has been announced today, 10 April 2019.

Two of the three collections shortlisted are published by Bloodaxe. They are Ailbhe Darcy's second collection Insistence, which was also shortlisted for the T S Eliot Prize 2018, and Leanne O'Sullivan's fourth collection A Quarter of an Hour, winner of the inaugural Farmgate Café National Poetry Award 2019.  Both titles were also on the shortlist for the Irish Times Poetry Now Award, which was won by Derek Mahon. 

The Pigott Poetry Prize, now in its sixth year, is the largest for a poetry collection by an Irish poet. The prize for the winner has been increased from €8,000 to €10,000 and the other two finalists each receive €1,000.  The inaugural winner of the Pigott Poetry Prize in association with Listowel Writers' Week was Matthew Sweeney for his tenth collection (and first published by  Bloodaxe Books), Horse Music.

Adjudicators Jo Shapcott and Ian McMillan drew up the shortlist from over 60 collections submitted for this year’s award on behalf of Listowel Writers’ Week. Ian McMillan commented:

'Adjudicating this competition has been an absolute joy; the craft, skill, ambition and magic in all of these books has underlined for me, as if needed underlining, that Irish poetry is in a very healthy state.'

The winner be announced at the opening ceremony of the 49th Listowel Writers’ Week on May 29th 2019. The prize is sponsored by Mark Pigott, who said, 'It is a blessing to be able to support this wonderful literary award and recognise the leading poets of Ireland'.

The shortlist was announced in The Irish Times of 10 April 2019: read here.


Cork poet Leanne O’Sullivan’s book-length sequence of poems A Quarter of an Hour explores the mysterious world of memory loss as experienced by her husband after a rare brain infection caused him to fall into a coma lasting three weeks.  When he came round, it was to almost complete memory loss.  In beautiful poems that draw on Greek and Irish myth, Leanne charts her husband’s illness from the moment it struck, through her long bedside vigil, to the slow process of gradual recovery of memory. The animals and birds that filled his mind at that time, and which he felt helped draw him back to reality, are depicted in poems that also raise awareness of other losses, such as ecological changes in the Arctic.  The collection won the inaugural Farmgate Café National Poetry Award in March 2019.  More on this here.
Written in the American Rust Belt, in an era of climate change and upheaval, Ailbhe Darcy's second collection Insistence takes stock of the parent’s responsibility to her child, the poet’s responsibility to the reader, and the vulnerability of the person in the face of global crisis. Ailbhe is now based in Cardiff after a number of years in the USA.

For links to interviews with Ailbhe Darcy on RTE Radio 1, see:

For links to interviews with Leanne O'Sullivan on RTE Radio 1, see:


Ailbhe Darcy reads ‘Nice’

In this excerpt from Ailbhe Darcy’s reading (with Finuala Dowling) at Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts on 11 October 2018, she reads her poem ‘Nice’.


Leanne O'Sullivan reads The Mining Road and other poems

Leanne O'Sullivan begins this short film by reading 'The Cord' from her debut collection, Waiting for My Clothes (2004). Then she talks about her second collection, Cailleach: The Hag of Beara (2009) and reads one poem from it, 'Birth', followed by six poems from The Mining Road (2013), in which she finds inspiration in the disused copper mines that haunt the rugged terrain around Allihies, near her home in West Cork: 'Townland', 'The Mining Road', 'Love Stories', 'Antique Cabinets', 'Sea Level' (from 'Man Engine'), ‘Safe House’ and 'The Glimmerman'. This film is from the DVD-anthology In Person: World Poets, filmed and edited by Pamela Robertson-Pearce and Neil Astley (Bloodaxe Books, 2017).


[10 April 2019]

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