Ailbhe Darcy's Insistence wins Wales Book of the Year 2019

Ailbhe Darcy's Insistence wins Wales Book of the Year 2019


Cardiff-based Irish poet Ailbhe Darcy has won the prestigious Wales Book of the Year Award for her 'operatic, mortal, unforgettable' second collection Insistence.  

The award was made at a ceremony in Aberystwyth on 20 June 2019. Earlier in the evening, Ailbhe Darcy was announced as the winner of the English Language Roland Mathias Poetry Award, the English language poetry category of the Wales Book of the Year Awards, and then went on to be named the winner of the overall Wales Book of the Year Award 2019.  Just last month, the collection won Ireland's largest poetry award, the Pigott Poetry Prize.  Insistence was also shortlisted for the Irish Times Poetry Now Award 2019 and the T S Eliot Prize 2018.

The winners of all six categories of the 2019 Wales Book of the Year awards (three English and three Welsh language) were announced at a ceremony in Aberystwyth Arts Centre on 20 June 2019.  The Awards are presented annually to the best works in the fields of creative writing and literary criticism in three categories: Poetry, Fiction and Creative Non-Fiction. Each category winner received a prize of £1,000, and the winners of the Wales Book of the Year Awards in each language each received an additional £3,000.  Ailbhe Darcy tweeted that she would be donating her £4000 prize money to Extinction Rebellion:

'So many writers who win prizes desperately need the money.  I'm lucky enough to say: I have enough. I'm over the moon to have won #WBOTY19 and just as excited to be giving the prize money to #ExtinctionRebellion. Let's all make the difference we can.'

The English-language judges were: Sandeep Parmar, poet and Professor of English Literature at Liverpool University; Louise Holmwood Marshall, Head of the English and Creative Writing Department of Aberystwyth University; and novelist and Emeritus Professor of Creative Writing at Birkbeck College, University of London Russell Celyn Jones.

Speaking on behalf of the judging panel, Judge Sandeep Parmar said:

Insistence, is a proliferation of uncertain and strange lyric events, invigorating poetry at the level of line and language. Her title responds to a work by the poet Inger Christensen that centres around existence. Replacing ‘existence’ with ‘insistence’, Darcy’s work opens up a natural world where love erupts with explosive force onto the necessity of living. The contours and iterations of this book and the depth of Darcy’s thoroughly human project is operatic, mortal, unforgettable.”

Written in the American Rust Belt, in an era of climate change and upheaval, Ailbhe Darcy's 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.

Full details of all the winners can be found here.

2019 is the concluding year of the Wales Book of the Year Roland Mathias Poetry Prize, ending an eight-year sponsorship by The Brecknock Society in memory of the Welsh writer and literary critic, Roland Mathias. In this eight-year period, the winning poetry collection has also collected the overall award four times. Previous winners of the Roland Mathias Poetry Award include Bloodaxe poets Philip Gross and Gwyneth Lewis


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

[20 June 2019]

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