Best of Irish Poetry 2009
Best of Irish Poetry 2010

Editor: Matthew Sweeney



Songs of Earth and Light

Songs of Earth and Light
Barbara Korun poems translated by Theo Dorgan



Done Dating DJs
Done Dating DJs
by Jennifer Minniti-Shippey
Winner, 2008 Fool for Poetry Competition




Richesses: Francophone Songwriter Poets
Edited and translated by Aidan Hayes





Munster Literature Centre

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Arts Council



Cork City Council



Foras na Gaeilge



Cork County Council







Gregory O'Donoghue International Poetry Competition 2013



Thomas McCarthy

Originally from Cappoquin, Co. Waterford, Thomas McCarthy now lives in Cork. He studied at UCC under the influence of Sean Lucy and John Montague; Sean Dunne and Theo Dorgan were fellow students. He received the Patrick Kavanagh Award in 1997 for his first book and the American-Irish Foundation's Literary Award in 1984. His work includes Mr Dineen's Careful Parade (Anvil, 1999) and Merchant Prince (Anvil, 2005). In 2009, Anvil Press published McCarthy's The Last Geraldine Officer. His historical work on the burning of Cork's Carnegie Library and the rebuilding of its collections, Rising from the Ashes, appeared in 2010. More about McCarthy at Poetry International Web - Ireland.



The best poems always demand our attention. They make demands upon us with an almost aggressive mildness. This is much more than a matter of style, more than a mere turn of phrase. A really good poem creates a clearing in the language, using both personal sensibility and technical adroitness. The fact is, when we read such a poem we see that is something we never thought of – it has created within us the illusion of a unique back-story. Yet it might be a poem about the most common thing in the world. For that one moment of the poem the most common thing will seem to be strange, fresh and unforeseen territory. This is how we recognise that we are in the presence of a new poet. The really good poem offers itself as an unexpected gift, sometimes a small gift but always sensational.

          When I received the first batch of the over eighteen hundred poems submitted to the Munster Literature Centre I knew that I was in for weeks of good hunting and fishing. I was determined to watch for everything that rose from the crisp thicket of words. Which fine-plumaged poem had been resting in its own clearing, awaiting the hunter? I was hoping to be amazed. And I wasn’t disappointed. The Gregory O’Donoghue Prize is such an important literary ribbon – it is named in memory of one of the finest poets I ever met; a poet for whom the making of poetry was a lifelong task and an honourable vocation. As far as Gregory O’Donoghue was concerned it was the only lifelong task worth pursuing. I was hoping to find poems that would be fit companions for such a named prize.

          A winter migration of nearly two thousand poems, arriving by email and regular post, gives one the opportunity to see the world working and meditating. More than half of all the poems submitted were of  a high enough quality to be published. No editor would be ashamed to stand over them and be their public advocate.  There were poems about wildlife, the sea, travel, deserts and mountains, fathers (fathers feature more than mothers), parents in nursing homes or surviving cancer, recession, politics and sport.  But the recurring motif than runs through much of this poetry is that of attachment and subsequent separation. Attachment, to lovers, fathers and places, was an overwhelming theme; or, more specifically, an overwhelming anxiety. Nearly all of the winning and Highly Commended poems share this communal poetic enquiry into our one great contemporary existentialist crisis: the difficulty of attachment in a world that has lost the great Father.


Further commentary on the winning and highly commended poems
are available to read on the pages where the poems are published.






©2009 Southword Editions
Munster Literature Centre

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