Munster Literature Centre
Ionad Litríochta an Deisceart

Farmgate Café National Poetry Award Shortlist

The Farmgate Café National Poetry Award was established in 2019 with sponsorship from one of Cork’s most loved restaurants, The Farmgate Café. The partnership between the Munster Literature Centre and the Farmgate received the Business to Arts 2019 Best Small Sponsorship Award. The award will be €2000 for the best full-length poetry collection in English (including translations from other languages) published in 2023, by a poet residing in Ireland. As of 2023, in a year where a debut collection does not win the overall Farmgate Café National Poetry Award, the highest scoring debut collection in the competition will be awarded the separate Southword Debut Poetry Collection Award. This award is for €1000. The three judges for this year are Afric McGlinchey, Patrick Deeley and Molly Twomey.

Limited places are available for a cosy reception at the Farmgate where the winning poet will receive their prize and present a short reading on May 14th.

The event is free but ticketed (Eventbrite).

The full list of six finalists (in alphabetical order) are as follows.


A Change in the Air by Jane Clarke (Bloodaxe Books)

Jane Clarke’s third collection is far-reaching and yet precisely rooted in time and place. In luminous language her poems explore how people, landscape and culture shape us. Voices of the past and present reverberate with courage and resilience in the face of poverty, prejudice, war and exile and the everyday losses of living. Across six sequences these intimate poems of unembellished imagery accrue power and resonance in what is essentially a book of love poems to our beautiful, fragile world. A Change in the Air follows Jane Clarke’s widely praised previous collections The River (2015) and When the Tree Falls (2019).

The Lookout Post by Kevin Graham (Gallery Press)

The Lookout Post, Kevin Graham’s first collection, is a book of uncommon poise and range. It includes harrowing accounts of illness, a suicide, and joyous celebrations of fatherhood and family life. Whether it’s in the extended sequence, ‘Sketches’, which draws on the letters of Van Gogh, or shorter poems which pay homage to Wendell Berry, Zinedine Zidane and Derek Mahon or ruminate on Elizabeth Bishop’s sojourn in Ireland, The Lookout Post seamlessly melds the ordinary and the literary. As the book’s title might suggest this is a collection of acutely observed reflection by an outstanding new and assured voice.

The Solace of Artemis by Paula Meehan (Dedalus Press)

Born in 1955 in Dublin where she still lives, Paula Meehan studied at Trinity College, Dublin, and in the MFA programme at Eastern Washington University. Besides seven award-winning poetry collections she has also written plays for both adults and children. She has conducted residencies in universities, in prisons, in the wider community, and her poems and plays have been translated into many languages, including Irish. As well as new poems, The Solace of Artemis integrates Museum (2019), a sequence commissioned for the Dublin Tenement Museum, and For the Hungry Ghosts (2022), a poem cycle responding to the Hades episode of Joyce’s Ulysses.

The Map of the World by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin (Gallery Press)

Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin was born in Cork City in 1942. She was a founder member of Cyphers, the literary journal (1975). Her first collection, Acts and Monuments, won the Patrick Kavanagh Award. The Gallery Press has published her nine collections of poems including The Sun-fish which won the Griffin International Poetry Prize and The Mother House (2019) winner of the Irish Times Poetry Now Award. Her Collected Poems (2020) won the Pigott Poetry Prize. Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin is a Fellow and Professor of English (Emeritus) at Trinity College Dublin. She served as Ireland Professor of Poetry from 2016-2019 and, in 20225, was elected a Saoi, the highest honour of Aosdána.

The Swerve by Peter Sirr (Gallery Press)

Peter Sirr lives in Dublin where he works as a freelance writer, teacher and translator. Among the honours he has received are the O’Shaughnessy Award and the Michael Hartnett Award. Since Marginal Zones in 1984, The Gallery Press has published his ten collections and his Selected Poems as well as Intimate City, a collection of Dublin essays, which appeared in 2021. Peter Sirr is a member of Aosdána and is married to the poet Enda Wyley. The Swerve, his tenth collection, is Peter Sirr’s first book of poems since The Gravity Wave (2019), a Poetry Book Society Recommendation and winner of the Farmgate National Poetry Award.

Watching for the Hawk by Breda Spaight (Arlen House)

Breda Spaight is from Co Limerick. Her debut chapbook, The Untimely Death of My Mother’s Hens, is published by Southword Editions in the New Irish Voices series. Her debut poetry collection, Watching for the Hawk, is published by Arlen House. In 2023, she was a Forward Prize finalist for Best Single Poem Written. She holds an M.Phil. in creative writing from Trinity College and has participated in the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series. Her work has appeared in Southword, Poetry Ireland Review, The Stinging Fly, Cyphers, Banshee, and Ambit.