The winners of The Moth Poetry Prize 2017/18
Judged by Daljit Nagra
A Gun in the House by Natalya Anderson
‘Almost a darkly comic scenario at first reading because of the child’s illness vying with the exaggerated hospitality towards the priest. The confidence of the speaker, and the subtlety of the writer, invite a rereading of the poem for what lurks beneath the surface. So on my second reading of the poem, I didn’t find a trace of humour, or tonal imbalance, but the unfolding of a bleak tragedy. Every line took on a dark nuance. The trope of the girl in the attic leads us to wonder why she’s in such a grievous state, but the clues are there in the speaker’s unknowing words. While the priest engorges on his feast, with extra cream, we learn that the girl has renounced prayer. A succession of sensually unsettling images drive this nervous, ironic poem forward. We learn that the girl ‘cocks her head like a confused coyote? that ‘Her throat/ burns like gunpowder.?It seems that the person charged with saving her may have been the source of her undoing.?/span>
Fortune Reshuffled, Reshuffled by Audrey Molloy
‘Three versions of a similar event reimagined from different attitudes in this earnest yet fun-packed postmodern poem in the voice of an implied fortune-teller. The most exciting element of the poem for me was the sestina style embedded in the prose form, with certain words being repeated in each section. The surface play discloses and obscures as it pleases, so rather than focus on a strong narrative I looked forward to the ways in which words such as ‘Hank’s?and ‘Walt’s? from the TV drama Breaking Bad, become ‘Hanky?and ‘waltz? or the way ‘kleptomaniac?and ‘Sancerre?took on a new relevance.?
Shirtless by Cheryl Moskowitz
‘A deeply upsetting poem about a girl who is discomfited by her gender. The simple style and plain English amid the setting, of a front garden and bedroom, show us the poet’s compassion for the girl’s distress. The only speech recorded is dialogue-to-self, with the symbol of the shirt and the mirror being deftly employed to highlight the awkwardness of a body in turmoil. The casual ending is affecting because it carries a rich set of possibilities, but all of them deprive the girl of comfort. A quiet and brisk yet devastating, memorable poem.?
In what way are forest black or white. We saw them blue. With forget-me-nots. by Teresa Ott
‘I love the way the lines run on, with passing details shed along the way, before we get to the glimmering point of each sentence. This poem has a marvellous fluency that corresponds to the motion of travelling back and forth in memory. A considered poem about loss and its reinforcing powers, and about all that’s memorial remaining fluid, and how we are in a complex time at each given moment.?
Daljit Nagra also commended poems by
Mariel Alonzo, Janet
Youngdahl, Natalia Theodoridou, Joseph Woods, Jessica Magee and Alesha Racine.
The winners of the Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize 2016/17
Judged by Deborah Landau
Letter to Al by Lee Sharkey
?wordtidy>Eros and Thanatos battle it out in this capacious and questing lyric
sequence. I fell hard and fast for this poem –its headlong music, its
restlessness of heart, its heat. Here is something true and hot of life: spots
of time, held.?/wordtidy>
Marriage by Greg Geis
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very much admire this elegant, learned, and concise poem that meditates on the
meanings and mysteries of marriage, informed by the wisdom of the greats.?/wordtidy>
You’re in my Blood like Holy Wine by Katie Hale
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poet uses carefully constructed tercets and metaphor to convey, contain, and
modulate consuming desire. Pressure builds without release, and the result is a
powerful intensity of language and feeling, a slow-burn.?/wordtidy>
On the Sprocket Side of the Hay Rake by C. Mikal Oness
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abounds in this well wrought poem that focuses closely on the quotidian and
specific in order to access and illuminate the big metaphysical questions.
Humour and playfulness combined with astute perception and profundity ?a
The winners of the Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize 2015/16
Judged by Billy Collins
Arterial by Abigail Parry
?wordtidy>An actual human heart throbbing along the M4 would seem an ill-advised start to a poem. But what follows is a dazzling bit of shifting between the real and the metaphoric, which lifts the poem to a level of metaphysical play before it descends abruptly into the touchingly real. The reader’s pleasure is keeping his feet under him as the ground rules change.“Arterial?stopped me in my tracks by putting a fresh, daring spin on the theme of the broken heart by shifting back and forth from the heart as symbol to the heart as an actual pumping organ until in the end, the real broken heart writes this beautiful poem in a car parked near Membury in the rain.?
Phoebe and the Troopship by James Leader
‘Within the tight demands of an a-a-a rhyme scheme, this poem strikes an odd contrast between two literal vessels: a rich woman’s yacht and a British troopship. Her life of apparent ease and vanity comes into a kind of emotional collision with a floating spectacle of military testosterone. The result is a seriocomic display of poetic craft which conveys the indelible image of the woman’s yacht crossed by the shadow of the troopship inspiring the woman to play pin-up for “a thousand Tommies.”’
Tom Crean Sings Sean-nos at the Tiller on the Southern Ocean by David McLoughlin
‘In a number of breathlessly long sentences, this poem locates within the drama of Antarctic adventure an Irish singer-explorer who sings the old way, that is, alone. The diction here is as rough as the unforgiving icy environment, and the physical exertion of singing plus the power of his song adds up to its own heroic achievement.?
Dance Therapy by Natalya Anderson
‘This is a wonderfully funky, touching love poem that is solidly and sensuously grounded in everyday experience, especially if drinking vodka while smashing golf balls into a “giant fishnet?is your idea of the everyday, and why shouldn’t it be, after all??
The winners of the Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize 2014/15
Judged by Michael Symmons Roberts
Eidolon by Lisa Bickmore
‘Reading this poem feels like
eavesdropping on someone trying to come to terms with distance and loneliness.
It’s a finely made formal poem, but the voice remains limber and feels capable
of taking you anywhere.?
Disco Jesus and the Wavering Virgins in Berlin,
2011 by Jude Nutter
‘A tour de force of a poem about the risks and
wounds of desire, about the possibility of transcendence. Astonishing, at times
Fantasia on a Theme by Elvis by Kathryn Simmonds
‘A wonderful title for a moving, unsettling and
thrilling poetic sequence,?said Michael of Fantasia on a Theme by Elvis . ‘It
grabbed my attention from the outset and held it. The last couplet is so simple
and so devastating.?
Saratoga Passage, August 2014 by Matt Hohner
‘A mid-life reflection on birth, inheritance and
belonging, set in a beautifully rendered landscape, in a voice that - though
intimate - seems to pull the world and the skies in around it.?
Michael Symmons Roberts also commended poems by Rosie
Shepperd, Maya Catherine Popa and Isabel
The winners of the Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize 2013/14
Judged by Marie Howe
My Blue Hen by Ann Gray
‘This poem is unlike any poem I’ve ever read, and once I read it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It has a voice. It is written from necessity. It is unimaginable apart from its musicality. It holds the unsayable in a cage of clear, accessible and beautiful language. The love in it is palpable. The hen is real. And the man. The poem’s energy nearly bursts the cage of words ?but does not. It pulses. It breathes. I read it again, and again.?/div>
Elegy by Elena Tomorowitz
‘I kept returning to this poem. The address is authentic and strong. The speaker makes very simple statements that nevertheless feel so exact and intimate that I as a reader feel privileged to overhear.?/div>
Rations by Jo Bell
‘This poem happened afresh each time I read it through. It seems written from another time and from right now. Perhaps it originates from inside the fullness of time. Accuracy, understatement and living details allow the poem to unfold to the stunning conclusion. And we are left with the miraculous in our mouths.?/div>
Poems by the following were also commended:
Pascale Petit, Laura Post and Amali Rodrigo
The winners of the Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize 2012/13
Judged by Leontia Flynn
The Astronaut by Tom Moore
‘I am delighted and honoured to receive the Ballymaloe Poetry Prize. This is a major award, judged anonymously by a leading poet, and is a huge encouragement to me. I have been reading poetry since my mid-twenties but only recently started writing under the guidance of experienced practitioners. I would strongly encourage anyone who is interested in writing to engage with their local literature centres and literary magazines.?/div>
Oranges by Kita Shantiris
‘Because I work in a completely different field, I am a relatively isolated writer. What a shot-in-the-arm it is to receive one of The Moth
’s Ballymaloe Poetry Prizes.?/div>
Fathom by Paula Cunningham
‘As a lover of both poetry and food, and a great admirer of the judge’s work, I can think of no better prize to be listed for.?
Poems by the following were also commended:
Vona Groarke, Dan O’Brien and Kita Shantiris
The winners of the Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize 2011/12
Judged by Matthew Sweeney
Bourdon by Paul McMahon
I Crept Out by Sarah Clancy
The Fisherman by Lydia Macpherson
Poems by the following were also commended:
Josephine Dickinson, Padraic Harvey, Kona Macphee, Laurence O'Dwyer and Adam Wyeth