Winner Dermot Healy Poetry Award

This years winner of the Dermot Healy poetry award goes to Illinois resident Dona O’Shaughnessy with the the words of our most esteemed judge Kevin Barry below.


While the Coroner Waits


I thread my fingers through your thick hair

still jealous that it never thinned, I settle

my index finger within the soft indentation

behind your too small, too low ear.


Regretfully, I move vertically along your flat,

silent, jugular until my finger catches

on your clavicle, once broken when you fell off

the hay wagon onto February’s resistant surface.


Pulling my hand up and over your shoulder

sharp as a metal plane jutting into the sky,

I recall the arm that held off an erect bull gunning

across the pasture for our youngest son.


Where was I?


Yes, your shoulder, just above a rib cage often

held against me, frame against the thunders

that besieged us, my digits wave in and out,

in and out, in and out of those narrow bones.


I spread my hand wide, snaking it downwards,

my life lines criss cross as I nestle my palm in

that concave hollow sheltered between

your belly and the top of your thigh.


I’m back to your hip and over its crest

to find the leg and the knee and the ankle

which together carried weak calves out of

flooded fields and into shelter.


The same limbs which transported boxy bee

hives with supers, smokers, and new frames

to buckwheat pastures, a trail of disgruntled

workers, humming at your heels.


An interferring head pokes its agenda

into our room. Mother? Are you ready?

No. Not yet.

I begin again, in the soft indentation

behind your too small, too low ear.


There is a kind of cool detachment to this poem that somehow serves to deepen its poignancy. A life is remembered and celebrated in very crisp, very clear language, the images are of everyday work and events but the effect is transporting, and passionate. A fabulous piece.


2016 Dermot Healy Poetry Prize Longlist

Congratulations to the 51 poems selected for the Longlist.  The quality this year has been excellent with over 500 entries,  now the hard part selecting a Shortlist of 10.


50 Shades of Biophilia
An American stops for Directions in sligo
An Emigrants Return
Anadromus Vocabulary
Andromeda As A Teacher
Baked Alaska
Children of God
Clipping A Cockatiels Wings
Daedalus Speaks to Icarus his Son
Gingko Rain
Granmas Stories
Great Rivers of Ireland
Hanging the Mirror
Hawk Light
Last Visit
Leannan si
Learning Greek in Knockanes
Mary Anning Fossil Hunter
Material Support
Michaelms Daisies
Missing on Purpose
Moon Jellyfish
Observations by the Virgin
On the Tow Path
Philosophy of the Face
Prarie Mother
Remembering Danny and Joan
Researching Louise O’Flynn nee Stockdale
Salt and Iron
Self Portrait
Selkie Selfie
Skinny Dipping
Taytos v Crisps
The Chase
The Holy Trio
The Last Waltz
The Pacific
The Problem with Good Looking Oncologists
Two Hands
While the Coroner Waits
Woolfe Wrote in Purple Ink

Dermot Healy Poetry Award 2016

Trophy Dermot Healy

The Dermot Healy Award 2016 is now closed for entries.

This year has been an exceptional year with a full mail bag of poetry.  This year we have had a strong local and national presence alongside many entries from The U.K, The Americas, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the European countries.  Some of the poets who have taken part are award winning household names while others are new to the art form and are exploring their own style.

The long list of 50 poems will be announced this weekend.  May we thank all of you who took part this year and we look forward to seeing many of you at the Award Ceremony on 4th August.