Bernard didn’t win the T.S. Eliot Prize

We hoped he would, he didn’t expect it himself, but in the end Bernard O’Donoghue didn’t win the top poetry prize in this part of the world for his book The Seasons of Cullen Church. The T.S.Eliot prize for 2016 went to Jacob Polley for his book Jackself. But the T. S. Eliot Prize Shortlist Readings took place on the eve of the prize. It was an evening of poetry, dinner and music, and all nominated poets attended. The audio of Bernard’s introduction and reading from the night have been published online, and you can listen to it below:

At the awards ceremony itself, the Chair of the Judges, Ruth Padel, had this to say of Bernard’s book:

“Bernard O’Donoghue’s The Seasons of Cullen Church combines an elegantly wry tone, deceptively easy flow, intimacy with the reader which seems effortless but is actually very original, with scholarly love of poetry down the ages. Many poems think with Dante, Virgil, Old English; many lines give you one more beat than you’d expect and, when you re-read, disclose one more layer of meaning too: very suddenly – just as, he says, the swifts arrive in Cullen, like unexplained gifts on Christmas morning.” [from]

Alas, despite not winning, Bernard’s profile has
once again been elevated, and his nomination has seen him profiled in the Irish national newspapers, as well as being asked for his views on the inaugaration of President Trump in America. Some sniplets are below, with links to the full articles:

  • When the local feels universal for poet Bernard O’Donoghue: Although Co.Cork born poet and retired academic Bernard O’Donoghue has lived most of his life in England, his elegiac poetry is rooted in his native Cullen in North Cork. Short-listed for the second time for the TS Eliot Award, the quietly spoken O’Donoghue (who doesn’t think he’ll win the award) says, quite simply: “My heart is here.” Over coffee in a Cork city hotel, O’Donoghue says he has always felt like a bit of an exile in the UK. Not an unwelcome exile, but … read the full article on the Irish Examiner
  • Bernard O’Donoghue: from byres to spires: Dual influences of growing up in rural Cork and his scholarly reading as ‘the nicest man in Oxford’ can be seen in his much prized poetry.Award-winning poet Bernard O’Donoghue, has a dedicated following of poetry fans from Munster to Oxford and beyond, who admire the restrained and simple eloquence of his thought-provoking verse. Born near Cullen in Co Cork, O’Donoghue moved to Manchester at 16, following the sudden death of his father. He … read the full article on the Irish Times
  • President Trump: Irish writers have their say:  … Is the flaw in the particularly complicated variety of democracy used in American presidential elections? We can’t just blame that system which, after all, gave us Obama and Jimmy Carter and FDR. So we have to stick with it, for the time being through gritted teeth. Or we can blame ‘reality TV’, that classic antonym for a pretence that stupidity and aggression is what real people believe in as an ideal of behaviour … read the full article on the Irish Times



The winner Jacob Polley reads from ‘Jackself’

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