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 tseliot.com]

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 [read more …] “Bernard didn’t win the T.S. Eliot Prize”

Bernard is nominated for the T.S. Eliot Prize

The very best of luck to Bernard O’Donoghue who has been nominated for the 2016 T.S. Eliot poetry prize for his new collection of poems The Seasons of Cullen Church. “This collection of expert lyric poems movingly animates the characters of his childhood in County Cork; it confirm O’Donoghue’s place as one of the most approachable and agile voices in contemporary Irish and British poetry.”

Among the theses in the book are: “a schoolboy beaten so hard by his teacher that his bare feet jiggle on the floorboards, a wife disinherited when her husband dies suddenly, and medieval tales which echo to how we live now.”

It is Bernard’s second time nominated for the T.S. Eliot prize. In 2011 he was nominated for Farmers Cross. The winner will be announced on January 16th. Here is one poem from the book called The Will:

When they discovered that my grandfather
was going, unexpectedly, to die young
of meningitis, they naturally set about
ensuring that his wife would not inherit
the farm. They assembled a group of solid men –
as they might have for the threshing: his brother
who lived south on the mountain;
a shrewd solicitor; and a man from Doon
with a good hand who often testified to wills.

[read more …] “Bernard is nominated for the T.S. Eliot Prize”

The Blackthorn Hare

A-Fox-Chasing-A-Rabbit2On a cold and wild December morn
In a field down under old Blackthorn
In a rushy patch the brown hare slept
As through the field a dog fox crept.

The big red fox’s cunning mate
A vixen waited by the gate
There by the gate she quietly lay
She knew the hare would come this way.

Upwind the fox was drawing near
He did not wish the hare to hear
For him it was a hungry night
And badly did he need a bite.

But the hare awoke and pricked one ear
He sensed danger was somewhere near
Then bolted from his cushy seat
This hare would not be easy meat.

Out of the rushes he did race
The angry fox was quick to chase
He ran the field up to the gate
Where the hidden vixen lay in wait. [read more …] “The Blackthorn Hare”

Bernard O’Donoghue added to the Irish Poetry Reading Archive

This week Cullen native Bernard O’Donoghue was added to the Irish Poetry Reading Archive, which is part of a project to create a central repository for poetry readings by Irish poets and writers, which tries to capture and preserve the rich and diverse landscape of poetry in Ireland. The collection captures the voice of the poet reading a selection of their work, and giving a very brief overview of the context and circumstances that influenced the writing of the poem. Below are nine videos of Bernards poems, and also at the end, a long video in which he talks about the beauty of the work of Seamus Heaney:


Ter Conatus – on a brother and sister that live their lives on a farm together until one of them dies and the other is left alone
[read more …] “Bernard O’Donoghue added to the Irish Poetry Reading Archive”