I was thrilled to win the Dromineer Poetry Competition 2014. My winning poem was "A Blackfriary Burial". Thanks to the judge, Matthew Sweeney, (pictured with me above) and to the committee in Dromineer. Third place went to Pearse Murray for "Dream Notes" and second to Róisin Kelly for "Borderlands". Simon Lewis was highly commended. Well done to all. The prizewinning poems will be published on the Dromineer Festival website in due course, I presume.
Some extracts from Matthew Sweeney's comments about the competition at the presentation.
"What you’re looking for is best said by Frost. “Poetry is a fresh look and a fresh listen”. He also said “An idea has to be a little new to be at all true, and if you say a thing three times it ceases to be so”. So poetry has to find a way to be fresh and surprising and that’s what Frost is talking about. And all good poetry hits you in a surprising way. It hits you by showing you this world you live in in a way you never saw it before. That might seem a tall order but when I am judging poetry in a competition I’m looking for the surprising poems that show me things in a different way.
The winning poem, A Blackfriary Burial, was the poem that really stayed with me because it was very startling. Startling is surprise taken on a bit. The world of this poem was about an excavation in some kind of monastery graveyard in County Meath where all these bones and skeletons of babies were dug up and the whole thing seemed like some kind of a film made by David Lynch or something it was very very strange.
But there was something about the poem that made it seem very real, real in a different way than the world is normally real. It was narrated by somebody digging up the bones. I Googled “A Blackfriary Burial” and everything came up. And there were these bits written by American students, architectural students, who’d come over from the States for this dig.
I thought this poem was amazing and it’s the kind of poem that once you read it, it will stay with you and resonate for a long time".
Thanks to the wonderful people at the Blackfriary dig in Trim for the inspiration. The Blackfriary Community Archaeology Project have already published some poems of mine based on the dig on their FaceBook page. The Dromineer winning one is a more recent composition.