Scientist from Cork Scoops Ireland’s Biggest Poetry Prize
This year’s Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize attracted over 2,200 entries from across the globe. Amazingly, the
winning poem was penned just a few miles from Ballymaloe. Tom Moore, whose poem ‘The Astronaut’ was awarded
first prize, lives in Midleton and is a lecturer in the Department of Biochemistry at University College Cork.
Tom is, he says, ‘delighted and honoured to receive the Ballymaloe Poetry Prize’, which is a cool €5,000 plus two
nights B&B and dinner for two at Ballymaloe House. ‘This is a major award 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.’ Tom received third prize in another Cork based competition, the Gregory O’Donoghue Poetry Prize,
last year and says he would strongly encourage anyone who is interested in writing to engage with their local literature
centres and literary magazines.
The second prize (€1,000) goes to ‘Oranges’, a poem written by Kita Shantiris, a psychologist and CEO of a mental
health centre in Los Angeles. ‘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,’ says Kita of the win. While she may
work in isolation, Kita’s poems haven’t gone unnoticed. She has been published widely and twice been shortlisted for
the Bridport Prize.
Paula Cunningham, who works part-time as a dentist in Belfast, wins third prize (€500) with her poem ‘Fathom’. Paula
won the Hippocrates Poetry Prize in 2011, and her first full collection Heimlich’s Manoeuvre will be published by
Smith Doorstop in September this year. ‘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,’ says Paula.
The competition was judged by Leontia Flynn, winner of the Forward Prize for Best First Collection and a Rooney
Prize for Irish Literature. She also commended poems by Vona Groarke, Dan O’Brien, Kita Shantiris and Suji Kim,
which will appear in the summer issue of The Moth, which runs the prize. The Moth has been described by The Irish Times as ‘Ireland’s newest, and coolest, poetry magazine’.
All three poets will be attending a special event at Ballymaloe Cookery School on Saturday 30 March to celebrate, and
their poems appear in the spring issue of The Moth, available in bookshops and newsagents throughout Ireland and
abroad and at www.themothmagazine.com.
Tickets for the event at Ballymaloe Cookery School on 30 March can be purchased at www.cookingisfun.ie. If you
would like to arrange an interview with any of the winning poets or the publishers of The Moth please call 049
4362677 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.