A delegation from Listowel Writers’ Week was represented at the 11th star-studded Irish Book Awards in Dublin on Wednesday night 16th November, as Listowel now sponsors a poetry category at the glittering Awards Ceremony. Poet Jane Clarke picked up The Listowel Writers Week Irish Poem of the Year Award 2016.’
The event, which took place at the Double Tree Hilton Hotel, was attended by some of Ireland’s best known writers, publishers, agents and media personalities including writers Roddy Doyle, Cecelia Ahern, Michael Harding and media personalities Pippa O’Connor, Gay Byrne, Louise McSharry and Ryan Tubridy.
A really big night for Irish books, winners included Graham Norton in the Popular Fiction category for Holding, Marion Keyes in the Popular Non-Fiction category for Making It Up As I Go Along and Mike McCormack in the Eason Novel of the Year category for Solar Bones, which also scooped the Goldsmiths Prize a few weeks ago.
Our Chair, Liz Dunn enthused: “The awards ceremony is like a Literati Christmas Party where old friends renew acquaintances, Facebookers and Twitterers finally get to meet, and new friendships are formed.
“It’s humbling to meet such warm hearted, friendly people and everyone dresses up for the occasion. It was so well organised and all those who had to trip the light fantastic between the red carpet, stage, photo calls and green room media interviews were put at their ease with professionalism and expertise.”
Listowel Writers’ Week wasn’t simply a spectator this year, because for the first time in the history of the Awards, a Poetry category was featured. ‘The Listowel Writers’ Week Irish Poem of the Year 2016’ is aimed at honouring poetry and raising its profile throughout Ireland. It was auspicious perhaps, that renowned poet John Montague was presented with the Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award on the same night.
‘The Listowel Writers’ Week Irish Poem of the Year 2016’ was won by Roscommon & Wicklow poet Jane Clarke for her moving poem ‘Glasnevin’, which is dedicated to Elizabeth O’Farrell and Julia Grenan, both members of the Irish Volunteers during the Easter Rising and the War of Independence. Jane’s first collection, The River, was published by Bloodaxe Books in 2015. You can read Jane’s winning poem here:
Finding the words carved
on their plain, granite headstone,
faithful comrade, lifelong friend,
reminds me of my grandmother
who used to say, there was none of that
in my day. I wish I could ask
the faithful Julia and Elizabeth
were they grateful for the mercy
of sharing a grave, did they choose
those words to save them from shame,
did they have someone to tell
that though the words said so much,
they didn’t say enough, and when
they nursed the rebellion’s wounded,
did they question the cost
of a new (free) state.
Jane said she was ‘thrilled and honoured’ to win the Award, ‘poetry being the lesser known of all the genres.’
Everyone from Listowel commented that they were delighted at the enthusiastic support for the Poetry Award before, during and after the presentation. “The fact that Jane Clarke took to the stage immediately after John Montague received his Lifetime Achievement Award made it all the more special for us all” Liz Dunn added.
Festival Manager Maire Logue really enjoyed the whole atmosphere and buzz of the night, her own highlights being John Montague, Jilly Cooper, Marian Keyes and John Kelly. “It’s a wonderful evening, and it’s lovely to meet up with authors, their publishers and agents – people that we deal with regularly when organising the festival. The atmosphere is a great buzz of excitement and chitter chatter of people who perhaps have not met in a year. It’s very well organised and brings together the whole writing community for one night of celebration of the written word.
“It was great for Listowel Writers Week having stepped up to the mark, making sure that Poetry is now included in the awards and that we were recognised for doing so by all at the event.”
Highlights from the Irish Book Awards ceremony, along with interviews from the winners, will be broadcast on RTÉ One on Saturday November 19th at.11.15pm.
Meanwhile, you can listen to highlights from the night here Morning Ireland Clip