Yeats Society of Sligo teams up with Irish Independent to offer €3,000 poetry prize

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The Yeats Society Sligo, in partnership with the Irish Independent newspaper, has announced a new joint poetry prize.

t will be awarded annually for the best volume of poetry by an Irish poet.

Organizers say the award will continue to nurture the great Irish tradition of bards and poets and provide recognition for the best contemporary poetry by Irish poets working today.

The award also honors WB’s own practice of supporting and encouraging poets – and poetry – and is an acknowledgment of that generosity.

The prize will be open to Irish poets, living and working anywhere in the world, for a new collection, in English.

Collections will be nominated by agents and publishers. The launch of applications will be announced in November 2022, along with the names of the jury, which will operate independently of the two sponsors. The value of the prize is €3,000.

The prize was launched at the opening of the 63rd Yeats International Summer School last week and marks the first of many celebrations of Yeats’ Nobel Prize centenary next year. This new poetry prize will be awarded at the 64th Yeats International Summer School, in Sligo.

WB Yeats was the first Irishman to win the Nobel Prize for Literature and his continued influence on poetry around the world has been as profound as it is wide.

It was a defining moment for the poet, who went on to write some of his most important poems after the award.

The 1923 Nobel Academy citation stated that the prize was awarded “for his ever-inspired poetry, which in highly artistic form expresses the spirit of an entire nation”.

Everyone, including Yeats himself, understood that this prize was given, as much for his extraordinary poetry and his leading role in the Irish literary revival, as for the emergence of Ireland in 1922 as a Irish Free State. It was a warm welcome to a new independent state.

Cormac Bourke, editor of the Irish Independent, said: “Poet, playwright, activist, editor – Yeats was also a journalist and had a long association with a number of newspapers.

“In the world of newspapers, our use of words is too rarely poetic, but we fundamentally believe in their power – and in their beauty.

“That’s why we at the Irish Independent and our colleagues at The Sligo Champion are so happy to help support the work of poets by recognizing and awarding the best volume of poetry by an Irish poet.”

Yeats Society Sligo President Lorraine McDonnell and Chief Executive of The Sligo Champion said: “This poetry award marks a significant moment for the contribution and influence of Yeats Society Sligo.

“Over its 62 year history it has welcomed so many important poets, writers and scholars to Sligo and has continued to bring the work of our national poet WB Yeats to new audiences.

“Now, in this collaboration with the Irish Independent, the Society can continue to support contemporary poets and recognize the crucial role poetry plays in the cultural life of this country.”

Director of Yeats Society Sligo, Susan O’Keeffe, said: “Yeats Society Sligo has a role to play in encouraging and supporting those who enrich our culture and our world through their poetry.

“We are now in our fifth year of having a ‘poet in residence’ at the Society. This prestigious annual award builds on that work and we are delighted to work with Irish Independent and its parent company Mediahuis, to help make it a reality.

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