1 May 2016
Really pleased to be at the Strokestown Festival again, short-listed (that makes four short-listings there, and two prizes) for the poem ‘The river’. Even more delighted to get Second Prize, with the winner – John Murphy – winning for the second year in succession. What made the occasion quite outstanding was that the two judges, Paddy Bushe and Grace Wells, both first-class poets, gave serious and thoughtful and perceptive commentaries on all 10 short-listed poems before their final announcement of the winners. I felt, listening to Paddy Bushe’s discussion of my poem, that it was worth coming all that way, never mind the idea of a prize, just to have heard someone respond to it in such an imaginative and creative way: he saw things in the poem that had remained unformulated by me.
Why do I keep banging in poems in for the Strokestown Festival? Well, we call it ‘the English language’, but the way the Irish use that language raises it to a higher level altogether. They (and of course Shakespeare) offer the finest exposition of the English language there is, acutely yet unselfconsciously aware of its musical potential as well as its descriptive accuracy.
Currently my favourite poem in the world is Heaney’s ‘Postscript’. I don’t know if copyright rules allow me to print it here, but look it up until I find out.