The Cúirt Festival of International Literature announces the new winners of the writing prize


Shane Murphy won the Cúirt New Writing Prize for fiction, while Siobhán Flynn won the poetry category.

The Cúirt Festival of International Literature has announced the winners of the Cúirt New Writing Prize, welcoming the two talented writers to this year’s festival in April.

Shane Murphy’s “Welcome to the World” won the fiction category, while Siobhán Flynn’s “I’m Trying to Write a Poem About an Angel” won the poetry award.

Poet Gail McConnell, novelist Lisa McInerney (short film) and Siobhán Ní Dhomhnaill (Irish language) have been chosen as judges for the Cúirt New Writing Prize 2022, sponsored by Tigh Neachtain in memory of Lena McGuire.

Regarding Shane Murphy’s brilliant piece, fictional judge Lisa McInerney praised its “compassionate and raw” character study.

“‘Welcome to the World’ is a reflection on desire and identity that was moving and surprising. It’s not the most polished work on the long list, but for me it was the most promising. I felt the writer was both curious and distant enough from their protagonist to tell a memorable story, a sign, I think, of a gift for words and for people.

Shane Murphy thanked the judges and the Cúirt Festival of International Literature in a statement: “Thank you to the Cúirt Festival and Lisa McInerney for this award, and to Caoilinn Hughes, Fiachra Kelleher and Eimear Ryan for encouraging early drafts of this story.”

Meanwhile, this year’s poetry judge, Gail McConnell, praised Siobhán Flynn’s effervescent entry “I’m trying to write a poem about an angel.”

“Often the test of a true poem is the reader’s desire to return to it again and again,” McConnell wrote. “I liked this poem when I first read it, but I noticed that I kept re-reading it, and each time I did, I noticed something new. It’s a poem who knows what he is talking about – and this is a state of unknowing. The poem asks what it is to be a self and what it is to be a body, and to try to answering her questions, he looks beyond the binaries of gender (masculine and feminine) and presence (natural and supernatural), hoping to ‘find the right form’.

“It’s a poem after ‘I’m trying to write a poem about a virgin and it’s awful’ by Analicia Sotelo, so it plays with imitation in its form as well as in its subject matter,” Gail added. . “It establishes a pair of relationships: of the poem with its influence, and of the ‘I’ with ‘they’. Strange effort to live and write – but it’s the ending that marvels me. Wonderful'”

Siobhán Flynn expressed her joy at being named the poetry winner of the Cúirt New Writing Prize 2022.

“Winning the Cúirt New Writing Prize 2022 is exhilarating. Writing is such a lonely thing, even more so in the past two years, sometimes it feels like you’re writing in a vacuum and your words drift away and disappear like smoke so it really makes a difference when your work is recognized.

“It gladdened my heart and invigorated my poetic muscles, I’m ready to take up this empty page again,” Flynn continued. “Thank you to Gail McConnell and everyone at Cúirt who makes this festival possible.”

Each winner receives a prize of €500, while Shane Murphy and Siobhán Flynn will read at the New Writing Showcase on April 5 at 11 a.m. at the Mick Lally Theatre.

The Cúirt Festival of International Literature runs from April 4-10, 2022.

Notable mentions/shortlisted submissions for fiction included Paula Dias Garcia’s ‘Electric Ink’ – which Lisa McInerney called “such a poignant and moving tale of unrequited love and loss” – and Serena Lawless’ ‘Fallow’ .

“With his unflinching exploration of both physical and emotional decline, his bitter empathy, and his deft descriptions of uncomfortable physical reality,” McInerney said.

Annemarie Nugent’s ‘Tine Learomach’ also received an honorable mention.

“There’s a good story (it’s all about longing and longing – in the story, we meet two married women who are training to make a campfire for the scout trip, and we hear the voice interior of one of the women who developed feelings for her friend, although both are married and have husbands and children)”, Siobhán Ní Dhomhnaill writes about the article. “It’s clear writing in Irish, with good descriptions and the last line is powerful and ends the story.”

Notable Mentions/Shortlisted Submissions for Poetry include “Samhain” by Molly Twomey.

“I wipe the interior walls with bleach.” This is the phrase I kept coming back to in the poem. What walls? Those in the ward, where does the speaker live? Or is it the speaker’s “bone cage”, where “the creature… strikes its hollow cup within”? writes Gail McDonnell.

“Or the interior of the newly carved pumpkin? Or the structure of the poem itself as it tries to communicate? So much is left unsaid in the poem – and in the silence, difficulty and awkwardness of a child and a parent talking and not talking in a hospital ward, the food becomes a real feeling: apples, a Twix, beets, a pumpkin and eggs… As we approach the In winter, these things speak, or seem to speak, where human language stutters, and that transference was what I liked most about the poem.”

“Fásra” by Liam Mac Peaircín was also praised by Siobhán Ní Dhomhnaill:

“The title of the poem means vegetation. There is a strong poetic voice in the poem, and it is wonderful that this poet uses the Irish language to perfect his craft. There is a clear understanding of poetic language and imagery in this poem, as it comments on our mortality as human beings and the finality of death, but ends on a nice note of hope about how those we love can live through the things they do while they are in the world.”

Lisa McInerney’s work has been featured in Winter Papers, Stinging Fly, Granta and on BBC Radio 4, as well as the anthologies Beyond The Centre, The Long Gaze Back and Town and Country. Her first novel, The Glorious Heresies, won the 2016 Baileys Women’s Prize for Fiction and the Desmond Elliott Prize. Her second novel, Blood Miracleswas published by John Murray in April 2017.

Revisit McInerney’s interview with Hot Press here.

Siobhán Ní Dhomhnaill is a bilingual poet. His first book, a collection of poetry in the Irish language Ait agus Iontach Bheith Beo was published by Coiscéim in 2020. She released her first spoken word poem “Why I’m Not A Buddhist” under the pseudonym The Puffin Poet in 2021.

Gail McConnell is the author of The sun is open (Penned in the Margins, 2021), Northern Irish Poetry and Theology (Palgrave, 2014) and two poetry pamphlets: Fothermather (Ink Sweat & Tears, 2019) and Fourteen (Green Bottle Press, 2018).

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