I actually WON! So incredibly grateful to Jo Shapcott and Gerard Smyth for their kind and generous comments about my poem and for picking it from such a vast and talented pool. I still can’t quite believe it.
There I was in Beirne’s Bar before the announcement without a care in the world, having my Guinness and Tayto, confident in the knowledge that I hadn’t a hope of winning amidst the stellar line-up of shortlisted poets. Thinking too that the winner was probably notified in advance anyway. But no! She was not.
If there’s only one competition you enter next year, dear poets, let it be this one. I couldn’t praise the committee highly enough for how they organise the competition and the festival itself. The quality of the judging is of the highest caliber. There are no sifters in this competition. The judges read every entry. And the ten shortlisted poets are given a generous reading fee to come and read at the festival, which is a prize in itself. The judges read their comments on each poem in turn and the suspense is held until the very last moment.
Another plus for this competition is that the shortlisted poets and participants at the festival are all published in a beautifully produced anthology. To read my poem ‘Virginia Creeper’, the poems of the other shortlisted poets, and countless other wonderful prize-winners and contributors, you can purchase the anthology here: https://www.strokestownpoetry.org/poetry-anthology-2018/