First Collection Poetry Prize
The First Collection Poetry Prize celebrates the work of the Seamus Heaney Centre and honours Heaney himself. It is awarded to a writer whose first, full collection has been published in the preceding year, by a UK or Ireland-based publisher. The winner receives £5,000.
The Poetry Prize is awarded as part of the Seamus Heaney Legacy Project, a joint 10-year fund between Queen's University Belfast and the Arts Council for Northern Ireland, generously supported by the Atlantic Philanthropies.
The Seamus Heaney Chair of Poetry Nick Laird, is joined this year by our colleague Stephen Sexton, and poet Elaine Feeney.
The panel will compile a shortlist of up to five books, to be announced in June 2021. The winner will be announced in July 2021.
Elaine Feeney is a writer from the west of Ireland. She has published three collections of poetry including The Radio was Gospel and Rise. She lectures in poetry at the National University of Ireland, Galway, where she is also Creative on the Tuam Oral History Project. In 2017 she wrote the multi award-winning drama piece for the Liz Roche Company, WRoNGHEADED.
Her debut novel As You Were (Vintage) won the 2021 Kate O’ Brien Award and was shortlisted for Novel of the Year at the Irish Book Awards, The Rathbone Folio Prize, Dalkey Literary Awards and it was an Observer Best Debut of 2020. Feeney’s work has been broadcast on BBC and RTÉ and most recent publications include; Poetry Review, The Guardian, Winter Papers, Five Dials, The Stinging Fly, Copper Nickel, The Irish Times, Oxford Poetry and The Art of the Glimpse: 100 Irish Short Stories.
Nick Laird is a poet, novelist, screenwriter, and critic from Northern Ireland. He is the author of four poetry collections, including Feel Free (2019) and Go Giants (2013), and the children's book Weirdo (2021), written in collaboration with his wife Zadie Smith. He teaches at New York University and is the Seamus Heaeny Chair of Poetry at the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s. He lives in London and New York.
Stephen Sexton is a poet and educator from Northern Ireland. His debut collection If All the World and Love Were Young (Penguin, 2019) was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection. His pamphlet, Oils (Emma Press, 2014) was the Poetry Book Society’s Winter Pamphlet Choice of that year. He has won numerous awards including the UK National Poetry Competition, and an Eric Gregory Award. Stephen is a lecturer in Poetry at the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s.
Image: First Collection Poetry Prize 2019 Judges Stephen Sexton, Nick Laird, and Edna Longley, with the Winner, Ned Denny
Some of the exellent titles from previous year's include:
2019 - Ned Denny, Unearthly Toys: Poems and Masks (Carcanet)
2018 - Richard Osmond, Useful Verses (Picador Poetry)
2017 - Adam Crothers, Several Deer (Carcanet)
2016 - Kate Miller, The Observances (Carcanet)
2015 - Fiona Benson, Bright Travellers (Cape Poetry)
2014 – Tara Bergin, This is Yarrow (Carcanet)
2013 – Sarah Jackson, Pelt (Bloodaxe Books)