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It gives us great pleasure to present this year’s shortlist, judged by Deborah Landau, highly acclaimed poet and director of the Creative Writing Program at New York University.

Marriage by Greg Geis
Greg Geis lives in Houston, Texas. He is the author of Fire Sale (Tupelo Press/Leapfolio:February 2017). His chapbook Mockumentary will be published in September by Main Street Rag. Most recently, he was a finalist for the 2017 Edna St. Vincent Millay Prize, the 2016 Louis Award, the 2016 Rash Award, and he was shortlisted for the Percy French Prize (Strokestown International Poetry Prize). He has an undergraduate degree in English Literature from the University of Houston and a graduate degree in philosophy from California State University. 

Judge’s comment:
‘I very much admire this elegant, learned, and concise poem that meditates on the meanings and mysteries of marriage, informed by the wisdom of the greats.’ 

You’re in My Blood like Holy Wine by Katie Hale
Katie Hale lives in Cumbria, where she runs poetry workshops in schools and hosts Word Mess open mic night. She was a Barbican Young Poet and has an MLitt in Creative Writing from the University of St Andrews. She also writes for theatre, and her writing placements include Young Poet in Residence at Theatre by the Lake. Her work has appeared widely in anthologies, magazines and journals, including Poetry Review, The North and Interpreter’s House, and she has a pamphlet forthcoming with Flipped Eye. You can read Katie’s blog here

Judge’s comment:
‘The poet uses carefully constructed tercets and metaphor to convey, contain, and modulate consuming desire. Pressure builds without release, and the result is a powerful intensity of language and feeling, a slow-burn.’

The Sprocket Side of the Hay Rake by C. Mikal Oness

C.Mikal Oness is the author of Oracle Bones, winner of the Lewis & Clark Poetry Prize, and Water Becomes Bone (New Issues Press). He lives on a cottage farm in Southeastern Minnesota with his wife, Elizabeth Oness, and various beasts. He is the founding editor of Sutton Hoo Press, a literary fine press. He is also a potter and a re-emergent alpinist hungrily exploring our diminishing natural world.

Judge’s comment:

‘Wit abounds in this well wrought poem that focuses closely on the quotidian and specific in order to access and illuminate the big metaphysical questions. Humour and playfulness combined with astute perception and profundity – a winning combination.’

Letter to Al by Lee Sharkey

Lee Sharkey’s Walking Backwards just appeared from Tupelo Press. Her earlier collections include Calendars of Fire, A Darker, Sweeter String and eight other full-length poetry books and chapbooks. She is the recipient of the Abraham Sutzkever Centennial Translation Prize, the Maine (US) Arts Commission’s Fellowship in Literary Arts, the Maine Writers and Publishers Alliance’s Distinguished Achievement Award, the RHINO Editor’s Prize, the Shadowgraph Poetry Prize and Zone 3’s Rainmaker Award in Poetry. She leads a creative writing workshop for adults recovering from mental illness and serves as Senior Editor of the Beloit Poetry Journal.

Judge’s comment:
‘Eros and Thanatos battle it out in this capacious and questing lyric sequence. I fell hard and fast for this poem--its headlong music, its restlessness of
heart, its heat. Here is something true and hot of life: spots of time, held.’

All four shortlisted poems appear in the spring issue of The Moth, available to purchase here for just €6 (including postage anywhere in the world).


Deborah Landau also commended Floating Islands and Athena Bande Desinee by Stav Poleg and Hippophobia by Chloe Wilson. 

Stav Poleg
s poetry has appeared in The New Yorker, Poetry London, Poetry Daily and Poetry Ireland Review, among others. Her graphic novel installation, Dear Penelope: Variations on an August Morning, with artist Laura Gressani, was acquired by the Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art. She lives in Cambridge, UK. 

Chloe Wilson is the author of two poetry collections: The Mermaid Problem and Not Fox Nor Axe, which was shortlisted for the Kenneth Slessor Prize and the Judith Wright Calanthe Award. She received equal first prize in the 2016 Josephine Ulrick Poetry Prize.


As we announce the overall winner of the €10,000 prize at a special award ceremony at Poetry Ireland on Ireland Poetry Day - 27 April - at 6.30pm, and hear all four poets read their shortlisted works. Tickets are free and all are welcome. You can reserve your ticket here.