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The winner of The Moth Poetry Prize 2018 is Jude Nutter
Dead Drift
’. She was awarded €10,000 at a special ceremony at Poetry Ireland on Thursday 2 May 2019. 

You can read more about Jude and her poem in the Irish Times. All four shortlisted poems appear in the current issue of The Moth

Dead Drift by Jude Nutter
Jude Nutter was born in North Yorkshire, and grew up near Hannover in Germany. She has been working in Minneapolis, USA, since 2000 and divides her time between there and Dingle, where she has a family home. Her first book-length collection was published by Salmon in 2002 after she won the Listowel Prize. Her second collection won the Ernest Sandeen Prize and was awarded the 2007 Minnesota Book Award in poetry. A third collection was awarded the 2010 Minnesota Book Award in poetry and voted Poetry Book of the Year by ForeWord Review. In 2004–2005 she spent two months in Antarctica as part of the National Science Foundation’s Writers and Artists Program. Her fourth collection, Dead Reckoning, will be published by Salmon Poetry next year. She was shortlisted for The Moth Poetry Prize in 2015.

Judge’s comment:
“‘Dead Drift” does so many things, it seems to me, only a poem can do. Like a time machine, this poem becomes the river it describes, which “opens everywhere / and always and only into itself’ and in whose surface is apparent the present, the recent past and the deep past – is apparent the mystery of self and a relationship with a father, and the shelving off into deep time of human history.’


Sestina by Margaret Park Haas
Margaret Park Haas grew up in a small town reading books and exploring the creek that snaked along the edge of town. In high school she discovered her passion for poetry after reading ‘The Fish’ by Elizabeth Bishop. She went on to study poetry under April Bernard at Skidmore and graduated magna cum laude from the English program. She was also the recipient of the Academy of American Poets College Prize. She currently resides in the Hudson Valley with her cat Walt Whitman, and works at the Millbrook School in New York.

Judge’s comment:
‘It’s when material and form become one that a poem really takes off, when the poem’s content becomes both bound up in and released by the poem’s shape. I felt this forcefully when I read and reread “Sestina”, where the repetitions of the form come to enact the narrator’s compulsive circling around his or her defining hurt, as well as the note fragments whose poignant shuffling and putting-together never bring the certainty wanted so badly.’

Christmas Work Detail, Samos by Steven Heighton
Steven Heighton’s poetry and short stories have appeared in London Review of BooksPoetry (Chicago), London Magazine, Best American Poetry, Stand, Tin House, TLR, Ambit, Agni, Zoetrope, and several editions of Best Canadian Poetry. His most recent books are a novel, The Nightingale Won’t Let You Sleep, and a poetry collection, The Waking Comes Late, which received the 2016 Governor General’s Award for Poetry. His novel Afterlands (Penguin UK) was a New York Times Book Review editors’ choice and was cited on year-end lists in publications in the USA, the UK and Canada, where he lives. Currently he is working on new poetry, and on a nonfiction book concerning the Syrian refugee landings on Lesbos in 2015. He also translates poetry, and he reviews fiction for the New York Times Book Review.

Judge’s comment:
‘There was a lot of sadness, a lot of grief, that I was moved by in the poems I read – grief for fathers, mothers, for youth and innocence, and, in poems of un-self-pitying power, for the self. “Christmas Work Detail, Samos” is a poem that, with composed ferocity, extends sympathy, empathy, respect and responsibility for the unnamed dead. The experience might be the poet’s own, or it might not be. To me, it doesn’t much matter. The poem just lays out what it has to, claiming nothing but the space in which to do so.’

Octonaut by David Stavanger
David Stavanger is a poet, performer, cultural producer and lapsed psychologist. In 2013 he won the Arts Queensland Thomas Shapcott Poetry Prize, resulting in the release of The Special (University of Queensland Press), his first full-length collection of poetry which was awarded the 2015 Wesley Michel Wright Poetry Prize. His prose-poem The Electric Journal was a 2016 Newcastle Poetry Prize finalist and forms the spine of his next Australia Council funded collection CASE NOTES. David was selected as a 2018 Melbourne Visiting Poets Program’s resident by RMIT & Australian Poetry. David was Co-Director of the Queensland Poetry Festival (2015-17). He is the Co-editor of Rabbit Journal's TENSE issue, Australian Poetry Journal 8.2 Spoken, and SOLID AIR: Australian & New Zealand Spoken Word (University of Queensland Press, forthcoming 2019). He is also sometimes known as Green Room-nominated spoken weird artist Ghostboy, having featured at festivals nationally and touring internationally in various iterations. These days he lives between the stage and the page .

Judge’s comment:
‘Unless you’re the parent of a young person obsessed with them, you might not know the “Octonauts”, the band of animal ocean explorers from children’s TV and books. “Octonaut” finds metaphorical richness in this world, which is a richness born out of wanting to share this world, not entirely unambiguously, with a son. The poem is ingenious and moving, and I felt it also implicated in its exploratory gesture the exploring done in poems by “All these specialists / measuring depth.”’


The Moth Poetry Prize is one of the biggest prizes in the world for a single unpublished poem. The prize is open to anyone (over 16) as long as the poem is previously unpublished, and each year it attracts thousands of entries from new and established poets from over 50 countries worldwide.

The prize is judged anonymously by a single poet. The judge only learns who the shortlisted poets are following the selection of the winning poems. Past judges include Marie Howe, Deborah Landau, Daljit Nagra, Leontia Flynn and Billy Collins.  

Past winners include Natalya Anderson, Paul McMahon, Lee Sharkey, Ann Gray (whose poem was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Single Poem) and Abigail Parry (who was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best First Collection). 

The poet and novelist Jacob Polley judged this year’s Moth Poetry Prize. Jacob is the author of four acclaimed poetry collections published by Picador, the latest of which, Jackself, won the T. S. Eliot Prize. He is also the recipient of a Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, and his novel Talk of the Town won a Somerset Maugham Award. He teaches at the University of Newcastle.