The winners of The Moth Poetry Prize 2022
Judged by Louise Glück

1st prize 
Parkland Walk by Laurie Bolger
My own preference inclines to the irregular over the regular, to suggestion over assertion, to dissonance over harmony, to the demotic over the vatic. I respond to poems that surprise me  “Parkland Walk” reflects this definition of originality. It sounds like speech, at once utterly natural and deeply odd. On the surface, it concerns a pair of rebellious and sassy girls, who like to do things they’ve been warned against. Slowly, almost invisibly, the anecdotal becomes the archetypal: the relatively innocent walk becomes some larger, more fated journey into the unknown and perilous.’ Louise Glück

Shortlisted poems
Workers Leaving the Lumičre Factory by Kit Fan
Kit Fan's third poetry collection, The Ink Cloud Reader, is published by Carcanet in April this year. He is the author of two previous books of poems, As Slow As Possible and Paper Scissors Stone. His debut novel, Diamond Hill, was published in 2021 and he was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature in 2022.

Last Year in Baltimore by J. P. Grasser
A former Wallace Stegner Fellow at Stanford University, J. P. Grasser holds a PhD from the University of Utah, where he edited Quarterly West. He lives in Montana’s Bitterroot Valley and serves as an associate editor for 32 Poems

Travel Advisory by Tom Laichas
Tom Laichas is author of Three Hundred Streets of Venice CaliforniaSixty-Three Photographs from the End of a War and Empire of Eden. His recent work has appeared or is forthcoming in SaltJabberwockThe High Window, Stand and elsewhere. He lives in Venice, California.

Louise Glück also commended poems by:
Savkar Altinel, Matt Hohner, Mary-Jane Holmes, Dane Holt, Anthony Lawrence, Joanna Lowry, Carolyn Peck and Eleanor Simpson

The winners of The Moth Poetry Prize 2021
Judged by Warsan Shire

1st prize 
The Unloving Ground by Aniqah Choudhri
‘A lush, gorgeous poem ‒ one that indulges all of the senses, a heartbreaking poem, an unrequited love poem, a poem for a home that does not want you, an entire country does not answer back.’ 

Shortlisted poems
Hotel Petroleum by Mark Fiddes
‘Strikingly subversive, this poem is slick with wit and dystopic. An episode of “Black Mirror” in poem form.’

Small Moon Curve by Roz Goddard
‘Gentle and tender, this poem is haunting, able to explore a difficult, painful subject with exquisite grace and beauty.’ 

Chase Street by Heather Treseler
‘A beautifully written poem exploring childhood, memory and motherhood. Opening stanza is deeply powerful. A deft poem that lingers long after.’ 

Warsan Shire also commended poems by:
Sylvie Baumgartel, Laurie Bolger, Simon Costello, Christina Hutchins, Jasmine Ledesma, Daniella C Ndubuisi-Ike, Othuke Umukoro & Anna Woodford

The winners of The Moth Poetry Prize 2020
Judged by Nick Laird

1st prize 
Chaos Soliloquy by Michael Lavers
‘Here, the speaker is a voice from the dark side, praising disorder and disharmony and “hullaboloo”, if only to act as a foil against the sunlight and “the mighty fortress” of a hymn. The poem combines an idiomatic, compelling tone (“You’re welcome!”) with wit and allusion (“I wander lonely as a universe”) and the impingements of the world (Jamba juices, Moby Dick, Vermeer). Loose in its unfurling but held together by a clipped lineation and swirling syntax, the poem is both a rant and a paean, and the poet has a fine sense of sonic play and structure. In the end the poem becomes a testimonial to the art of reading as a way of representing and processing the vast strangeness of life, a tribute to the books that act as “fuses”.’

Shortlisted poems
A Week in March by Rowland Bagnall
‘An oblique piece, and confident in its obliquity, the poem is in six parts (on the seventh day the poet rests!), and it earns its revelations (“Sometimes it feels as though the great effort of my life / has been to get myself to here”) through its observances (“The buds seem acupunctural”), and its sheer verve. There is an emptiness at the heart of the poem and it reads almost like “the inner lining of consciousness”, as Heaney said of McGuckian’s poems. At its base, it’s a poem of spring, of the return of spring, and to that end its lieder cycle enacts and makes new one of the oldest tropes of literature, the troubadour image of the rebirth of the earth: “Everything’s returning, Champ, but / where’s it all returning from?”’

  • Watch Rowland read 'A Week in March'
  • Read 'A Week in March'

For the Poet Who Writes to Me While Standing in Line at CVS, Waiting for his Mothers Prescription by Suzanne Cleary
‘I liked the up-to-date-ness of this poem, how it struggles “to carry one thought to the next” at this moment, “six months in to pandemic”, and how its associative nature mimics a restless modern sensibility, being chockfull with the detritus of the internet, (“25 Cutest Photos / of four-year-old Princess Charlotte”) and real things in the real world, “toothpastes, decongestants … orange Velcro knee braces.” Even under this bombardment though, the poem attempts to enjoin the addressee, Russell, to “be like CVS” the pharmacy, that is, stay open all the time, and try both to take in the world and to bear up to it: “be like the aisle of bare shelves where the cleaning products stood.” The poem acclaims that most old-fashioned virtue, duty, as the addressee waits to collect his mother’s medicine for her.’

  • Watch Suzanne read 'For the Poet Who Writes to Me While Standing in Line at CVS ...' 
  • Read 'For the Poet Who Writes to Me While Standing in Line at CVS ...'

In the dream of the cold restaurant by Abigail Parry
‘A slightly hushed, melancholy piece that remains with the reader, and which captures both the “gaunt extravagance” and “glib economy” of dreams, in which, according to Yeats, our responsibilities begin. It masquerades as fairly sensible, the poem, with an ironic tone (“Well quite”) but beneath the surface is a harder knowledge about aging and wisdom and the necessity of finding “a way to bear it”. I liked its chancy rhymes and stable stanzas, its confident way with a line, and finally its own “folding and refolding”, as the poet offers us his or her latest creation, this poem, as a response to the “idiot riddle” of time.’

  • Watch Abigail read 'In the dream of the cold restaurant'
  • Read 'In the dream of the cold restaurant'

Nick Laird also commended poems by:
Arno Daniel, Shastra Deo, Alexander Fayne, Michael Lavers, Anthony Lawrence, Matt Mauch, Elizabeth Morton and Genevieve Stevens 

The winners of The Moth Poetry Prize 2019
Judged by Claudia Rankine

1st prize 
The Nave by Damen O’Brien
‘I appreciated this poem’s treatment of landscape and place, a lens that refuses the romantic lull of the pastoral. There is a wonderful command of line and imagery that both seduces and disturbs instantaneously. The poem exists in the break that is the passage of time.’

Shortlisted poems
I do not appear in photos by Claudia Daventry
‘I was drawn in by the melding of landscape and the body that this poem enacts so brilliantly. I loved the subtle acts of defiance that the speaker offers up for the reader.’

A Telephone Conversation with my Sister/Footnotes by Kate Potts
‘This formally inventive lyric reminiscent of Jenny Boully’s The Body understands the power of emotional memory over autobiographical fact. The poem does not sacrifice clarity, complexity or compassion in pursuit of its truth.’

Genetic Memory by Nicholas Ruddock
‘The documentary elements of this poem locate us both in place and time. Historically, geographically we are positioned in the moment by this poet’s use of lists, facts, research, setting the domestic within a larger historical framework. The skilful use of language allows us to simultaneously exist in the past, present and future.’

Claudia Rankine also commended poems by:
Devreaux Baker, Paula Bohince, Ian Dudley, Cynthia Hughes, James Leader and Oscar Redding   

The winners of The Moth Poetry Prize 2018/19
Judged by Jacob Polley

1st prize 
Dead Drift by Jude Nutter
“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.
Shortlisted poems
Sestina by Margaret Park Haas
‘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
‘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
‘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 winners of The Moth Poetry Prize 2017/18
Judged by Daljit Nagra

1st prize 
A Gun in the House by Natalya Anderson
‘Almost a darkly comic scenario at first reading because of the child’s illness vying with the exaggerated hospitality towards the priest. The confidence of the speaker, and the subtlety of the writer, invite a rereading of the poem for what lurks beneath the surface. So on my second reading of the poem, I didn’t find a trace of humour, or tonal imbalance, but the unfolding of a bleak tragedy. Every line took on a dark nuance. The trope of the girl in the attic leads us to wonder why she’s in such a grievous state, but the clues are there in the speaker’s unknowing words. While the priest engorges on his feast, with extra cream, we learn that the girl has renounced prayer. A succession of sensually unsettling images drive this nervous, ironic poem forward. We learn that the girl "cocks her head like a confused coyote", that "her throat/ burns like gunpowder." It seems that the person charged with saving her may have been the source of her undoing.’
Shortlisted poems
Fortune Reshuffled, Reshuffled by Audrey Molloy
‘Three versions of a similar event reimagined from different attitudes in this earnest yet fun-packed postmodern poem in the voice of an implied fortune-teller. The most exciting element of the poem for me was the sestina style embedded in the prose form, with certain words being repeated in each section. The surface play discloses and obscures as it pleases, so rather than focus on a strong narrative I looked forward to the ways in which words such as "Hank’s" and "Walt’s", from the TV drama Breaking Bad, become "Hanky" and "waltz", or the way "kleptomaniac" and "Sancerre" took on a new relevance.’
Shirtless by Cheryl Moskowitz
‘A deeply upsetting poem about a girl who is discomfited by her gender. The simple style and plain English amid the setting, of a front garden and bedroom, show us the poet’s compassion for the girl’s distress. The only speech recorded is dialogue-to-self, with the symbol of the shirt and the mirror being deftly employed to highlight the awkwardness of a body in turmoil. The casual ending is affecting because it carries a rich set of possibilities, but all of them deprive the girl of comfort. A quiet and brisk yet devastating, memorable poem.’

In what way are forest black or white. We saw them blue. With forget-me-nots. by Teresa Ott
‘I love the way the lines run on, with passing details shed along the way, before we get to the glimmering point of each sentence. This poem has a marvelous fluency that corresponds to the motion of travelling back and forth in memory. A considered poem about loss and its reinforcing powers, and about all that’s memorial remaining fluid, and how we are in a complex time at each given moment.’

Daljit Nagra also commended poems by 
Mariel Alonzo, Janet Youngdahl, Natalia Theodoridou, Joseph Woods, Jessica Magee and Alesha Racine.

The winners of the Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize 2016/17
Judged by Deborah Landau

1st prize 
Letter to Al by Lee Sharkey
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.
Shortlisted poems
Marriage by Greg Geis
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
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.

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

The winners of the Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize 2015/16
Judged by Billy Collins

1st prize 
Arterial by Abigail Parry
An actual human heart throbbing along the M4 would seem an ill-advised start to a poem. But what follows is a dazzling bit of shifting between the real and the metaphoric, which lifts the poem to a level of metaphysical play before it descends abruptly into the touchingly real. The reader’s pleasure is keeping his feet under him as the ground rules change.“Arterial” stopped me in my tracks by putting a fresh, daring spin on the theme of the broken heart by shifting back and forth from the heart as symbol to the heart as an actual pumping organ until in the end, the real broken heart writes this beautiful poem in a car parked near Membury in the rain.’
Shortlisted poems
Phoebe and the Troopship by James Leader
‘Within the tight demands of an a-a-a rhyme scheme, this poem strikes an odd contrast between two literal vessels: a rich woman’s yacht and a British troopship. Her life of apparent ease and vanity comes into a kind of emotional collision with a floating spectacle of military testosterone. The result is a seriocomic display of poetic craft which conveys the indelible image of the woman’s yacht crossed by the shadow of the troopship inspiring the woman to play pin-up for “a thousand Tommies.”’
Tom Crean Sings Sean-nos at the Tiller on the Southern Ocean by David McLoughlin
‘In a number of breathlessly long sentences, this poem locates within the drama of Antarctic adventure an Irish singer-explorer who sings the old way, that is, alone. The diction here is as rough as the unforgiving icy environment, and the physical exertion of singing plus the power of his song adds up to its own heroic achievement.’

Dance Therapy by Natalya Anderson
‘This is a wonderfully funky, touching love poem that is solidly and sensuously grounded in everyday experience, especially if drinking vodka while smashing golf balls into a “giant fishnet” is your idea of the everyday, and why shouldn’t it be, after all?’

The winners of the Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize 2014/15
Judged by Michael Symmons Roberts

1st prize 
Eidolon by Lisa Bickmore
‘Reading this poem feels like eavesdropping on someone trying to come to terms with distance and loneliness. It’s a finely made formal poem, but the voice remains limber and feels capable of taking you anywhere.’
Shortlisted poems 
Disco Jesus and the Wavering Virgins in Berlin, 2011 by Jude Nutter
‘A tour de force of a poem about the risks and wounds of desire, about the possibility of transcendence. Astonishing, at times almost mystical.’
Fantasia on a Theme by Elvis by Kathryn Simmonds
‘A wonderful title for a moving, unsettling and thrilling poetic sequence,’ said Michael of 'Fantasia on a Theme by Elvis'. ‘It grabbed my attention from the outset and held it. The last couplet is so simple and so devastating.’

Saratoga Passage, August 2014 by Matt Hohner
‘A mid-life reflection on birth, inheritance and belonging, set in a beautifully rendered landscape, in a voice that - though intimate - seems to pull the world and the skies in around it.’
Michael Symmons Roberts also commended poems by Rosie Shepperd, Maya Catherine Popa and Isabel Bermudez. 

The winners of the Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize 2013/14
Judged by Marie Howe

1st prize 
My Blue Hen by Ann Gray
‘This poem is unlike any poem I’ve ever read, and once I read it, I couldn’t stop thinking about it. It has a voice. It is written from necessity. It is unimaginable apart from its musicality. It holds the unsayable in a cage of clear, accessible and beautiful language. The love in it is palpable. The hen is real. And the man. The poem’s energy nearly bursts the cage of words – but does not. It pulses. It breathes. I read it again, and again.’
2nd prize 
Elegy by Elena Tomorowitz
‘I kept returning to this poem. The address is authentic and strong. The speaker makes very simple statements that nevertheless feel so exact and intimate that I as a reader feel privileged to overhear.’
3rd prize 
Rations by Jo Bell
‘This poem happened afresh each time I read it through. It seems written from another time and from right now. Perhaps it originates from inside the fullness of time. Accuracy, understatement and living details allow the poem to unfold to the stunning conclusion. And we are left with the miraculous in our mouths.’
Poems by the following were also commended: 
Pascale Petit, Laura Post and Amali Rodrigo

The winners of the Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize 2012/13
Judged by Leontia Flynn

1st Prize
The Astronaut by Tom Moore
‘I am delighted and honoured to receive the Ballymaloe Poetry Prize. This is a major award, judged anonymously by a leading poet, and is a huge encouragement to me. I have been reading poetry since my mid-twenties but only recently started writing under the guidance of experienced practitioners. I would strongly encourage anyone who is interested in writing to engage with their local literature centres and literary magazines.’
2nd Prize
Oranges by Kita Shantiris
‘Because I work in a completely different field, I am a relatively isolated writer. What a shot-in-the-arm it is to receive one of The Moth’s Ballymaloe Poetry Prizes.’
3rd Prize
Fathom by Paula Cunningham
‘As a lover of both poetry and food, and a great admirer of the judge’s work, I can think of no better prize to be listed for.’
Poems by the following were also commended:
Vona Groarke, Dan O’Brien and Kita Shantiris
The winners of the Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize 2011/12
Judged by Matthew Sweeney

1st prize
Bourdon by Paul McMahon

2nd prize
I Crept Out by Sarah Clancy 

3rd prize
The Fisherman by Lydia Macpherson

Poems by the following were also commended:
Josephine Dickinson, Padraic Harvey, Kona Macphee, Laurence O'Dwyer and Adam Wyeth



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