The Michael Murphy Memorial Prize: First Award Announced

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Posted: 30 September 2011

On National Poetry Day 2010 the English Association announced the inauguration of a new biennial prize of £500 for a distinctive first volume of poetry in English published in Britain or Ireland - in the first instance between January 2008 and June 2011. The Prize was established by some of his colleagues at Nottingham Trent University, in honour of the Liverpool-born poet Michael Murphy, who died of a brain tumour, aged 43, in May 2009.

The English Association is pleased to announce the first winner of the prize:


The judges commented:

‘The Sphere of Birds is full of capacious but rigorously controlled poems in which, without strain or undue artifice, Ciaran Berry moves outward from the personal to a breadth of cultural and historical reference, before returning quietly to details of remembered experience. Far from being gratuitous or ostentatious, his literary range is purposefully engaged to cast light on the idiosyncrasies of human behaviour. Although this is a first collection, Berry is already a poised and mature lyric poet with a clear grasp of how a meticulous technique can be used to explore complex subjects.'

The following collections were also shortlisted for the prize:

Rachael Boast, Sidereal (Picador)

Julie-ann Rowell, Letters North (Brodie)

Antony Rowland, The Land of Green Ginger (Salt)

Nerys Williams, Sound Archive (Seren)

Tony Williams, The Corner of Arundel Lane and Charles Street (Salt)

Ciaran Berry

Ciaran Berry was born in Dublin in 1971 and grew up in Carna, County Galway and Falcarragh, County Donegal. He now lives in Connecticut and teaches at Trinity College in Hartford. His poems have been widely published in American and Irish journals and selected for Best New Poets 2006 and Best American Poetry 2008. The Sphere of Birds won the Crab Orchard Series Award of Southern Illinois University Press and the 2008 Jerwood Aldeburgh Prize.

Michael Murphy

Michael Murphy's first volume of poetry, After Attila, appeared from Shoestring Press in 1998 when he was 33. Shoestring has published two subsequent collections, Elsewhere (2003) and Allotments (2008), and a posthumous Collected Poems (2011). In 2001 Michael was awarded the Geoffrey Dearmer Prize by Poetry Review as ‘New Poet of the Year'. The intention of the present prize is to extend the same recognition to another new poet.

The adjudicators for the first award were:

Poet and critic Deryn Rees-Jones (Michael's widow)
Poet and literary historian Gregory Woods
Poet, translator and publisher Anthony Rudolf

The prize will be awarded on National Poetry Day, Thursday 6th October at Bookmarks Bookshop, 1 Bloomsbury Street, City of London WC1B 3QE at 6.30.

Please contact to book a place.

Source: The English Association

Categories: Poetry Prizes

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