Literature has been a core strand of the Westport Arts Festival since its inception in 1976. In recent years, Edna O’Brien, John Banville, Paul Durcan, Dermot Healy, Mike McCormack, Donal Ryan and Kevin Barry have all read at the event. An annual highlight is the poetry competition which has attracted increased entries each year.
To mark the Westport 250 celebrations, this year’s first prize is €1,000, with two runners-up prizes of €200 and €100, respectively.
There are no separate categories this year. Entry per poem costs just €5, or €10 for three entries, and scribes can enter as often as they like.
The entries will be judged by two established poets, John McAuliffe and Ger Reidy.
Though reared in Kerry and educated at universities in Galway, Southern Illinois and Dublin, McAuliffe has lived and worked in England since 2002. His fourth book, ‘The Way In’, was published in 2015 by The Gallery Press. Other works include ‘Of All Places’ (2011), a PBS recommendation; ‘Next Door’ (2007); and ‘A Better Life’ (2002), shortlisted for a Forward prize. He co-directs the Centre for New Writing at the University of Manchester, where he teaches poetry and co-edits The Manchester Review. He also writes a monthly poetry column for The Irish Times.
Aughagower native Ger Reidy has won several national poetry prizes and has received an Arts Council bursary. His poetry collections include ‘Pictures from a Reservation’, ‘Drifting Under The Moon’ and ‘Before Rain’. Commenting on his work, Poetry Ireland has described his work as having ‘a Kavanagh like realism and eye for the particular … his poems echo the grounded concision of Larkin’. ‘Before Rain’, his third collection, was shortlisted for the Pigott Prize at the Listowel Writers Festival.
Reidy’s first collection of short stories, ‘Jobs for a Wet Day’ was published in 2015 and was nominated for the prestigious Edge Hill Prize.
Winners will be announced during the festival on Thursday, September 28. Shortlisted entrants will be notified a week in advance and invited to attend an open-mic night at The Creel restaurant, Westport Quay, before the prizewinners are announced.
Westport Arts Festival 2017
This year’s Westport Arts Festival is scheduled to take place from September 27 to October 1. While the full programme has yet to be released, it will include art workshops, a spoken word competition, several plays and films, art exhibitions (including the much-loved McGing’s Open exhibition), and of course plenty of music.
The closing date for entry to the Westport Arts Festival 2017 poetry competition is September 1. To enter online, visit www.westportartsfestival.com/poetry-competition, where more details and the competition’s rules are also available. Postal entries (cheques only, no cash) should be sent to Westport Arts Festival Poetry Competition, c/o Westport Town Hall, The Octagon, Westport, Co Mayo.