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Ned Denny & Martina Evans Shortlisted for Walcott Prize

Tuesday, 2 Jul 2024

No Text We're delighted to share the news that two Carcanet authors have made it onto the shortlist for the Derek Walcott Prize for Poetry! Ned Denny is shortlisted with Ventriloquise (July 2023) and Martina Evans is shortlisted with The Coming Thing (September 2023). Congratulations to both, and to all the other shortlisted poets and publishers!

The Derek Walcott Prize for Poetry is awarded to a full-length book of poems by a living poet who is not a US citizen, published in the previous calendar year. It is administered by Arrowsmith Press, in partnership with The Derek Walcott Festival in Port-of-Spain, Trinidad, and the Boston Playwrights' Theatre. The prize includes a $2,000 cash award and this year’s prize is judged by writer Diane Mehta.

The winner will be announced on October 15th, at the fall book launch featuring new work by Sven Birkerts, Glyn Maxwell, and Gjertrud Schnackenberg.

Read the full shortlist and more about the prize here.
No Text The Coming Thing is a brilliant long narrative poem. It is not Evans's first: she has become celebrated for work on this scale, spoken, dramatic, abundant. She has been justly acclaimed by, among others, Colm Tóibín. He says of her inimitable narrative style, 'Slowly, a poem that seems animated by random thoughts and images takes on a strange, concentrated power; the lines begin to feel like pure style, the narrative voice holding and wielding the hidden energies that Martina Evans consolidates, and then releases with such energy and confidence and verve.' Imelda, the book's central character, is immersed in challenging new worlds where old customs still somehow survive. It is the 1980s and the poem takes shape among punks in Cork City. The 'coming thing' refers to the arrival of computers which were taking hold and beginning to effect their transformations of data and then of lives; but ultimately the title identifies the abortion which Imelda will have in a Brixton clinic. Imelda, who Evans's regular readers will recall from her earlier narrative Petrol (2012), narrates the story with a light touch, even when the book's preoccupation with abortion, suicide and euthanasia provides a strong and compelling undertow. The Coming Thing looks hard at the duplicity surrounding received ideas about the sacredness of human life and how economic change runs counter to the values of 'old' Ireland.

Ned Denny's startling new collection, Ventriloquise, recalls what Heidegger says – in his essay on Hölderlin – about the poet, of all mortals, reaching most deeply into the abyss. In what does this abyss, the "world's night," consist? In the fact that the gods have departed, and in the rootless, heaven-proof and now worldwide technocracy forged in their absence. Yet the poet is also the one who sees, in that night, the lost gods' traces, and there are glimpses here "through a veil of names" of nature's saving radiance, of the indestructible delicacy of Claude's last landscape, of a "wild grin of insect glee" just beyond the confines of sleep. As Denny's adept voice 'throws' itself into and through other texts, forms, places, things and times – including works by Heine, classical Chinese poets, Pindar, Ronsard, Hölderlin, Mallarmé, Victor Hugo and Lorca – it becomes clear that the fathoming of our iron age is inseparable from the coming dawn. 

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