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Colm Tóibín and Padraig Regan Honoured at David Cohen Prize

Tuesday, 14 Dec 2021

John McAuliffe, Colm Toibin and Padraig Regan at the David Cohen Prize Ceremony December 2022 We're overjoyed to share the news that last night two Carcanet poets were honoured at the David Cohen Prize for Literature ceremony in London. Colm Tóibín was announced as winner of the £40,000 biennial David Cohen Prize. The recipient of this prize in turn nominates an emerging writer whose work they wish to support, and Colm awarded the Clarissa Luard Award to Padraig Regan at the same ceremony. Pictured are Carcanet's John McAuliffe with Colm and Padraig at the ceremony.

The David Cohen Prize for Literature is the only prize that is awarded for the whole body of work, not just for one book. The prize is awarded every two years in recognition of a living writer’s lifetime achievement in literature. Previous winners who went on to win the Nobel Prize in Literature are Harold Pinter, V S Naipaul, Doris Lessing and Seamus Heaney. Other Irish winners include William Trevor, Derek Mahon and Edna O’Brien.

Tóibín said: 'When I attended the inaugural reception for the David Cohen Prize in London in 1993, I did not imagine for a moment that my own writing would ever be honoured in this way. Those who have won the Prize in the past are artists whose work I revere. I am proud to be among them.'

The David Cohen judges were Hermione Lee (chair), Reeta Chakrabarti, Maura Dooley, Peter Kemp and Professor Susheila Nasta. Lee said: 'Colm Tóibín was our unanimous choice and we're all proud and delighted to be giving him the prize.'

Carcanet will publish Colm Tóibín's first poetry collection, Vinegar Hill, in March 2022. Read more about that in The Bookseller and BookBrunch.

Colm awarded the Clarissa Luard Award to Padraig Regan at the same ceremony. The £10,000 award was founded in 2005 by Arts Council England, in memory of literature officer Luard.

Padraig said: 'To have one's work recognised by a writer one admires is always encouraging, and this is especially true of a writer like Colm, whose body of work has made it easier for younger queer writers like myself to find their place within Irish literary traditions.'

Having published two pamphlets and featured in our New Poetries VIII anthology, Padraig's debut collection, Some Integrity, is forthcoming from Carcanet in January 2022.

John McAuliffe, associate publisher and editor at Carcanet Press, said: 'Carcanet is delighted by award of the David Cohen and Clarissa Luard Prizes to two poets we are proud to publish: Colm Tóibín’s poems in Vinegar Hill, like his fiction and essays, possess remarkable poise, whether they are returning to the Wexford places readers will know from his fiction, the transatlantic life and migration he knows well, or reflecting on writing or, in one of the book’s remarkable long poems, Ireland’s successful same-sex marriage referendum. The prizes announced last night also notably recognize a writer at the beginning of their career, and we are delighted that Padraig Regan is Carcanet’s first winner of the prize. Their first book Some Integrity is an astonishing debut, delighting in the things of this world, and how our bodies and desires take us beyond ourselves: its arrival and recognition by this award also marks a generational difference, where younger queer writers find their place within Irish literary tradition.'

Read more about the prize announcement in the Irish Times, BookBrunch, The Bookseller and on the prize's website.
Book covers of Vinegar Hill by Colm Toibin and Some Integrity by Padraig Regan Vinegar Hill is the highly anticipated first collection of poetry by one of the notable novelists and essayists of our time. The book takes its title from the site of the battle between Irish rebels and British forces in 1798 near the author’s native Enniscorthy, County Wexford. His subjects are accordingly radical, including changing Dublin, life and death in the pandemic, gay marriage rights and rites, childhood, bereavement and religion. His interest in poetry is lifelong and the poems of Vinegar Hill, much of it written as he was being treated for cancer, are mature and complex.

His world may start in County Wexford but it becomes wide with his travels in the United States, the Iberian peninsula and other far-flung geographies. The clarity of his writing and the narratives that underpin his lyrics, elegies, personal poems and satires, reveal the impact of his long discipline as a novelist (nine volumes including The Master, Brooklyn, The Testament of Mary and Nora Webster and House of Names) and story writer. Followers of his fiction will relish the opportunity to encounter Tóibín in verse. This rich collection, written over several decades, shot through with keen observation, emotion, and humor, Tóibín offers us poems to provoke, ponder, and cherish.


‘To look up from Padraig Regan’s words is to find oneself gently re-fitted into the world,’ says Vahni Capildeo, noting Padraig Regan's ‘awesome originality and honesty’. The poems in Some Integrity bring something new to the Irish lyric tradition. Queerness provides a perspective, aware of the porous and provisional nature of our bodies. The book’s social encounters and exchanges, its responses to the work of artists, its figures in a landscape, and its considerations of food and desire, work as capsule narratives and as an exhilarating extension of that lyric tradition. Padraig Regan, born in 1993 in Belfast, is the author of two poetry pamphlets: Delicious (Lifeboat, 2016) and Who Seemed Alive & Altogether Real (Emma Press, 2017). In 2021 their poems featured in New Poetries VIII. They are the first Ciaran Carson ‘Writing and the City’ Fellow at Queens in Belfast.

‘The thing I admire most in Padraig Regan’s writing is its lightness of touch. The poems may be ambitious in their references to art history or their use of vocabulary – lanugo, escritoire – and in the way their sentences unfurl in unexpected directions, but their beauty comes from the simplicity with which these ingredients come together. I don’t think I’ve ever come across such joyful, vibrant work.’ - Matthew Welton

Pre-order the book here. 

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