September 2021, Fingal, Ireland — On the Saturday afternoon of the 2021 Fingal Poetry Festival, the winners of the Fingal Poetry Prize and An Fiach Dubh were announced during a happy ceremony in the Mills.  Along with the successful poets and their friends and family members, we were delighted to be joined by representatives from our generous sponsors for both awards, Maurice Meade, Managing Director of DHL Global Forwarding, and Michael Hoey, Managing Director of Country Crest, both of whom presented the prizes.
First Prize:  Anne Frances O’Reilly for Shipwrecked
This year, for the first time ever, both first-placed poets also received a signed print by artist Deirdre McKenna. Depicting the raven, the mythical symbol of Fingal, both are limited edition (the only two in existence!) and were specially commissioned for the Fingal Poetry Festival.  
This year’s judge, Adam Wyeth. His comments about Anne's first-prize poem:
"Now we come to the first prize. The winning poem is a poem where every line is brimming with lucid and fresh memorable images and arresting descriptions. There’s a superb eye and ear here. A fluidity, elegance, ease and a compelling voice: Dynamic, conversational story-telling married with economy and precision. It’s a poem of fantastic verbs too, and a great example-poem of how a strong verb can do so much to lift a line. It’s a poem full of rhythm, texture, onomatopoeia, sensory perception and personal feeling. It evokes a life with such fluency and flair, and is all done with such seemingly effortless ease while being honed with stunning craft. It’s also a poem about loss which is timely for the present moment. As well as the richness of language, its ability to always find the mot juste, it’s also a poem with empty spaces which are left open for the reader’s imagination to fill. Another reason I think this is such a deserving first prize winner. It’s an elegy that doesn’t fall into the tired elegiac mode. Rather than over-indulging in nostalgia it again makes the subject come alive through its voice, so an invocation takes place. Carl Jung said that life is a short pause between two great mysteries. Poetry with its deep focus, brevity and metaphor is perhaps the perfect form to describe this short pause. The central unflinching metaphor of the title hangs over the poem reminding us finally of our ultimate democracy, which is mortality. It’s a singular elegy that brings alive a singular life and recreates for us a little bit of that magic. I’m delighted to give the first prize of the Fingal poetry prize 2021 to Anne Frances O’Reilly for her poem ‘Shipwrecked’."
The kitchen upside down —
scones and cakes pulled from the air.
I remember her singed hair,
the day the gas whooshed out,
the way she’d magic coins
from old handbags, suit pockets
to buy ice cream, lemonade
a quarter pound of biscuits,
how on a whim she’d pack
a string bag — banana sandwiches,
togs, buckets, spades, a silver teapot,
somehow getting all of us
on a train bound for Howth —
though she hated sun, preferred
north facing rooms, never
owned a swimsuit,
days when exhausted with it all
she’d sigh, saying she felt like
the wreck of the Hesperus —
run aground in some northern sea.
I never heard her sing
though she recited poems
that spirited us to Katmandu
or sometimes made us cry.
Afterwards, at the kitchen table
we sorted sympathy cards, conjured her
with stories, her quandaries and fagaries,
her everyday fiascos.
I thought of the Hesperus
imagined the barnacled hull
like the wreck in Howth visible at low tide,
felt the house list to one side.
Poem by Anne F. O'Reilly. 

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