Saturday 24 April 2021

Literary Awards and Bursaries | Winner of John Pollard Foundation International Poetry Prize for 2021 Announced

Poet, Diane Louie wins 2021 John Pollard Foundation International Poetry Prize

Diane Louie, poet
Diane Louie, poet

It has been announced winner of the John Pollard Foundation International Poetry Prize for 2021 is Diane Louie, for her first book of poems, Fractal Shores.

Awarded annually to the author of an outstanding first poetry book collection in the English language and valued at €10,000, the prize is sponsored by the John Pollard Foundation and administered by the Trinity Oscar Wilde Centre in the School of English, Trinity College Dublin. The patron of the John Pollard Foundation is Stephen Vernon, who named the Foundation in memory of his grandfather, John Pollard.

In her first poetry book, a collection of prose poems, Diane thinks of the poems as little events. They are happening and happenings. They draw on experience, image, metaphor and all the properties of language, to create little worlds-in-motion: spinning while orbiting, actively shifting our point of view.

Award-winner Diane Louie says:

I am elated and profoundly honoured to be the recipient of the third annual John Pollard Foundation International Poetry Prize. Made possible by the generosity of Stephen Vernon, the Foundation's vision celebrates English literature's international vitality.
This past year, the global confinement has brought home how connected we are across cultures and political boundaries and, in our shared isolation, how deeply important literature is to our well-being. It has been such a long year for all of us. For me personally, the Foundation's recognition is a sweet reminder that even though we have been kept apart, a book – of poems! – can connect us.
The Foundation's confidence in my work means the world to me; this recognition will give my book independent wings and allow me to continue with the work I love. I look forward to sharing the vitality of our poetic endeavour as we go forward: even in a pandemic, poetry never needs a mask!

Members of the prize jury were: (Chairperson) Eoin Mc Namee, Director of the Oscar Wilde Centre, Trinity College Dublin; Alice Lyons, writer; Vona Groarke, poet; Professor Philip Coleman, School of English, Trinity College Dublin.

Eoin Mc Namee, from the selection committee, says:

The work in Diane Louie's Fractal Shores is vivid and cosmopolitan, an exquisite combination of intellectual fire and lyric craft, and we are delighted to see it emerge as the winner of the 2021 John Pollard Foundation International Poetry Prize.

The benefactor of the prize, Stephen Vernon, congratulated the winner on her achievement:

Once again, the selection committee has picked an outstanding debut collection of poems. Diane Louie is enormously talented, with a talent that is wholly her own and she is a most deserving winner of the 2021 John Pollard Foundation International Poetry Prize.

Diane Louise was born in Newfoundland and grew up in Connecticut. She earned degrees from Oberlin College and the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, for both fiction and poetry. Her work has appeared in Epoch, Arts & Letters, FIELD, TriQuarterly, Cloudbank and elsewhere. She lives in Paris, France, with her partner, a research scientist.

Previous Winner of the Foundation International Poetry Prize:

Wednesday 21 April 2021

Poetry in Focus | Verona Pentony, a poet on a mission of peace

A Song for Forgiveness by Verona Pentony

– from the Reflections series, recently recorded in Nashville, Tennessee –

Verona Pentony is a poet with a purpose in life. Her mission is one of peace. Motivated, from an early age, by an ambition to meet people from all walks of life, her mission has taken her to many places and has achieved recognition and reciprocation in some far-flung quarters of the world.

White rose of peace
The White Rose of Peace theme has
featured in much of Verona Pentony's work,
including the Reflections series,
published between 2012 and 2014

A Song for Forgiveness (from her debut collection, Reflections from the Heart, part of the Reflections series – see below) has recently been recorded in Nashville, Tennessee by singer, Katy Lynn Johnson:

Take the train to Forgiveness County;
Everyone has a heartache to mend.
Learning the lessons all of us must one day see.
Making the enemy into your friend.

"All Missions begin as thoughts, embryos of an idea that grow into a visualised result," says Verona. For her, it began on 18 December 2003, when she received the guiding sign to promote World Peace and Forgiveness. Thus began her distribution of The White Rose of Peace Card during the Iraq War.

She was living in London at the time but upon return to Ireland, she began work on the Reflections series, resulting in two volumes of poetry – Reflections from the Heart, published in 2012, soon to be followed by Reflections of Time in 2014 – each incorporating the theme of The White Rose of Peace Card. Both titles have been through several reprints and are available to buy online, in print and e-book editions.

Verona's poetry conveys her passionately held ideals, rooted in Humanism, that promote healing through forgiveness as a pathway to reconciliation. An eloquent expression of this is felt in the poem, One Day

One day, our childhood instinct to reach out won't have been ripped way and replaced with fear.
One day, we will remember without pain and have no need to spread the blame.

The complete composition is published on Verona's website, where other important news and updates about her writing and other activities are posted periodically.

In addition to her writing, Verona Pentony has had a wide-ranging and diverse career in hospitality, hotel management, corporate social responsibility. She has performed her work at many literary festivals and gatherings across Ireland and further afield, making her well-known in poetry and literary circles.

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