ALLINGHAM 2015 POETRY AWARDS
First Place – “First the Feathers” by Amanda Bell
Poetry judge Jane Clarke describes “First the Feathers” as "a stunning poem that draws us back to read it again and again. It's vivid description in powerful language makes something that could be gruesome in something strangely beautiful, “The wings I open like a book:/press down, stretch out the elegant pins,/scissor through the shoulder joint - /use a knife for the sinews and skin.” The poem is well-paced and the subtle ending is strong because it contrasts with the distanced, dispassionate voice up to then.”
Amanda Bell is a member of the Hibernian Writers Group. Her work has been published in journals and anthologies including The Stony Thursday Book, The Stinging Fly, Crannóg, and haiku journals Presence, Blithe Spirit, Cattails and A Hundred Gourds. In 2014 she was shortlisted for the Cúirt New Writing Prize and the Strokestown International Poetry Competition, and in 2015 she was shortlisted for the Fish Short Memoir Prize and the Redline Poetry Competition, and highly commended in The Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award. She works as a freelance editor (www.clearasabellwritingservices.ie). Recent publications include The Lion Tamer Dreams of Office Work: An Anthology of Poetry by the Hibernian Writers, Alba Publishing, 2015.
Second Place – “Sunday Night” by Angela McCabe
Jane Clarke comments that "This poem is tender but not sentimental in powerfully evoking a time and a place and celebrating friendship. The authentic voice, concrete details and the resonating sounds, “pink candlewick spreads,” “the record player”, “put five shillings into the electric metre/ and take the Bakelite phone/ off the hook.”, create an atmosphere of warmth and simple pleasure that engages our memories and our hearts. The final line is superb, coming as a surprise and conveying so much about their lives and their attitude to what they did and didn’t have."
Angela McCabe was born in Coalisland, County Tyrone. The poems in her first collection, 'Honeymoon in Coalisland', tell of her rich and varied experiences growing up in her native Tyrone, the adventures of her travels, and the people and culture of her adopted Leitrim. Her second collection is nearing completion. Her mentor, the late Dermot Healy, wrote, ‘Angela is always listening and watching. In quiet elegies curtains are made, cows sink into their shins in mud; stitching and mending are always on the go. Colours abound. Kitchens fill with memories. In a rare collection of domestic and landscape, Angela enters the spiritual world with great physical and musical resonance.’
Third Place – “The Home Place” by Breda Spaight
Judge Jane Clarke says "This is a poem of emotional complexity with a wistful, observing voice conveying the child’s sense of envy and threat. It details changes in the landscape to mark changes in the emotional landscape; the growing fear of losing the mother to her home place. “She is going home/no longer truly ours;/even the light steals her.” There is vivid imagery, “cautious cats sat like camels on the window-sills”, “above half-length lace curtains, a puppet show./ Her troupe takes her coat.” Colour and light are used well, right up to the understanding that is found in the final stanza."
Breda Spaight is a poet and novelist from Co Limerick. Her poetry is published widely, both at home and abroad. She was a guest reader at the Paris Book Fair (2002), and has an M. Phil. in creative writing, Trinity College, Dublin. Her current poetry is inspired by her mother’s life, focusing on the era when Ireland transitioned from a traditional society to a modern one.
ALLINGHAM 2015 FLASH FICTION AWARDS
First Place – “An Uncommon Occurrence” by Amanda O'Callaghan
Manchán Magan writes: “Opens strongly with novel use of the future tense and just enough sharp detail to give the astute reader a sense of place, while still discombobulating us a little. An almost cinematographic use of space leading the reader into a compact, claustrophobic area before widening out into loose fuzziness again. An enviably assured use of language: “You’ll see a moth trapped, backlit, dead.” The stream of consciousness flow feels perfectly true and believable – a rare achievement. The story ends with a beautifully rendered scene of a luminous encounter that balances the sadness before. A moving and accomplished piece of writing whose strength lies in its apparent simplicity.”
Amanda O’Callaghan is an Australian writer. A former advertising executive, she has a BA and an MA in English from King’s College London. She has a PhD in English from the University of Queensland, where she studied Robert Louis Stevenson. Amanda’s short stories and flash fiction have appeared in a number of journals including Review of Australian Fiction and Seizure, and in the short story collection Amanda Lohrey Selects. She has won the Aeon Award for Short Fiction. Amanda holds Irish citizenship and has had a long association with Ireland. She lives in Brisbane.
Second Place – “Viennese Whirls and Pineapple Creams” by Safia Moore
Manchán Magan writes: “A heart-rending moment of social history deftly shaped into a potent Flash Fiction story. An entire life is elegantly crafted into a moving and enlightening insight into a lost world. The accuracy of the historical references anchors and focuses the reader towards an incident that is emotionally stirring and leaves reverberations in the mind. The craft of the story, the skilful rendering of its central character and the genuine emotional impact of the theme mark this out as a fine piece of writing."
Safia Moore is from Co. Down and works as a freelance writer, editor, reviewer and creative writing tutor. She completed a PhD on the poetry of Seamus Heaney and Michael Hartnett at the University of Ulster in Coleraine, but only took up fiction writing four years ago. Safia has published flash fiction, short stories, reviews, interviews, and critical articles, in various journals including The Incubator, Haverthorn Magazine, and Severine. She is a regular contributor to The Honest Ulsterman. Safia's fiction has won or been shortlisted for a number of prizes and she is the 2015 winner of the Bath Short Story Award. Blog: www.topofthetent.com Twitter: @SafiaMoore
Third Place – “Dog Tags” by Amelia Kelly
Manchán Magan writes: “The story immediately offers an evocative and crystal clear sense of place and time, while the central character’s point of view brings important information about their character and outlook. The details are judiciously selected, highlighting key insights into the situation, which add extra impact to the central moment of drama. Enough detail is provided to keep the reader curious, while never being fully certain of the situation. The tale deftly widens its parameters to encompass a different era, before taking a skilful turn in another direction entirely. This is a surprising and emotionally impactful expression of Flash Fiction.”
Amelia Kelly lives in the Tenters in Dublin with her boyfriend Ollie, and Billy Pilgrim the cat. She has a PhD in Speech Technology and works in a start-up company creating speech recognition software for early childhood literacy. In her spare time she can be found reading, playing piano, flying aeroplanes, and learning languages. She is currently working on a screenplay and a murder mystery dinner party. This is her first award for fiction.