O’Brien wins €10,000 Moth Poetry Prize
Queensland poet Damen O’Brien has won the €10,000 (A$19,400) Moth Poetry Prize for ‘The Nave’.
The annual prize for a single unpublished poem is sponsored by the publishers of literary magazine The Moth and is now in its tenth year. It is judged blind by a different poet each year; this year’s judge was Claudia Rankine, American poet and professor of poetry at Yale University.
Rankine said she appreciated the winning poem’s ‘treatment of landscape and place, a lens that refuses the romantic lull of the pastoral. There is a wonderful command of line and imagery that both seduces and disturbs instantaneously. The poem exists in the break that is the passage of time’.
O’Brien was joint winner of the Australian Book Review’s 2017 Peter Porter Poetry Prize. He is currently working on his first collection. He said winning the prize was ‘amazing, exciting and extremely surprising’. ‘Like most artistic endeavours, poetry is a little bit battered and bruised by the cancellations and social distancing caused by Covid-19 right now, so it is wonderful to get good news,’ he said.
O’Brien said he had unsuccessfully submitted ‘The Nave’ to several journals and competitions. ‘Sometimes you have to give up on your favourites, but sometimes it is worth ignoring the feedback and sticking with your gut. I am glad I did with this poem.’
O’Brien was shortlisted along with three others: UK poets Claudia Daventry and Kate Potts, and Canadian poet Nicholas Ruddock, each of whom receive €1,000 (A$1940).