Sara Berkely has been awarded the first annual Yeats Poetry Prize for her latest collection, The Last Cold Days, by the Yeats Society Sligo.
The winner of the inaugural Poetry Prize was announced at the opening of this year’s Yeats International Summer School on Thursday July 27th July. The inaugural Poetry Prize is a collaboration between the Society and Irish Independent/Mediahus Group. The Prize recognises the single best collection of work by an Irish poet in 2022.
Judges Lucy Collins, Nick Laird and Bernard O’Donoghue issued their shortlist on June 13th, Yeats Day:
Sara Berkeley: Gallery Press, The Last Cold Day
Tom French: Gallery Press, In Company
Vona Groarke: New York University Press, Hereafter
John Kelly: Dedalus Press, Space
Rosamund Taylor: Banshee Press, In her Jaws
Jessica Traynor: Bloodaxe Press, Pit Lullabies
Chair of Yeats Society Sligo Lorraine McDonnell thanked Irish Independent for its support and said this Prize is especially important in this year of the Nobel Centenary of WB Yeats, the first Irish person to receive the award.
“Supporting and recognising the value of poetry in our world is dear to our hearts, and we are delighted to be involved with The Poetry Prize.”
Other speakers at the 64th Yeats International School included Claire Keegan and Manchán Magan, poet Victoria Kennefick, Vona Groarke, John McAuliffe and Sean Lysaght. Academics include: Seán Hewitt, (TCD) Adam Hanna, (UCC) Jahan Ramazani (University of Virginia), and Nessa Cronin (UofGalway). Co-directors are Charles Armstrong (University of Adger) and Lucy Collins (UCD).
Sara Berkeley was born in Dublin in 1967 and educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and the University of California, Berkeley.
Raven Arts Press published her ﬁrst collection, Penn, in 1986. Since then she has published Home Movie Nights (poems, 1989), The Swimmer in the Deep Blue Dream (stories, 1992), Facts about Water (new and selected poems, 1994) and Shadowing Hannah (a novel, 1999).
The Gallery Press has published her recent poetry collections, Strawberry Thief (2005), The View from Here (2010), What Just Happened (2015) and The Last Cold Day which was published on 3 October 2022.
The Last Cold Day
Poems in Sara Berkeley’s fourth Gallery book, The Last Cold Day, are alert to climate threat, conjuring memories of fires sending up ‘their smoky prayers’ and ‘the ice [that] sings its long last song, / a requiem.’
The Last Cold Day charts a move across America, from California to New York’s Hudson Valley, from one climate to four seasons. It records the author’s life in the frontlines of the epidemic, the lessons of the dying and the life that goes on. In poems praised by Dermot Bolger for their ‘poise and sharply minted clarity’ Sara Berkeley records a return visit to her native Ireland as well as a new love and marriage.