[spectre] Re: Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize

Séamas Cain seamascain at gmail.com
Mon Aug 24 22:10:53 CEST 2015



Dear Rebecca O'Connor,

Thank you for your e-mail.

You indicate that the Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize "is not
state-funded, and has never claimed to be an Irish poetry prize."  Then you
acknowledge that you "do have an Irish sponsor."  Are you asking me to
believe that the Ballymaloe Cookery School (your sponsor) and The Moth
itself do not benefit in any way from the economic, social, and cultural
actions of public institutions within the Republic of Ireland?  This I do
not believe.  Indeed, I do not believe it in any way.

The sponsor is Irish, and the magazine is based in Ireland, the complete
matrix of Ireland, so why should Irish be banned by the sponsor and the
publisher and not seen to be fit to compete for this international prize?

Many Irish-language poets have an international reputation, Nuala Ní
Dhomhnaill, Gearóid Mac Lochlainn, Biddy Jenkinson, Gabriel Rosenstock, Cathal
Ó Searcaigh, Liam Ó Muirthile, Colm Breathnach, etc., etc.

There are younger poets who may well have an international reputation ahead
of them, but not if they are confined to Gaelic ghettoes and told "NO IRISH
NEED APPLY" when an attractive prize is offered by an Irish sponsor.

If you did not willfully intend to exclude Irish-language writers from the
Ballymaloe Prize process, neither did you intend to include them.  Your
"rules" insist on English ONLY.  How foolish do you think people to be?

Your "International Prize" is fee-based.  Most artists and writers I know
would never include on a C.V. or an Artist's Résumé a fee-based
competition.  Most arts-councils, trusts, or foundations that fund writers
in the U.S., Canada, and other countries actively discourage artists from
entering fee-based competitions.

Indeed, I cannot imagine why poet laureate Billy Collins ever agreed to be
your Judge.

You insist that the Ballymaloe Prize is "international," yet only in
English.  You seem to have the same notions of the world that were
entertained by Queen Victoria.

You suggest that I am "perturbed."

You add:  "I hope this puts your mind at ease."

What condescension!

I suggest that you do an author-search on my name at ...


or at ...


There you will discover that I AM an international writer.  I have had
plays and performance-art events sponsored in more than 30 countries, and
in multiple languages.  I have had books and chapbooks published in a
number of countries, with more on the way.

Do you really think you can dismiss a critic by a mere flutter of
patronizing words?


Séamas Cain


On Mon, Aug 24, 2015 at 3:56 AM, Rebecca O'Connor <
editor at themothmagazine.com> wrote:

> Dear Seamas,
> I understand you are perturbed that Irish language poets cannot enter the
> Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize. The prize, which is not
> state-funded, and has never claimed to be an Irish poetry prize (though we
> do have an Irish sponsor) is an international poetry prize. Part of the
> appeal for us is that we receive entries from all over the world,
> reflecting the international flavour of *The Moth*.
> I hope this puts your mind at ease.
> All very best wishes,
> Rebecca
> Rebecca O'Connor
> Editor, *The Moth*
> www.themothmagazine.com
> The Ballymaloe International Poetry Prize (€10,000)
> <http://www.themothmagazine.com/a1-page.asp?ID=7691&page=10>
> ‘*The Moth* is a beautiful creature’ *David Mitchell*
> ‘Every child should own a *Caterpillar*’ *Ian Whybrow*
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