2011 Michael Murphy Memorial Prize Award

The winner of the 2011 competition was Ciaran Berry for The Sphere of Birds (The Gallery Press).

Ciaran Berry was born in Dublin in 1971 and grew up in Carna, County Galway and Falcarragh, County Donegal. He now lives in Connecticut and teaches at Trinity College in Hartford. His poems have been widely published in American and Irish journals and selected for Best New Poets 2006 and Best American Poetry 2008. The Sphere of Birds won the Crab Orchard Series Award of Southern Illinois University Press and the 2008 Jerwood Aldeburgh Prize.

The judges commented

The Sphere of Birds is full of capacious but rigorously controlled poems in which, without strain or undue artifice, Ciaran Berry moves outward from the personal to a breadth of cultural and historical reference, before returning quietly to details of remembered experience. Far from being gratuitous or ostentatious, his literary range is purposefully engaged to cast light on the idiosyncrasies of human behaviour. Although this is a first collection, Berry is already a poised and mature lyric poet with a clear grasp of how a meticulous technique can be used to explore complex subjects.

The Award was presented on National Poetry Day, 6th October 2011 at a ceremony and poetry reading at Bookmarks Bookshop, Bloomsbury Street, London at 6.30.

The adjudicators for the first award were:

Poet and critic Deryn Rees-Jones (Michael’s widow)
Poet and literary historian Gregory Woods
Poet, translator and publisher Anthony Rudolf


Rachael Boast for Sidereal (Picador)
Julie-ann Rowell for Letters North (Brodie)
Antony Rowland for The Land of Green Ginger (Salt)
Nerys Williams for Sound Archive (Seren)
Tony Williams for The Corner of Arundel Lane and Charles Street (Salt)


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