Daisy Lafarge, a Creative Writing Lecturer at the University of St Andrews, is one of six nominees nominated for the prestigious John Pollard International Poetry Prize, which is awarded by Trinity College Dublin.
The prize is administered by the Trinity Oscar Wilde Center, and sponsored by the John Pollard Foundation.
Opened in January 1998, the Trinity Oscar Wilde Center is a teaching and research center located in the former Westland Row home of the Wilde family, where Oscar Wilde himself was born.
Today, the Center hosts the Irish Writer Fellow and Visiting Writer Fellow. It is also the home of two Master ’s degree courses.
The John Pollard International Poetry Prize is given to “an outstanding debut poetry book collection by a poet, in the English language”, with only single-author books of at least 48 pages being eligible. The book must have been originally published in the English language between 1 October, 2020 and 18 October, 2021. The prize is valued at £10,000, with the John Pollard Foundation itself being named for the grandfather of its patron, Stephen Vernon. The winner will be announced on 12 April during a ceremony in Trinity College.
The six shortlisted finalists are:
Threa Almontaser The Wild Fox of Yemen (Picador)
Gail McConnell The Sun Is Open (Penned in the Margins) Nidhi Zak/Aria Eipe Auguries of a Minor God (Faber) Alice Hiller Bird of Winter (Liverpool University Press) Ralf Webb Rotten Days in Late Summer (Penguin) Daisy Lafarge Life Without Air (Granta)
When announcing the 2022 shortlist, chair of the judging panel, Professor Eoin McNamee, Director of the Trinity Oscar Wilde Center, said, “This was an exceptional shortlist chosen from 52 entries. Each of the six books are vibrant, lit from within. Ranging across the wounded terrains of the heart, of the body, of broken lands, each of the six authors brings hard won beauty and insight to the surface. You come away from these books enriched and emboldened in the cause of poetry. It was a privilege for myself and fellow judges Philip Coleman, Vona Groarke and Alice Lyons to read and debate this work.”
Lafarge’s Life Without Air is described as “a strange concoction of biology, chemistry and personal relationships”, with Lafarge being inspired by Louis Pasteur. Pasteur observed that there are some unique organisms who are able to thrive despite a lack of oxygen.
Apart from being shortlisted for the John Pollard International Poetry Prize, Life Without Air was also shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize. And in 2021 Life Without Air was named Scottish Poetry Book of the Year at Scotland’s National Book Awards, the Saltire Awards.
Additionally, Lafarge’s debut novel Paul won a Betty Trask Award.
The Betty Trask Prize and Awards are awarded to authors younger than 35 publishing their first novels, with the works being of a traditional or romantic nature, and not experimental.
Paul centers on a graduate student named Frances who falls under the influence of Paul, the owner of an eco-farm.
Both Life Without Air and Paul are published by Granta, and both physical and digital copies of each can be purchased on Granta’s website.
Illustration: Bethany Morton