Donegal poet takes US literary prize

A Donegal man has been awarded a prestigious literary award in the US.

A Donegal man has been awarded a prestigious literary award in the US.

Ciaran Berry, who grew up in Falcarragh, was awarded the Whiting Award for Literature 2012. He is one of ten recipients of this year’s awards who each receive a prize of $50,000.

The Whiting Writers’ Award is presented annually to ten emerging writers in fiction, nonfiction, poetry and drama. The award recognises and supports new, promising talent in literature and gives the ten writers an opportunity to devote themselves fully to writing for a year.

Mr. Berry was born in Dublin and lived in Co. Galway before moving to Falcarragh. He moved permanently to New York in the late nineteen nineties although he does regularly visit his parents and family that are still living in Falcarragh.

Ciaran spent most of the last ten years writing and teaching in New York where he held the position of language lecturer at New York University before moving to take up the position of assistant professor of English and director of the creative writing program at Trinity College, Hartford in Connecticut.

He published his first collection of poetry, ‘The Sphere Of Birds’ in 2008 to broad critical acclaim, winning the Crab Orchard Poetry Award and the Jerwood Alderburg Prize. In the collection he explores the fabric of experiences growing up in rural Donegal juxtaposed with living and working in New York.

Ciaran is completing work on his next collection of poetry due for publication over the coming months.

The Whiting Award for Literature was established in 1985 by the Mrs Gilles Whiting Foundation. The awards, of $50,000 each, are based on accomplishment and promise. Potential candidates for the awards each year are nominated by individuals from within the literary community with winners chosen by a selection committee, a small group of recognized writers, literary scholars, and editors, appointed annually by the Foundation. Previous, notable winners of the awards include the novelist Jeffrey Eugenides, Pulitzer Prize winning author of ‘The Virgin Suicides’; Tobias Wolf, best known for his memoirs ‘This Boy’s Life’ and the screenwriter Sheila Flanagan, well known as writer/producer for the TV Show ‘Shameless’.

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