It has been announced that John Mee, a Professor in the Faculty of Law in UCC, is this year’s winner of the Patrick Kavanagh Award for ‘a poet that has not yet published a book’. Last year’s winner, John Fitzgerald, is the University Librarian here at UCC. Brian Lynch, judge of the competition and President of the Patrick Kavanagh Society, commented that “UCC is proving to be a ‘seed-bed’ for poets”.
Lynch went on to say that John Mee was one of the entrants whose work he had highly recommended last year. “In the space of a year, John has sharpened and focused his considerable natural gifts as a poet. This commitment and improvement is one of the aims of the award.”
John Mee published his first poem in 1991, and in 2008 he was selected for the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series. He originally wrote short stories, but around 1990 became interested in poetry. His favourite Kavanagh poem is ‘Memory of my Father’. Patrick Kavanagh was known for being quite a controversial individual. When asked if he shares any traits with him, John denied all charges.
When asked about where Mee gets his inspiration, he commented that “sometimes I think of lines while taking a walk or just after waking up in the morning”. Mee went on to say that when writing “you need to exercise a lot of precision and care. In poetry, a comma in the wrong place could ruin the whole thing”.
To continue the seed metaphor, John’s advice for any ‘budding’ writers is “be patient and persist with trying to improve. At the start, a lot of poets make the mistake of writing too directly about their feelings. Try to evoke a feeling indirectly through describing something concrete.”
The runners-up this year also include Cork native, Simon Lewis and three writers from Dublin; Jane Robinson, Rosamund Taylor and Liza Costelloe.