It's massive honour to be the recipient of the Michael Hartnett Award this year, I've always greatly admired Hartnett's poetry for its authenticity and vigour.
Warmest thanks to Eigse Michael Hartnett and Limerick Arts Office and especially to poet/writers Kerry Hardie and Pete Sirr for selecting my collection Of Ochre And Ash
Judges citation - "Many excellent books were submitted for the Michael Hartnett Annual Poetry Award this year, but we both kept circling back to Eleanor Hooker’s third collection, Of Ochre and Ash (Dedalus). Family, place and memory are among her concerns, but it’s the imaginative brio, admirable adventurousness, and a real way with language, image, metaphor and form that make this a compelling collection. She has said that she doesn’t set out to write ‘a mono-thematic, mono-logical collection.’ She is a poet with a unique voice that refuses to apologise. She uses the people and places of her daily life to explore the dimensions of insecurity, frailty and the vulnerable mists and watery places of memory. Her poems are full of fear, and yet a careless splendour is very much a part of how they complete themselves. ‘The beauty of poetry,’ she has written, ‘is that the poem you need to find, finds you.’ And find her they do. A voice falls out of the sleeve of her Granny’s old coat. Her dog reads Nietzche. She lives behind the wall in the Drawing Room, hearing the fishes breathe. This book is about being forbidden to speak yet speaking anyway. Her conversations with the dead are as real as those with her multi-selves, or the people who inhabit her life on a daily basis.
Eleanor Hooker has said that much of her writing ‘is trying to figure out the world and my place in it. Invention through poetry provides me with a means to create a parallel reality outside the rules and restraints of the real world.’ The sense of freedom from restraint is one of the things that animate this collection and makes it so memorable. It is, as Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin has described it ‘a collection full of urgent, haunted poems with a subtle range of approach’ and a worthy winner of this year’s Michael Hartnett Annual Poetry Award."