Travel with Joyce: 1922-2022 Winning Entries

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Fingal Libraries Poetry Competition 2022

Judges: Enda Coyle-Greene & Máighréad Medbh


Winner adult category

Molly Bloom as Orlando by Orla Fay

i. Belvedere House, 30th August 2020

Vein of woodland the stream rushes

beneath bridges and in mini waterfalls

fairy storms under lily pads

to the gold bottomed lake


on the radio Edna O’Brien had said

Joyce’s writing of me showed

all great artists and James Joyce was

are androgynous, they are man and woman


this Sunday morning the world is genderless

though there are male and female joggers

and walkers in the park the autumn

sunlight offers a sort of blindness


and nature its immunity lapping water

trance inducing in this first flush of day

serotonin boosting exercise most welcome

and the unified healing of blue and green


ii. O’Connell Street, 25th May 2022


Under construction Luas tracks

spark glinting sunlight prospect-forged

in this present beneath millennium spire

gateways to travel unmapped miles


bladed chords of communication

that transmit the future perfect tense

more hi-tech vernacular thy will be done

and synonyms of expression


confused by the road works

I am taken to a standstill

rethink, rewrite, reroute –

I turn the app off and rely


on my own sense of direction

walking in black and w.hite

as Ulysses solely along tram lines

to where the sea lashes rock –


forthcoming I watch myself

right now through memories

as if I am a great novel being written

or a work in progress fragmented


Judges’ Comment

We found this poem conceptually surprising. It uses an unpunctuated text to convey the dissolution of borders between genders, locations and periods of time. It has a literary frame, relating Joyce’s work to that of Virginia Woolf, whose 1928 novel, Orlando: A Biography, concerns a man who goes through a spontaneous gender change and lives 300 years. There are many interesting phrases in a web of contemporary commentary, all precariously balanced on a Heraclitean stream.


Second Prize Adult Category


Letter to Miss Weaver by Ger Duffy


Dear Harriet,


Forgive my handwriting     my hand shakes    as merrily as    the mouse

crossing my bed.     Here one is not permitted          to be happy   

   too many jealousies.  Here I mangle my words         no one understands me.

 Here    Dr MacDonald says little             I cannot remember the last time they used 

   camisole de force on me.                                Here the others knit            I do not.   

  The open jaws of the lift hold            unspeakable horrors! 


I need to leave this place.    I would like to cross       the Irish Sea     

to visit Galway again                           might you make the arrangements for me? 

I am quite well most days.    I am quite dazed most ways.         I do not

have a telephone        no visitors come.   I would like to have a house 

   with a garden              a chance to hear children playing.        


I scuttle from one room to the next.     I have no companions         

  no     distractions.          Yesterday    I covered my face     with black boot polish 

I could not stand to look at it.     I   no longer   throw chairs 

 make scenes     I                       no longer            speak much       anymore.


I await your reply.


Lucia Joyce


(Camisole de force = straitjacket)

Judges’ Comment

This poem is instantly interesting. Avoiding a direct authorial voice, we are given, in imaginative arrangement, the text of a letter from Lucia Joyce to Harriet Weaver, Joyce’s publisher and friend. We loved how the poet used white space to show (and never tell) the fragmented mindset of the tragic protagonist.


Winner Child Category


Ulysses Journey 2022  by Alexander Brady


If Leo Bloom LEAPed forward 100 years

and travelled on the Dart,

Amazed! Astonished!

All a Glamour!

While travelling on the Dart.


People commuting to their work,

Next Stop, Sandycove.

He climbs the Martello Tower

and Snot Green SEAS the Forty Foot….

A glance of time without a rhyme,

He thinks while on the Dart.


He walks along Sandy Strand

and gets the Dart to Pearse.

He looks for Sweny’s Pharmacy

and there it was, as it was before,

A century ago.

He bought some Sweet Smelling

Lemon Soap,

and hoped he could afford a book.


He went to Dawson Street to HF

to buy a book called Ulysses,

to tell him where to go…

He walked out of HF and saw a

Purple tram and said:

“That’s funny they’ve turned from Green!”


He hopped on heading home to Eccles Street,

and by Surprise whom should he meet,

but Stephen Dedalus looking at a gadget in his hand.

They exchanged glances, waved, and carried on



When he got to Eccles Street,

He looked for number 7.

Shocked! Surprised!


Where’s my Molly Bloom?

What’s happened in the last 100 Years?

His eyes filling with TEARS.


Judges’ Comment

It’s obvious that this poet worked hard. The action throughout is nicely paced and humorous. We were impressed by this young poet’s knowledge of Joyce, and by the attention to detail. The poem maps a journey made twice: one hundred years ago and again in 2022.


Second Prize Child Category


Mount Olympus by Aimee Singleton


On Mount Olympus where can they be?

Could Poseidon be in the sea?

Is Apollo on a horse?

Could Demeter be growing gorse?

Is Ares planning war?

Could Hephaestus be toasting a smore?

Is Athena reading a book?

Why would Hermes be such a crook?

Why would Hades be so dark?

Zeus could make lightning spark?

Artemis might be under the moon?

Could Hera be weaving a loom?

Dionysus might be drinking wine?

Aphrodite can’t even think of a rhyme


Judges’ Comments

Enda Coyle-Greene: This poem made me smile, especially that last line! I feel that the poet took their time over it and had great fun with the rhyme, often surprising, and the pattern throughout.

Máighréad Medbh: ‘Mount Olympus’ is eye-catching and carefully put together. It’s obvious that the writer did some research.

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