Cork Poet Laureate

The Cork Poet Laureateship is an initiative of the Munster Literature Centre, funded by Cork City Council. During a period of historic upheaval the laureateship is conceived as a project where a Cork poet can respond personally to themes and issues of public import affecting Cork City and County. These can be sporting events, current affairs, social issues, historic anniversaries or anything else the laureate believes concerns the people of Cork as a community. The laureateship runs for ten months from May 2021.

In 2022 the poems will be collected into a chapbook to be launched during the Cork World Book Festival. William Wall has been appointed as laureate.

The Irish Examiner will publish each poem in the first week of every month and Cork City Library will print posters of the poem each month.

The Irish Examiner: William Wall: Cork's Poet Laureate on capturing the Covid era and teaching Cillian Murphy


About William Wall

June Poem: Hometown blues

July Poem: Burning the Boats



William Wall has published four collections of poetry, six novels and three collections of short fiction. His fifth collection of poetry, Smugglers In the Underground Hug Trade – Journal of The Plague Year will be published by Doire Press in October 2021. He was the first European to win the Drue Heinz Literature Prize in the USA (2017) and was awarded the Premio Lerici Pea Angloliguria in Italy in 2021. He has won numerous other awards including the Virginia Faulkner Prize (USA), The Seán O’Faoláin Prize (Ireland), The Listowel Writers’ Week Poetry Pamphlet Prize (Ireland), and The Patrick Kavanagh award (Ireland). His 2005 novel This is The Country was longlisted for the Man Booker Prize. He has been short- or long-listed for many more, including the Irish Book Awards and the Manchester Fiction Prize. His stories and poems have appeared in magazines and journals from the USA to China including Poesia (Turin), Granta (London), Southword (Cork), The Stinging Fly (Dublin), Ninth Letter (Illinois), and Studi Irlandese (Florence). He holds a PhD in creative writing from UCC. His work has been widely translated and he translates from Italian.


June Poem:


Irish Examiner Listen: Hometown Blues by William Wall, Cork's poet laureate


Hometown blues
i.m. Rory Gallagher

as I step the boards

feeling that familiar bounce

I hear the shouts 

the stamping feet 

I am back in ’71

my best friend and me

up from the country 

for the homecoming

Rory’s mama in the kitchen

his dad saying get a job son

a million crazy fans

stamping out the rhythm 

the whole floor a drum

(you can’t fight city hall) 

hair and flares and crazy shirts 

I’m going to my hometown

the whirligig of time 

declares me old enough

for this round of vaccine 

two young soldiers marshal 

me to my stall

(you can’t fight city hall)

a young nurse gives me the talk 

and waves a hypodermic 

they’ll be holding me a while

ambulance crew guide me

to my seat among the geriatrics 

I look at all the waiting 

sixty five year olds and think 

how many of us were here

in this place fifty years ago

when Rory played my hometown


(Cork City Hall Vaccination Centre, May 2021)


July Poem:


Irish Examiner Listen: Burning the Boats by William Wall, Cork's poet laureate


Burning the Boats

On the fishery protest, Cork Harbour


the river is glass today
the big boats come up
steaming at five knots
as slow as a trawl
sounding their horns
the haunting noise
of the dying days
when the great tide
of capital turns
let go your lines
not far from here
six thousand men
worked for Henry Ford
till the tide went out

but you’re the fighting kind
you spend your days
out on the banks
at the landing winch
decks awash
the trawl warp coming in
they want to burn the boats
the Brian Eoin
the Buddy M
Star of The Sea
but boats are villages
families townlands
more than the crew 
they’re whole harbours 

on the Porcupine Bank
you know you’re alive
tracking the mark
along the deepwater edge
ten metre seas
Hy-Brasil on a bad day
twenty tonnes of whiting
in the trawl
if a cable parts
you’re a dead man
quotas the way they are
it’s go or bust
tied to the wall
you catch no fish

everyone is down to see the boats
cars line the quays
like in the old days
when they came to meet the Inisfallen
uncles and aunts
with cardboard suitcases
old Erin sending her youth away
and pulling them home for the two-week spree

and once again I see the boat in people’s eyes
maybe Australia this time
do they need lobstermen or seiners in New South Wales
we sold our seas to save our farms no one ever said old Ireland
could see beyond the next bend
never mind the horizon

we sold our seas and all their fish
and now it seems we’ll sell the boats
we’ll sell the people too
we’ve done it more than once before
they who know every rock in the roadstead
who will buy what they cannot sell
every wreck and every bank and deep
the names of the changing sea
the half-tide rock where the seals sleep
the holding ground



2021 Competitions

Sean O'Faoláin
Short Story Competition

Deadline: 31st July




Fool for Poetry
Chapbook Competition

Deadline: 31st August




2021 Publications

Southword 40

Includes O'Faoláin Prize stories
& O'Donoghue Prize poems




Felicity Sheehy

Fool for Poetry Winner




Vicky Morris

Fool for Poetry Winner




Queer Love

Fiction anthology




YouTube Videos





O'Faoláin Short Story
Prize Reading Playlist




O'Donoghue Poetry
Prize Reading Playlist




How to Write Titles








Cork Events




Essays & Blogs




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