Ireland Chair of Poetry Trust Announce Winners of the 2021 Project Award

The Ireland Chair of Poetry Trust are delighted to announce the winners of the 2021 Project Award.

The Project Award was established in order to assist poets in their creative development and specifically to help realise a project of imagination. Given the incredibly high standard of submissions, the adjudication panel decided to award three poets a prize of £1,000.

The Trust has decided to award the following poets to enable the development of their work:

Laurence O’Dwyer
Bebe Ashley
Milena Williamson

Commenting on the submissions received for the 2021 Project Award, the adjudication panel, comprised of two Trustees together with the current Ireland Chair of Poetry, Professor Frank Ormsby, had this to say:

‘All three of the Project Award nominees had impressive CVs and knew how to make effective applications. We chose Bebe Ashley’s plan to translate poetry into braille; Milena Williamson’s plan to develop a publication focusing on Bridget Cleary; and Laurence O’Dwyer’s intention to develop and adapt his work into short films.’

The prize winners expressed their gratitude to the Trust in their acceptance of the award.

Laurence O’Dwyer’s first collection of poetry, Tractography (Templar, 2018), received the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award. His second collection, The Lighthouse Journal (Templar, 2020), received a Van Cleef & Arpels Special Fellowship in Poetry from the Bogliasco Foundation. He has received fellowships from the Rensing Center and MacDowell and has been a visiting scholar at the Scott Polar Research Institute at the University of Cambridge. He has also received a Hennessy New Irish Writing Award, the Yeovil Poetry Prize and in 2020 he was awarded the Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh Fellowship. He holds a PhD in paradigms of memory formation from Trinity College Dublin.

Bebe Ashley lives in Belfast. Her work is most recently published in Mslexia, Intertitles, Modern Poetry in Translation, Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal, and Poetry Ireland Review. Gold Light Shining was published by Banshee Press in October 2020. In 2021, Bebe was longlisted for the Ivan Juritz Prize for Creative Experiment and is currently working on a collection that charts her progress towards qualifying as a sign language interpreter.

Milena Williamson is from Swarthmore, Pennsylvania. She is pursuing a PhD in poetry at the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s University Belfast. She began writing poems about Bridget Cleary in 2018, which was supported by an award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. The poems have been published in Banshee, Blackbox Manifold, Honest Ulsterman, Poetry Birmingham Literary Journal and Abridged. She recently received an Eric Gregory Award. Find out more at