Štanjel – Northern Irish poet Gail McConnell has won the Vilenica Crystal, an award the Vilenica International Literary Festival bestows on one of the authors featured in the festival’s collection of poems or texts. McConnell was honoured for several poems from The Sun Is Open, her much-acclaimed 2021 collection exploring the murder of her father by the IRA in 1984 when she was three.
The jury, chaired by Slovenian author Andrej Blatnik, said her poems are the most convincingly linked to the topics in the focus of the festival, such as identity wars or structural violence. Blatnik said that McConnell’s poems are not only aesthetically powerful but in a way also “additionally radical”.
The jury, which consisted of several participating authors, said that McConnell’s work articulates a social trauma that is at the same time very personal. “As this poetry reminds us how deeply rooted social violence is, the fractured poems of a broken world are piecing themselves back together,” it added.
McConnell thanked the jury for the attention paid to her work as she received the award in the picturesque village of Štanjel on Saturday morning as part of a literary reading by some of the festival’s guests.