(1984 - Present)
Poet, writer, and educator Victoria Kennefick grew up in the small seaside village of Shanagarry, County Cork. She soaked in literature from a young age, with a mother and grandparents who read to her and could recite copious amounts of poetry from memory. Although she wrote poems beginning in primary school and began her first novel at 13, Kennefick didn’t seek publication until after university. The holder of a doctorate in English from University College Cork, she won a Fulbright to study at Emory University and Georgia College and State University to further her research on the short stories of Flannery O’Connor and Frank O’Connor. After her father’s death in 2010, she refocused her efforts on poetry, writing the poems that would become her first chapbook.
White Whale, published by Southword Editions in 2015, garnered Kennefick immediate attention and won both the Munster Literature Centre Fool for Poetry Chapbook Competition and the Saboteur Award for Best Poetry Pamphlet. Her debut full-length, Eat or We Both Starve, was published by Carcanet Press in 2021. This collection won her the Seamus Heaney Prize for Best First Collection 2022 and the Dalkey Literary Festival Emerging Writer of the Year Award 2022, as well as being shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize, the Costa Poetry Book Award, the Derek Walcott Prize for Poetry, and the Butler Literary Prize. It was also named a Book of the Year by The Guardian, The Irish Times, The Sunday Independent, and The White Review and was selected as one of The Telegraph’s Best Poetry Books to Buy. Eat or We Both Starve showcases themes of family, body, and faith, threading in glimpses of Kennefick’s Catholic childhood and nearly lifelong vegetarianism along with her deep grief after losing her father.
Kennefick is a past winner of the Red Line Book Festival Poetry Prize and has been the recipient of the Next Generation Artist Award from the Arts Council of Ireland and bursaries from Kerry County Council and Words Ireland. In 2022, she won the Dalkey Literary Awards’ Emerging Writer of the Year Award. Her writing has been published in Poetry, The Poetry Review, PN Review, Poetry Ireland Review, New Irish Writing, The Stinging Fly, Prelude, Copper Nickel, The Irish Times, and other journals and periodicals. A former co-host of the Unlaunched Books podcast and committee member of Listowel Writers’ Week, her poems have appeared in numerous anthologies and radio station broadcasts.
Currently, Kennefick is the UCD/Arts Council of Ireland Writer-in-Residence 2023 and the 2022–2024 Poet-in-Residence at the Yeats Society Sligo. She lives in County Kerry.
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Photo by Matthew Thompson.