The O’Shaughnessy Poetry Prize & Traffic Street Press Collaboration

Lawrence O’Shaughnessy founded his namesake O’Shaughnessy Prize for Poetry in 1996. Awarded annually, this prize honors outstanding contemporary Irish poets. According to the Director of Irish Studies, James Silas Rogers, it’s been said that the only predictable thing about the O’Shaughnessy Prize is its unpredictability. There are only a few rules: the poet must live in Ireland or Northern Ireland and must have published at least two volumes of poetry. The first winner was the highly successful Eavan Boland; the prize is considered a huge honor in the Irish poetry community. The Celtic Collection features copies of each winning poet’s books, as well as copies of the commemorative broadsides that have been created most years. These broadsides are produced by Paulette Myers-Rich, who runs Traffic Street Press in St. Paul. Myers-Rich’s approach is somewhat of a revival of the twentieth-century fine press movement; as she puts it, “craft practice and materials are a central force in my work.” She is a Minnesota Center for Book Arts award-winning artist.

In keeping with this artful attention to detail and emphasis on the hand-crafted, Myers-Rich collaborated with the Center for Irish Studies to produce a several books of poetry from O’Shaughnessy Poetry Prize winners. These books, produced between 2000 and 2008, were developed in conjunction with Dr. Thomas Dylan Redshaw, who was the director of the center at the time (and is still affiliated). These are beautiful, limited edition books that were printed by hand and designed in collaboration with the poets. They feature artwork from Myers-Rich inspired by the poetry itself and each is signed by the writer. These can all be found in the archive and are a good reminder that the artistic traditions of Irish poetry publication are still used today.

For more information on Traffic Street Press and the work of Myers-Rich, see this wonderful resource.