An Indian-American poet has become the first non-Irish person to have won the prestigious 2013 Patrick Kavanagh Poetry Award for the collection of his debut poems.
Rafiq Kathwari’s collection of 20 unpublished poems “In Another Country”,was selected for the coveted award amidst 112 contestants from across the world.
The Kavanagh award,which is now in its 41st year is given for a first unpublished collection of poems in English and is open to poets born in Ireland,of Irish nationality,or long-term resident in Ireland.
Kathwari,a Kashmiri by descent has become the first non-Irish to have won the award and will recieve 1,000 euros as the prize money.
“The award is a clear reflection of the new Irish multiculturalism”,Kathwari said,adding,he feels “gobsmacked”.
Kathwari,who divides his time between New York,Dublin and Srinagar,has been writing poems and essays for the last 30 years.
He has translated selected Urdu poems of Alama Iqbal,creating his own version. His poems are mostly inspired by “loss of innocence” in Kashmir and from his mother’s long time illness.
“Pain can be inspiring,and much of my poetry is defined by loss,” he said.
Kathwari graduated from the University of Kashmir in 1969 before studying at the New York University and Columbia University.
Most of his working life has been spent with Ethan Allen,a large manufacturer and retailer of home furnishings based in the United States.
Many of his works have been in print and online in the US,Ireland and Asia.
Previous winners of the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry award include Eileán Ní Chuilleanáin,Paul Durcan,Thomas McCarthy,Peter Sirr,Sinead Morrissey,Conor O’Callaghan,Celia de Freine and Joseph Woods.