Browse our presentation of images shot during the 2024 Festival.

share this post...

With his entry entitled Living with Tomas, presented below, Thomas Brezing has won the 2024 Strokestown International Poetry Prize.

Competition judge, Enda Wyley, commented that

“I am a huge fan of the Swedish poet Tomas Tranströmer and this poem, ‘Living with Tomas’, brought me right back again to the warmth and humanity of the great master of poetry. But while Thomas Brezing’s poem pays homage to Tranströmer, it is still very much a poem that is unique in its own way – fuelled by a quirky voice, an ebullient imagination and a playful use of language, that brought an immediate smile to my face. But it also worked for me on a deeper, existential level, questioning how fragile life is and how close to death all living creatures are. I was delighted to have discovered this deceptively complex, inventive poem and award it First Prize in this year’s Strokestown International Poetry Competition, 2024.’

Living with Tomas                           

The book lice love Tomas Tranströmer.
When they sprint across his pages
I can hear them sing in Swedish.
His words make them joyful
and for a moment they forget
with every page-turn their lives
can be wiped onto the paper
to the silence of a blood clot.
What decides their death
is how long I linger on each poem.
They act goofy on the page,
like commuters wearing lifejackets,
or carrying packed suitcases to a dry country.
All of them are just born, starting new lives
except for the five-week old elders, who lie
listless, face to face, in an endless buffet of eggs.
The bedrooms are located in the spines of the books
where they keep their kitsch, where they ride
on fungi deposits stored away for winter,
play king of karaoke and warm dancing,
kiss each other goodnight on the forehead
and sleep knotted like briars. When retiring
from eating glue and disfiguring pages,
their organs speak in clicks to new words learned.
This close to Tomas Tranströmer they fall
asleep in the pages as in sheets of sugar.

Picture, above

Thomas Brezing (winner) and Enda Wyley (judge)