Victoria Kennefick's daring first book, Eat or We Both Starve, draws readers into seemingly recognisable set-pieces - the family home, the shared meal, the rituals of historical occasions, desire - but Kennefick forges this material into new shapes, making them viable again for exploring what it is to live with the past - and not to be consumed by it.
EAT OR WE BOTH STARVE
Victoria Kennefick is a poet, writer and teacher from Shanagarry, Co. Cork now based in Co. Kerry. Her first collection, Eat or We Both Starve, was published by Carcanet Press in March 2021. It won the Seamus Heaney Prize for Best First Collection 2022 and The Dalkey Literary Festival Emerging Writer of the Year Award 2022. It was also 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 a a Book of the Year in The Guardian, The Irish Times, The Sunday Independent and The White Review, and was also selected as one of The Telegraph's Best Poetry Books to Buy 2021. Her pamphlet, White Whale (Southword Editions, 2015), won the Munster Literature Centre Fool for Poetry Chapbook Competition and the Saboteur Award for Best Poetry Pamphlet. Her work has appeared in Poetry, The Poetry Review, PN Review, Poetry Ireland Review, The Stinging Fly, Poetry News, Prelude, Copper Nickel, The Irish Times, Ambit, bath magg, Banshee, Bad Lilies, PBLJ and elsewhere. She won the 2013 Red Line Book Festival Poetry Prize and many of her poems have also been anthologised and broadcast on national radio stations. A recipient of a Next Generation Artist Award from the Arts Council of Ireland, she has received bursaries from Kerry County Council and Words Ireland. She is a co-host of the Unlaunched Books Podcast and was on the committee of Listowel Writers’ Week, Ireland’s longest-running literary festival. Victoria holds a doctorate in English from University College Cork and studied at Emory University and Georgia College and State University as part of a Fulbright Scholarship. Her research on the short stories of Flannery O’Connor and Frank O’Connor was also funded by an IRCHSS Scholarship and a MARBL Fellowship.
Victoria is the current UCD/Arts Council of Ireland Writer-in-Residence 2023 and is the 2022-2024 Poet-in-Residence at The Yeats Society Sligo.
"Victoria Kennefick writes with a fresh urgency, giving us poems that are honest and fearless. She once said: "Poetry has saved my life, made my life. Reading and writing it have taught me bravery and discipline." Kennefick is unafraid to explore bereavement, sex and the female body in her poetry. She writes with a visceral originality. Her poems are rich with physical sensations. She is able to find beauty in the big subjects like sorrow and desire, offering us the finest, most startling details. Her identity as a young Irish woman is hugely important to her, something she explores with intelligence and candour. I have always felt there is nothing Victoria could not tackle. The scope in her work is exhilarating." Rebecca Goss