Canadian in running for Dylan Thomas Prize

Canadian poet Jacob McArthur Mooney is one of five emerging authors shortlisted for the 2011 Dylan Thomas Prize, an international competition celebrating young writers.

Nova Scotia-born, Toronto-based Mooney is a poet, blogger and literary critic, who recently received the Banff Centre Bliss Carman Poetry Award and served as writer-in-residence at the Pierre Berton House in Dawson City, Yukon. He made his debut in 2008 with his poetry collection The New Layman’s Almanac and is working on his first novel.

Mooney made the list of Thomas Prize finalists for his latest book Folk, which features poems tackling the 1998 Swissair crash as well as life next to Toronto’s Pearson International Airport.

“Throughout the book, short terse poems full of memorable phrases capture a sense of place and the lives of people coming to terms with their identity and communal realities,” the prize jury said of Folk.

He faces stiff competition for the latest edition of the award, which switched from a biennial to an annual contest in 2010 and carries a cash prize of £30,000 (about $48,000 Cdn).

Belgrade-born, New York-based author Téa Obreht is nominated for her debut The Tiger’s Wife, which earlier this year won the 2011 Orange Prize for Fiction and is also a contender for the U.S. National Book Awards.

Along with Obreht, two other first-timers are in the running for the Thomas Prize: U.S. author Benjamin Hale for The Evolution of Brunoand British writer Annabel Pitcher for My Sister Lives on the Mantelpiece.

Rounding out the list is Belfast-born, London-based writer Lucy Caldwell for her sophomore novel The Meeting Point. In the Thomas Prize’s inaugural year in 2006, she was shortlisted for her debut novel Where They Were Missed.

“Our judging meeting continued for hours with deliberations about the flair and excellence of the books,” prize chair Peter Stead said in a statement.

“There really is something here to excite and challenge every kind of reader.”

Sponsored by the University of Wales, the Thomas Prize honours the memory of the Welsh writer, whose first book of poetry was published when he was 21 years old.

It celebrates excellence in young authors between the ages of 18 and 30, publishing English-language work from anywhere in the world. Different genres are considered, including novels, short stories, poetry and plays. Past winners include Rachel Trevise, Nam Le and Elyse Fenton.

The winner will be revealed at a ceremony in Thomas’ hometown of Swansea, Wales on Nov. 9.