Paula Cunningham

Paula Cunningham

Paula Cunningham was born in Omagh and lives in Belfast where she works as a dentist.

Her pamphlet A Dog called Chance was a winner in The Poetry Business Competition. Paula’s poems have been widely anthologised in Ireland and beyond, appearing in The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing Vol. 5. and The New Irish Poets.

In 2011 she won the Hippocrates Poetry Prize (NHS section) and was shortlisted in the Edwin Morgan Prize. She took first prize in the 2011 Hippocrates Prize (NHS Category) and third in the 2012 Ballymaloe International Poetry competition.

Paula has also written plays for Tinderbox and BBC Radio 4, and a short story appeared in Faber’s Best New Irish Short Stories 2004-5. She currently holds an award from the Arts Council of NI. 

Heimlich's Manoeuvre was published by Smith|Doorstop in 2013. It was shortlisted for the Fenton Aldeburgh Best First Collection Prize.

Paula won second prize in the 2014 Gregory O'Donoghue Prize for her poem, 'The Weather in the Mournes'. 


'She has formal gifts in abundance...when her eye is on her native Ulster, magic and frightening things happen.' — Paula Meehan 

Paula Cunningham’s Heimlich's Manouvre was reviewed in Numéro Cinq:


also reviewed in the Burning Bush


Handy with a knife,
his preferred medium
was Mothers Pride plain toast.
This is the way the nuns
eat – soldiers. This
is the Protestant half.

Here’s Omagh, Belfast,
Enniskillen, Dublin, Donegal
with Errigal hastily moulded
from Clew Bay, a crumb
for an island for every day
of the year, and Cork,

where John Mac lives.
Lough Erne’s two narrow slits;
Lough Neagh a slanty
oblong poked right through.
A final flourish, grinning,
his pièce de resistance

was the border
which my frowning mother
quickly buttered over,
stabbing the bread,
drawing the knife
out clean. 

— from Heimlich's Manoeuvre (2013)

Titles by this author

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