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Belfast Poet Laureate Sinead Morrissey leaving for new job

By David Young and Una Brankin

Published 26/11/2016

Influential: Sinead Morrissey
Influential: Sinead Morrissey

Award-winning Northern Ireland poet Sinead Morrissey is to leave the province to take up a post at Newcastle University in England.

Ms Morrissey (44) was appointed Belfast's first Poet Laureate by then-Lord Mayor Mairtin O Muilleoir in July 2013.

She is currently Professor of Creative Writing in the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen's University, and has published five volumes of work.

In recent years Ms Morrissey has been richly garlanded with literary accolades and awards, including the TS Eliot prize in 2014, and the EM Forster award from the American Academy of Arts and Letters.

Damian Smyth, head of literature and drama at the Arts Council, paid tribute to her contribution to the literary and artistic life of the city.

"Sinead is in the top ranks of contemporary modern poets in English," he said.

"That was demonstrated clearly when she was awarded the TS Eliot prize just a couple of years ago."

Mr Smyth said Dr Morrissey had been very successful in her role as Poet Laureate of Belfast

"Although she's leaving the role and the city, her influence will remain.

"After all, she is only going to live in Newcastle, which is just a short flight away.

"You've only to look at the work of Seamus Heaney and Paul Muldoon to see that people never really leave.

"Sinead's influence is both profound and widespread - and our strong links will remain," he said.

Morrissey was born in the former Carleton House hospital in Portadown in 1972.

She lived on the now-demolished Rathmore estate in Craigavon until she was six, later moving to live on the loughside campus of the Ulster Polytechnic at Jordanstown, where her father Mike was a lecturer.

She wrote her first proper poem at primary school. The Beggar was about a cat, and was dedicated to her teacher Mr Ormonde, who was off work at the time.

He sent it to the Belfast Telegraph - where, to his delight, it was published.

It's understood Professor Morrissey will take up her new appointment at Newcastle in February.

She is currently on leave from QUB, and could not be reached for comment last night.

  • Sinead Morrissey's collections are: There Was Fire In Vancouver (1996); Between Here And There (2002); The State Of The Prisons; (2005), Through The Square Window (2009), and Parallax (2013).

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