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Woman Of The Year 2014 - Arts: Sinead Morrissey is a true case of poetic justice

By Stephanie Bell

Belfast’s first Poet Laureate Sinead Morrissey is the winner of our 2014 Woman of the Year in the Arts sponsored by Belleek Living.

Since she was appointed by Lord Mayor Mairtin O Muilleoir as the city’s inaugural Poet Laureate last July, Sinead has worked tirelessly, embracing the honour with vigour and dedication to bring poetry into the heart of the local community.

She has worked tirelessly with community groups, schools, migrant communities and the disadvantaged right across the city carrying out workshops and readings.

Sinead said it was another great honour to be awarded the Belfast Telegraph Woman of the Year in Arts: “The women who were shortlisted in my category and also all the stellar women listed in all categories made winning a great honour.

“Hearing all of the stories was inspirational and it was great to have an event celebrating extraordinary women.”

Commenting on her new role as Belfast Poet Laureate, Sinead said that she was particularly enjoying the opportunity to bring poetry into the local community.

She said: “It’s been really busy but I’m enjoying it as it is only going to last for a short while and so it has been quite intensive.

“I’ve been to so many schools and met so many different kinds of people, including people who have never written before which has been very rewarding.”

It’s been an eventful few months for the Portadown-born poet whose latest collection of works Parallax won the TS Eliot Prize in January and was shortlisted for the Forward Prize 2013.

She joins Seamus Heaney, Paul Muldoon, Michael Longley and Ciaran Carson as past Northern Ireland winners of this prestigious prize.

Last November she also had the honour of being invited to read for the Queen at Buckingham Palace.

She has carried out her new duties along with her role as Reader in Creative Writing at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s University.

Sinead has four collections of poetry — There Was Fire in Vancouver (1996), Between Here and There (2002), The State of the Prisons (2005) and Through the Square Window (2009), the last three of which were shortlisted for the TS Eliot Prize.

Through the Square Window was also shortlisted for the Forward Prize for best collection and was a Poetry Book Society Choice.

The 41-year-old lives in Belfast with her husband Joseph Pond, an acupuncturist and hypnotherapist from Arizona, and their two children, Sofia (4) and Augustine (6).

An asset to Northern Ireland, Dr Morrissey is regarded by her peers as an exceptional person who has made a lasting mark on the society she lives in.

‘I’ve been to so many schools and met so many different kinds of people, including |people who have never written before which has been very rewarding’

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