Belfast Telegraph

Armagh poet Sinead Morrissey wins Forward Prize

By Staff Reporter

Northern Ireland poet Sinead Morrissey last night scooped one of the UK and Ireland's most coveted poetry awards. Ms Morrissey's book On Balance (Carcanet) won the Forward Prize for Best Collection, beating off competition from another Belfast poet - Michael Longley - in the process.

She received the £10,000 prize from jury chairman Andrew Marr at a gala event in London's Royal Festival Hall .

Damian Smyth, head of literature at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, hailed her success as "a confirmation of her standing as a major poet on the world stage".

He added: "Morrissey's last book Parallax won the TS Eliot Prize in 2013. This accolade for On Balance, which re-imagines many of the great themes of Belfast's past and present, as well as reinventing figures like aviation pioneer Lilian Bland, really does emphasise the rare quality of the gift she has as a writer. We are lucky to have her linked so closely to our culture here."

Born in Portadown , Morrissey was Belfast's first Poet Laureate, and was writer-in-residence and later Professor of Creative Writing at Queen's University.

Earlier this year she accepted a post at Newcastle University in Northumberland. She moved there with her husband Joseph Pond and their two children.

Sinead Morrissey 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.

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