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Northern Ireland poet Sexton delighted by prestigious award

By Jenna Gardiner

The work of Northern Ireland poet Stephen Sexton was celebrated in London last night, as he received a prestigious award from the Society of Authors.

The Co Down poet was awarded the Eric Gregory Award for his collection The Animals, Moon. Stephen was one of seven poets presented with the award, each worth £4,050.

He is among 31 of the boldest writers from across the globe to share in the UK's biggest literary fund of £98,000, a prize uniquely judged "by writers, for writers".

Last night's ceremony in London was hosted by Stephen Fry and Philip Pullman. The Belfast poet said he was "thrilled to be recognised and involved with past winners like Seamus Heaney. To gain the same recognition in a comparable moment is really exciting".

The 29-year-old won in the category for a collection of poems by writers under 30.

He said: "I have been entering my work for this recognition for five years now, so I'm delighted and very grateful to win on the last year I am eligible".

Stephen said this summer was a "really exciting" time in his career, as he started teaching at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry in Belfast earlier this month. He paid tribute to his friends, family, the Seamus Heaney Centre and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

Head of Literature at the Arts Council, Damian Smyth, congratulated Stephen, saying: "It is no surprise that Stephen Sexton's work has been repeatedly acknowledged with awards and prizes.

"We are pleased to be associated with a gift of this calibre and add our congratulations to Stephen as his work finds new readers and new advocates at the highest level."

A judge for the awards, Inua Ellams said that Stephen's poems are "surprising and funny, showing his ability to construct resonant myth and narrative out of the everyday nothing."

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