Sinead Morrissey

The youngest ever winner of the Patrick Kavanagh Award

Sinéad Morrissey is part of a young generation of poets. She was born in 1972 in Portadown, grew up in Belfast and read English and German in Trinity College Dublin.

She returned to Belfast where she became Writer in Residence in at QUB. She has published three collections of poetry: There Was Fire in Vancouver (1996), Between Here and There (2002), and The State of the Prisons (2005).

Northern Ireland and Morrissey’s childhood in Belfast form both the geographical and emotional landscape of her work. The poet’s childhood was during height of the troubles and its effects bleed into her poetry. 

‘Thoughts in a Black Taxi’ from There Was Fire in Vancouver (1996) ends with the poet’s confession, ‘I always walked with my heart constricting, / Half-expecting bottles, in sudden shards / Of West Belfast sunshine, / To dance about my head’.

The poet’s concerns are travel and pilgrimage, the search for identity, the hurts of home and the desire for harmony. Her poetry is both spiritual and political, and laced with rich ambiguities and the commingling of a conversational idiom and a poetic lyricism.

From her early success as the youngest ever winner of The Patrick Kavanagh Award in 1990, the poet went on to earn great praise among critics for her collections. Between Here and There (2002) was short-listed for the TS Eliot Prize as was the next collection, The State of the Prisons (2005).

In 2005, Morrissey also shared the Michael Hartnett Award with the poet and novelist Kerry Hardie.

Other work from Sinead Morrissey can be found with some regularity in magazines such as PN Review, Metre and Poetry Review.