Seamus Heaney film being shown at one of world's biggest book festivals

Tribute to the poet made in 1998 will be used to build links with India's Jaipur Literature Festival, while closer to home events are planned exploring the influence of Robert Burns

The film Something to Write Home About: A Tribute to Seamus Heaney is to be screened at the Jaipur Literature Festival in India, which opens this week, and is said to be the world's largest free literature festival.

Twenty years after it first premiered on BBC television, the 30 minute documentary 'exploring his homeground, the boundaries and divisions' will be presented by East Belfast novelist Glenn Patterson, Director of Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s University Belfast and Cathy Brown, Arts Programmer at Seamus Heaney HomePlace.

Brown recently wrote a piece for Culture NI reflecting on the 'challenge, honour and privilege' of her first year working at the dedicated complex in Bellaghy, which celebrates the late Nobel Prize winner's life and work. 'By keeping his words at the centre of all we do, I feel we can’t go wrong,' she said.


Glenn Patterson and Noirin McKinney, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, pictured ahead of the trip

The Arts Council of Northern Ireland, which has supported the trip to India, also recently sent four local artists to take up residences at two of the country's most prestigious institutions. Derry~Londonderry based filmmaker Myrid Carten travelled to the Sanskritti Delhli cultural centre while musician Joby Fox, craft and jewellery maker Robyn Galway and visual artist Angela Hackett are all spending the remainder of theirs in the historical town of Ramgarh Shekhawati.

Meanwhile, as many this week mark the anniversary of Robert Burns, Seamus Heaney HomePlace has lined up a series of events for next month which explore the links between Heaney and the Scottish poet.

Inspired by Heaney's essay on Burns and the joy found in Ulster Scots, Gaelic and colloquial Ulster language, ‘Pronounced in the Place’ will feature conversation with John Gordon Sinclair (Gregory’s Girl), and music from Elsafty, Armstrong and Browne and Scottish songstress, Eddi Reader.

Eddi Reader

Eddie Reader

Running from February 16 - 25, the events are supported by The Executive Office through District Council Good Relations Programme supported by Mid Ulster District Council. They kick off with ‘Collapsing The Distance’, a discussion panel that will explore the tradition, language and culture of Ulster Scots and how it relates to Heaney’s arguments in 'Burns’s Art Speech'. The panel comprises Damian Smyth, Matthew Warwick, Frank Ferguson, Nelson McCausland, Carol Baraniuk and John Erskine.

No celebration of ‘Burns Art Speech’ would be complete without Robert Crawford. A friend of Heaney’s, Crawford is Burns’s biographer and editor of the original collection in which that essay appeared. His talk on Saturday February 17 will provide new ways of seeing, of hearing and of feeling Burns’s poetry.

A growing interest in the life and work of Ian Cochrane suggests a revival of his reputation as a writer of note. Originally from Cullybackey, County Antrim, Cochrane’s novels explored village life in Northern Ireland in the 1960s and 1970s, using dark humour and Ulster Scots language to create a strong sense of people and place. ‘Cullybackey Gothic: An Ian Cochrane Revival’ (Thursday February 22) includes the launch of a new edition of Cochrane’s novel ‘F for Ferg’.

Cathal Buí Mac Giolla Ghunna (c.1680-c.1756) was a Gaelic lyricist, songmaker and poet with firm connections to the Bréifne/ Fermanagh area but who ranged all over Ulster. Native of Benburb, Dr. Charles Dillon’s lecture on Saturday February 24 will examine the work of Cathal Buí and establish his place in the vibrant legacy of Gaelic poetry and song of south Ulster in the period.

Elsafty, Armstrong and Browne will provide a vibrant evening of music and song in the penultimate event in the series on February 24 as they evoke the unique sound of early Ireland, combining the unmistakable voice of Róisín Elsafty, one of our finest sean-nós singers, with the hauntingly beautiful sound of the medieval Irish harp, played by Ireland’s foremost historical harper, Siobhán Armstrong, woven together with Ronan Browne’s flutes, whistles and 170-year-old pipes.

Scottish actor and novelist, John Gordon Sinclair is no stranger to success. His breakout role as Gregory in the 1981 film Gregory’s Girl made him a household name. Now, with three novels under his belt, he is as respected for his writing as he is for his performing.

john g s.

John Gordon Sinclair

John has made no secret of his love for Robert Burns and has recorded several of his poems for the BBC. This event on Sunday February 25 to close the programme will see John chat to Hugh Odling-Smee about his writing, acting and love of the spoken and written word.

For further information and to book for any of the events, visit or call Box Office on 028 7938 7444.