NI Poet Scoops Top Award

Read a poem by Andrew Jamison

Crossgar-born poet, Andrew Jamison has scooped one of the top UK prizes in literature for his short poetry collection The Bus from Belfast (read the title poem below).

The 24-year old writer is one of three UK prize winning poets honoured with a 2011 Templar Annual Pamphlet & Collection Award. The prize will see each poet’s short collection published and presented at the Derwent Poetry Festival in Masson Mills in November.

This latest accolade follows on from what has already been a landmark year for the up and coming poet. Just a few months ago Jamison was chosen to represent the UK at the International Young Artists Biennale in Morocco in 2011, beating off more than 500 artists of all kinds to present his poetry at the festival.

The next move for the County Down writer will see him departing for New York in August , thanks to a month-long residency award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

'I seem to be having a good run of luck with my poetry at the minute,' said Jamison after the announcement of the award. 'To win the New York Residency from the Arts Council was a bolt from the blue, but to win the prestigious Templar Poetry Award a month later was something else.

Damian Smyth, Head of Drama and Literature, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, commented: 'Andrew is very much a rising star in the literature world. His work is already receiving critical acclaim at a national level and his upcoming trip to New York will provide a welcome opportunity to introduce the poet and his work to international audiences.

'Northern Ireland has a rich literary heritage and following in the footsteps of contemporary poets like Heaney, Longley, Carson and Muldoon, Andrew Jamison is a name we’ll be hearing a lot more of in the future.'

The Bus to Belfast

An unstubbed cigarette butt, I can picture it now,
will be smouldering at the door of Toal’s.
Between the Mace and the Carman’s Inn opposite
the chapel I’ll lean on the lamppost bus stop.
The Ulsterbus will slink down the hill
into Crossgar on the first Thursday after Christmas.
The hydraulic door will huff open. I’ll step in.

The tenner I tender will elicit an epic tut
from the part-time bodybuilder driver;
raising the plucked eyebrows on his sunbed seared mug.
There’ll be a hair gel smudge on the window by my seat.
The pane’s black rubber seal will be nicked to bits
by a pen-knife. The backs of seats will be plastered
in permanent pen signatures, initialled hearts,

and patches singed by cigarette lighters,
chewing gum and misspelt taunts in Tippex.
December sky will dazzle Carryduff. A flash of sun
will flare first then flicker for a while through my eyes
as we hurtle past Pizza Hut, Winemark then the Spar.
We’ll shuffle by Forestside. Nothing will have changed.
That house over the graveyard will still be up for sale.