Northern Ireland

Sinead Morrissey wins Forward Prize for poetry

Sinead Morrissey Image copyright Sinead Morrissey
Image caption Sinead Morrissey takes home the Forward Prize for best collection of poetry for 'On Balance'

The Northern Ireland poet Sinead Morrissey has won the £10,000 Forward Prize for best collection of poetry.

She was awarded the prize at a ceremony in London's Royal Festival Hall for her sixth collection On Balance.

The Forward Prize is one of the most prestigious prizes in poetry, and previous winners include Ted Hughes, Carol Ann Duffy and Seamus Heaney.

The journalist and broadcaster Andrew Marr chaired the 2017 judging panel.

'Beautifully written'

He said the poems in On Balance were full of energy.

"This is writing that successfully comes right up to the edge, again and again.

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Media captionWatch Sinéad Morrissey recites The Millihelen on BBC NI's The Arts Show

"We were taken by the openness, the capacity and the exuberance of this work.

"On Balance is a collection that readers will keep, and go back to for a long time to come."

Image copyright adrian pope
Image caption The Forward Prize is one of the most prestigious prizes in poetry

The collection includes poems about engineering feats like the building of the Titanic, Lillian Bland's aeroplane and Marconi's radio.

Born in County Armagh, Morrissey was appointed Belfast's first poet laureate in 2013.

She was formerly Professor of Creative Writing at Queen's University in Belfast.

However, earlier this year she left the city to take up a post as Professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle University.

Ms Morrissey is one of Britain's leading poets and won the TS Eliot prize in 2014 for a previous collection, Parallax.

The Belfast-based poet Michael Longley was also on the 2017 Forward Prize shortlist for best collection for Angel Hill.

Image copyright Forward Prizes for Poetry/Adrian Pope
Image caption Ocean Vuong and Ian Patterson won best first collection and best poem respectively

Two other prizes were also awarded - the Felix Dennis Prize for best first collection (£5,000) went to Ocean Vuong, for Night Sky with Exit Wounds.

Vuong was praised by Marr as "a truly remarkable new voice".

"This exciting poet navigates different terrains, from personal traumas to history and mythology, with great skill and imagination," he said.

Best single poem (£1,000) was won by Ian Patterson for The Plenty of Nothing.

This poem "speaks to the reader with great force and skill. Both complex and bold, this is the kind of poetry that will inspire other poets to take greater risks", added Marr.

Patterson said the poem was an "elegy for my late wife, [writer] Jenny Diski, who strongly disapproved of literary prizes - but I think she would have been pleased that the poem has received this recognition".

"It is strange to find a poem of mine in the limelight, after so many years of quiet production, but I must say it is rather nice to think of so many people reading and enjoying it," he added.

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