THE Lord Mayor of Belfast has made award-winning Armagh poet Sinéad Morrissey its first ever Poet Laureate as part of his Vision for Belfast document revealing future plans for the city.
The Belfast Poet Laureate will undertake a series of artistic duties over the duration of the current Lord Mayor’s tenure of office.
Dr Morrissey, a Creative Writing Lecturer at the Seamus Heaney Centre in Queen’s University who said that she is interested in politics but considers herself neither nationalist nor unionist, will engage the public in poetry, through events, community outreach to art groups, language organisations and minority groups.
She said that she loves Belfast and would like her ashes to be scattered on Belfast Lough. The poet has also been commissioned to produce a series of poems that explore the theme ‘My City / Mo Chathair Féin.’
“Belfast has an extraordinary literary tradition, especially in relation to poetry”, she said. “I am therefore hugely honoured to be appointed Belfast’s first Poet Laureate, and I am excited to celebrate and explore both the city and poetry in the year ahead.”
Mr Ó’Muilleoir said: “I do believe that the arts are the heart and soul of Belfast that the Lord Mayor can symbolize what the people of Belfast would like to achieve and like to do,” he said.
“One of the ways we do that is through the arts: Belfast without Van Morrison would be unimaginable, Belfast without Michael Longley wouldn’t be the same. We need the artist to speak for the future of Belfast.”
The Mayor also has his sights set on improving investment in the city. “One of the things that I promised to do was to bring a focus on those who are creating wealth, those who are creating jobs, apprenticeships,” he said. “If we emphasise what unites us rather than divides us I think we can make progress on difficult issues. What it takes is goodwill. The power and potential of Belfast can only be realized if we stand together.”
Dr Sinéad Morrissey is the author of five poetry collections. One of her poems Through the Square Window won the UK National Poetry Competition, was shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection and won the Irish Times/Poetry Now Award in 2010.
Keep up to date with Belfast’s Poet Laureate by visiting www.artscouncil-ni.org.