Congratulations to Glen Wilson (pictured left), winner of the 2017 Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing, presented at Seamus Heaney HomePlace. The award was announced alongside the launch of the new anthology from Community Arts Partnership on Sunday 19th March.
“I was absolutely delighted to win the Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing last Sunday in the fantastic Seamus Heaney Homeplace. There were a large number of great poems entered this year, poetry is thriving in the province right now and I’m excited to be involved!
“To win an award that bears the Heaney name is a great honour, having grown up reading Heaney and later studying the great poet in University means this recognition is particularly appreciated and is a great encouragement for my writing!
“My poem The Lotus Gait came about after looking into the practice of foot binding in China. Having a young daughter at roughly the age young girls underwent foot binding certainly made me shudder as I researched the subject. I felt the story I told in the poem had something to say about societal pressures on body image that exist today. Stylistically I have often used Heaney’s poem Limbo as a touchstone on how to approach difficult subject matter and it’s influence at some level helped shape The Lotus Gait.
“I was also glad to have had two Poets Frank Ormsby and Moyra Donaldson, whose works I have been fan of for many years, presenting the award: it further underscored the prestige of it. I look forward to building on this and working towards my first collection, and I wish to thank all involved at CAP and the LAVA team for their encouragement.”
Three of Lagan’s #12NOW poets were positioned well in the competition, with Tory Campbell longlisted, Ross Thompson shortlisted and Matthew Rice runner up for his poem ‘The Turtle’. (all three pictured right)
Matthew Rice: “I was privileged to be awarded runner up at The Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing 2017 for my strange little poem ‘The Turtle’, at the Seamus Heaney HomePlace this afternoon. Congratulations to Glen Wilson for the win! Well done to all who were listed, and in the anthology. And well done to Tory Campbell and Ross Thompson who were long listed and shortlisted respectively. A lovely afternoon.”
Ross Thompson: “I’m delighted to have been shortlisted. I may not have won a frame as large as the one held by my esteemed colleague Matthew Rice (who, justly, was placed in the top three) but I was flattered to have been included at all alongside such a wealth of talent. It was fantastic to see other writerly folks, some of whom I have got to know well over the past years, being recognised for their work.
“At the outset, Conor Shields, Director of CAP, spoke eloquently and passionately about the state of the Arts in Northern Ireland, namely how it continues to hold up against increasingly severe budget cuts. And speaking of cuts, the Arts does just that: it cuts across boundaries of faith, gender, race and creed, uniting good people on the common ground of memory, nostalgia, loss and optimism. It is a medium that we cannot take for granted, nor can we allow it to be deleted by those who refuse to understand it – or regard it as the pastime of the privileged and the pretentious (whatever that shallow adjective means). Hopefully, the Arts will continue to thrive, produce work of the same stirring quality, and to bring diverse people together. I was proud to be part of that, in my own small way.
“I’m also pleased to have read a poem inspired by my beloved Mum, the very person who inspired my love of reading in the first place.”