Newcastle University now has three winners of the prestigious poetry honour the TS Eliot Prize among its staff.

Jacob Polley won this year’s TS Eliot Prize with his collection Jackself while Professor Sean O’Brien was awarded the same honour in 2007 for The Drowned Book.

Now Northern Irish poet Sinead Morrissey has joined them in the university’s School of English Language, Literature and Linguistics. Ms Morrissey won the TS Eliot Prize in 2014 for her collection Parallax.

Jacob Polley posing in a meadow of waist high grass and flowers, holding a book.
Jacob Polley is also a prize-winning poet who teaches at Newcastle University

Ms Morrissey said she was drawn to Newcastle by the university’s “stellar reputation for English as a general subject area and for creative writing in particular.”

She added, “I am looking forward to being part of such a dynamic and distinguished creative writing teaching team, and to playing a leading role in the future development of the Newcastle Centre for Literary Arts.”

“I hope I’ll be able to enhance the standing of the department still further via my personal research contribution.”

“I also hope to foster strong links between creative writing and the wider community.”

In addition to the TS Eliot Prize, Ms Morrissey has won a number of other awards, including the Michael Hartnett Prize and the Irish Times/Poetry Now Award. She was the youngest ever winner of Patrick Kavanagh Award.

In 2007, she won first prize in the National Poetry Competition, with her haunting poem Through the Square Window. In this poem, a host of dead souls gather outside a window as a child sleeps peacefully indoors.

Poet Bill Herbert, also a professor of creative writing at Newcastle University, said, “Sinead Morrissey is one of the brightest of a generation of Northern Irish writers who are worthy successors to Heaney, Longley and Muldoon.”

“Her poetry is highly technically accomplished and shot through with a tragic awareness of the weight of history on the present while maintaining an audacious directness and light and communicative energy.”

“She comes from one region of great poetic accomplishment to another, where she will be welcomed by one of the liveliest poetry scenes on these islands.”

The head of the School of English Language, Literature and Linguistics, Dr James Annesley, said, “This is a great day for the school and the university, and I couldn’t be more delighted to be welcoming Sinead.”

Sinead Morrissey grew up in Belfast and studied at Trinity College, Dublin. She has also lived in New Zealand and Japan.

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