Sinéad Morrissey was born in Portadown, Northern Ireland, in 1972 and has been writing poetry from a very early age. She has published five collections of poetry. In 1990 she became the youngest poet ever to receive the Patrick Kavanagh Award for Poetry, and has since been honoured with numerous other awards, amongst them the Michael Hartnett Award for Poetry, a Lannan Foundation Fellowship and a Major Individual Artist Award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. In 2013, she was the inaugural Poet Laureate for Belfast and in 2014 she won the TS Eliot Prize and the Irish Times Poetry Now Award a second time for her collection Parallax.
Morrissey’s attentive gaze scavenges landscapes, foreign and familiar, and evinces a hunger for images that unveil a little more of the mystery of why we are here. Making connections between the individual and their landscape; their own bodies; their ‘national’ and familial histories; their longings; and their losses, Morrissey perceives the interconnectedness of our presence on earth.
Her observation seems at times microscopic in its capacity, perceiving the texture and tenor of mirrors and clocks, flowers and fingertips. Amongst these objects, however, Morrissey is deeply conscious of absences and invisibilities. Treading into this in-between territory to contemplate angels, graves and ghosts, her poetry remains sensitive to the presence of absence, and this tension energises her work and makes room for transcendence amidst the temporal.
These are weighty poems that warrant contemplation, for their humour and shrewdness as well as their poignancy, to say little of their playfulness. Grief and grace are never far from one another in Morrissey’s work which revels in pivoting between seasons, emotions and places. Morrissey acknowledges imperfection, partiality and disorder while consistently displaying a sense of gratitude for what harmony there is, even if it only chimes in “almost perfect unison.”
Writings by Sinéad Morrissey
There Was Fire in Vancouver, Carcanet, Manchester, 1996
Between Here and There, Carcanet, Manchester, 2002
The State of the Prisons, Carcanet, Manchester, 2005
Through the Square Window, Carcanet, Manchester, 2009
Parallax, Carcanet, Manchester, 2013