Press Release: 2007

Sinéad Morrissey fulfils her childhood dream of winning the Poetry Society’s National Poetry Competition.

Northern Irish poet Sinéad Morrissey has won the Poetry Society’s 2007 National Poetry Competition with her poem ‘Through the Square Window’, making her the competition’s 30th winner.

The winning poem was announced on Thursday 27 March 2008 at the October Gallery in London at an event attended by many of the competition's past winners as well as the Sectretary of State for the Department of Culture, Media and Sport, Andy Burnham.

Winning is the realisation of a childhood dream for Morrissey who followed the competition as a child and found the idea of winning to be an “utterly staggering thing”. Twenty-five years later she has achieved it!

For judges E. A. Markham, Michael Schmidt and Penelope Shuttle, Morrissey’s poem was the unanimous winner, chosen out of more than 8,000 entries.

Morrissey’s winning poem reflects a major change in her life, the birth of her son in 2006, which she says has greatly influenced her writing. The close proximity between life and death has become very heightened since she became a mother. As she explains, "The counterweight of that denseness of new life is the consciousness of the dead and death and those moments when the door swings open between where we are and where we come from and where we are going".

“The heads of the dead are huge. I wonder
if it’s my son they’re after, his
effortless breath, his ribbon of years─

but he sleeps on unregarded in his cot,
inured, it would seem, quite naturally
to the sluicing and battering and parting back of glass”
Sinéad Morrissey has published three collections with Carcanet Press, There was Fire in Vancouver, Between Here and There and The State of Prisons, earning her a well-deserved reputation as one of Ireland’s most talented younger poets.

She has returned  to Northern Ireland where she currently lectures in Creative Writing at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry in Belfast.

Second prize went to Twickenham-based poet Rosemary Norman, for her poem ‘The Hairdresser from Beirut’. She has published a collection of work, Threats and Promises as well as a pamphlet, Life on Mars.

David Kennedy took third prize with his poem ‘Encore, Mr Fox!’. He is currently Senior Lecturer in Creative Writing at the University of Hull. His collections include The Devil's Bookshops, The Roads and The President of Earth: New and Selected poems.

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Notes to Editors

  • You can read the winning poems on the Poetry Society’s website at
  • The Poetry Society’s National Poetry Competition 2008, with judges Frieda Hughes, Jack Mapanje and Brian Patten will launch on 14 April 2008. You will be able to enter online or download an entry form at or send a stamped addressed envelope to Competition Organiser (PR) 22 Betterton Street London WC2H 9BX.