Editor’s choice

From the archive: Katie Donovan profiles precocious poet Sinead Morrissey (19)


From The Irish Times on September 11th, 1991: Writers, By Katie Donovan

Sinead Morrissey was 18 last year when she won the Patrick Kavanagh Poetry prize. Although she was “surprised and thrilled to win the Kavanagh prize so young,” Sinead won prizes in the Irish Schools Creative Writing Awards from the age of 11 to 17. In 1989 she came second in the Observer National Children’s Poetry Competition.

Sinead, who hails from Belfast, is now studying English and German at Trinity College, Dublin. In spite of her success at writing, she has no plans to publish a collection of poetry until after she has finished her degree. “Although the Kavanagh prize was a tremendous vindication that I can write, afterwards I felt as though my privacy had been invaded. Perhaps it came too early,” she explains.

Sinead has been influenced by poets as far afield as R. S. Thomas and Sylvia Plath. She writes about subjects which “inspire and touch me”, most often “families and people and what happens to them in life.” She has written several poems about members of her own family.

After winning the Kavanagh prize, Sinead made a radio programme with RTE on the way in which Northern writers have reacted to the Troubles. “It’s an incredibly interesting situation to write out of. Human life has become very cheap,” she notes gravely. The last two lines of her poem “The Cavehill in February” sum it up: “Somewhere in the sprawling, shrunken city, A gun is going off and a door is being shut on a life.”