Winning the Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing was totally unexpected and absolutely thrilling.
I was so pleased to be long listed, especially to be in the company of so many fantastic poets whose work I enjoy so much. To be honest I went to the ceremony with the view to enjoying the experience of reading to the audience, seeing the Seamus Heaney Centre and having a great day out! I had no expectation of being short listed let alone winning. The feeling of having won hasn’t yet sunk in properly yet! The whole day was wonderful and the staff from CAP were fantastic at organising the event and at putting the participants at their ease. The atmosphere was warm, inclusive and friendly. The readings were brilliant and I left feeling not only amazed that I had won but that I had made some new friends.
I started this process by attending the master classes organised in December 2017. I went to the sessions facilitated by Emma Must and Paul Maddern. I remember very clearly not just their skill in drawing out words from us but also the very specific advice about shaping and structuring lines, the ‘mirroring’ of consonants and vowels. The workshops were great at getting me to think about things I hadn’t considered before and to be braver about language and imagery.
I am currently enjoying reading through the anthology which has such a diverse range of themes and voices. It is so great to be included in this.
The staff at CAP, the workshop leaders, the judges and the editors all deserve great thanks for making such a contribution to ensuring that poetry is central to the cultural landscape in Northern Ireland and to encouraging all writers whether long established or new to feel they can make a contribution too.