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Sinead Morrissey was born in 1972 and grew up in Belfast. She read English and German at Trinity College, Dublin, from which she took her PhD in 2003. Her four collections are There Was Fire in Vancouver (1996), Between Here and There (2002), The State of the Prisons (2005) and Through the Square Window (2009), all of which are published by Carcanet Press. She has lived in Germany, Japan and New Zealand and now lectures in creative writing at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry, Queen's University, Belfast.
A poem on Lilian Bland - the first woman to design, build and fly her own aeroplane - celebrates the audacity and ingenuity of a great Irish heroine. Elsewhere, explorers in Greenland set foot on a fjord system accessible to Europeans for the first time in millennia as a result of global warming. But if life is fragile then its traces are persistent, insistent, and in 'Articulation' we are invited to stop and wonder at the reconstructed skeleton of Napoleon's horse, Marengo, 'whose very hooves trod mud at Austerlitz', suspended in time 'for however long he lasts before he crumbles'.
Winner of the TS Eliot prize for poetry 2013. In Parallax Sinead Morrissey documents what is caught, and what is lost, when houses and cityscapes, servants and saboteurs ('the different people who lived in sepia') are arrested in time by photography (or poetry), subjected to the authority of a particular perspective. Assured and disquieting, Morrissey's poems explore the paradoxes in what is seen, read and misread in the surfaces of the presented world.
Sinead Morrissey's fourth collection explores fertility, pregnancy, and the landscape of early childhood in poems that are by turns tender, exuberant and unsettling. Pitched against the envious dead, these diverse narratives of birth and its consequences are rooted in literary and historical contexts - from Aristotle's theory of spontaneous generation to Lewis Carroll's Alice - that amplify her theme. Infancy is for Morrissey the rich and contested territory in which what it means to be human in a precarious world is disclosed.
In her third book of poems, Sinead Morrissey builds on the achievement of her award-winning collection, Between Here and There , by expanding the lyric into new territories and admitting new voices. The theme of imprisonment is variously addressed: in the actual prisons of eighteenth-century Europe; in the prison of our own limited perceptions of experience, particularly of other cultures when abroad; in the prison of the mortal human body itself. Alongside the intimate interiors of human relationships, the poems are also interested in broader discourses, particularly history, and range in scope from the Royalist convictions of a woman wearing a Scold's Bridle during England's interregnum, to the story of the number zero. Form and content, as well as the personal and the political, are blended throughout this collection with imagination and consummate skill. As in her previous two books, travel remains a source of inspiration: one exhilarating poem details, in nine 'chapters', a six-thousand-mile train journey across China in which the conflicting faces of a rapidly changing country jostle for space.The collection ends with a compelling act of ventriloquism, as Morrissey recounts, in the first person, the life and works of the great prison reformer John Howard, and details his vision for the moral regeneration of the corrupted human soul.
In her second book of poems Sinead Morrissey's worlds grow more diverse, encompassing the Orient, the Antipodes, America and an Ireland which recent history has changed: a country observed through eyes that travel and time have made clear, dispassionate and disabused. The poems are still hungry for grace, but in each new geographical and spiritual territory what seems promise is undermined by material and cultural reality; the ceremonies and beliefs of Japan, for example, yield the most colourful spiritual barrenness; and when the poet returns to Ireland it is with a political anger sharpened by the very directness of her vision. Her use of traditional forms is freer and more assured than ever: her wit is visual and semantic, and wonderfully nuanced in her unusual rhythms of speech.
Morrissey is the winner of the 2013 T S Eliot Prize for Poetry and the 1990 Patrick Kavanagh Award for Poetry. This book of poems is organized around the theme of the journey: from communism to spiritual affirmation; from life in Ireland to life abroad, and return; and from the security of given structures - the family in particular - to independence and security in the self. Poems of childhood and communist upbringing open the collection. There are poems about death; about love, its loss and the disorienatation that ensues; and a number which deal with angels and the implications of religious faith.