Derry poet Marilyn wins ‘Seamus Heaney Award’

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A Derry poet has said she is “walking on air” after being awarded the prestigious Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing.

Marilyn McLaughlin is well known in local arts circles and is a former English and German teacher. She also facilitates workshops within the community in the North West.

She has previously published a collection of short stories and has won other awards for her writing. She has worked with the Verbal Arts Centre and also, for a period, doing illustration for Guildhall Press.

“I had no idea that I would win this competition at all,” said Marilyn. “I didn’t even think about that. I just put the work out there and I was so taken aback with the news. I knew I had been shortlisted and to be honest I was a little bit intimidated at winning.

“I’ve been writing for a long time, although not very productively, but it’s something I’ve always gone back to. Writing is my first love.”

Marilyn was officially announced as winner at the launch event of ‘Connections’, the Community Arts Partnership’s new anthology of poetic writing from right across Northern Ireland.

Chief Executive of the Community Arts Partnership, Conor Shields said:

This year’s entries have proven once again that creative poetic writing is alive and flourishing in Northern Ireland and Community Arts Partnership is proud to have facilitated space for new writers to be brought before the public.

We are particularly proud to facilitate and maintain an ongoing connection to one of the world’s greatest poetic writers, Seamus Heaney, and to honour his legacy through the Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing.

Marilyn, who spent many years as a carer to her late mother, says she will now continue to write.

“A group of us meet regularly and share our work and I really enjoy that,” she said.