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Distinguished Scholar in Creative Writing

Fulbright – Queen’s University Belfast
Distinguished Scholar Award in Creative Writing
Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry
School of English
Queen’s University Belfast
Belfast BT7 1NN, Northern Ireland

Background Information

In 2003 the long-distinguished School of English at Queen’s University Belfast established the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry as an international venue on the islands of Ireland and Britain for the promotion, practice and pedagogy of modern and contemporary poetry and allied creative writing practices.  The Centre functions as a strong engine for the development and dissemination of creative writing in the University, in Belfast, in Northern Ireland, as well as in the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland .  The Centre not only carries the name of the Nobel Prize winning poet Seamus Heaney, who was both a student and a lecturer in the School of English in the late 1950s through the early 1970s, but also acknowledges and emulates the ways in which Queen’s English helped shape and promote his career and that of many of his generation of high-profile writers -- such as Ciaran Carson, Medbh McGuckian, Paul Muldoon and members of ‘The Belfast Group’ such as Michael Longley, Derek Mahon and Bernard McLaverty.

The Heaney Centre boasts an array of creative writing talent in poetry, prose, drama and screenplay-writing who have taught on the Centre’s and the School’s immensely successful MA in English (Creative Writing) since its inception in autumn 2000.  This MA programme draws students from across the globe and has been a focal point for the interaction of the local, the regional and the international not only in taught seminars and workshops but also in terms of awards, prizes and honours its students have won for their publications and for work-in-progress.  Ciaran Carson, Medbh McGuckian and Sinead Morrissey are the current fulltime poets and tutors; Glenn Patterson is the fulltime novelist and tutor in prose; and Daragh Carville has been the tutor in drama and writing for radio and the screen.  The Centre also currently sports an array of temporary and part-time writers in residence: Carlo Gebler, Royal Literary Fund Tutor, Ian Sansom, BBCNI Writer in Residence and Leontia Flynn, Heaney Centre Postdoctoral Fellow.  All are eminently published and highly regarded writers, and the group would more than likely be the envy of writing programmes elsewhere in the UK as well as throughout the international landscape of creative writing programmes.

Since October 2003 the Seamus Heaney Centre’s Director has been Ciaran Carson, a multi-award winning poet, translator and novelist; he has collected the T S Eliot Prize, the Forward Prize twice for Best Poetry Collection as well as the Oxford Weidenfeld Translation Prize, among other honours.  He leads an impressive team of nine creative writers who now teach across the undergraduate and postgraduate spectrum and who, since 2006, have begun to supervise funded doctoral projects in creative writing. The Centre’s first two funded doctoral projects in criticism and creative writing completed their theses in 2008.  Both research students –the Gregory Award winning poet Eoghan Walls and the critic Ciaran O’Neill -- commenced research in 2004-05, were co-supervised by Ciaran Carson and Brian Caraher.  The Seamus Heaney Centre has developed an impressive writing portfolio and teaching brief across all major areas of the practice, pedagogy and cutting-edge criticism of creative writing. Moreover, the Centre features an intensive programme of weekly readings and lectures by prominent writers and academics.

Details of the Award

The Fulbright Commission and Queen’s University Belfast seek to secure a half-yearly post, tenable January through June of each academic year, for a Distinguished Scholar-Writer in any field of the practice and teaching of creative writing.  The post may be held jointly with or in addition to a sabbatical secured through a university in the United States of America . The Fulbright-Queen’s University Belfast Distinguished Scholar Award in Creative Writing is affiliated with the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry and is held within the School of English at Queen’s University Belfast.

The Distinguished Scholar would be expected to assist in the teaching of one undergraduate module in creative writing, as well as conduct one postgraduate workshop in the field of the lecturer’s expertise and interest in creative writing.  The award-holder would also be expected to offer public readings of published work and work in progress at and through events sponsored by the Heaney Centre.  The post-holder would also be expected to avail herself or himself of the immense opportunities for discussion, interaction, collaboration and research that the six months in post at Queen’s University Belfast would provide.  Indeed, prospective annual Distinguished Scholars in Creative Writing would be expected to have built such opportunities for productive exchanges into the details of their applications.

This new scheme for a Fulbright Distinguished Scholar Award in Creative Writing at Queen’s Belfast will commence in January 2011. Given the different structures of the academic year in the USA and in Northern Ireland and the location of the taught MA workshops any prospective Fulbright scholar would be expected to take up, the Winter-Spring semester, January through June, of each year is considered the optimal period of time for this half-yearly post.

Contact Details

The contact person in the School of English , from whom applicants should request a letter of invitation, is:
Professor Brian Caraher
Chair of English Literature
Research Director, Modern Literary Studies
School of English
Queen’s University Belfast
Email: b.caraher@qub.ac.uk
Telephone: (44) (028) 9097 3316