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Queen’s University Announces Seamus Heaney Centre Fellows

The Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s University has announced the appointment of Jo Baker, Doireann Ní Ghríofa, and Peter Wilson, who performs as Duke Special, as the first Seamus Heaney Centre Fellows.

The Fellowships will enable three writers annually to contribute to the activities of the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry within the University and the wider literary community.

Jo Baker, who is the author of six novels, most recently A Country Road, A Tree, said the Fellowship represents a kind of homecoming: “I’m a former student of Queen’s, and my time there, within the English Department, and as a member of the Writers’ Group, was absolutely transformative for me. 

“The Seamus Heaney Centre was established towards the end of my time at the University. I remember the fresh clean paint and the deliberately-red-wine-coloured carpet, and the sense that here was what was needed: space - whole rooms, a whole building - in which writers could work and learn, and be part of a creative community. Life took me elsewhere, but it was wonderful place to start from, and I’m delighted that they're prepared to have me back.”

Doireann Ní Ghríofa, who writes in Irish and English and won the 2016 Rooney Prize for Irish Literature, added she was excited at the prospect of spending time in Belfast: “I've been following the literary vibrancy of the city from afar for some time. I'm immensely grateful to be offered this opportunity. I am very much looking forward to working in tandem with the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen's University to devise and deliver a series of events.”

Duke Special’s latest release on CD and vinyl – Hallow – is based on the poetry of Michael Longley. Speaking about the appointment Peter Wilson, commented: “I am delighted and honoured to have been offered a Fellowship at the Seamus Heaney Centre. For the last decade, I have been exploring the places where art forms collide, between music, photography, theatre, fiction and poetry. I am excited to see what transpires as a result of this fellowship and my encounters with other creative people at the Seamus Heaney Centre.”

Welcoming the creation of the posts, Professor Glenn Patterson, Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s, said: “These Fellowships represent a commitment by the Seamus Heaney Centre to the encouragement and celebration of writing in all its forms. And no better people to have as our first three Fellows than Jo, Doireann and Peter. We look forward very much to working with them in the months ahead.”

The new Fellows will officially take up their posts in the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s with immediate effect. 


Media inquiries to Zara McBrearty at Queen’s University Communications Office on: T: +44 (0)28 9097 3259 or