Alt Logo image Alt Slogan image

Press / Poet Sean OBrien wins Northern Rock Foundation Writers Award 2007

  Poet Sean OBrien wins Northern Rock Foundation Writers Award 2007  
Poet Sean OBrien has been announced as the winner of the Northern Rock Foundation Writers Award 2007. One of north east Englands leading literary figures, Sean is planning to use the 2007 Northern Rock Foundation Writers Award as the springboard to a whole new writing career.

Sean, who is Professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle University, is a renowned poet and critic who has won a cluster of prizes for his work, including a Forward Poetry Prize on no fewer than three occasions, as well as the 2006 Glenfiddich Food and Drink Broadcast Award.
But the 60,000 prize Sean has won as part of the Northern Rock Foundation Writers Award will change his life and enable him to concentrate on writing virtually full-time.

This years award again attracted a high number of entries and the judging panel, which featured some heavyweight literary figures in the shape of Granta editor Ian Jack, poet John Burnside and novelist and critic Bernardine Evaristo, faced a difficult task.

Sean, whose latest book is a new translation of Dantes Inferno, was presented with this years award at a lunch ceremony at Jesmond Dene House Hotel in Newcastle-upon-Tyne on Thursday, 22 March at noon.

Sean is undoubtedly one of the most versatile and interesting writers working in Britain and has established a reputation as something of a poets poet, although he now hopes to broaden his repertoire into story-telling, with writing his debut novel as top priority.

He said: I am very pleased and very surprised to have been recognised in this way. I have been lucky enough to win several awards in the past for my work but this is certainly the most generous prize Ive won. It will give me the freedom to clear the decks of some of the work I do, particularly some of the teaching and journalism, so that I can concentrate fully on writing.

I have quite a few projects that Id like to tackle, including several large works. Im hoping to work on some fiction, particularly my first novel, a new play, some new poems and I want to continue translating Dantes Divine Comedy.

Ive become increasingly interested and confident in narrative form in recent years, which is why Ive produced several short stories. Now, I want to make the leap to tackling a novel. I have the idea for the book all planned out and I cant wait to get started. It promises to be a new and very exciting time for me and winning the award has made it all possible.

Sean joins a list of distinguished winners of the Northern Rock Foundation Writers Award that includes fellow poets Tony Harrison, Julia Darling and Gillian Allnutt as well as novelist Andrew Crumey. Gillian is about to publish her first collection since winning the award in 2005.

Northern Rock Foundation director Fiona Ellis said:

The judges for the award struggle each year to assess poets against prose writers apples versus bottles of claret. This year's judges did so with good humour and resolve, agreeing finally to give the award to Sean O'Brien. Sean's work crosses all writing categories and is remarkable in its originality and breadth of subject matter.

Seans literary stature is already established. We hope that the prize will allow him the time to focus on writing full time, which is certain to lead to exciting and valuable new works. He is an extremely deserving winner and a writer with a lot to say.

Managed for Northern Rock Foundation by writing development agency New Writing North, the award is recognised as one of the most significant on the literary calendar. Claire Malcolm, director of the agency, said:

The writers applying for the award are often of international stature reflecting the special seam of creativity present here in the North East and Cumbria. We are delighted that this years award has gone to Sean, his work is of the highest calibre.



Sean OBrien is available for interview.

For contact details and further media information on the Northern Rock Foundation Writers Award, please call Alan Boughey or Tanya Garland at Cool Blue on 01642 351011 or send an email to:

For background information, please follow the link below to the British Council Arts page on Sean OBrien

For more information on the Northern Rock Foundation, see

For more information on New Writing North, see

Gillian Allnutts new book, How The Bicycle Shone, is published by Bloodaxe on 29 March 2007. Media information is available from Christine Macgregor at Bloodaxe on 01434 240500.