Saturday, 7 September 2013

The Writers Group and Seamus Heaney

A workshop group for writers was begun in Belfast by Philip Hobsbaum in 1962. It was based at Queen's University and attracted young writers such as Michael Longley, Derek Mahon, Stewart Parker, Bernard MacLaverty and Seamus Heaney.  

The writers group met weekly to share and discuss work in progress. In the early days, it also hosted an annual dinner and writing competition, as the pictures below show, with young Heaney and Longley to the fore. In 1966 Philip Hobsbaum left Belfast for Glasgow and Seamus Heaney became chair of the group.

This writers group has continued to meet ever since. Its membership list would almost read as a veritable roll-call of writers in Northern Ireland of the past 50 years. For example, the group has included Paul Muldoon, Medbh McGuckian, Ciaran Carson and Sinead Morrissey, to mention but a few of the many writers that have brought drafts of their work for fellow writers to read and comment on.

This is a very important and developmental process for any writer. I have been part of the writers group for the past 12 years and in that time the group has been led by Colin Teevan, Daragh Carville, Sinead Morrissey, Ian Sansom and Ciaran Carson who have helped a new generation of writers to come to the fore.

The writers group is holding its own tribute to Seamus Heaney on Weds 11 September. Please bring one poem of his to read that has a special meaning to you. We meet as usual in the Heaney Centre of Queen's University from 4-6 pm. All are welcome.

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