Matthew Sweeney has and does just about everything a writer can do to further his art.
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Matthew Sweeney is one of Donegal's own, born there in 1952, he now makes his home in
London. He started writing poetry in secondary school in Ireland, although he didn't publish
any poems until he was into his twenties. In 1981 his first full book of poems appeared,
and since then there have been nine other books of poems.
His seven collections for adults include A Dream of Maps (1981), A Round House (1983),
Blue Shoes, which was a Poetry Book Society Choice, The Lame Waltzer (1985), Cacti (1989),
The Bridal Suite (1997) and the latest being A Smell of Fish (2000). A selection of his work
also appears in Penguin Modern Poets 12 (1997).
He has published three poetry collections for children, The Flying Spring Onion
(1992), Fatso in the Red Suit (1995), the most recent publication is Up on the Roof,
New and Selected Poems for Children (2001). He has also published two novels for children,
The Chinese Dressing Gown (1987) and The Snow Vulture (1992).
He is the editor or co-editor of
three anthologies - including "The New Faber Book of Children's Verse", "Emergency
Kit, Poems for Strange Times" (1996), and "Beyond Bedlam, Poems Written Out of Mental Distress"
He has also co-authored "Writing Poetry", a book giving advice on how to put poems
Recently, he has finished another short novel for children, The Man with the Fox, and his
Selected Poems for Adults will be published in 2002.
Awards include the Prudence Farmer Prize (1984); Cholmondely Award (1987); and the Henfield
Writing Fellowship (1986). In 1999, he received an Arts Council of England Writers Award. He is
a member of the organization "Aosdána", an irish affiliation of artists engaged in literature, music and visual
There have been poets in residence in a wide variety of settings. Most
residencies last for six months, with the poet spending one day a week attached to the
organisation and one day writing about it. Matthew Sweeney has been a Poet in Residence on many
occassions including the National Library
for the Blind, the University of East Anglia
at Hereford and Worcester, the Royal Festival Hall, at London's South Bank Centre, at the
Guildford Festival and on the
internet for electronic publisher Chadwych-Healy. He will
also act as Poet in Residence at the 2002
Ledbury Poetry Festival from July 4-14th.
As well as writing, he travels widely, in Britain and abroad, giving readings from his poems
or running poetry workshops -
some of these readings and workshops are in schools.
workshop will be at the West Cork Chamber Music and Literary Festival Sat 29th June to
Fri 5th July 2002 entitled "Poetry, with poet Matthew Sweeney". A five day course which
will allow in depth exploration. Places limited to 12. Cost £125.
He also does frequent things for BBC Radio. A radio programme was how he first got together
with Peter Cutts, and one of the poems in that programme, 'The Field', led indirectly - and
a long time later - to the idea that formed the basis for Peter's show,
HOUSE OF AIR.
A wide collection of his works are currently housed at The Nottingham Trent University, Raymond
Williams Centre for English Research Centre Archives.
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