18 March 2009: Arts Council congratulates Seamus Heaney upon receiving David Cohen Prize for Literature

The Arts Council wishes to extend its congratulations to Seamus Heaney on receiving the David Cohen Prize for Literature. The Prize, valued at £40,000, is awarded every two years to a living writer writing in English.

Speaking following the announcement, the Arts Council’s Director, Mary Cloake, said: ‘Seamus Heaney is, unmistakably, a poet of outstanding achievement, who offers insights through his poetry that are both deeply personal and profoundly universal. His contribution to literary and cultural life is immeasurable and the Arts Council is delighted to see his life’s work honoured with this Prize.’

She continued: ‘He is a poet of local, national and international significance and the popularity of his work is testament to the resonance of poetry in contemporary life. His voice reflects our humanity, our culture and our time and it is undoubtedly in light of this that the David Cohen Prize has been awarded to Seamus Heaney this evening.’

The winner of the David Cohen Prize for Literature also chooses the recipient of the Clarissa Luard Award, which is worth £12,500. Seamus Heaney has decided to grant the award to Poetry Aloud!, an annual poetry speaking competition for young people supported by Poetry Ireland and the National Library of Ireland.

Mary Cloake welcomed this selection: ‘Poetry Aloud! is instilling a passion for poetry in Ireland’s next generation of poets and poetry readers. The success of the initiative demonstrates a national enthusiasm for the spoken word and it is heartening and inspiring to see a poet of Seamus Heaney’s stature lend his support to such a project.’

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Yelemba dance troupe from the Ivory Coast - Clonmel Junction Festival.

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