Sean O'Brien (writer)
Sean O'Brien (born 19 December 1952 in London) is a British poet, critic, playwright. Prizes he has garnered include the Eric Gregory Award (1979), the Somerset Maugham Award (1984), the Cholmondeley Award (1988), the Forward Poetry Prize (2001 and 2007) and the T. S. Eliot Prize (2007). He is one of only two poets (the other being John Burnside) to have won both the T. S. Eliot Prize and the Forward Poetry Prize for the same collection of poems (The Drowned Book). He grew up in Hull, was educated at Selwyn College, University of Cambridge and has lived in Newcastle upon Tyne since 1990.
O Brien's book of essays on contemporary poetry, The Deregulated Muse (Bloodaxe), was published in 1998, as was his anthology The Firebox: Poetry in Britain and Ireland after 1945 (Picador). Cousin Coat: Selected Poems 1976–2001 (Picador) was published in 2002. Sean O'Brien's new verse version of Dante's Inferno was published by Picador in October 2006. His six collections of poetry to date have all won awards. In 2007 he won the Northern Rock Foundation Writer's Award, Forward Prize for Best Collection and the T S Eliot Prize for The Drowned Book (Picador, 2007). This was the first time a poet had been awarded the Forward and the Eliot prizes in the same year. In 2006, he was appointed Professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle University, and was previously Professor of Poetry at Sheffield Hallam University. He is a Vice-President of the Poetry Society. He was co-founder of the literary magazine The Printer's Devil and contributes reviews to newspapers and magazines including The Sunday Times and The Times Literary Supplement and is a regular broadcaster on radio. His writing for television includes "Cousin Coat", a poem-film in Wordworks (Tyne Tees Television, 1991); "Cantona", a poem-film in On the Line (BBC2, 1994); Strong Language, a 45-minute poem-film (Channel 4, 1997) and The Poet Who Left the Page, a profile of Simon Armitage (BBC4, 2002). Other significant work includes a radio adaptation for BBC Radio 4 of We by Yevgeny Zamyatin.
Awards and honours
- 1979 – Eric Gregory Award
- 1984 – Somerset Maugham Award – The Indoor Park
- 1988 – Cholmondeley Award
- 1992 Northern Arts Literary Fellowship
- 1993 – E. M. Forster Award
- 1995 – Forward Poetry Prize (Best Poetry Collection of the Year) – Ghost Train
- 2001 – Forward Poetry Prize (Best Poetry Collection of the Year) – Downriver
- 2001 – Northern Writer of the Year Award
- 2001 – T. S. Eliot Prize (shortlist) – Downriver
- 2006 – Forward Poetry Prize (Best Single Poem for Fantasia on a Theme of James Wright)
- 2007 – Northern Rock Foundation Writer's Award
- 2007 – Forward Poetry Prize (Best Collection) – The Drowned Book
- 2007 – T. S. Eliot Prize – The Drowned Book
- 2007 – Royal Society of Literature fellowship
- 2012 – Griffin Poetry Prize International shortlist – November
- 1983: The Indoor Park (Bloodaxe)
- 1987: The Frighteners (Bloodaxe)
- 1989: Boundary Beach (Ulsterman Publications)
- 1991: HMS Glasshouse (Oxford University Press)
- 1993: A Rarity (Carnivorous Arpeggio)
- 1995: Ghost Train (Oxford University Press)
- 1995: Penguin Modern Poets 5 (with Simon Armitage and Tony Harrison) (Penguin)
- 1997: The Ideology (Smith/Doorstep)
- 2001: Downriver (Picador)
- 2002: Cousin Coat: Selected Poems 1976–2001 (Picador)
- 2002: Rivers (with John Kinsella and Peter Porter) (Fremantle Arts Centre Press, Australia)
- 2006: Inferno: a verse version of Dante's Inferno (Picador)
- 2007: The Drowned Book (Picador)
- 2009: Night Train (with artist Birtley Aris) (Flambard Press)
- 2011: November (Picador)
- 2002: The Birds: a new verse version of Aristophanes' Birds (Methuen)
- 2003: Keepers of the Flame (Methuen)
- 2003: Live Theatre: Six Plays from the North East (with Cecil Taylor, Tom Hadaway, Alan Plater, Lee Hall, Julia Darling) (Methuen)
- 2008: Afterlife (Picador)
Short story collections
- 2005: Ellipsis 1: Short Stories by Sean O'Brien, Jean Sprackland and Tim Cooke (Comma Press)
- 2005: Phantoms at the Phil (with Chaz Brenchley and Gail-Nina Anderson) (Side Real/Northern Gothic)
- 2006: Phantoms at the Phil- The Second Proceedings (with Chaz Brenchley and Gail-Nina Anderson) (Side Real/Northern Gothic)
- 2007: Phantoms at the Phil- The Third Proceedings (with Chaz Brenchley and Gail-Nina Anderson) (Side Real/Northern Gothic)
- 2008: The Silence Room (Comma Press)
Literary criticism books
- 1998: The Deregulated Muse: Essays on Contemporary British and Irish Poetry (Bloodaxe)
Anthologies as editor
- 1998: The Firebox: Poetry in Britain and Ireland after 1945 (editor) (Picador)
- 2008: Andrew Marvell: poems selected by Sean O'Brien (Poet to Poet series, Faber and Faber)
- Selwyn College Freshmen 1971 http://www.selwyn.saund.co.uk/1971freshmen1.html
- "The Poetry Society". The Poetry Society. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
- "American Academy of Arts and Letters – Home". Artsandletters.org. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
- Forward Arts Foundation[dead link]
- "The Northern Rock Foundation Writer's Award 2007". The Northern Rock Foundation. 22 March 2007. Retrieved 23 March 2007.
- BBC News: "O'Brien honoured with poetry win".
- "Flambard Press". Flambard Press. 26 September 2012. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
- The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century Poetry ed. Ian Hamilton (OUP, 1996)
- The Idea of North Peter Davidson (Reaktion Books, 2005)