President Biden quotes Belfast laureate Sinéad Morrissey in Good Friday Agreement speech
The concluding lines of a poem by prize-winning poet Sinéad Morrissey were quoted by US President Joe Biden on Wednesday during his visit to Belfast to mark the 25th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement.
Biden, speaking at the University of Ulster, said: “That’s the real power of the Good Friday Agreement. Compassion, compassion. It changed how this entire region sees itself. In the words of [Sinead] Morrissey, Belfast’s first poet laureate, ‘What’s left is dark and quiet … but book-ended by light, as when Dorothy opens the dull cabin door, what happens outside is Technicolor.’ ”
The words come from the poem ‘The Coal Jetty’, which is included in Morrissey’s collection Parallax , which won the TS Eliot prize and was also shortlisted for the Forward prize, which she later won for another collection, On Balance. ‘The Coal Jetty’ also features in 100 Prized Poems, Twenty-five Years of the Forward Books.
Morrissey was born in 1972 in Portadown, Co Armagh. She was raised in Belfast, and studied at Trinity College, Dublin. She has been writer-in-residence and Reader in Creative Writing at Queen's University, Belfast, and is now Professor of Creative Writing at the University of Newcastle.