Sean was born in London in 1952 and grew up in Hull. He was educated at
Selwyn College, Cambridge, and has a prolific and wide-ranging literary
career as a poet, critic, playwright, broadcaster, anthologist, short
story writer, editor and academic. He has lived in Newcastle since 1990
and is currently Professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle University,
a position he intends to retain.
Remarkably, his five collections of poetry to date have all won awards,
with Ghost Train (1995) and Downriver (2001), earning him the
Forward Prize for Best Collection. No one had ever won this award twice
He went on to win a third Forward Prize when his single poem, Fantasia on a Theme of James Wright,
was honoured in 2006. The judges, chaired by John Burnside, called it
ďas close as it is possible to come to a perfect poemĒ. The poem will
be featured in a new collection, The
Drowned Book, which is due to be published by Picador in autumn
Seanís poetry has also been recognised by the Eric Gregory Award
(1979), the EM Forster Award (1983) and Cholmondeley Award (1988).
His most recent work of poetry is a new verse version of Dante's Inferno, the first volume of which
was published by Picador in October 2006. He plans to start work on
translating the second volume of The
Divine Comedy in 2007.
Sean is delighted to have won the 2007 Northern Rock Foundation
Writerís Award and said: ďI am very pleased and very surprised to have
been recognised in this way. I have been lucky enough to win several
awards in the past for my work but this is certainly the most generous
prize Iíve won.
ďIt will give me the freedom to clear the decks with some of the work I
do, particularly some of the teaching and journalism, so that I can
concentrate fully on writing.
ďI have quite a few projects that Iíd like to tackle, including several
large works. Iím hoping to work on some fiction, particularly my first
novel, a new play, some new poems and I want to continue translating
Danteís Divine Comedy.
ďI wonít be giving up my role at Newcastle University but I do plan to
give up much of the other freelance work I have been doing in recent
years. Itís fair to say that Iíve been getting steadily more productive
over the last decade and I aim to continue that trend. Youíre a long
time dead, so itís best to just get on with it.
ďIn recent years I have become very interested in narrative; itís not a
pre-eminent concern when you are writing poetry. But I feel more
confident in tackling narrative now and I have a novel planned out.
Iíve been working on various short stories over the past few years and
feel ready to have a go at a larger work.Ē