Sinéad Morrissey announced European Poet of Freedom 2020

The Irish author Sinéad Morrissey was honoured with the Gdansk City Literary Award of the European Poet of Freedom 2020 for her volume On Balance translated by Magda Heydel. The jury recognised the way the poet navigates between different cultures, her impressive knowledge of the world, and her ability to speak languages of various poetic forms, in which both her fascination with folk imagination and modern science resounds. The award ceremony will take place on 31st August in Gdańsk, followed by an open meeting with the winners - the poet and the translator - the next day.

“The poetry of Sinéad Morrissey seeks balance. Not for itself, but for the world that has fallen off the tracks, subjected to the rush of conquest, social atomisation, and alienation. The oppression reaches us through violation against nature, social disintegration, exclusion of the less privileged, and hierarchies of values imposed by the corrupted by conformism towards power and wealth,” said the chairman of the Jury, Krzysztof Czyżewski.

Sinéad Morrissey (1972) is one of the most important figures on the Irish poetry scene today, winner of many national and international awards (including the T. S. Eliot Prize and the Forward Poetry Prize – for the volume On Balance indeed). She is a graduate of Trinity College Dublin, lived in Japan and New Zealand for some time, and is currently a Creative Writing Professor at Newcastle University. In Poland, her poems have so far been known from the anthology Sześć poetek irlandzkich ("Six Irish Women Poets") selected and translated by Jerzy Jarniewicz, published in 2012.

"Morrissey’s poetry is poetic par excellence; employing a repertory of forms and techniques, and an entire gamut of sensual effects, she refers to the senses, and – through them – to the readers’ empathy and sense of humour. Her poems, though immersed in history, are not locked in it, but open up to the enormous sphere of imagination and freedom of thought" – wrote the author of the translation of the winning volume, Magda Heydel.

Magda Heydel (1969) is a translator of English language literatures. She works at the Jagiellonian University, where she heads the Centre for Translation Studies as well as the translation studies at the Faculty of Polish Studies. Her translation output includes translations of works by Joseph Conrad (“Literatura na Świecie” Award 2011 for translation of Heart of Darkness), Virginia Woolf, and Seamus Heaney. In 2018, her translation of the volume Falling Awake by the English poet Alice Oswald was nominated for the European Poet of Freedom Award.

The European Poet of Freedom 2020 Award ceremony will be held on 31st August at the Polish Baltic Philharmonic in Ołowianka. On September 1st, the Institute of City Culture, the organiser of the European Poet of Freedom Festival, would like to invite the public to an open-air meeting with the award winners - Sinéad Morrissey and Magda Heydel. Detailed information about the events will be given in the first half of August at

The jury of this year's edition of the European Poet of Freedom Award included: Krzysztof Czyżewski (Chairman), Paweł Huelle, Andrzej Jagodziński (Secretary), Zbigniew Mikołejko, Stanisław Rosiek, Anda Rottenberg, Beata Stasińska, and Olga Tokarczuk.

The justification of the verdict reads, “The Jury wishes to highlight the extremely high and close level of the volumes nominated for this edition. Additionally, the jury wishes to express their admiration for the excellent work of the translators, which has allowed the languages of small countries to enter into a very open and collaborative dialogue with the most widely spoken languages in the European poetic space.”         

The current edition of the Award was the sixth one. After a long and heated discussion, the Jury decided by a majority vote that the Irish author Sinéad Morrissey was awarded the European Poet of Freedom 2020 for her volume On Balance. The prize comprises of a trophy and PLN 100,000. The prize for the translation of the winning volume - a trophy and PLN 20,000 - was awarded to Magda Heydel.

The previous winners of the Gdansk City Literary Award of the European Poet of Freedom: Uadzimir Arłou (Belarus) translated by Adam Pomorski, Durs Grünbein (Germany) translated by Andrzej Kopacki, Dorta Jagić (Croatia) translated by Małgorzata Wierzbicka, Ana Blandiana (Romania) translated by Joanna Kornaś-Warwas, and Linda Vilhjálmsdóttir (Iceland) translated by Jacek Godek.

Poets and translators nominated for the the Gdansk City Literary Award of the European Poet of Freedom 2020:

  • Darko Cvijetić (Bosnia and Herzegovina) and translator Miłosz Waligórski for “Goosebumps”
  • Balša Brković (Montenegro) and translator Agnieszka Schreier for “Black Pitch”
  • Zwiad Ratiani (Georgia) and translator Magda Nowakowska for “Only You Are Allowed”
  • Sinéad Morrissey (Northern Ireland) and translator Magda Heydel for “On Balance”
  • Jean Portante (Luxembourg) and translator Wawrzyniec Brzozowski for “After The Earthquake”
  • Agnė Žagrakalytė (Lithuania) and translator Agnieszka Rebiałkowska for “Here is:”
  • Inga Gaile (Latvia) and translator Agnieszka Smarzewska for “Easter”
  • Antoine Cassar (Malta) and translator Zuzanna Gawron for “Forty days”