Irish author, Sinéad Morrissey was honored with the Gdansk’s European Poet of Freedom Literary Award 2020 for the volume “On balance”, translated by Magda Heydel. The jurors recognised the way the poet travels between different cultures, her impressive knowledge of the world and the ability to speak the languages of various poetic forms, which echo both the fascination with folk imagination and modern science. The award ceremony will take place on August 31st in Gdansk, while an open meeting with the winners – the poet and her translator – will take place the next day.

Sinéad Morrissey’s poetry seeks balance. Not for herself, but for a world that has fallen off its tracks, subjected to the rush of conquest, social atomisation and alienation. Enslavement reaches us through violence against nature, social disintegration, exclusion of the less privileged and hierarchies of values imposed by the corrupted with conformism to power and wealth – said the chairman of the Jury, Krzysztof Czyzewski.

Sinéad Morrissey (1972) is one of the most important figures on the Irish poetry scene today, laureate of many national and international awards (including the T. S. Eliot Award and the Forward Prize for Poetry – for the volume “On balance”). She is a graduate of Trinity College in Dublin, has lived in Japan and New Zealand for a while, and is now a professor of creative writing at Newcastle University. In Poland, her poems have so far been known from the anthology “Six Irish Poets”, published in 2012, selected and translated by Jerzy Jarniewicz.

– Morrissey’s poetry is poetic par excellence, it uses a repertoire of forms and techniques as well as a whole range of sensual effects, referring to the senses, and through them to the intellect, empathy and sense of humor of the readers. Her poems, immersed in the element of history, not restricting itself in it, but opening up to a great space of imagination and freedom of thought – wrote Magda Heydel, the winning volume’s translator.

Magda Heydel (1969) is an English language literature translator. She works at the Jagiellonian University, she’s the head of the Translation Studies’ Center and MA studies in translation at the Faculty of Polish Studies. She has translated works by, among others, Joseph Conrad (2011 “Literature in the world” Award for the translation of “Heart of Darkness”), Virginia Woolf and Seamus Heaney. In 2018, the volume of the English poet, Alice Oswald “To Fade Into”, in her translation, was nominated to the European Poet of Freedom Award.

The award ceremony for the European Poet of Freedom 2020 will take place on August 31st at the Polish Baltic Philharmonic in Olowianka. On September 1st, the City Culture Institute, the organizer of the European Poet of Freedom Festival, invites you to an outdoor meeting with the winners of the Award – Sinéad Morrissey and Magda Heydel. Detailed information about the events will be announced in the first half of August on the website

This year’s edition jury of the European Poet of Freedom Award was composed of: Krzysztof Czyzewski (chairman), Pawel Huelle, Andrzej Jagodzinski (secretary), Zbigniew Mikolejko, Stanislaw Rosiek, Anda Rottenberg, Beata Stasinska and Olga Tokarczuk.

The argumentation of the verdict states: “The jury wishes to emphasise the extremely high and even quality of the volumes nominated to the current edition. Separately, we would like to express our admiration for the excellent work of translators, which allowed the languages of smaller countries to enter a very open and partner dialogue with the languages most commonly used in the European poetry space. “

The current edition of the Award was the sixth in a row. After a long and stormy discussion, the Jury decided, by majority of votes, that the Irish author Sinéad Morrissey wins the European Poet of Freedom 2020 for the volume “On balance”. The prize is a statuette and the amount of PLN 100,000. Magda Heydel was awarded the prize for the translation of the winning volume – a statuette as well and the amount of PLN 20,000.

The previous laureates of the Gdansk’s European Poet of Freedom Literary Award were Uadzimir Arlou (Belarus) translated by Adam Pomorski, Durs Grünbein (Germany) translated by Andrzej Kopacki, Dorta Jagic (Croatia) translated by Małgorzata Wierzbicka, Ana Blandiana (Romania) translated by Joanna Kornas-Warwas and Linda Vilhjálmsdóttir (Iceland) translated by Jacek Godek.

Volumes nominated to the Gdansk’s European Poet of Freedom 2020 Literary Award: “Goose Bumps”, Darko Cvijetić (Bosnia and Herzegovina), translated by Milosz Waligorski; “Black Playground”, Balša Brković (Montenegro), translated by Agnieszka Schreier; “You are allowed”, Zwiad Ratiani (Georgia), translated by Magda Nowakowska; “On balance”, Sinéad Morrissey (Ireland), translated by Magda Heydel; “After the quake” by Jean Portante (Luxembourg), translated by Wawrzyniec Brzozowski; “Exactly:”, Agnė Žagrakalytė (Lithuania), translated by Agnieszka Rembialkowska; “Easter”, Inga Gaile (Latvia), translated by Agnieszka Smarzewska; “Forty Days”, Antoine Cassar (Malta), translated by Zuzanna Gawron.

EPoF 2020 volumes can be purchased at the publisher’s central – the City Culture Institute at Dlugi Targ 39/40 in Gdansk and at the CCI’s store: They are also available at distributors in online bookstores.

The European Poet of Freedom International Literature Festival 2020

Organizer: City Culture Institute, City of Gdańsk

Media patrons: Książki. Magazyn do czytania, PISMO, Tygodnik Powszechny, TOK FM radio, Gazeta Wyborcza Trójmiasto, tró, 8. arkusz Odry, Kontekst.