Colin ready for the big poetry stage at Queen’s

A BANBRIDGE poet will be rhyming his way to the Belfast Festival this week as he performs at the penultimate night of the famous cultural event.

Colin Hassard, from Bannview Heights in the town, said he is excited but nervous at the prospect of providing a support slot to famed punk poet John Cooper Clarke on November 3.

The 30-year-old former Edenderry Primary pupil has been performing his poetry across Northern Ireland in what he said has been “a hectic year”.

Having started out in 2007 with a performance in a cafe near Queen’s University in Belfast, the local man rose to prominence with a gig in Dublin two years ago where he represented Ulster at the All-Ireland Performance Poetry Final.

This year Colin has been touring with his performance poetry group, ‘Voica Versa’, who have performed at the Sunflower Festival in Hillsborough, as part of Belfast Culture Night, and a sell-out show in the Black Box as part of the Belfast Book Festival.

The office manager said he first fell in love with literature while studying at Banbridge Academy.

“I should give credit to my English teacher William Cromie who encouraged me, and introduced me to poets and writers like Robert Frost and Oscar Wilde who inspired me at that time,” he said.

Colin said he is looking forward to the chance to be on stage ahead of someone he considers legendary when it comes to poetry.

“I’m doing a half hour set, supporting the legendary punk poet John Cooper Clarke.

“I’m very nervous and excited, but I’m looking forward to performing at the huge event which is also the penultimate night of the festival.

“I have a lot of friends and family coming down to support me, which has only added to my nerves.”

But Colin said a win at another festival earlier this year has given him the confidence to get out there and do it all again.

“I won the Belly Laughs Festival Comedy Poetry Slam in October,” he said.

“It was held in the Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast and judged by Nuala McKeever, of Give My Head Peace fame.

“It was an amazing feeling to win and to be praised by Nuala afterwards. It has set me up nicely for performing on the big stage at the Belfast Festival.”

The show begins at 8pm on Saturday November 3 at Queen’s. Visit Colin at or follow him on Twitter @ColinHassard.