Dr Kathleen McCracken is in the running for the prestigious award for her poem ‘Tuscan Boots’.
The winner will receive $6,000 from the Canadian Council for the Arts, have their work published on CBC Books and have the opportunity to attend a two-week writing residency at the Banff Centre for Arts and Creativity.
Dr McCracken, originally from Canada but now working at Ulster University, explained the inspiration for her poem.
She said: “Tucson Boots was written after spending time in Arizona and New Mexico, and in the wake of reading dozens of reports about illegal immigrants, the wall, border patrols, detention camps and Dreamers.
“I did buy a pair of red boots in Tucson, and as we travelled east to Las Cruces and El Paso, and looked across the Rio Grande to Juarez, the distance between our journeying and the painful, courageous struggles of so many people trying to make their way to new and better lives in the U.S. could not have been more keenly felt.
“Back in Belfast, I watched the starlings do their sundown murmurations over the River Lagan. The poem began with that image of collective flight, and with a wish for safe passage to liberty for migrants everywhere.”
The author of eight collections of poetry, Dr McCracken won the Seamus Heaney Award for New Writing last year. She is currently a lecturer in creative writing and contemporary literature at Ulster University.
Her latest achievement has been praised by the Deputy Mayor of Mid & East Antrim, Councillor Andrew Wilson
Cllr Wilson said: “It’s exciting to learn that Greenisland resident Dr McCracken, a lecturer at Ulster University, has been long listed for this prestigious poetry award.
“Originally from Ontario, Canada, we are proud to have Kathleen living in our borough in recent times and we wish her well for the shortlist announcement on 5th November.”
The winner will be announced on November 12, while four finalists will each receive $1,000 from the Canada Council for the Arts and have their work published on CBC Books.
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