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The Bloomsbury Hotel in partnership with Poet in the City announces Leontia Flynn as new Seamus Heaney Poet-In-Residence

The Bloomsbury Hotel, one of three unique London properties owned by The Doyle Collection, has announced that contemporary Northern Irish poet, Leontia Flynn will be the new Seamus Heaney Poet-in-Residence at this magnificent Grade II listed Lutyens designed hotel.

In partnership with Poet in the City, award-winning Flynn will be the first poet to be inaugurated in this newly created appointment, which was established to honour the memory of one of the world’s most celebrated poets, Seamus Heaney, who himself had a long, personal relationship with the hotel, staying there on a regular basis when in London.

As part of the ongoing residency, the appointed poet will visit the hotel on a regular basis throughout the year, developing themes and creating a series of new poems inspired by their unique surroundings.  In addition, a wonderful programme of live performances will celebrate the birth of each new poem. This year, Leontia Flynn will open National Poetry Day with a showcase performance at the Poet in the City Poetry Breakfast on Thursday, 2 October.

Pat King, CEO of The Doyle Collection said about her appointment, “ We are delighted to welcome Leontia into the family and in particular to The Bloomsbury Hotel.  The hotel has a unique heritage with the Arts that stretches back many years.  In fact, the ‘Seamus Heaney’ library was opened by the poet, in 2010 and continues to celebrate the works of a wealth of celebrated visiting poets from all over the world.  This unique scheme will bring poetry into the heart and soul of not only the hotel but the wider community and serves as a testament to the legacy of Seamus Heaney and our special partnership with Poet in the City.”

Michael Neve, General Manager of The Bloomsbury Hotel has been the main driving force in establishing the hotel as one of the great supporters of culture and the arts in London. He comments: “We are delighted to have Leontia Flynn as The Bloomsbury Hotel’s Poet-in-Residence. Not only is she an outstandingly talented Irish poet, which complements The Doyle Collection’s literary heritage; but her contemporary style of poetry was recognised and encouraged by our dear friend and literary legend, Seamus Heaney. A great admirer of Heaney’s work, Flynn has worked as a research fellow at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at Queen’s University, Belfast since 2005 and thus it seemed only right to appoint someone with such a strong connection to Heaney.”

Chief Executive of Poet in the City, Graham Henderson says: “Poet in the City is delighted to be able to facilitate this unique residency within the Bloomsbury Hotel. Always keen to collaborate with new and interesting partners, we see this tribute to Seamus Heaney as a very special testament to his legacy, helping poetry to live and breathe among us, reflecting the everyday and reaching out to new audiences. The combination of live readings and the composition of new poetry is a very exciting way to celebrate this special partnership.”

In a poem entitled ‘When I was Sixteen I met Seamus Heaney’ from Leontia’s accomplished and lively debut collection, These Days (2004) she takes an irreverent yet playful poke at a person of influence that she obviously admires, in this case the colossus that is Heaney.  In the poem she refuses to genuflect at the altar of Irish literature, unaware that she is in the presence of high priest Heaney, concluding that “I had read the The Poor Mouth – but who was Seamus Heaney? I believe he signed my bus ticket, which I later lost.”   

Perhaps during her residency she might pay a visit to the hotel’s Chapel and with a wry smile, give a gentle nod to ‘the bard’ she so admired.

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