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A great tree has fallen in the forest: Arvon mourns Seamus Heaney

From Ruth Borthwick, Chief Executive, Arvon

We at Arvon are shocked to hear that Seamus Heaney has died suddenly. Seamus was a huge supporter of Arvon, which he encountered through his friendship with Ted Hughes. In 1981 Seamus agreed to judge, with Ted, Charles Causley and Philip Larkin, the inaugural Arvon International Poetry Competition. Entries trickled in until the competition was featured on a brand new arts programme on ITV, The South Bank Show, and by the deadline the judges found themselves swamped by over 35,000 poems. Andrew Motion was the eventual winner.

Seamus became a Patron of Arvon, and advocated widely for the organisation and its work. He was a most generous donor, and in 2009 he sent us a special Rainbow Press edition of Bog Stories, in which he had inserted the first pencilled manuscript of what would eventually become the final section of ‘Bone Dreams’. It raised £7,500 for Arvon. A great tree has fallen in the forest. We mourn his passing, and send our condolences to his dear wife, Marie, and their children.


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