Rita Ann Higgins

MA reveals second conference keynote

Simon Stephens, 04.07.2018
Irish poet and playwright Rita Ann Higgins to speak in Belfast
Award-winning Irish poet and playwright Rita Ann Higgins will give a keynote at this year’s Museums Association Conference & Exhibition in Belfast.

Higgins was born in Galway and began writing poetry in her 20s after being hospitalised with tuberculosis. She is one of 13 children in her family, and left school aged 14.

“Higgins has always been a poet with a distinctive stance, never shirking her responsibilities as a public voice speaking on behalf of those who do not possess such a platform,” wrote poet and journalist Gerard Smyth, reviewing her book Tongulish. “She is both jocular and jugular, two traits that combine to make her a singular voice in Irish poetry.”

Irish academic, feminist and LGBT activist Ailbhe Smyth wrote of Higgins’ collection of poetry, Sunny Side Plucked: “Exposing the lies, the posturing and petty cruelties of the powerful, these poems tear away the shameful veils of hypocrisy to bite deep into the very bones of contemporary Irish society. Nothing, or no one, is sacred for Rita Ann Higgins. Utterly without artifice or pretension, her voice is at once strong, angry and acid sharp. These are poems of survival and resistance, for a time in which both are difficult.”

Higgins has published 11 books of poetry as well as a memoir, Hurting God. Her plays include The Empty Frame, about Hanna Greally, an Irish writer who was detained in a psychiatric hospital against her will for almost two decades in the 1940s and 1950s. Higgins has also recently written two short films in Irish.

The other keynote in Belfast is Laura Raicovich, a champion of socially engaged art practices. A third keynote will be announced shortly.

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Belfast 2018

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