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Emma Must



Longlisted for the Laurel Prize 2023
Highly Commended in the 2023 Forward Prizes 

Emma Must is a poet living in Belfast since 2011.

Her first full-length poetry collection, The Ballad of Yellow Wednesday, was published by Valley Press on 8 December 2022, and launched that evening at No Alibis Bookstore, Belfast. The collection reflects on her involvement in the anti-road protests at Twyford Down near Winchester in the early 1990s. 

Formerly a full-time environmental campaigner, in 2021 Emma completed a PhD in English (Creative Writing) at Queen’s University Belfast, focusing on ecopoetry and ecocriticism. Her poem ‘Toll’ won the Environmental Defenders Prize in the 2019 Ginkgo Prize for Ecopoetry and is included in Out of Time: Poetry from the Climate Emergency, edited by Kate Simpson (Valley Press, 2021). Emma's debut poetry pamphlet, Notes on the Use of the Austrian Scythe (2015), won the Templar Portfolio Award.
Hampshire Chronicle  25 January 2023; Resurgence & Ecologist  Jan/Feb 2023; Honest Ulsterman  February 2023; Irish Times  9 March 2023; CUSP  22 June 2023; Writers Rebel  13 July 2023; Jamie McGarry, Valley Press, Laurel Prize blog 10 August 2023;  Jamie McGarry, Valley Press, Forward Prize mini-blog 10 October 2023;
Morning Star 7 March 2024; The Urban Wanderer 30 March 2024

The Reunion, BBC Radio 4, 4 September 2005
Solastalgia Episode 7: Wolf Moon Part 2  3 April 2023; 
Mum Will the Planet Die Before I Do?  22 June 2023

Royalties from each sale of The Ballad of Yellow Wednesday will be donated to Transport Action Network and the A36/A350 Corridor Alliance.

May 2024

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How I Write

Reading and Q & A

Wednesday 1 May 2024

19.15 - 20.15 GMT


April 2024


An Artist / Practitioner Perspective


Friday 19 April 2024, 1.45 - 3.00pm

Queen's University Belfast

'The Ballad of Yellow Wednesday: a Poetry Reading'

Emma Must

March 2024

Transport Action Network

Annual Conference, London

Readings from:

The Ballad of Yellow Wednesday 

Saturday 23 March 2024

10.00 - 17.00 GMT

NCVO, 8 All Saints Street, London N1 9RL


February 2024


Out of Time: Poetry from the Climate Emergency


Saturday 24 February 2024, 2.00 - 3.30pm

Birmingham Hippodrome

Panel Discussion with Seán Hewitt, Ella Duffy, Romalyn Ante, Rishi Dastidar, and Emma Must.

Chaired by Kate Simpson.

Winter 2023 


Ó Bhéal Winter Warmer 2023

A Weekend of Poetry in Cork

Poetry Reading: Emma Must

(via Zoom) and Fred D’Aguiar

Saturday 25 November 2023, 2.30 - 4.00pm

Nano Nagle Place, Cork

& via Livestream

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                                                        Thursday 23 November 2023, 7.30pm


Seamus Heaney HomePlace


Northern Ireland

What role can, and should, poetry play in the climate crisis? Is reading and writing poetry an inherently ecological act and if so how do we define ‘ecopoetry’? Join Editor Kate Simpson and poets Linda France and Emma Must as they discuss the poetics of climate – charting deep geologic time through to current anthropocentric behaviours whilst utilising language as a witness to our time on Earth. In this discussion and reading, we speak to, and of, the human and more-than-human, exploring words and worlds in tandem. 


Autumn 2023 

Poetry Jukebox


Guest curation with Maria McManus 
and Institute for Global Food Security
at Queen's University Belfast

Wednesday 27 Sep
tember 2023
Institute for Global Food Security, 
19 Chlorine Gardens, Belfast BT9 5DL

Ever since William Blake desired ‘To see a World in a Grain of Sand / And a Heaven in a Wild Flower’, poets have been shedding light on things by looking closely at small natural objects. This edition of Poetry Jukebox, curated by poets Emma Must & Maria McManus, includes poems which connect with the theme of ‘Forage’: poems about leaves, flowers, berries, stones, moss; poems which pay detailed attention to the natural world around us.



BBC Contains Strong Language

The Laurel Prize for Nature & Ecopoetry


Ceremony and Readings

Friday 22 September 2023

Howard Assembly Room, Leeds

3.30 - 5.00pm

Watch livestream here


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The Wednesday Group Readings 

Hosted by Paul Maddern

Wednesday 13 September
4.15pm - 5.30pm
Canada Room & Council Chambers
Queen's University Belfast




Thursday 14 September


Crescent Arts Centre

2 - 4 University Road


Listen to poem: Emma Must, 'Cycling to IKEA' 

Summer 2023


Seamus Heaney HomePlace, Bellaghy

Saturday 26 August 2023,

2.00pm - 5.30pm

'A Note That Pays You Back': Ten Poets Read and Reflect

To commemorate the tenth anniversary of the death of Seamus Heaney

with Alice Lyons, Niall Campbell, Emma Must, Martin Dyar & Zaffar Kunial (event continues on Sunday)

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The John Hewitt Society International Summer School

Poetry: Maureen Boyle and Emma Must read from their work

Tuesday 25 July 2023

Market Place Theatre & Arts Centre, Armagh 


Thursday 15 June 2023 
Crescent Arts Centre, Belfast

Greens, Tolls, Weeds: Zaffar Kunial, Jess McKinney & Emma Must

Alert to pressures of the climate crisis and contested grounds, but also the radical potential in gestures of naming, this year’s festival joins together three poets - Zaffar Kunial, Jess McKinney and Emma Must - whose recent publications crisscross endangered biomes with humane paths, unbinding landscape in voluptuously detailed poetry.

Spring 2023


Solastalgia - Stories of accidental environmental activism in Northern Ireland. Solastalgia names the powerful emotions people feel when encountering and experiencing environmental damage, pollution and destruction. Join Sue-Ann Harding and Colin Shaw, accidental environmental activists living in Belfast, as they hold conversations with ordinary people, who, stirred by emotions, become activists, fighting for environmental respect, regard, protection and conservation. For anyone who has ever felt upset at the loss of even a small patch of nature, confounded by obscure government planning decisions or frustrated and furious at the corporate disregard for our fragile natural world, these stories of struggle offer solidarity. Produced by Stephen Mullen. Music by Sue-Ann Harding

Episode 6: Wolf Moon Part 1

In this episode, we talk with Emma Must, poet, Belfast resident and, in another time and place, an accidental activist. We begin by discovering our common appreciations of the city of Belfast, including Emma’s encounter with the tree-felling and vegetation removal along the River Lagan towpath. “Wolf Moon”, the poem she wrote in response to that devastation, is read here for the first time.

Episode 7: Wolf Moon Part 2

This episode continues the story of poet Emma Must and her part in the extensive and influential environmental activist campaign that worked tirelessly and imaginatively to prevent the carving of a motorway through the beautiful, mythical Twyford Down. We pick up the story in the summer of 1993, when a civil injunction is served against her and 76 others by the Ministry of Transport. We talk about what happened next and the consequences of breaking the civil injunction. Emma also reads from her recent poetry collection, The Ballad of Yellow Wednesday, including the statement she wrote for her court appearance in July 1993, before she was imprisoned.


Wednesday 19 April, 8.00pm

The City Library, Grand Parade, Cork | Free

For the Love of the World: Eco Writing with Emma Must, Eoghan Daltun and Grace Wells, presented by Keith Payne

Things being so urgent, when you

open a book its leaves should take you

back to the forest they came from …


writes Grace Wells, as in tune with the environment around her as are each of these authors. Each as savage and passionate in their concern for the world we inhabit, and that perhaps, with their work and words, we might just make a better place for all living things.


Cúirt International Festival of Literature 

Thursday 20 April, 4.30pm
Nuns Island Theatre, Galway


Cúirt International Festival of Literature 

Saturday, 22 April 2023, 1.00pm
Town Hall Theatre, Galway

A Changing Climate: Writing, Activism and the Environment

Manchán Magan, Eoghan Daltun, Emma Must in conversation with Ceara Carney


Free workshop, starting & finishing at 2 Royal Avenue, Belfast

Friday 24 March 2023, 11:00 – 13:00

Learn a new way to explore your city!

Join us for a walk round Belfast city centre, followed by a creative writing session to capture what you see, hear and experience in words.

You’ll be guided, step by step, by local poet Emma Must.

No prior experience needed and completely free to take part. Please wear comfortable shoes and bring a notebook and pen.

Open to all over 18, part of Belfast Festival of Learning.

Resurgence and Ecologist magazine 

Issue 336
Jan/Feb 2023

includes 'The Colour of its Voice', an article by Emma about writing her debut poetry collection, The Ballad of Yellow Wednesday (Valley Press, December 2022)

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Winter 2022


The Book of Life:

Poems to Tide You Over 

edited by Grace Wells 

published by Dedalus Press

11 November 2022

 includes Emma's poem 'After Ophelia'

Autumn 2022

Vital Signs 
Poems of Illness and Healing

edited by Martin Dyar
published by Poetry Ireland

12 October 2022

Poems by Eavan Boland, Raymond Carver, Imtiaz Dharker, Vona Groarke, Seamus Heaney, Miroslav Holub, Patrick Kavanagh, Paula Meehan, Paul Muldoon, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill and many others, including Emma's poem 'Sirens'.


Spring / Summer 2022



Issue #13 

Spring/Summer 2022

Includes a new poem from Emma's forthcoming sequence
'The Finds'

What Northern Ireland Means to Me

edited by Allan Leonard and Julia Paul 

Published April 2022

Shared Future News


Winter 2021 / 2022

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Under the Radar 

Issue 28

January 2022

Includes a new poem 'Bourne'.

What Northern Ireland Means to Me

Shared Future News


8 January 2022

Presented by Julia Paul. Photos by Allan Leonard.


The North

Issue 67

January 2022

Includes a new poem 'Scales'.


Issue 10

December 2021

Edited by Mícheál McCann. The issue features poets and poetry in Northern Ireland, 2021. Includes a new poem 'Gongoozling'.


Hold Open the Door

Museum of Literature Ireland


December 2021

Poets Bebe Ashley, Emma Must and Sinéad Morrissey in conversation. Presented by Professor Margaret Kelleher of UCD. Hold Open the Door is a commemorative anthology from the Ireland Chair of Poetry and UCD Press, published in 2020. 

Out of Time: Poetry from the Climate Emergency


'Toll', winner of the Environmental Defenders Prize in the 2019 Ginkgo Prize, is included in Out of Time: Poetry from the Climate Emergency, edited by Kate Simpson (Valley Press, July 2021). 

- an Autumn 2021 Poetry Book Society Special Commendation

- one of 'The best poetry books of 2021', Guardian, 6 December 2021

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Notebook and Pen


Thanks for submitting!

Emma acknowledges the kind assistance and support of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.

Author photos by Jonathan Ryder

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