The John Hewitt Society

Exploring identity through literature and creative writing across Northern Ireland

The MAC, 10 Exchange Street West,  Belfast, BT1 2NJ +44(0)28 9032 4522

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The John Hewitt Society provides opportunities across Northern Ireland to explore issues of identity through literature and creative writing. Inspired by the poet and political writer John Hewitt, The Society was established in 1987 to promote Hewitt's ethos of utilising literature and the arts as a medium for tackling prejudice, exclusive concepts of identity, and sectarian hostility.

Our main projects are a six-day festival of culture, creativity and debate, The John Hewitt International Summer School, and a cross-community creative writing programme Once Alien Here, which aims to inspire new audiences to creatively connect to the places in which they live.

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International Priorities

The John Hewitt International Summer School

Key Strengths

The JHS has been supporting literature and creative writing through the Summer School, events and workshops for 30 years, and has established a position as the leading literary organisation in Northern Ireland. The International Summer School raises issues of relevance to post-conflict society in Northern Ireland, providing a platform for audiences to engage with high-profile, artists and speakers from a variety of backgrounds, experiences, and points of view. The International aspect of the programme is particularly significant in providing audiences with opportunities to hear from speakers of other nations, crucial in working towards expanding ideas of identity from the narrow debate focused around 'two communities' that is often experienced in Northern Ireland, and working towards a society that is inclusive and tolerant to all and celebrates cultural diversity. 

Seeking Partnerships With

It is a core principle of the Society to work in partnership with other organisations, and we are particularly keen to develop links with arts, heritage and literary organisations, as well as charitable and voluntary groups with a shared ethos of political debate, social justice, and raising critical consciousness through the arts. 

Purpose of Partnerships

The Society encourages the use of the arts as a means to explore sensitive issues. We offer participatory opportunities through creative writing classes, to develop the confidence of individuals and help aid their contributions within their own communities. 2017 marks 30 years since the first Summer School; in our anniversary year the Society wants to offer even more opportunities for readers and writers of all ages to explore and celebrate literature and creative writing. Future partnerships and collaborations should work towards engaging readers, supporting writers and inspiring the next generation with great literature.