A WRITER who is not known for his poetry, having never published any, and who had never directed a film but took a BAFTA at his first attempt, will be appearing next week at the Ledbury Poetry Festival.

Booker-prize nominated novelist and short-story author Bernard MacLaverty (pictured) will be presenting his award-winning short film, Bye Child, based on a poem by Seamus Heaney, at the festival.

"I had known the poem from the mid-60s in Belfast, when I was in a group of writers that included Seamus," Bernard says as he explains how he came, not only to write the script, but to direct the film.

"Each person would submit a sheet with a poem on it and we'd nit-pick at it. One of those poems was Bye Child, inspired by a news story of the time about a young boy who had been kept by his mother in a henhouse at the bottom of her garden.

"I was very taken with it and had stored it in the back of my head ever since, and it even found its way into my own writing.

"I first met Andrew Bonner, the producer, when I gave a talk about Grace Notes and mentioned Bye Child. He told me it was one of his favourite poems, too, and said he thought it would make a very good short film and he wanted to produce it. If that's the case,' I said, I want to be the director.' "I knew I'd never get the chance otherwise, because nobody was ever going to give me £8 million to make a feature film."

Having raised the funding and written the screenplay, shooting began in 2003.

"I sleepwalked through it," says Bernard. "I was terrified."

Although he had written screenplays, directing was something else, his only qualification a weekend course on directing for the single camera.

There was one part of the process, though, that he thoroughly enjoyed - storyboarding the film. "I became ludicrously interested in doing the drawings. I even ended up colouring them in."

The film was premiered at the London Film Festival in 2004 and has since been heaped with praise and a BAFTA Scotland for Best First Time Director.

Bernard MacLaverty is at the Ledbury Poetry Festival on Tuesday, July 3, at The Market Theatre at 6.30pm.

For tickets, call 0845 458 1743 or visit the website at www.poetry-festival.com