Sam Burnside’s prose includes short stories, critical pieces and a full published account of his own involvement in imagination and creativity, including a discussion of their use as an underpinning of cultural development in Northern Ireland. This work culminated in the creation of the Verbal Arts Centre, a place identified as a public, civic and societal symbol of cultural continuity in a community sometimes touched by despair; the overall enterprise, viewed as a statement of hope and optimism for a future enriched by creativity, imaginative enterprise, expression .and communication and by aesthetics and politics coming together in the exercise of choice and in the pursuit of progress.
Professor Patrick Crotty has written that Burnside’s work has culminated in ‘a monument to faith in the power of the language habit we all share. With its cornerstone from Drum Ceatt, its location in the old Presbyterian Primary School on the city’s walls and its ingeniously symbolic fittings, the Centre’s very architecture breathes the depth and diversity of cultures in the northwest of Ireland. Here is an enterprise born out of the belief that humane democratic, communally sensitive deployment of the verbal arts will reveal the truth of WB Yeats’s dictum that ‘words alone are certain good.’ While the Right Reverend Dr Jamesd Mehaffey has said, ‘The founding of the Verbal Arts Centre represents the incarnation of a dream, an insight and a vision…a personal journey which led Burnside along his particular path and in so doing opens up his mind and heart to those who listen.’