Poet Sean O'Brien was co-founder of the literary magazine The Printer's Devil and contributes reviews to newspapers and magazines including the Sunday Times and the Times Literary Supplement. A regular broadcaster on radio, he presented, in an edition of BBC Radio 4's 'With Great Pleasure', a selection of his favourite poems and prose including work by Charles Dickens, A. S. Byatt, Ovid and Shakespeare. The programme 'The Flavours of Childhood' in the BBC Radio 4 series First Taste, for which he wrote and read one part and novelist Joanne Harris the other, won the 2006 Glenfiddich Food and Drink Broadcast Award.
His writing for television includes 'Cousin Coat', a poem-film in Wordworks (Tyne Tees Television, 1991); 'Cantona', a poem-film in On the Line (BBC2, 1994); Strong Language, a 45-minute poem-film (Channel 4, 1997) and The Poet Who Left the Page, a profile of Simon Armitage (BBC4, 2002).
He has held fellowships at the universities of Dundee, Leeds, Durham and Newcastle as well as at universities in Denmark and Japan, and spoken at conferences in the UK, Greece and Mauritius. From 1998 to 2006, he taught Creative Writing at Sheffield Hallam University, where in 2003 he was made Professor of Poetry. Between 2001 and 2003, he was Writer in Residence at Live Theatre, Newcastle, a position he held jointly with the late Julia Darling. He is now Professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle University and a Vice President of the Poetry Society.He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.