Ireland Professor of Poetry named


Dublin-born poet Harry Clifton spoke of his surprise this evening at being named as the new Ireland Professor of Poetry.

The 57-year-old was picked by a panel of top academics and arts figures for the role, which will see him deliver readings, workshops and university lectures.

Making the announcement at a special reception in Dublin, Taoiseach Brian Cowen said the honour was well-deserved.

“He is a most worthy champion of our country’s long poetic tradition,” Mr Cowen added.

“I would like to wish him every success during his tenure.” Clifton is the fifth person to take on the role as Professor of Poetry, replacing Belfast writer Michael Longley.

To date, Michael Longley, John Montague, Paul Durcan and Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill have each held the chair. Seamus Heaney and Ciaran Carson are trustees.

The award-winning poet, who is married to the Irish novelist Deirdre Madden, said the news was completely unexpected.

“To succeed Michael Longley, one of the most admired poets in the language itself, let alone the country, is especially wonderful,” he added.

During his three-year tenure, Clifton will be attached to Trinity College, Queen’s University in Belfast and University College Dublin in turn.

There is no obligation to compose any poetry, but holders are required to make three formal presentations and hold other informal workshops, lectures and public readings.

Established in 1998, the role was set up to celebrate the contribution of Irish poets to the world of literature.

The other previous holders of the title are Professor John Montague, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill and Paul Durcan.

Pat Moylan, chairwoman of the Arts Council said she was thrilled that Clifton was the latest recipient.

“The Ireland Chair of Poetry has gained momentum and profile in recent years, attracting significant audiences and developing increased enthusiasm for poetry among students and the general public,” she added.

“A gifted and internationally respected poet, Clifton is a writer deeply committed to the art of poetry and this honour is richly deserved.”