12/12/2019

Belfast Poet Ciaran Carson Remembered

Crowds have gathered at the Lyric Theatre to remember the life and work of the late Belfast poet Ciaran Carson.

Hosted by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen's University Belfast and the Irish Secretariat in Belfast, the free event was hosted in memory of the late writer who died in October at aged 70 after a period of illness.

The event featured readings and reflections from a host of artists, including the current Ireland Professor of Poetry, Frank Ormsby, Sinéad Morrissey, Michael Longley, as well as music from harpist Úna Monaghan, traditional Irish singer Len Graham, and more.

Speaking about the event, Roisin McDonough, Chief Executive of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, said: "From the poems of Belfast Confetti and The Ballad of HMS Belfast, to the prose of The Star Factory and the Booker-long listed Shamrock Tea, all of it praised around the globe, Ciaran Carson's writing is intimately connected to the streets and thoroughfares of his native city. It is fitting then that this gathering in the Lyric Theatre, one of the great arenas of our shared cultural life, has celebrated a life well lived and the legacy of first-class literature his genius left to the rest of us as citizens of the world."

Glenn Patterson, writer and Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen's added: "Ciaran Carson was the first Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre, a dear friend and colleague to all there, and an inspiration as a poet, writer, and as a citizen: a great European literary figure who lived his entire life in Belfast. This event has been an opportunity for the city of Belfast and for all who value literature on the island to recognise and to celebrate his work, his life, and his legacy."
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Born in Belfast in 1948 and brought up as an Irish speaker, Ciaran Carson graduated from Queen's University with a degree in English, before joining the Arts Council of Northern Ireland in 1975, where, until 1998, he served as Traditional Music Officer, then Literature Officer. In 2003, he was appointed Professor of English and the Founding Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen's University. He retired from Queen's in 2016, remaining Emeritus Professor of the School of Arts, English and Languages at Queen's.

He published his first collection of poetry, The New Estate, in 1976. He would go on to publish fourteen collections of poems, five prose books and celebrated translations of the Dante's Inferno (2002), for which he was awarded the Oxford Weidenfeld Translation Prize, and the Irish saga, Táin Bó Cúailnge (2007).

His award-winning poetry collections include The Irish for No (1987), winner of the Alice Hunt Bartlett Award, Belfast Confetti (1990), which won the Irish Times Irish Literature Prize for Poetry, First Language: Poems (1993), winner of the TS Eliot Prize, Breaking News (2003), which won the Forward Poetry Prize, For All We Know (2008), shortlisted for both the 2008 TS Eliot Prize and the Costa Poetry Award, and From Elsewhere (2015), shortlisted for the Forward Prize for Best Collection. From There to Here (Selected Poems and Translations) was published on the occasion of his 70th birthday, in October 2018.

His prose books include The Star Factory (1997), a memoir of Belfast, Fishing for Amber (1999) and Shamrock Tea (2001), a novel longlisted for the Booker Prize. Last Night's Fun: About Time, Food and Music (1996), a book about Irish traditional music, reflects the author's life-long interest in, and high level of accomplishment as, a musician.



(JG/MH)

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