Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on October 9, 1948, Ciaran Carson learned English while playing in the streets. He attended Queen's University, Belfast not long after Seamus Heaney, Michael Longley, and Derek Mahon, and received his degree in English.
Carson has published several collections of poetry. His U.S. publications include Belfast Confetti (1989), First Language (1994), Opera Et Cetera (1996), The Alexandrine Plan (1998), The Twelfth of Never (1998), Breaking News (2003), The Midnight Court (2006), For All We Know (2008), and the recent On the Night Watch (2010), all published by Wake Forest University Press.
In addition, Carson has written four books of prose: Last Night's Fun, The Star Factory, Fishing for Amber: A Long Story, and Shamrock Tea, a novel, which was longlisted for the Booker Prize. Carson has also been recognized for his work in translation. His translation of Dante's Inferno (2002) was awarded the Oxford Weidenfeld Translation Prize, and, in 2003, he was made an honorary member of the Irish Translators' and Interpreters' Association.
Carson has received several awards including the Alice Hunt Bartlett Award, the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Irish Times Irish Literature Prize for Poetry, the Forward Poetry Prize and a Cholmondeley Award.
Since 1998, he has been a professor of English at Queen's University. He founded the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry at the University in 2003.