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Ciaran Carson

1948–2019

Ciaran Carson was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, on October 9, 1948. He attended Queen's University, Belfast—not long after Seamus Heaney, Michael Longley, and Derek Mahon—and received his degree in English. He worked for the Arts Council of Northern Ireland from 1975 to 1998, when he became a professor of English at Queen's University, Belfast. There, he was appointed Professor of Poetry and Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre in 2003. That same year, he was made an honorary member of the Irish Translators' and Interpreters' Association.

Carson authored several books of poetry and prose, and has been recognized for his work in translation. Of his poetry, his U.S. publications include most recently From There to Here: Selected Poems and Translations (Wake Forest University Press, 2019), On the Night Watch (Wake Forest University Press, 2010) and For All We Know (Wake Forest University Press, 2008). His 2002 novel Shamrock Tea was longlisted for the Booker Prize, and his translation of The Inferno of Dante Alighieri (Granta Books, 2002) was awarded the Oxford Weidenfeld Translation Prize.

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. He died on October 6, 2019. 


Selected Bibliography

Poetry

From There to Here: Selected Poems and Translations (Wake Forest University Press, 2019)
On the Night Watch (Wake Forest University Press, 2010)
For All We Know (Wake Forest University Press, 2008)
The Midnight Court (Wake Forest University Press, 2006)
Breaking News (Wake Forest University Press, 2003)
The Twelfth of Never (Wake Forest University Press, 1998)
The Alexandrine Plan (Wake Forest University Press, 1998)
Opera Et Cetera (Wake Forest University Press, 1996)
First Language (Wake Forest University Press, 1994)
Belfast Confetti (Wake Forest University Press, 1989)

Prose

Shamrock Tea (Granta UK, 2002)
Fishing for Amber: A Long Story (Granta Books, 2000)
The Star Factory (Granta UK, 1998)
Last Night's Fun (North Point Press, 1998)

By This Poet

4

Home


hurtling from 
the airport down
the mountain road

past barbed wire
snagged with
plastic bags

fields of scrap
and thistle
farmyards

from the edge
of the plateau
my eye zooms

into the clarity
of Belfast
streets

shipyards
domes
theatres

British Army
helicopter
poised

motionless
at last

I see everything

The Assignation

I think I must have told him my name was Juliette,
with four syllables, you said, to go with violette.

I envisaged the violet air that presages snow,
the dark campaniles of a city beginning to blur

a malfunctioning violet neon pharmacy sign
jittering away all night through the dimity curtains.

Near dawn you opened them to a deep fall and discovered
a line of solitary footprints leading to a porch:

a smell of candle-wax and frankincense; the dim murmur
of a liturgy you knew but whose language you did not.

The statues were shrouded in Lenten violet, save one,
a Virgin in a cope of voile so white as to be blue.

As was the custom there, your host informed you afterwards—
the church was dedicated to Our Lady of the Snows.

Let Us Go Then

through the trip
wired minefield

hand in hand
eyes for nothing

but ourselves 
alone

undaunted by
the traps & pits

of wasted land
until

you stoop
& pluck

a stem
of eyebright