Poetry of the ‘Troubles’ revisited by Ireland Professor of Poetry

Posted on: 10 March 2022

The School of English and the Ireland Chair of Poetry Trust are delighted to present Poetry of the ‘Troubles’ Revisited, a lecture by Frank Ormsby, Ireland Professor of Poetry.

The Ireland Chair of Poetry was established by the Arts Council/ An Chomhairle Ealaíon, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Trinity College Dublin, Queen’s University Belfast and University College Dublin to celebrate the exceptional contribution of Irish poets to the world of literature. Professor Ormsby is the eighth Ireland Professor of Poetry, taking up the position from its previous holder, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin in 2019.

The 2021 Ireland Chair of Poetry lecture held in Trinity College Dublin was recorded in front of a small, socially distanced audience, in the Provost’s House. In his lecture Professor Ormsby revisits the poetry in his anthology A Rage for Order before considering the wealth of new material published since 1992.

“It is generally true that the course of Ulster poetry since the mid-60s has been dictated by the ‘Troubles’. Well before 1968, however, the poets Louis MacNeice, John Hewitt and John Montague had already, to a greater or lesser extent, portrayed Ulster as a divided society, riven by sectarianism.  Their themes and images, dating back to the 1930s, were shared by the emerging poets of the late 60s/early 70s, most notably Seamus Heaney, Michael Longley, Derek Mahon and James Simmons.”

“By the time I produced my anthology A Rage for Order in 1992 poets such as Ciaran Carson, Paul Muldoon and Tom Paulin had also begun to contribute significantly to the poetry of the ‘Troubles’. Since that time, even post-ceasefire, these poets have continued to produce work that reflects the aftermath of violence, the legacy of trauma and the struggle for normality, alongside a new generation of voices such as Sinead Morrissey, Leontia Flynn, Alan Gillis and Colette Bryce.”

The event also featured remarks from Professor Ignatius McGovern, Fellow Emeritus, School of Physics and trustee of the Ireland Chair of Poetry; and an introduction by Professor Nicholas Grene, Fellow Emeritus, School of English.

More about Frank Ormsby 

Frank Ormsby  was born in 1947 in Enniskillen, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland. He was educated at St. Michael’s College and Queen’s University Belfast. His poetry collections include Ripe for Company (1971), A Store of Candles (1977), A Northern Spring (1986), The Ghost Train (1995), Fireflies (2009), Goat’s Milk: New and Selected Poems (2015), The Darkness of Snow (2017). He was editor of The Honest Ulsterman from 1969 – 1989, editor of Poetry Ireland Review, and Head of English at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution from 1976 – 2010. He is a recipient of the Cultural Traditions Award, the Lawrence O’Shaughnessy Award, and was appointed the Ireland Chair of Poetry in 2019.

More about The Ireland Chair of Poetry:

The Ireland Chair of Poetry Trust was set up in 1998 following the award of the Nobel Prize for Literature to Seamus Heaney and is jointly held between Queen’s University Belfast, Trinity College Dublin, University College Dublin, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland and the Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon.

Every three years a poet of honour and distinction is chosen to represent the Chair as Ireland’s Professor of Poetry. During their tenure the holder spends a year attached to each of the three universities and resides for a period of approximately eight weeks at each. While in residence, the poet gives informal workshops or readings, spends time working with students and performing outreach work and makes one formal presentation a year, usually in the form of a lecture.

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