Ciaran Carson

Ciaran Carson (9 October 1948 – 6 October 2019) was born in Belfast and studied English at Queen’s University. He worked in the Arts Council of Northern Ireland from 1975 to 1998, with responsibility for Traditional Music and, subsequently, Literature. In October 2003 he was appointed Professor of Poetry and Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s.

His numerous poetry collections published by The Gallery Press include: The Irish for No, Belfast Confetti (winner of the Irish Times Irish Literature Prize for Poetry) First Language (winner of the T.S. Eliot Prize 1993), Breaking News (winner of the Forward Prize 2003), For All We Know (Poetry Book Society Choice; shortlisted for T.S. Eliot Prize 2008 ), Collected Poems (2008), On the Night Watch (2009) and Until Before After (2010). From There to Here (Selected Poems and Translations) was published on the occasion of his 70th birthday in 2018. A posthumous collection, Still Life, will be published by The Gallery Press in 2019.

A noted translator, his books included: The Alexandrine Plan (his versions of sonnets by Rimbaud, Baudelaire, and Mallarmé); The Inferno of Dante Aligheri (awarded the Oxford Weidenfeld Translation Prize); The Táin (an epic of early Irish literature); and From Elsewhere (2014), his translations from the French poet Jean Follain. In 2013 he was shortlisted for The Poetry Society’s Popescu Prize for European Poetry in Translation for In the Light Of: after Illuminations by Arthur Rimbaud. Hear ‘As I Roved Out’ and read ‘Demotic Nocturne’, both from that collection. Carson was also a successful writer of memoirs and novels. Last Night’s Fun is a book about traditional music – he played the flute and tin whistle. The Star Factory, his memoir about Belfast, won the Yorkshire Post Book Award.

Ciaran Carson had a long relationship with The Poetry Society and judged the National Poetry Competition with Elaine Feinstein, Simon Smith and Denis MacShane MP in 2004. He featured regularly in The Poetry Review, as both contributor and subject. In reviewing Carson’s Collected Poems in 2009, Steven Matthews wrote: “there is a mighty verve pushing forward the whole project, a verve which coins the often eruptive energies at the level of the individual poem. The whole career reads as a set of variations upon an early established understanding about the precariousness of the world out of which, and about which, Carson writes.”