Irish poet Dennis O'Driscoll to receive 10th O'Shaughnessy Award for Poetry

Irish poet Dennis O’Driscoll to receive 10th O’Shaughnessy Award for Poetry

Irish poet Dennis O’Driscoll of Naas, County Kildare, will receive the 10th annual Lawrence O’Shaughnessy Award for Poetry of the University of St. Thomas Center for Irish Studies.

  • O’Driscoll will read from his work at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 7, in O’Shaughnessy Educational Center auditorium. The reading, free and open to the public, will cap a week of events, classroom visits and public appearances by the poet.
  • O’Driscoll also will participate in a public conversation with Minneapolis author and attorney Tim Nolan on “Poetry and Work.” The event begins at 7 p.m. Monday, April 3, at the Highland Park Branch Library auditorium, 1974 Ford Parkway, St. Paul. Nolan, a real estate lawyer with the Rider Bennett firm, has a master of fine arts degree in poetry; his work has been published in many national and local journals.

Both events are co-sponsored by the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library, a nonprofit group that advocates for the library and promotes greater public awareness of the library’s resources and programs.

The $5,000 O’Shaughnessy Award for Poetry, established in 1997, honors Irish poets. The award is named for Lawrence O’Shaughnessy, who taught English at St. Thomas from 1948 to 1950, served on the university's board of trustees and is president emeritus of the I.A. O'Shaughnessy Foundation. 

O’Driscoll was born in Thurles, County Tipperary, in 1954. His poetry collections include Kist (1982), Hidden Extras (1987), Long Story Short (1993), Quality Time (1997), Weather Permitting (2001) and Exemplary Damages (2004). In 2004, Anvil Press of London issued his retrospective New and Selected Poems. He also has written a book of prose, Troubled Thoughts, Majestic Dreams (2001), and has edited the Bloodaxe Book of Poetry Quotations, to be published later this year.

O’Driscoll’s poetry is distinguished by its alertness to realities of life in contemporary Ireland, particularly its embrace of consumer culture. Irish Times literary correspondent Ellen Battersby wrote, “It takes a special genius to see the real and important lurking in the mundanely routine. … This most astute of poets juxtaposes the soul of the artist with the exactness of the anthropologist; the result is work of meditative intelligence, humour and forgiving humanity.”

O’Driscoll has worked as a civil servant since he was 16 and now works in the Customs Office of the Irish Department of Revenue. The recipient of several poetry prizes, including the Lannan Literary Award in the United States and the 2005 E.M. Forster Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, O’Driscoll was elected to Aosdána, the Irish academy of arts and letters, in February.

Previous winners of the O'Shaughnessy Award are Eavan Boland, John F. Deane, Peter Sirr, Louis de Paor,  Moya Cannon, Frank Orsmby, Thomas McCarthy, Michael Coady and Kerry Hardie.

For more information, please contact Jim Rogers, managing director of the Center for Irish Studies, (651) 962-5662.