Irish Poet Leontia Flynn to Receive 17th O’Shaughnessy Award for Poetry

Poet Leontia Flynn of Belfast, Northern Ireland, will receive the 17th annual Lawrence O'Shaughnessy Award for Poetry of the University of St. Thomas Center for Irish Studies.

Leonitia Flynn

Leonitia Flynn

Flynn will read from her work at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 26, in the auditorium of the O’Shaughnessy Educational Center on St. Thomas' St. Paul campus. The reading, free and open to the public, will cap a week of events, classroom visits and public appearances by the poet.

Flynn will take part in a public conversation with local poet Dobby Gibson, titled “Wireless Connections: How Poetry Communicates.” The event begins at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 25, at the University Club, 420 Summit Ave., St. Paul.

Gibson is the author of three books of poetry: Polar (2004), which won the Beatrice Hawley Award; Skirmish ( 2009); and It Becomes You (2013), all of which were published by Graywolf Press of Minneapolis. He has received fellowships from the McKnight and Jerome Foundations and has twice been a finalist for the Minnesota Book Awards.

Both events are co-sponsored by the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library, a nonprofit group that advocates for the library.

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, formerly served on the university's Board of Trustees and has recently retired as head of the I.A. O'Shaughnessy Foundation.

Leontia Flynn was born in County Down in Northern Ireland in 1974. She won an Eric Gregory award for younger poets in 2001 and her first book of poems, These Days (Jonathan Cape, 2004), won the Forward prize for best first collection, and was shortlisted for the Whitbread Poetry Prize. On the basis of her first book, she also was named one of 20 “Next Generation” poets by the Poetry Book Society in Britain.

Her second collection, Drives (Jonathan Cape), was published in 2008, when she won the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature and a major award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. Her third collection, Profit and Loss, was published in 2011.

Since 2005, Flynn has been a research fellow at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry, Queen’s University Belfast, where she completed her Ph.D. in English. She has written numerous reviews, articles and critical essays.

The critic Fran Brearton, a co-editor of the Oxford Handbook of Modern Irish Poetry, has said of Flynn that her “humor, her ability to entertain, and her astute powers of observation are wonderful gifts. She is one of the most original and accomplished poets of her generation; her voice is distinctive, and her technique as lightly and deftly carried as her learning.”

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, Kerry Hardie, Dennis O’Driscoll,  Seán Lysaght, Pat Boran, Mary O’Malley, Theo Dorgan,  Leanne O’Sullivan  and Gerard Smyth.

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