Irish poet Sean Lysaght to receive 11th O'Shaughnessy Award for Poetry

April is National Poetry Month

Irish poet Seán Lysaght to receive 11th O’Shaughnessy Award for Poetry; public reading is April 13 at St. Thomas

Irish poet Seán Lysaght of Fahy, County Mayo, will receive the 11th annual Lawrence O'Shaughnessy Award for Poetry from the University of St. Thomas Center for Irish Studies.

In addition to classroom visits and other campus events April 9-13, Lysaght will speak at two public events, including:

  • A public conversation with the poet and James Armstrong of Winona State University on the topic, “Writing the Natural World.” Armstrong is author of two books of poetry, including Blue Lash (Milkweed Editions, 2006), and is an advisory editor for Orion magazine. The event begins at 7 p.m. Monday, April 9, at the Highland Park Branch Library Auditorium, 1974 Ford Parkway, St. Paul.  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.    
  • Lysaght will read from his work at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 13, in the auditorium of the John R. Roach Center for the Liberal Arts on St. Thomas' St. Paul campus. The reading is free and open to the public.

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.  

Lysaght was born in 1957 and grew up in Limerick. He was educated at University College, Dublin, where he received bachelor’s and master’s degrees in Anglo-Irish literature. He subsequently spent several years abroad, in Switzerland and Germany. His first collection of poetry, Noah's Irish Ark, was published by Dedalus Press in 1989, followed by The Clare Island Survey (Gallery, 1991), which was nominated for The Irish Times/ Aer Lingus poetry award). Between 1990 and 1994 Lysaght lectured in English at St. Patrick's College, Maynooth. He received a Ph.D. for his biographical study of Irish natural historian Robert Lloyd Praeger; it subsequently was published as Robert Lloyd Praeger: The Life of a Naturalist (Four Courts, 1998). His most recent collections of poetry, Scarecrow (1998) and Erris (2002) were both published by The Gallery Press. A fifth book of poems, The Mouth of a River, will be published later this year.

Ireland’s natural environment, especially its bird life, is the deepest preoccupation in Lysaght’s work. His next collection also contains a sequence on trout and salmon rivers in the west of Ireland.

Eamonn Wall, a poet and president of the American Conference for Irish Studies, has said that “As readers, we need to pay attention to the work of Seán Lysaght, who, in his ability to bring natural science and lyric poetry into free play, provides Irish poetry with a new direction. Devoid of shallow romanticism and Celtic Revival myth, we experience in his poetry a vision of a living, lively, natural and deeply resonant Irish place.”

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 and Dennis O’Driscoll.  

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