Oct. 5 Program Will Pay Tribute to the Late Irish Poet Seamus Heaney

The University of St. Thomas Center for Irish Studies will host a program in memory of the late Seamus Heaney from 2 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 5, in Room 260 of Terrence Murphy Hall, located on the university’s Minneapolis campus at 1000 LaSalle Ave.

Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heaney

Titled “When a Poet Dies: A Tribute to Seamus Heaney,” the program will feature readings and reflections by area literary figures. Traditional piper and St. Thomas law student Andrew Ratelle also will play laments on the Irish uillean pipes. The event is free and open to the public.

Heaney, who died in Ireland on Aug. 31, was the pre-eminent literary figure in modern Ireland and is acknowledged as the most important Irish poet since W.B. Yeats.

The Oct. 5 event is to be held on the anniversary of the announcement that he had won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995.

Dr. Thomas Dillon Redshaw, the retired director of the Center for Irish Studies, will open the program with a brief overview of Heaney’s career and achievements. Four local poets will then speak on the topic of how best to honor a poet’s memory, and offer short readings. The poets are:

  • Joyce Sutphen, Chaska, poet laureate of Minnesota and professor of English at Gustavus Adolphus College;
  • Jim Lenfestey, Minneapolis, the author of four books of poetry and chair of the Literary Witnesses series at Plymouth Congregational Church;
  • Ethna McKiernan, Minneapolis, the author of three books of poetry who has strong Irish connections; and
  • Ed Bok-Lee, Minneapolis, winner of the 2012 American Book Award, and associate professor of English at Metropolitan State University.

The program will last approximately one hour. After the program, attendees are invited to The Local, a Minneapolis Irish pub at 931 Nicollet Ave., for an informal “open mic” where they can read a favorite poem by Heaney.

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