The Ireland Chair of Poetry was established by the Arts Council/ An Chomhairle Ealaíon, the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Trinity College Dublin, Queen’s University Belfast and University College Dublin to celebrate the exceptional contribution of
Irish poets to the world of literature. Every three years a poet of honour and distinction is chosen to represent the Chair as Ireland's Professor of Poetry. During their tenure the holder spends a year attached to each of the three universities and resides for a period of approximately eight weeks at each. While in residence, the poet gives informal workshops or readings, spends time working with students and performing outreach work and makes one formal presentation a year, usually in the form of a lecture.
Current Ireland Professor of Poetry
Professor Paul Muldoon was announced as the Ireland Professor of Poetry on Friday 18th November, at a small reception hosted by President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins, in Áras an Uachtaráin.
Professor Paul Muldoon
is the ninth Ireland Professor of Poetry, taking over from the previous holder, Frank Ormsby. The position will run until November 2025.
Paul Muldoon said of his appointment: "To be a poet at all is to be a professor of poetry. In this case, it’s especially gratifying to have the opportunity to formalize that professing, that “declaring openly,” of how poetry has been the central spiritual practice of my life. In the course of the next three years I hope to focus less on the writing of poetry than the reading of it. At Queen’s University, Belfast, for example, I’ll be leading discussions on “How To Read a Poem.” These discussions will centre on poems published in literary journals and newspapers in the same week as our meeting and will be open to one and all. That’s a forum I also plan to offer in both UCD and TCD, though I’m very keen to make further connections with the School of Irish, Celtic Studies and Folklore at UCD and the Trinity Centre for Literary and Cultural Translation. The lectures I’ll be giving as Ireland Professor of Poetry will reflect all of these interests, plus a few more. After 35 years of teaching in the US, I’m looking forward to connecting more immediately with, and contributing to, the cultural life of Ireland."
It has been said of his work that "In our time of tired mirrors and more-than-tiresome confession, Muldoon is the rare poet who writes through the looking glass."
Liam Hannaway chair of the Ireland Chair of Poetry Trust, said, "I am delighted to witness Paul joining the great line of fantastic Irish poets who have held the position of Ireland Professor of Poetry and wish him good fortune in his work. The announcement
of his appointment by President Higgins at Áras an Uachtaráin is fitting given the prestigious nature of this appointment by the Ireland Chair of Poetry Trust. I would also like to acknowledge the work of the previous Ireland Professor of Poetry,
Frank Ormsby, and thank him for his contribution to the appreciation of poetry in Ireland and beyond, over the past three years."
Professor Paul Muldoon was born in County Armagh in 1951 and studied at Queen’s University Belfast. He is the author of fourteen full-length collections of poetry. He has won major poetry awards, including the John William Corrington
Award for Literary Excellence, the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry, the Pulitzer Prize and the Seamus Heaney Award for Arts and Letters. He served as poetry editor of the New Yorker from 2007 to 2017. Since 1987, Paul Muldoon has lived in the United
States, where he is Howard G.B. Clark Professor of the Humanities and Founding Chair of the Peter B. Lewis Center for the Arts at Princeton University. He has also published collections of criticism, children’s books, opera libretti, song lyrics,
and works for radio and television and recently, with the support of Poetry Ireland, he toured Muldoon’s Picnic all over Ireland together with his band Rogue Oliphant.
Previous Ireland Professors of Poetry
The following poets have previously served as the Ireland Professor of Poetry:
John Montague (1998 to 2001)
Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill (2001 to 2003)
Paul Durcan (2004 to 2007)
Michael Longley (2007 to 2010)
Harry Clifton (2010 to 2013)
Paula Meehan (2013 to 2016)
Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin (2016 to 2019)
Frank Ormsby (2019 to 2022)
The Ireland Chair of Poetry is governed by an independent Board of Trustees representing the five sponsoring bodies and a distinguished poet. Since the Board was set up in 1998, it has evolved and changed ensuring fairness and equality. The current Trustees
are: Professor Kevin Rafter, Chair (Chair of the Arts Council/An Chomhairle Ealaíon), John Edmund (Chairman of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland), Sir Donnell Deeny, Professor Fran Brearton (Queen's University Belfast), Professor Nicholas Grene
(Trinity College Dublin), Professor Mary Clayton (University College Dublin), Michael Longley, Adrian Hall and Professor Brian Walker.