National Endowment for the Arts Chairman Dana Gioia Joins Celebration of Northern Ireland Arts and Culture
National Geographic Hosts "A Shower of Rhyming Couplets" Poetry Reading
April 11, 2007
Washington, DC -- The nation's capital will come alive with the sound of poetry on Wednesday, April 18 as National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) Chairman and poet Dana Gioia joins Northern Ireland poets Ciaran Carson, Michael Longley, Medbh McGuckian, and Paul Muldoon for a poetry reading at National Geographic's Washington, DC headquarters. "A Shower of Rhyming Couplets" will be held at the Grosvenor Auditorium, 1600 M Street, NW, Washington, DC. Tickets for the event are available through the National Geographic web site (www.nationalgeographic.com/nglive/). Co-sponsored with Queen's University, Belfast and Rediscover Northern Ireland, the reading is one of a series of more than 40 events that are bringing the arts and culture of Northern Ireland to numerous DC venues in 2007.
"Nowhere in the English-speaking world has there been such a remarkable concentration of poetic talent as in Northern Ireland over the past half century. Northern Ireland's troubles took a terrible human toll, but they also provoked its writers to affirm the freedom and dignity of the human imagination. As a public official, I welcome these writers with pride, but as a fellow poet, I greet them with no little awe," said NEA Chairman Dana Gioia.
"These are exciting days for Northern Ireland. The region is looking towards a positive and successful future as a dynamic region committed to economic prosperity, cultural development and building confidence in the innovation and creativity of its people. Queen's University is and will be central to this process. We look forward over the coming days and months to sharing with US audiences information on all that Northern Ireland has to offer, including our contribution to global culture and to cutting-edge scientific, medical and technological advances," added Peter Gregson, President and Vice Chancellor of Queen's University, Belfast.
Rediscover Northern Ireland was launched on St. Patrick's Day and will continue through July 8. From June 27 to July 8, Northern Ireland will take part in the Smithsonian Folklife Festival on the National Mall, the largest annual cultural event in the nation's capital.
Biographies of Participating Poets
Ciaran Carson was born in Belfast in 1948 where, after graduating from Queen's University, he worked for the Arts Council of Northern Ireland until 1998. His collections include Belfast Confetti (1990) which won the Irish Times Irish Literature Prize for Poetry and Poems (1993) which won the T. S. Eliot Prize. His most recent collection, Breaking News (2003), won the Forward Poetry Prize. Carson is also an accomplished musician and novelist. His 2001 novel, Shamrock Tea, explores themes present in Jan van Eyck's painting The Arnolfini Marriage.
Chairman of the National Endowment for the Arts, Dana Gioia is an internationally acclaimed poet, critic, educator, and former business executive. He received a B.A. and a M.B.A. from Stanford University and a M.A. in Comparative Literature from Harvard University. For fifteen years he supported his writing by working as an executive for General Foods, eventually becoming Vice President of Marketing. Dana Gioia began his term as the ninth chairman in February 2003 and in December 2006 he was confirmed for a second, four-year term.
He is best known for his 1991 book Can Poetry Matter? about the role of poetry in contemporary culture. His collection of poems, Interrogations at Noon won the 2002 American Book Award. His poems, translations, essays, and reviews have appeared in many magazines including The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New York Times Book Review, Slate, and The Hudson Review. He has also written two opera libretti, including Nosferatu (2001) recently performed by Opera Idaho.
Michael Longley was born in Belfast in 1939, and attended Trinity College, Dublin. He has published eight collections of poetry including Gorse Fires (1991) which won the Whitbread Poetry Award and The Weather in Japan (2000) which won the Hawthornden Prize, the T. S. Eliot Prize and the Irish Times Poetry Prize. His most recent collection Snow Water (2004) was awarded the Librex Montale Prize. His Collected Poems appeared in 2006. In 2001 he received the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry, and in 2003 the Wilfred Owen Award.
Medbh McGuckian was born in 1950 in Belfast where she lives with her family. She has been Writer-in-Residence at Queen's University, Belfast, the University of Ulster, Coleraine, and Trinity College, Dublin, and Visiting Fellow at the University of California, Berkeley. Among the prizes she has won are England's National Poetry Competition, The Cheltenham Award, The Rooney Prize, the Bass Ireland Award for Literature, the Denis Devlin Award, and, in 2002, The Forward Prize for Best Poem. She received the American Ireland Fund Literary Award in 1998. The Gallery Press has published The Flower Master and Other Poems, Venus and the Rain, On Ballycastle Beach, Marconi's Cottage, Captain Lavender, Selected Poems, Shelmalier, Drawing Ballerinas, The Face of the Earth (2002), Had I A Thousand Lives (2003) and The Book of the Angel (2004). Medbh McGuckian is a member of Aosdána.
Paul Muldoon was born in County Armagh in Northern Ireland in 1951 and studied at Queen's University in Belfast. He has lived in the U.S. since 1987 where he is a professor at Princeton University and Chair of the University Center for the Creative and Performing Arts. His collection Moy Sand and Gravel (2002) won the 2003 Pulitzer Prize and his tenth collection, Horse Latitudes, was released in the fall 2006. Muldoon has received the T.S. Eliot Prize in 1994, the Irish Times Poetry Prize in 1997, the Shakespeare Prize in 2004, the Aspen Prize for Poetry in 2005, and the European Prize for Poetry in 2006.
The National Endowment for the Arts is a public agency dedicated to supporting excellence in the arts -- both new and established -- bringing the arts to all Americans, and providing leadership in arts education. Established by Congress in 1965 as an independent agency of the federal government, the Arts Endowment is the largest national funder of the arts, bringing great art to all 50 states, including rural areas, inner cities, and military bases. For more information, please visit www.arts.gov.
Rediscover Northern Ireland is a unique collaboration among Northern Ireland government, academic and non-profit organizations, including the Northern Ireland Bureau, Invest NI, the University of Ulster, Queens University and a broad range of arts and cultural organizations under the leadership of the Department of Culture, Arts & Leisure (DCAL) and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, developed to leverage Northern Ireland's participation in the Smithsonian Folklife Festival and present a new, revitalized Northern Ireland to U.S. audiences. Activities have been developed to showcase Northern Ireland in the areas of trade and business, education, tourism, food and drink, and arts and culture and to promote the region as a destination site for American business, students, and travelers.
National Endowment for the Arts · an independent federal agency