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Encyclopedia > Ciaran Carson

Ciaran Carson is a poet and novelist born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 1948. A poet is someone who writes poetry. ... A novel is an extended work of written, narrative, prose fiction, usually in story form; the writer of a novel is a novelist. ... WGS-84 (GPS) Coordinates: 54. ... Motto: (Latin for Who would separate us?)[1] Anthem: UK: God Save the Queen Regional: (de facto) Londonderry Air Capital Belfast Largest city Belfast Official language(s) English (de facto), Irish, Ulster Scots 3, NI Sign Language Government Constitutional monarchy  - Queen Queen Elizabeth II  - Prime Minister of the UK Tony... To meet Wikipedias quality standards, this article or section may require cleanup. ...



Carson was born in Belfast into an Irish language family. He attended St Marys CBGS Belfast before proceeding to Queen's University, Belfast to read for a degree in English. After graduation, he worked for over twenty years as the Traditional Arts Officer of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. In 1998 he was appointed a Professor of English at Queen's University of Belfast where he established and is the current Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry. WGS-84 (GPS) Coordinates: 54. ... Irish (), a Goidelic language spoken in Ireland, is constitutionally recognised as the first official language of the Republic of Ireland, and has official recognition in Northern Ireland as well. ... St. ... Queens University, Belfast - or officially The Queens University of Belfast (QUB; in Irish, Ollscoil na Banríona, Béal Feirste) - is a university in Belfast, Northern Ireland. ... The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... Arts Council of Northern Ireland logo The Arts Council of Northern Ireland is the official arts council for Northern Ireland. ...


His collections of poetry include The Irish for No (1987), winner of the Alice Hunt Bartlett Award; Belfast Confetti (1990), which won the Irish Times Irish Literature Prize for Poetry; and First Language: Poems (1993), winner of the T. S. Eliot Prize. His prose includes The Star Factory (1997) and Fishing for Amber (1999). His most recent novel, Shamrock Tea (2001), explores themes present in Jan van Eyck's painting The Arnolfini Marriage. His translation of Dante's Inferno was published in November 2002. His most recent collection is Breaking News (2003), winner of the Forward Poetry Prize (Best Poetry Collection of the Year). The Irish Times is Irelands newspaper of record, launched in the late 1850s. ... The T. S. Eliot Prize for Poetry is a British literary award. ... The Arnolfini Portrait, painted 1434 Jan van Eyck (c. ... Dante redirects here. ... The Forward Poetry prizes were created in 1991. ...

Ciaran Carson is also an accomplished musician, and is the author of Last Night's Fun: About Time, Food and Music (1996), a study of Irish traditional music. He lives in Belfast.

Critical Perspective

Carson has managed an unusual marriage in his work between the Irish vernacular story-telling tradition and the witty elusive mock-pedantic scholarship of Paul Muldoon. (Muldoon also combines both modes). In a trivial sense, what differentiates them is line length. As Carol Rumens has pointed out 'Before the 1987 publication of The Irish for No, Carson was a quiet, solid worker in the groves of Heaney. But at that point he rebelled into language, set free by a rangy "long line" that has been attributed variously to the influence of C. K. Williams, Louis MacNeice and traditional music'. Paul Muldoon (b. ...

Carson's first book was The New Estate (1976). In the ten years before The Irish for No (1987) he perfected a new style which effects a unique fusion of traditional story telling with postmodernist devices. The first poem in The Irish for No, the tour-de-force 'Dresden' parades his new technique. Free ranging allusion is the key. The poem begins in shabby bucolic:

'And as you entered in, a bell would tinkle in the empty shop, a musk Of soap and turf and sweets would hit you from the gloom.'

It takes five pages to get to Dresden, the protagonist having joined the RAF as an escape from rural and then urban poverty. In Carson everything is rooted in the everyday, so the destruction of Dresden evokes memories of a particular Dresden shepherdess he had on the mantelpiece as a child and the destruction is described in terms of 'an avalanche of porcelain, sluicing and cascading'.

Like Muldoon's, Carson's work is intensely allusive. In much of his poetry he has a project of sociological scope: to evoke Belfast in encyclopaedic detail. The second half of The Irish for No was called Belfast Confetti (1990) and this idea expanded to become his next book. The Belfast of the Troubles is mapped with obsessive precision and the language of the Troubles is as powerful a presence as the Troubles themselves. The title Belfast Confetti signals this:

'Suddenly as the riot squad moved in, it was raining exclamation marks, Nuts, bolts, nails, car-keys. A fount of broken type...'

In his next book, First Language, (1993) that won the T. S. Eliot Prize, language has become the subject. There are translations of Ovid, Rimbaud and Baudelaire. Carson is deeply influenced by Louis MacNeice and he includes a poem called 'Bagpipe Music'. What it owes to the original is its rhythmic verve. With his love of dense long lines it is not surprising he is drawn to classical poetry and Baudelaire. In fact, the rhythm of 'Bagpipe Music' seems to be that of an Irish gig, on which subject he is an expert (his book about Irish music Last Night's Fun (1996) is regarded as a classic):

'blah dithery dump a doodle scattery idle fortunoodle.'

Carson then entered a prolific phase in which the concern for language liberated him into a new creativity. Opera Etcetera (1996) had a set of poems on letters of the alphabet and another series on Latin tags such as 'Solvitur Ambulando' and 'Quod Erat Demonstrandum' and another series of translations form the Romanian poet Stefan Augustin Doinas. Translation became a key concern, The Alexandrine Plan (1998) featured sonnets by Baudelaire, Rimbaud and Mallarmé rendered into alexandrines. Carson's penchant for the long line found a perfect focus in the 12-syllable alexandrine line. He also published The Twelfth of Never (1999), sonnets on fanciful themes: 'This is the land of the green rose and the lion lily, / Ruled by Zeno's eternal tortoises and hares, /where everything is metaphor and simile'. The Ballad of HMS Belfast (1999) collected his Belfast poems.


Breaking News - 2003
Breaking News - 2003
  • The New Estate Blackstaff Press, 1976
  • The Lost Explorer Ulsterman Publications, 1978
  • Irish Traditional Music Appletree Press, 1986
  • The Irish for No Gallery Press, 1987
  • The New Estate and Other Poems Gallery Press, 1988
  • Belfast Confetti Bloodaxe, 1990
  • First Language: Poems Gallery Books, 1993
  • Belfast Frescoes (with John Kindness) Ulster Museum, 1995
  • Letters from the Alphabet Gallery Press, 1995
  • Last Night's Fun: About Time, Food and Music Cape, 1996
  • Opera Et Cetera Bloodaxe, 1996
  • The Star Factory Granta, 1997
  • The Alexandrine Plan (adaptations of sonnets by Baudelaire, Mallarmé, and Rimbaud) Gallery :Press, 1998
  • Fishing for Amber Granta, 1999
  • The Ballad of HMS Belfast: A Compendium of Belfast Poems Picador, 1999
  • The Twelfth of Never Picador, 1999
  • Shamrock Tea Granta, 2001
  • The Inferno of Dante Alighieri (translator) Granta, 2002
  • Breaking News Gallery Press, 2003
  • The Midnight Court (translation of Brian Merriman's Cúirt an Mhéan Oíche Gallery Press, 2005

Image File history File links Breakcar. ... Image File history File links Breakcar. ... John Kindness (Born Belfast, Northern Ireland, 1951) is an Irish multi-media artist whose work often contrasts material, image and reference in an unusual and humourous way. ... Brian Merriman (1749 – July 27, 1805) was an Irish language poet and teacher. ...

Prizes and Awards

  • 1978 Eric Gregory Award
  • 1987 Alice Hunt Bartlett Award The Irish for No
  • 1990 Irish Times Irish Literature Prize for Poetry Belfast Confetti
  • 1993 T. S. Eliot Prize First Language: Poems
  • 1997 Yorkshire Post Book Award (Book of the Year) The Star Factory
  • 2003 Cholmondeley Award
  • 2003 Forward Poetry Prize (Best Poetry Collection of the Year) Breaking News

The Cholmondeley Award is given by the Society of Authors for poetry. ...

External link

  • Seamus Heaney Centre

  Results from FactBites:
David Gibbons - Culture 2003 (4082 words)
Carson's response to this impasse is a translational "third way": to seek to recover the lost elements of the Dantean text by using a native Irish poetic tradition, the oral narrative ballad, as his model.
Carson is one of the few English-speaking poets who could attempt to emulate what Contini described as the expressive violence of Dante, and his translation effectively reminds the reader that, in language as in politics, there is no easy unity, just a more or less peaceful co-existence between competing aims and claims (Contini: 1970, 172).
Carson's additional cloud metaphor thus literally obscures the allegorical dimension to the first canto, and further leads him into mistranslation in line 18, where the object of "menare" is "altrui", the generic pronoun reinforcing the notion of Dante as Everyman which is especially important at this stage in his progress.
Bookselling This Week: The Salty Tang of The Inferno (691 words)
Carson grew up speaking Irish at home, and his collection of Irish translations of sonnets by Baudelaire, Mallarmé, and Rimbaud, The Alexandrine Plan, was published in 1998.
Carson was pleased that "some reviewers said that mine was the first version of The Inferno they had read all the way through." His translation is indeed a breath of fresh air, akin to Seamus Heaney's recent Beowulf and Ted Hughes's Tales from Ovid.
Carson also "admired Dante's concision," and hopes that his immersion in the translation will bring something of that quality to his own writing.
  More results at FactBites »



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