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Princeton Poetry Festival

"A Sofa in the Forties"

Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heaney was born and educated in Northern Ireland. In the 1960s he worked as a teacher at college and university level in Belfast, before moving with his family to Co Wicklow in 1972. After some years as a freelance, he resumed work as a lecturer in Dublin. Then, in 1982, he began his long association with Harvard University, coming and going for a term each year until 1996, when he resigned the Boylston Professorship. Between 1989 and 1994, Heaney also served as Professor of Poetry at Oxford. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995.

Since the publication of Death of a Naturalist in 1966, Heaney has produced many books of poetry, criticism and translation. An overall view of his work is available in Opened Ground: Poems 1966-1996 and Finders Keepers, Selected Prose 1971-2001. Other recent publications include Beowulf, A New Verse Translation (1998), Electric Light (2001) and District and Circle (2006). His version of Sophocles’ Antigone, entitled The Burial at Thebes, was commissioned by the Abbey Theatre in 2004 as part of their centenary celebrations.

Seamus Heaney is the recipient of many honorary degrees, including ones from Trinity College, Dublin, Oxford University, Harvard, Princeton, and the Jagellonian University in Krakow. He is a member of Aosdána and the Royal Irish Academy, a Companion of Literature in The Royal Society of Literature, a Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres in France and an Honorary Member of the Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Seamus Heaney

Photo by Jemima Kuhfeld

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