Princeton University’s Fund for Irish Studies presents “Seamus Heaney’s Late Poems,” a lecture by Nicholas Allen, director of the Willson Center for Humanities and Arts at the University of Georgia, on Friday, October 29 at 4:30 p.m. via Zoom Webinar. Princeton’s Visiting Leonard L. Milberg ’53 Professor in Irish Letters Fintan O’Toole will provide a welcome and introduction. The event continues the 2021-22 series, which is virtual for the fall. The lecture is free and open to the public.
Allen discusses the later works of Nobel Prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney, one of several Irish writers covered in his latest book, Ireland, Literature and the Coast: Seatangled, published in December 2020 by Oxford University Press. The book is a study of the various and changing ways in which literature has drawn the Irish coast in lines that shape the contours of cultural experience. Beginning with the early works of William Butler Yeats, the book travels through the diverse hydroscapes of Irish literature from the late nineteenth century to the present, framing writers and artists from James Joyce to Anne Enright in liquid and maritime contexts. Dan Maccarthy of the Irish Examiner notes, “Allen fuses Irish literature and his own thalassography into an interdependent essence. Quite an accomplishment.”
Heaney (1939-2013) is widely recognized as one of the major poets of the 20th century. A native of Northern Ireland, Heaney was raised in County Derry and later lived for many years in Dublin. He was the author of over 20 volumes of poetry and criticism and edited several widely used anthologies. He won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995 “for works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past.” Heaney taught at Harvard University (1985-2006) and served as the Oxford Professor of Poetry (1989-1994).
In addition to his position in the Willson Center, Allen holds an endowed professorship in the humanities at the University of Georgia. He has been the Burns Visiting Scholar at Boston College and has received many grants and awards, including from the Mellon Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Irish Research Council.
O’Toole’s books on politics include the best sellers Ship of Fools and Enough is Enough. His books on theater include works on William Shakespeare, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, and Thomas Murphy. He regularly contributes to The New York Review of Books, The New Yorker, Granta, The Guardian, The Observer, and other international publications. In 2011, The Observer named O’Toole one of “Britain’s top 300 intellectuals.” He has received the A.T. Cross Award for Supreme Contribution to Irish Journalism, the Millennium Social Inclusion Award, Journalist of the Year in 2010, the Orwell Prize, and the European Press Prize. O’Toole’s History of Ireland in 100 Objects, which covers 100 highly charged artifacts from the last 10,000 years, is currently the basis for Ireland’s postage stamps. His most recent book is Judging Shaw: The Radicalism of GBS, published by the Royal Irish Academy. He has recently been appointed official biographer of Nobel Prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney.
The Fund for Irish Studies is co-chaired this year by O’Toole and Paul Muldoon, Princeton’s Howard G.B. Clark University Professor of the Humanities, affords all Princeton students, and the community at large, a wider and deeper sense of the languages, literatures, drama, visual arts, history, politics, and economics not only of Ireland but of “Ireland in the world.” The series is co-produced by the Lewis Center for the Arts.
Information about the Fund for Irish Studies series virtual events can be found at fis.princeton.edu. Other scheduled events in the current series, which is hoped to resume in-person in the spring, include:
- “Irish Unification: Prospects & Feasible Models” with Brendan O’Leary on November 5
- “The Coffin Ship: Life and Death at Sea during the Great Famine” with Cian McMahon on December 3
with additional events in the works featuring poet James Longenbach; Helen Phelan, Professor of Arts Practice at the Irish World Academy of Music and Dance, University of Limerick; The Robert Fagles Memorial Lecture presented by Fintan O’Toole; acclaimed writer Colm Tóibín presented in collaboration with Labyrinth Books; journalist Susan McKay; and novelist Danielle McLaughlin.
The Fund for Irish Studies is generously sponsored by the Durkin Family Trust and the James J. Kerrigan, Jr. ’45 and Margaret M. Kerrigan Fund for Irish Studies.
The lecture will be live captioned. Viewers in need of other access accommodations are invited to contact the Lewis Center at least one week in advance at LewisCenter@princeton.edu.
To learn more about the more than 100 public performances, exhibitions, readings, screenings, concerts, lectures and special events, most of them free, presented each year by the Lewis Center for the Arts, visit arts.princeton.edu.