Irish Poet Michael Longley to Receive Centenary College’s Annual Corrington Award for Literary Excellence Nov. 4
SHREVEPORT, LA—The Irish poet Michael Longley, who received the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2001 from Queen Elizabeth II, becomes the 14th recipient of the John William Corrington Award for Literary Excellence at Centenary College on Tuesday, Nov. 4. The ceremony, which will include a reading by the poet, will take place at 7 p.m. in the Smith Building's Kilpatrick Auditorium on the Centenary campus. Hosted by Centenary’s English Department, the event is free and open to the public.
Longley is accompanied by his wife, the literary and cultural critic Edna Longley. They will reside at Centenary for a week as Attaway Fellows in Civic Culture. Endowed by Douglas and Marion Attaway and funded in 2001 by the Louisiana Board of Regents, Attaway professorships bring to the community the perspective of public intellectuals, a perspective that strengthens the link between Centenary, Shreveport, and Bossier City to the national and global community.
Together Michael and Edna Longley will present “Contemporary Irish Poetry: Texts and Contexts,” a reading and commentary, on Thursday, Nov. 6, at 11:10 a.m. in Kilpatrick Auditorium. This event is also free and open to the public.
Michael Longley is the author of nine volumes of verse, including a 1999 Selected Poems, which all first-year Centenary students are reading. His 1991 volume Gorse Fires won the Whitbread Prize for Poetry, the premier award in the United Kingdom for a book of poems. His most recent volume, The Weather in Japan (2000), garnered several prestigious awards including the T. S. Eliot Prize from the Poetry Book Society, of which Eliot was a founding member in 1953.
A lyric poet, Longley finds his subject matter in nature, especially in the distinctive flora and fauna of the West of Ireland; in family history, notably in his father’s experiences in two World Wars; in the Northern Irish Troubles, the conflict there since 1969 between Protestants and Catholics; and in classical literature, especially in Homer’s Iliad and Odyssey. One of Longley’s most famous poems, “Ceasefire,” is a sonnet that retells the meeting at the end of the Iliad between King Priam of Troy and the Greek hero Achilles, who has killed the king’s son Hector. The publication of this sonnet in the Irish Times in 1994 coincided with the announcement of a ceasefire by the militant Irish Republican Army.
An active participant in civic culture, Longley was from 1970 until his early retirement in 1991 a director of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. In this position he initiated the programs in literature and the traditional arts (chiefly Irish music) and arts-in-education. Longley has been awarded honorary doctorates by Queen’s University, Belfast, and Trinity College, Dublin, his alma mater.
Edna Longley, a professor emerita in the School of English, Queen’s University, Belfast, is the author and editor of numerous works of literary and cultural criticism and anthologies, most recently Poetry and Posterity (2000), a collection of critical essays that address Irish culture and politics as well as poetry, and The Bloodaxe Book of Twentieth Century Poetry from Britain and Ireland (2000). She has lectured widely in Europe and the United States at such institutions as the University of Goteborg in Sweden and Emory University in Atlanta where she held visiting professorships. She was elected to the prestigious Royal Irish Academy in 2000.
Previous Corrington Recipients
Last year’s recipient of the Corrington Award was Eavan Boland, a poet from the Republic of Ireland. Previous recipients were Eudora Welty, Ernest J. Gaines, James Dickey, Miller Williams, Lee Smith, Paul Auster, Elizabeth Spencer, Anthony Hecht, Richard Wilbur, Eleanor Wilner, Richard Powers, and C. K. Williams.
Corrington Award Honors Alumnus
The Corrington Award is named for the Centenary alumnus and author of the short novel Decoration Day who died in 1988. The award takes the form of a bronze medal designed by the internationally acclaimed Louisiana sculptor Clyde Connell.
For further information, contact David Havird, Centenary Department of English, 318-869-5085 or 869-5254.
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