O’Shaughnessy Award honors Irish poets

Poet Catherine Phil MacCarthy of Dublin, Ireland, will receive the 18th annual Lawrence O’Shaughnessy Award for Poetry from the University of St. Thomas Center for Irish Studies.

MacCarthy will read from her work at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 11, in the auditorium of the John R. Roach Center for the Liberal Arts on St. Thomas’ St. Paul campus. The reading, free and open to the public, will cap a week of events, classroom visits and public appearances by the poet.

MacCarthy will take part in a public conversation with local poet Matt Rasmussen on Tuesday, April 8. The event, titled “The Island of Poetry: Small Places in a Large World,” starts at 7 p.m. at the Merriam Park Branch Library, 1831 Marshall Ave. Rasmussen is a widely published poet whose first book, Black Aperture (2012), won the Walt Whitman Award and was a finalist for the National Book Award.

Both events are co-sponsored by the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library, a nonprofit group that advocates for the library.

The $5,000 O’Shaughnessy Award for Poetry, established in 1997, honors Irish poets. The award is named for Lawrence O’Shaughnessy, who taught English at St. Thomas from 1948 to 1950, formerly served on the university’s Board of Trustees and is the retired head of the I.A. O’Shaughnessy Foundation.

Catherine Phil MacCarthy was born in County Limerick in 1954. She has been a full-time writer since 1999 and is a frequent teacher and workshop leader at schools and festivals throughout Ireland.

Her previous honors include being a finalist for the 1992 Patrick Kavanagh Award for a first collection; the Fish International Poetry Prize in 2010; and multiple awards from the Irish Arts Council. During spring 2013, she completed an artist’s residency at Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris.

She is the author of four collections of poetry: This Hour of the Tide (1994), published by Salmon Press; the blue globe (1998) and Suntrap (2007), both from Blackstaff Press; and The Invisible Threshold, (Dedalus Press 2012). She also is the author of a novel, One Room an Everywhere (Blackstaff, 2003).

Previous winners of the O’Shaughnessy Award are Eavan Boland, John F. Deane, Peter Sirr, Louis de Paor,  Moya Cannon, Frank Orsmby, Thomas McCarthy, Michael Coady, Kerry Hardie, Dennis O’Driscoll, Seán Lysaght, Pat Boran, Mary O’Malley, Theo Dorgan, Leanne O’Sullivan, Gerard Smyth and Leontia Flynn.

For more information contact Jim Rogers, director of the Center for Irish Studies, (651) 962-5662, or jrogers@stthomas.edu.