Irish poet Mary O’Malley to receive 13th O’Shaughnessy Award for Poetry; public reading is April 17 at St. Thomas

Irish poet Mary O’Malley of County Galway will receive the 13th annual Lawrence O’Shaughnessy Award for Poetry from the University of St. Thomas Center for Irish Studies.

O’Malley will read from her work at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 17, in Room 126 (auditorium) of John 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.

O’Malley also will participate in a public conversation with poet Margaret Hasse, on the topic "Going Away, Coming Home: Poetry and Displacement." The event begins at 7 p.m. Tuesday, April 14, at the Hamline Midway Branch Library Auditorium, 1558 W. Minnehaha Ave., St. Paul. Hasse is the author of three books of poetry: Stars Above, Stars Below (New Rivers, 1984), winner of the Minnesota Voices competition; In a Sheep’s Eye, Darling (Milkweed, 1988) and Milk and Tides (Nodin Press, 2008), a finalist for this year’s Minnesota 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.  

Mary O’Malley

Mary O’Malley was born in rural County Galway in 1954 and lives near the village of Moycullen, to which she returned after living for an extended period in Portugal. She currently is writer-in-residence at the National University of Ireland, Galway. She has published six full-length collections of poetry, including A Consideration of Silk (1990), Where the Rocks Float (1993), The Knife in the Wave Water (1997) and Asylum Road (2001), all from Salmon Press, and The Boning Hall: New and Selected Poems (2002) and A Perfect V (2006), from Carcanet Press. Carcanet Press also featured O’Malley in its 2004 anthology Three Poets, which also included work by Eavan Boland and Paula Meehan.

O’Malley has won numerous awards, including Arts Council bursaries, the prestigious Hennessey Award for Poetry in 1990, and election to Aosdána , the Irish academy of arts and letters, in 1998. She reads frequently at arts and literary festivals throughout her country as well as other European countries and in North America, often with traditional and contemporary Irish musicians. A regular teacher in Irish summer schools, she also has conducted poetry workshops throughout Ireland, particularly on the Aran Islands. She also has been an arts advocate for many years, serving on the boards of the Cuirt International Festival of Literature in Galway and the Clifden Arts Festival, among others. Her most recent community project is an interdisciplinary series of lectures, exhibits and courses on civic space in and around Galway City.

O’Malley’s poetry often returns to questions of identity, particularly that of Irish women. Eavan Boland, a past winner of the O’Shaughnessy Award, calls O’Malley "a true artist in sketching the beautiful small details without which the essence of place, and the identity dependent on it, can be easily erased."

Previous winners of the O’Shaughnessy Award, in addition to Boland, are John Deane, Peter Sirr, Louis de Paor, Moya Cannon, Frank Ormsby, Thomas McCarthy, Michael Coady, Kerry Hardie, Dennis O’Driscoll, Seán Lysaght and Pat Boran.

For more information, please contact Jim Rogers, managing director of the UST Center for Irish Studies, (651) 962-5662, or send electronic mail to jrogers@stthomas.edu.