Poet Katie Donovan of Dublin will receive the 21st annual Lawrence O’Shaughnessy Award for Poetry of the University of St. Thomas Center for Irish Studies.
Donovan, 54, is the author of five books. She will read from her work at 7:30 p.m. Friday, April 21, 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.
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 1948-1950, formerly served on the university’s Board of Trustees and is the retired head of the I.A. O’Shaughnessy Foundation.
Born in 1962, Donovan grew up on a farm in County Wexford and was educated at Trinity College Dublin and the University of California, Berkeley. She spent a year in Hungary teaching English before returning to Ireland to work as a journalist with the Irish Times. She has published five poetry collections, all with the British publisher Bloodaxe. Currently she works as an Amatsu practitioner and has taught creative writing at the Institute of Art, Design and Technology in Dun Laoghaire. She is widowed and has two children.
Her books include Watermelon Man, 1993; Entering the Mare, 1997; Day of the Dead, 2002; Rootling: New and Selected Poems, 2010; and most recently, Off Duty, 2016, a collection that focuses on the year in which her husband died of throat cancer.
She will take part in a public conversation with Minnesota poet James P. Lenfestey titled “Deep Heart’s Core: Poetry and Mystery.” The event begins at 7 p.m. Monday, April 17, at the Merriam Park Branch Library, 1831 Marshall Ave.
After a career in academia, advertising and journalism, Lenfestey embarked on a career as creative writer in 2000. He has published five poetry collections and edited two popular poetry anthologies, including last year’s If Bees Are Few: A Hive of Bee Poems (University of Minnesota Press, 2016). His memoir Seeking the Cave: The Way to Cold Mountain (Milkweed Editions, 2014) was a finalist for the Minnesota Book Award.
Both the conversation and the reading are co-sponsored by the Friends of the St. Paul Public Library, a nonprofit group that advocates for the library.
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, Leontia Flynn, Catherine Phil MacCarthy, Paula Meehan and Tom French.