Poetry Reading: Katie Donovan


Katie Donovan, the Center for Irish Studies O'Shaughnessy Poetry Award recipient for 2017, reads from her new poetry collection, OFF DUTY

Date & Time:

Friday, April 21, 2017
7:30 PM - 8:30 PM


Free and Open to the Public


John Roach Center auditorium (JRC 126)

Irish poet Katie Donovan will receive the 21st annual Lawrence O'Shaughnessy Award for Poetry of the University of St. Thomas Center for Irish Studies and give a reading from her newly released poetry collection, Off Duty.

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.

Katie Donovan was educated at Trinity College Dublin and The University of California at Berkeley. She has published four books of poetry, all with Bloodaxe Books: Watermelon Man (1993), Entering the Mare (1997), Day of the Dead (2002) and Rootling: New & Selected Poems (2010), with a new collection, Off Duty, just published. Born in 1962, she spent her childhood on a farm in Co. Wexford before moving to Dun Laoghaire, a suburb of Dublin where she still lives. She has worked as a journalist with The Irish Times, and a Creative Writing Teacher at the Institute of Art, Design and Technology (in Dun Laoghaire). She is an Amatsu (osteopathic therapy) practitioner and the mother of two children, Phoebe and Felix. Her work has been widely anthologised, most recently in The Wake Forest Book of Irish Women’s Poetry, edited by Peggy O’Brien, and in Bloodaxe's Staying Alive: Real Poems for Unreal Times, edited by Neil Astley. She is the author of Irish Women Writers: Marginalised by Whom? (Raven Arts Press, 1988), and has co-edited two anthologies, Dublines (with Brendan Kennelly), published by Bloodaxe Books in 1996, and Ireland's Women: Writings Past and Present (with A. Norman Jeffares and Brendan Kennelly), published by Kyle Cathie (Britain) and Gill and Macmillan (Ireland) in 1994.

Off Duty combines Katie Donovan’s unflinching insight into our human foibles with her exceptional descriptive gifts. The years of her late husband’s throat cancer are charted in poems by turns tender, harsh, and darkly humorous. Donovan gives voice to the carer’s duty of being the one who watches, and contains, what is both a searing tragedy and a chainlink of domestic chores. Meanwhile the sulky electrician and the garrulous taxi driver are part of a cast of unlikely extras who provide a contextual chorus from the everyday world that inevitably carries on.

Donovan grasps talismans of survival: birds foraging in the snow; her daughter’s singing – which lights up the hospice in midwinter – and her son’s success at soccer. The title-poem resists the classic definition of the grieving widow, instead capturing one of Donovan’s enduring motifs – the moment when the mask slips and the true human response is released.

Parking (available for $1/hour after 4pm)

Anderson Parking Facility--located at the corner of Cretin Ave. and Grand Ave.

Morrison Parking Ramp--located beneath Morrison Residence Hall, visitors parking in the Morrison ramp should enter campus at the intersection of Selby Ave. and Finn St. Follow the drive aisle south , under the skyway, toward the stadium. Take a hard right at the end of the drive aisle. The visitor ramp entrance is the eastern entrance beneath the residence hall.

McNeely Parking Ramp--visitor parking is available at the McNeely Ramp only after 4:00 pm and on weekends. The McNeely Ramp entrance is located within parking lot K, underneath McNeely Hall.

Anderson Student Center Parking Garage--visitor parking is available at the Anderson Student Center Parking Garage only after 4:00 pm and on weekends. The Anderson Student Center Parking Garage entrance can be accessed from the Anderson Student Center turnaround off of Cretin Avenue.

All programs offered by the University of St. Thomas shall be readily accessible to individuals with disabilities. For details, call (651) 962-6315.