New York City, Boston, Atlanta, Waco. Those were the four stops for arguably the world’s most famous living poet on his brief tour of the U.S.
Monday night, nearly 1,000 people filled Baylor’s Jones Concert Hall for a reading by Ireland’s Seamus Heaney, winner of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature, on his first visit to Texas since 2006. Heaney’s presentation was a special event of the 19th annual Beall Poetry Festival, which will take place at Baylor April 4-6, 2013.
Heaney has been the recipient of dozens of honors for his work, including 15 collections of poems, literary criticism, essays, translations and a play. Among his past professional titles are Professor of Poetry at Oxford University and the Ralph Waldo Emerson Writer-in-Residence at Harvard. His most recent collection of poems is Human Chain (2010). Fifty broadsides of a new Heaney poem written for the occasion, “On the Gift of a Fountain Pen,” were sold at the event.
The coordinator of Heaney’s visit, Dr. Richard Rankin Russell, authored an award-winning critical study of Heaney’s work in 2010: Poetry and Peace: Michael Longley, Seamus Heaney, and Northern Ireland. That book played a role in persuading Heaney, who was scheduled to visit Baylor a few years ago but had to cancel due to health issues, to stop at Baylor on his now infrequent trips to the U.S. Russell, the Beall Poetry Festival’s director and 2012 Baylor Centennial Professor, has another Heaney-related book, Seamus Heaney’s Regions, under contract and set to be released in late 2014.
Sic ’em, Seamus Heaney and all lovers of literature!