This week it was announced that American poet Mark Doty has accepted the invitation to become the first ever International Visiting Poetry Fellow at the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s University. The announcement will add Doty to an already impressive list of poets associated with the Centre, which holds regular poetry readings, workshops and conferences.
Doty is the winner of numerous high-profile awards, such as the T.S. Elliot Prize and the National Book Award and remains one of the most critically lauded contemporary poets of our day. Born in Tennessee and now residing in New York, he is particularly known for his powerful poetic response to the AIDS crisis in his collections My Alexandria (1993) and Atlantis (1995). He has also written three memoirs including Heaven’s Coast (1996), an artfully wrought response to the loss of his partner Wally Roberts to an AIDS-related illness, and Firebird (1999), which details his experience as a gay man growing up in baby-boom America.
“Doty takes us with him on his journey from the everyday to the ecstatic” says Time Out. Slate also has high praise for the author: “Mark Doty’s poetry is more than accessible – it’s tough and gorgeous.”
The fellowship (worth £20,000 annually) is made to a “distinguished poet of international repute” and was set up as part of Queen’s and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s joint ten-year Seamus Heaney Legacy project. Leontia Flynn and Ciaran Carson were among the group of poets who decided to extend this invitation to Doty.
The poet will begin his fellowship in Autumn 2018 and his four-week stay at Queen’s will also involve workshops and readings to visiting groups at the new Seamus Heaney Homeplace facility in Bellaghy.
Director of Arts Development, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, Nóirín McKinney, had this to say on the appointment of Mr. Doty:
“We are delighted to welcome today Mark Doty’s appointment as the very first Seamus Heaney International Visiting Poetry Fellow. During his time in Northern Ireland, Mark will be presenting a series of events, as well as spending time developing his own writing inspired by his time here. We are honoured to host him and we anticipate this appointment will benefit not only local writers and the academic community but the wider public, through workshops, readings and lectures.”
The announcement comes on the back of the Centre’s recent appointment of Myra Zeph as Seamus Heaney Children’s Writing Fellow in May.
You can find links to a selection of Doty’s poetry below.