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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

Professor Sean O'Brien: A Resistant Medium - poetry and ignorance

16th March 2009, 18:30, Room 407, Calman Learning Centre

Poet Sean O'Brien will be giving the fifth and final lecture in the Figuring the Human public lecture series.

In this lecture, Sean O'Brien, a distinguished poet, reflects on the nature of poetry and its wider cultural significance.

Sean O'Brien is among the best-known living poets writing in English. His poetry collections include The Indoor Park (1983), winner of a Somerset Maugham Award; The Frighteners (1987); HMS Glasshouse (1991); Ghost Train (1995); and Downriver (2001). Cousin Coat: Selected Poems 1976-2001 was published in 2002. Inferno, his verse version of Dante's Inferno, was published in 2006 and a new poetry collection, The Drowned Book, in 2007. The latter won the 2007 T. S. Eliot Prize. Ghost Train, Downriver and The Drowned Book have all won the Forward Poetry Prize (Best Poetry Collection of the Year), making Sean O’Brien the only poet to have won this prize more than once. His poems have been included in many anthologies, such as the 2006 British Council/Granta publication New Writing 14, edited by Lavinia Greenlaw and Helon Habila.

He is the author of a collection of essays about contemporary poetry, The Deregulated Muse: Essays on Contemporary British and Irish Poetry (1998) and edited the anthology The Firebox: Poetry in Britain and Ireland after 1945 (1998). He was awarded the E. M. Forster Award by the American Academy of Arts and Letters in 1993.

He has held fellowships at the universities of Dundee, Leeds, Durham and Newcastle as well as at universities in Denmark and Japan, and spoken at conferences in the UK, Greece and Mauritius. From 1998 to 2006, he taught Creative Writing at Sheffield Hallam University, where in 2003 he was made Professor of Poetry. Between 2001 and 2003, he was Writer in Residence at Live Theatre, Newcastle, a position he held jointly with the late Julia Darling. He is now Professor of Creative Writing at Newcastle University and a Vice President of the Poetry Society. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.

This public lecture is free and open to all. Doors open at 6.00pm.

Refreshments will be served in room 406 before the lecture.

Contact for more information about this event.

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