Derek Mahon

poet, playwright
Born: 1941
Birthplace: Belfast, Northern Ireland

In a survey conducted by the Irish Times in 1999, poet Derek Mahon was among the ten most popular writers (living and dead) in Ireland. Born in Belfast and educated at Trinity College, Dublin, Mahon is another of the astonishingly rich crop of poets who have emerged against the backdrop of Northern Ireland's sectarian tensions and violence. He has worked as an editor, screenwriter, journalist, and lecturer while producing several collections of poetry since his first, Twelve Poems, appeared in 1965. Subsequent collections include Courtyards in Delft (1981), The Hunt by Night (1982), and The Hudson Letter (1996). Described by one critic as “a Belfast Keats with a Popean sting,” Mahon's work also reflects his sensitivity to the threat of provincialism, countered by the international setting (New York, Rome) of much of his poetry. His published plays include The Bacchae: After Euripides (1991), The School for Wives: a play in two acts after Molière (1986). He also edited Modern Irish Poetry (1972) and The Penguin Book of Contemporary Irish Poetry (1990). Honors include the Irish American Foundation Award, a Lannan Foundation Award, and a Guggenheim Fellowship.

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