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Eamon Grennan
Eamon Grennan

Poet in Residence

NYS Writers Institute, May 3, 2004
4:15 p.m. Informal Seminar | Humanities 354
8:00 p.m. Reading | Campus Center 375, Uptown Campus




Award-winning Irish poet Eamon Grennan is the author of six poetry collections. Though born in Dublin, Grennan has spent the past thirty years living, writing, and teaching in the United States. His work often blends Irish remembrances and American experiences. He is also renowned for his sensitivity to the world of animals and plants, his finely tuned ear for natural sounds, his eye for light, and his awareness of the profundity of human relationships, erotic desire, and ordinary domestic life.


"Few poets are as generous as Eamon Grennan in the sheer volume of delight his poems convey, and fewer still are as attentive to the marvels of the earth. To read him is to be led on a walk through the natural world of clover and cricket and, most of all, light, and to face with an open heart the complexity of being human." - U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins

Grennan’s newest poetry collection is Still Life With Waterfall (2002), a series of meditations on bugs, birds, bees, trees, deer, and the riddles of human intimacy. In November 2003, the book received the prestigious Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize, jointly awarded by the Academy of American Poets and The Nation magazine.

"Exuberant, enthusiastic, and full of energy," said the Library Journal reviewer, "his poems give a sense of life lived to the fullest." Many poems in the collection explore the intricacies of love, sex and desire. Others remind us, in muted fashion, of the harshness of the natural world; the eternal relationship of predator and prey; the quiet menace of winter; and the steady processes of erosion and decay.

Still Life with WaterfallGrennan’s earlier collections include Relations: New and Selected Poems (1998), So It Goes (1995), As If It Matters (1992), What Light There Is (1987) and Wildly for Days (1983).

"Whether he is describing the flight of swifts over Dublin, the sight of his children in yellow macs climbing over cliff rocks, or his passage through ‘a bright bead-curtain of rain,’ Grennan is a writer of plainspoken reverence. This book presents fifteen years of his poetry, whose effect is like afternoon light hitting ordinary objects: it illuminates, clarifies, and directs our gaze toward what it is we love but often overlook." - The New Yorker on Relations

BookGrennan is also the author of a collection of critical essays, Facing the Music: 20th Century Irish Poetry (1999). Taking Yeats as the starting point of the modern Irish poetic tradition, Grennan examines the brilliance of poets as diverse as Kavanagh, Muldoon, Kinsella and McGuckian. The Irish Times called the book, "a good introduction to what has gone on in Irish poetry over the major part of what might be called Yeats’s century," and named Grennan, the "most kindly and sane of Irish poet-critics."

In 1995, Grennan received the PEN Award for Poetry in Translation for his book, Selected Poems of Giacomo Leopardi (1997). Leopardi is widely regarded as the greatest lyric poet in the Italian literary tradition. Grennan has been praised for capturing Leopardi’s cadences and tonality in a version that still reads as idiomatic modern English.

He currently serves as the Dexter M. Ferry Jr. Professor of English at Vassar College. His poems, reviews, and critical essays have appeared in many Irish and American magazines and journals, among them The New Yorker, Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry, The Nation, Paris Review, Threepenny Review, Kenyon Review, and the Yale Review.

Eamon Grennan was also a guest of the Writers Institute on March 13, 1997 for a Commemoration of the Irish Famine and Celebration of Irish Literature with Peter Quinn.

"Eamon Grennan's considerable resources include an eye for the elusive detail and an ear for the most reclusive sound." - Ben Howard, Poetry

"Here is poetry that will last, that will be read long after the present shadows have passed." - James Finn Cotter, The Hudson Review on As If It Matters

"With a grace and precision such as come only with a perfect ear, Eamon Grennan welcomes us into the midst of that place where thoughts and sensations somehow magically come together and coexist as one." - Amy Clampitt

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