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Ciaran Carson Biography

(1948– ), The New Estate, The Irish For No, Belfast Confetti, First Language

irish belfast arts book

Northern Irish poet, born in Belfast, where he was educated at Queen's University. After working as a schoolteacher and subsequently as a civil servant, he became Traditional Arts Officer of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland in 1975. The New Estate (1976), his first collection of verse, contained a wide range of poems on historical, social, and personal themes which frequently anticipated the urgent engagement with contemporary conditions in Ulster characteristic of his later writing. An expanded edition of the book which appeared in 1987 indicated the emergence of a strong narrative element in his work, a factor of considerable importance to the powerful originality of The Irish For No (1988). The book's impact is partly produced by the thoroughness of its evocation of Belfast, which provides the contexts for what Fintan O'Toole described as Carson's ‘rare and terrifying ability to encapsulate history in an anecdote’. Belfast Confetti (1990) and First Language (1993) expand the imaginative compass of his work and display the increasing flexibility of his idiosyncratic verse forms. His other writings include The Pocket Guide to Irish Traditional Music (1986).

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