Harry Clifton was born in Dublin in 1952. He received his B.A. and M.A. from University College, Dublin, and has taught English and literature in Nigeria, Ireland, Italy, and France.
Among his published poetry, there is Null Beauty (Honest Ulsterman, 1975); The Walls of Carthage (Gallery Press, 1977); Office of the Salt Merchant (Gallery, 1979); Comparative Lives (Gallery, 1982); The Liberal Cage (Gallery, 1988); The Desert Route: Selected Poems 1973-1988 (Gallery / Bloodaxe, 1992), a Poetry Book Society Recommendation; At the Grave of Silone (Honest Ulsterman, 1993); and Night Train through the Brenner (Gallery, 1993).
He spent a year in the Abruzzi Mountains, which he documented in On the Spine of Italy (Pan, 1999), and he has published a book of stories, Berkeley's Telephone and Other Fictions (Lilliput Press, 2000).
Among his awards, he has received the Patrick Kavanagh Award and two Arts Council Bursaries in Literature. Clifton is a member of Aosdána, and lives in Dublin with his wife, fiction writer Deirdre Madden.
Military Presence, Cobh 1899
Childhood. A door wide open, day or night
Without fear of trespass, as long as the tides
Gentled Her Majesty's Navy…why not forget
It was a year of many suicides?
Everything else being equal, you are a child
In a casual doorway, feeding naïve plums
To the suddenly orphaned … somebody's father files
Past into oblivion, pressganged, a Cherrybum
Bound for the colonies. Corpses are carted back
From the place below, dredged from a deepwater quay
To haunt imagination; all you lack
Is consciousness, judgement, the twentieth century.