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Wake Forest
University Press

Wake Forest University Press

Dedicated to Irish Poetry

Harry Clifton


“His is a universe of aftermaths, hauntings, and returns, in which even God . . . dreams of becoming flesh again.”
– Fintan O’Toole, The Irish Times

Harry Clifton was born in 1952 in Dublin, where he was educated at Blackrock College and University College, Dublin. After graduating, Clifton began an extended period of travel outside of Ireland. Many of his experiences from this time had major influence on his poetry because he believes the true home of the poet is “not in a place, but in the language itself.” Beginning in the 1970s, he lectured at a teacher training college in Nigeria. Clifton has also lived in places throughout Europe, Africa, and Asia, even working as an aid administrator in Thailand for Indo-Chinese refugees in the 1980s. He wrote On the Spine of Italy: A Year in the Abruzzi (1999), a prose work based on a year he spent in Italy’s Abruzzi Mountains. He subsequently lived in Switzerland, England, and Germany before settling in Paris for ten years, a period that he recorded in Secular Eden: Paris Notebooks 1994–2004 (2007). His poems have been translated into several European languages, and he also published a book of stories, Berkeley’s Telephone and Other Fictions (2000). He currently lives in Dublin with his wife, Irish novelist Deirdre Madden.

Internationally renowned for his poetry, Harry Clifton was the recipient of fellowships in Germany, France, Australia, and the United States. He was the poet-in-residence at the Frost Place in New Hampshire, an International Fellow at the University of Iowa, and a representative for Ireland at the International Writing Program in Iowa. He has held many teaching positions at universities, including Bremen and Bordeaux in France, and Trinity College and University College, Dublin, in Ireland. In 2008, Clifton received the Irish Times Poetry Now Award, the most prestigious poetry prize in Ireland. He also received two Arts Council Bursaries in Literature and the Patrick Kavanagh Award in 1981. Harry Clifton served as the fifth Ireland Professor of Poetry from 2010–2013. He is a member of Aosdána, the Irish artists’ association.


Praise for Harry Clifton

Harry Clifton is “among the poets who matter.”
– Derek Mahon

Secular Eden is a magisterial book, one that should re-introduce Clifton to a wide audience.”
Kenyon Review

The Winter Sleep of Captain Lemass is a “complex, evocative volume [that] takes up the theme of haunting and return . . . and does so masterfully.”
– Magdalena Kay, World Literature Today

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