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Harry Clifton is the new Ireland Professor of Poetry 2010

Marie-Louise Muir | 18:34 UK time, Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Around about now in Dublin the Taoiseach is announcing the Ireland Professor of Poetry 2010. It's a pretty significant post which is held for three years. There have been 4 already, John Montague, Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill, Paul Durcan and the outgoing one is Michael Longley.

The 5th is the poet Harry Clifton. He's maybe not an instantly recognisable name. We had a sweepstake in the office. Names like Paul Muldoon, Dennis O'Driscoll and Eavan Boland were bandied about, but not Harry Clifton.

Born in Dublin in 1952, he has spent much of his writing life living outside of Ireland. In the 1970's Nigeria, and later Thailand. Then Italy, Switzerland, Germany, England and Paris for ten years. He returned to Ireland in 2004.

He's aware that his time away from Ireland put him outside the mainstream of Irish poets. A poetry collection about Paris and a memoir on his time in Italy maybe didn't plug him into the circuit as much.

When we spoke earlier today, he was the first to bring this point up. He believes that getting this pretty major post signals a broadening of Irish poetry.

And on a more practical note, in these recession ridden times, he very honestly admitted he now has a job for the next 3 years.

Listen here for my interview with Harry Clifton on Arts Extra tonight at half past six.

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