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Micheal O'Siadhail | Bloodaxe Books

Micheal O'Siadhail [pronounced Mee-hall Oh Sheel] is a prolific Irish poet whose work sets the intensities of a life against the background of worlds shaken by change. His Collected Poems (2013) draws on thirteen previous collections, nine of these published by Bloodaxe, including Hail! Madam Jazz: New and Selected Poems (1992), Our Double Time (1998), Poems 1975-1995 (1999), The Gossamer Wall: poems in witness to the Holocaust (2002), Love Life (2005), Globe (2007) and Tongues (2010). It was followed by One Crimson Thread (Bloodaxe Books, 2015), his book of essays, Say But the Word: Poetry as Vision and Voice, ed. David F Ford & Margie M. Tolstoy (Carysfort Press, 2015), and The Five Quintets (Baylor University Press, US, 2018).

He constantly seeks new dimensions through his poetry: examining the passions of friendship, marriage, trust and betrayal in an urban culture, tracing the intricacies of music and science as he tries to shape an understanding of the shifts and transformations of late modernity. In Musics of Belonging: The Poetry of Micheal O'Siadhail (Carysfort Press, 2007), the book's co-editor David F. Ford lists O'Siadhail's characteristic themes as 'despair, women, love, friendship, language, school, vocation, music, city life, science and other cultures and histories. There is a wrestle for meaning, with no easy resolution – both the form and the content are hard-won.' Jazz is a leitmotiv throughout his work.

Born in 1947, he was educated at Clongowes Wood College, Trinity College Dublin and the University of Oslo. He has been a lecturer at Trinity College Dublin and a professor at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. Among his many academic works are Learning Irish (Yale University Press, 1988) and Modern Irish (Cambridge University Press, 1989). He is a fluent speaker of a surprising number and range of languages, including Norwegian, Icelandic, German, Welsh and Japanese. As well as some of the great English-language writers (Donne, Milton, Yeats, Kavanagh), his main influences include much literature in other languages, read and assimilated in the original (Irish monastic and folk poetry, Dante, Rilke, Paul Valéry, Karin Boye, the Eddas and the Sagas).

In 1987 he resigned his professorship order to write poetry full-time, supported by giving numerous readings in many parts of the world. He won the Marten Toonder Prize for Literature in 1998. He now divides his time between Dublin and New York.

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