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Ciaran Carson - Author

About the Author

Ciaran Carson was born in 1948 in Belfast, where he lives. He worked in the Arts Council of Northern Ireland from 1975 to 1998, with responsibility for Traditional Music, and, more latterly, Literature.

In October 2003 he was appointed Professor of Poetry and Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen's University, Belfast.

He is the author of eleven collections of poems, including The Irish for No, Belfast Confetti, The Twelfth of Never, First Language, Opera Et Cetera, Breaking News, For All We Know (Poetry Book Society Choice; shortlisted for next year's T S Eliot prize) and Collected Poems (2008). His translations include The Alexandrine Plan, The Midnight Court, The Inferno of Dante Aligheri and The Táin.

In recent years he has written four prose books: Last Night's Fun, a book about traditional music; The Star Factory, a memoir of Belfast; Fishing for Amber: A Long Story; and Shamrock Tea, a novel, which was longlisted for the Booker Prize. He has won several literary awards, including the Irish Times Irish Literature Prize and the T.S. Eliot Prize. His translation of Dante's Inferno (2002) was awarded the Oxford Weidenfeld Translation Prize, and in 2003 he was made an honorary member of the Irish Translators' and Interpreters' Association. Breaking News was awarded the 2003 Forward Prize.

 

Photograph © Manus Carson & The Gallery Press

Featured books by Ciaran Carson

Other books by Ciaran Carson

Ballad of HMS Belfast

Ballad of HMS Belfast

Author: Ciaran Carson Format: eBook Release Date: 10/09/2015

This compendium, made from Ciaran Carson's previous collections, reveals one of the most remarkable and sustained tours de force in contemporary poetry: the poet's reimaginign of his native city of Belfast. Carson introduces the reader to a city as full of surreal narrative and imaginative possibility as Borges' Buenos Aires or Calvino's Venice; at the same time he never shirks from taking a hard look at the city in all its political and cultural complexity. In its refusal to simplify or romanticize, The Ballad of HMS Belfast is an indispensable guidebook to a city few will know exists. 'He is the master of the long line; these poems are manic, frightening and funny, and somehow manage to catch the tone of life in modern Belfast' John Banville, Irish Times 'It is about Belfast past and present and is full of surprises, savage and witty, human and extravagant. His voice is truly original, both intelligent and passionate' A. S. Byatt, Sunday Times Books of the Year

The Ballad of HMS Belfast

The Ballad of HMS Belfast

Author: Ciaran Carson Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 08/05/2014

This compendium, made from Ciaran Carson's previous collections, reveals one of the most remarkable and sustained tours de force in contemporary poetry: the poet's reimaginign of his native city of Belfast. Carson introduces the reader to a city as full of surreal narrative and imaginative possibility as Borges' Buenos Aires or Calvino's Venice; at the same time he never shirks from taking a hard look at the city in all its political and cultural complexity. In its refusal to simplify or romanticize, The Ballad of HMS Belfast is an indispensable guidebook to a city few will know exists. 'He is the master of the long line; these poems are manic, frightening and funny, and somehow manage to catch the tone of life in modern Belfast' John Banville, Irish Times 'It is about Belfast past and present and is full of surprises, savage and witty, human and extravagant. His voice is truly original, both intelligent and passionate' A. S. Byatt, Sunday Times Books of the Year

Exchange Place A Belfast Thriller

Exchange Place A Belfast Thriller

Author: Ciaran Carson Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 01/10/2012

`He took out his watch and looked at it. He rested for one minute as timed on his watch. He opened the briefcase and took out a passport and a pair of spectacles. He put the spectacles on and looked at his passport, and realised he was the man in the picture. A gunshot rang out.' Part thriller, part spy novel, Exchange Place is set between Belfast and Paris and tracks the individual movements of two men, John Kilfeather and John Kilpatrick, who are trying to solve a mystery concerning a lost friend, a missing notebook and a gun. But this is no ordinary mystery and the usual rules don't apply. Appearances are deceptive; identities dissolve, become slippery; and it's easy to lose track of who you are in the winding streets and passageways of the city. As the paths of Kilpatrick and Kilfeather slowly and inexorably converge, it is only the subterranean Memory Palace that can open the way to the truth. A brilliant psychological thriller that confirms Carson as one of our most talented Irish writers. If you enjoyed Exchange Place, you might enjoy The Pen Friend, also by Ciaran Carson

The Pen Friend A Novel

The Pen Friend A Novel

Author: Ciaran Carson Format: Hardback Release Date: 06/11/2009

`I write to try to see you as you were, or what you have become. You left no forwarding address: that was part of your intention. For when we wrote those letters to each other all those years ago, we wrote as much for ourselves as for each other.' More than twenty years after the end of their love affair, Gabriel receives a cryptic postcard from old flame Nina. It is the first of thirteen cards from her, each one provoking a series of reveries about their life together in 1980s Belfast. The Pen Friend is, however, much more than a love story. As Gabriel teases out the significance of the cards, his reveries develop into richly textured meditations on writing, memory, spiritualism and surveillance. The result is an intricate web of fact and fiction - moving easily between such varied subjects as the Troubles, Esperanto and John Lavery - a strange and wonderful novel by one of our finest Irish writers. If you enjoyed The Pen Friend, you might also enjoy Ciaran Carson's Exchange Place, a brilliant thriller set in Paris and Belfast.

The Tain

The Tain

Author: Ciaran Carson Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 02/10/2008

The Tain Bo Cualinge, centrepiece of the eighth-century Ulster cycle of heroic tales, is Ireland's great epic. It tells the story of a great cattle-raid, the invasion of Ulster by the armies of Medb and Ailill, Queen and King of Connacht, and their allies, seeking to carry off the great Brown Bull of Cualige. The hero of the tale is Cuchulainn, the Hound of Ulster, who resists the invaders single-handed while Ulster's warriors lie sick.

Shamrock Tea

Shamrock Tea

Author: Ciaran Carson Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 07/03/2002

Shamrock tea is a magical substance that allows people to see things not given to ordinary mortals. They can sense colours and sounds more vividly; they can penetrate the surface of paintings; they can cross time. The narrator, his cousin and a strange Belgian friend know that their lives are ruled mysteriously by the great van Eyck painting, the Arnolfini portrait, and they have travelled in dream-like moments through the painting into other times. They discover that each moment is connected to every other. But in the strange world of Shamrock Tea, no story can be straightforward. With a cast of characters that includes the gardener Ludwig Wittgenstein, this book will intrigue and entrance.

The Star Factory

The Star Factory

Author: Ciaran Carson Format: Paperback / softback Release Date: 13/08/1998

The Star Factory of the title was an abandoned mill, full of Piranesian galleries and rusting machinery, which haunted the author as a child; roads converge on Belfast to form a stellar patter, in an ironic benediction of the city's sectarian divisions. But the Star factory is also a place of the imagination, where history and decaying architecture are turned into stories. And this is a book about growing up in a city that is full of stories, waeving in and out of each other as Carson explores myriad cities of his native town, diving down the wormhole of memory into parallel worlds where religion, politics and the sad magic of the dying shipyards and linen factories take manifold forms.

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