Born in Co. Armagh in 1951, he studied at Queen's University, Belfast, and was a radio producer for the BBC in the 1970s and '80s. His collections of poetry include New Weather (1973), Mules (1977), Immram (1980), Why Brownlee Left (1980), Out of Siberia (1982), Quoof (1983), The Wishbone (1984), Meeting The British (1987), Madoc: A Mystery (1990), The Prince of the Quotidian (1994), Kerry Slides (with photographs by Bill Doyle, 1996), Hay (1998), and Moy Sand and Gravel (2002). In 1994, The Annals of Chile won the T. S. Eliot Prize. He has written the libretto to three operas by composer Daron Hagen: Shining Brow (1992), about Frank Lloyd Wright; Vera of Las Vegas (1996); and Bandanna (1998), a version of Othello. To Ireland, I, a book of critical essays and lectures, was published in 2000. He has also written children's books and a play, and he has edited several collections of poetry. He won the Eric Gregory Award in 1972 and the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize in 1982. He has taught at numerous American universities, and is now professor in the humanities at Princeton University, New Jersey, where he chaired the creative writing programme for many years. He was elected to the Oxford Chair of Poetry in 1999.
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