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Paul Durcan

Ireland's 'poet of the people' honoured for a lifetime's great work

‘Daddy, Daddy,’ I cried, ‘Pass out the moon,’

Durcan, Paul 2 c Mark Condren - cleared all further uses (1) Paul Durcan Mark Condren Mark Condren

“Do you ever take a holiday abroad?
No, we always go to America.” – Paul Durcan, Ireland 2002

pangrapps / YouTube

PAUL DURCAN IS perhaps Ireland’s most famous living poet, and next month will see him honoured for his contribution to Ireland’s literary landscape.

In recognition of his work, his energetic live readings, and wry, humorous observances on Irish life, he will be presented with the Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award at this year’s Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards.

Durcan will be in illustrious company – other winners of the award include John Banville, Maeve Binchy, John McGahern, Edna O’ Brien, William Trevor, Seamus Heaney and Jennifer Johnston.

The Board of the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards said that “few poets have managed to reconcile popular success with the careful cultivation of their art as successfully as Paul Durcan”.

Throughout a long career spanning five decades, Durcan has given us fierce satirical poems which challenge the orthodoxies of materialism, sexism, authoritarianism, the Church, and the violence of nationalism.

They described him as “funnier than any stand-up, dramatic as many an actor, but once heard, the sotto voce incantatory style is never forgotten”.

They also noted that Durcan’s books don’t just clog up the bookstores’ shelves – they sell: “few writers have been a greater friend to Irish booksellers than Paul Durcan” said the board.

Neil Astley / YouTube

The multi-award-winning Durcan, who was born in Dublin in 1944, scooped the Patrick Kavanagh Award in 1974, and published his first collection O Westport in the Light of Asia Minor in 1975.

His most recent collections of poetry is Praise in Which I Live and Move and Have My Being, which was published in 2012.

The Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards shortlist will be announced this Thursday, 30 October 2014, with the award ceremony taking place in Dublin’s DoubleTree Hilton Hotel on Wednesday, 26 November. The highlights will be broadcast on RTÉ One on Saturday 29 November.

Read: Meet the people making poetry cool again in Ireland>

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