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A Lifetime of Poetry

October 30, 2014

Congratulations to 2014 Lifetime Achievement recipient Paul Durcan.

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, authoritiarianism, the Church, and the violence of nationalism.  His poetry has been described as Whitmanesque for its heterogeneity, for the way in which the everyday lived life, current affairs, politics and love are made to seem congenial bedfellows.

A Paul Durcan public reading is like no other.  Audiences come away drained and cleansed as if from a secular mass.  He can be funnier than any stand-up, dramatic as many an actor, but once heard, the sotto voce incantatory style is never forgotten. His style owes much to what he has called “the essence of the common language” which is perhaps what has enabled him to bridge poetry’s infamous gulf of difficulty.

What’s more, and particularly endearing to booksellers, his books sell, and a new Durcan collection is always gratefully received within the trade.  Booksellers, like readers and critics, have favourite writers.  Any book sold keeps Yeats’s “greasy till” chiming but there are certain writers whose work booksellers actively enjoy recommending and selling to their customers. It is those good friends of the book trade that our Lifetime Achievement Award is designed to honour and few writers have been a greater friend to Irish booksellers than Paul Durcan.

For all of these reasons, the Board of the Bord Gáis Energy Irish Book Awards is delighted to present the 2014 Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award to Paul Durcan.

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