Irish Book Awards

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The Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award 2018


The Board of the An Post Irish Book Awards have conferred upon Thomas Kinsella the Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award for 2018.

Thomas Kinsella was born and educated in Inchicore.  In 1946, he entered University College Dublin  to study science but later joined the civil service in the Department of Finance, studying at night, having switched subjects to humanities and arts.  In 1952 his first book, The Starlit Eye, was published by Liam Miller’s Dolmen Press followed by several other collections.  Originally regarded as a natural descendant of Auden and Larkin, Kinsella adopted a modernist approach to poetry after his move to the USA in 1965, using language that permitted a deeper exploration of self and society.

Having turned his attention to the translation of early Irish texts, Kinsella produced two volumes which made a substantial impact; first, The Táin, (Dolmen 1969), illustrated by Louis le Brocquy and an anthology of Irish poetry An Duanaire: 1600-1900, Poems of the Dispossessed (1981), translated by Kinsella and edited by Seán Ó Tuama. In 1972, he launched Peppercanister Press to publish his own work. Running to some thirty booklets, the Peppercanister project constitutes one of the great bodies of work in all of Irish poetry.

Sometimes regarded as a poet whose work intersects the mainstream of Irish poetry at a tangent, Kinsella is now recognized at home and abroad as one of the greats of his generation.  In his 90th year, nearly four decades after his debut collection of poems, The Board members of the An Post Irish Book Awards are delighted to honour Thomas Kinsella as the recipient of the 2018 Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award.