Kinsella, Thomas

Kinsella, Thomas , 1928-2021, Irish poet and translator, b. Inchicore, Dublin. Kinsella studied at Dublin's University College and began working as a civil servant in 1946. Beginning in the early '50s, he began publishing his poetry, including Another September (1958). His early work drew on the formalism of poets like W.H. Auden tempered with an Irish lyricism. In 1965, he left Ireland to accept a position teaching at Southern Illinois Univ. at Carbondale (1965-69), and then was hired by Temple Univ., teaching there for 20 years (1970-90). Following his move to the U.S., his poetry showed much more influence from 20th century modernist writers and psychological theory, often tackling personal subjects. He also wrote poems that reflected the Irish "troubles" of the early '70s, including "Butcher's Dozen" (1972) inspired by the Bloody Sunday killings. In addition to his own poetry, he translated several early Irish texts, notably the Tain Bo Cuailnge ("The Cattle Raid of Cooley," trans. 1969). Kinsella founded Peppercanister publishers in 1972 to publish his own works in limited editions. In the final decades of his life, his poetry took another turn to historical topics away from the personal subjects of his midperiod work. Among his awards and honors include the Honorary Freedom of the City of Dublin (2007), and an honorary doctorate in literature from Trinity College Dublin (2018). His brother, John Kinsella (1932-2021), was a noted composer.

See his The Dual Tradition: An Essay on Poetry and Politics in Ireland (1995), Collected Poems (1996; rev. 2001) ; studies by M. Harmon, The Poetry of Thomas Kinsella (1974), Thomas Kinsella: Designing for the Exact Needs (2008), D. Johnston, Irish Poetry after Joyce (1985).

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