September 22, 2003

Heaney reading to honor Chace

By Deb Hammacher

Seamus Heaney, winner of the 1995 Nobel Prize for literature, will give a rare public reading from his works in honor of former President Bill Chace, Tuesday, Sept. 23, at 5 p.m. in the Schwartz Center’s Emerson Concert Hall.

Chace, who served nine years as Emory president, is a scholar of the Irish poet and author James Joyce.

In May, Heaney gave the keynote address at Commence-ment and received an honorary doctor of humane letters degree.

Heaney’s ties to Emory reach back many years, dating to his selection as the inaugural Richard Ellmann Lecturer in Modern Literature in 1988. The lectures were published as “The Place of Writing,” and his notes for the series were deposited in Special Collections, a seed that has grown into what many scholars consider the finest archive of contemporary Irish poetry anywhere.

Heaney, who was born in County Derry in Northern Ireland in 1939, is widely regarded as one of the finest English language contemporary poets. His critically acclaimed first book, Death of a Naturalist, marked the arrival of a major new poetic voice. During his distinguished career he has published numerous collections of poems, translations and works of literary criticism.

In 1984 he was named Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Poetry at Harvard University, and in 1989 he was named to the prestigious Chair of Poetry at Oxford University. The year after receiving the Nobel Prize, his collection of poems The Spirit Level was selected as the Whitbread Book of the Year. His 1999 verse translation of Beowulf was an international bestseller, the same year that his collected poems Opened Ground were published.

More recently, Heaney was awarded the 2003 Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism for Finders Keepers: Selected Prose 1971–2001.

Heaney’s reading is free and open to the public. For more information, call