Eamon Grennan, the Irish poet who delighted a packed house in Amherst with a reading of his lyrical poetry in 2011, will return to give the University at Buffalo’s 2013 Oscar Silverman Poetry Reading at 8 p.m. Friday in the Butler Mansion.
The reading, in the mansion at 672 Delaware Ave., is free and open to the public.
Oscar Silverman, who taught in the UB Department of English from 1926 to 1963, served as chairman for the last eight years. His daughter, Ansie Baird, said this is the first time the reading will be held off campus, “to make it more accessible to many in our audience.”
Baird said she and Carl Dennis, professor emeritus of English at UB, “select a poet of some long-term distinction to give this reading. We read the work of various poets, and each of us has particular voices we would like to have read locally, poets whose work is accessible perhaps to nonreaders of poetry as well as those who are immersed in contemporary poetry.
“This process has worked well,” she said, “as the reading has long been a very popular and well-attended event, and I’m confident it will be this year. Grennan is a wonderful poet and a charming man.”
The last time Grennan appeared locally, in the inaugural cultural event at the Newman Center in Amherst, he introduced each poem with a few remarks, ranging from a discussion of images to a glimpse into his motivation. The attentive crowd followed many of his lyrical poems with murmurs of appreciation.
Grennan’s sharply observant poetry often includes images from the natural world. He focuses on the smallest of things, from a Cape May warbler that flew into his window: “She is out of her element forever/ Who was air’s high-spirited daughter” to elemental mysteries of human existence, prehistoric cave painters using “pigments mixed in big shells/ are crushed ore, petals and pollens, berries/ and the binding juices oozed/ out of chosen barks.”
Grennan is the author of more than 10 books of poetry, of which the most recent is “Out of Sight – New and Selected Poems.” He also wrote “Facing the Music: Irish Poetry in the Twentieth Century,” a collection of critical essays.
Born in Harolds Cross, south Dublin, Grennan attended University College Dublin and Harvard. He taught at Vassar College, where he was the Dexter M. Ferry Jr. Professor of English, until his retirement in 2007 and now divides his time between Poughkeepsie and a cottage in Renvyle, in the west of Ireland.
Grennan won the PEN Award for poetry in translation for “Selected Poems of Giacomo Leopardi” (1997), and the Lenore Marshall Poetry Prize from the Academy of American Poets for “Still Life With Waterfall” (2002). He has also won several Pushcart Prizes. He has been awarded fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Guggenheim Foundation.