Ciaran Carson was born in 1948 in Belfast, where he lived. He worked in the Arts Council of Northern Ireland from 1975 to 1998, with responsibility for Traditional Music, and, more latterly, Literature.
In October 2003 he was appointed Professor of Poetry and Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s University, Belfast.
He is the author of fourteen collections of poems, including The Irish for No, Belfast Confetti, The Twelfth of Never, First Language, Opera Et Cetera, The New Estate and Other Poems (1988), Breaking News, (Forward Prize), For All We Know (Poetry Book Society Choice; shortlisted for 2008 T S Eliot prize), Collected Poems (2008), On the Night Watch (2009) and Until Before After (2010). His translations include The Alexandrine Plan, The Midnight Court, The Inferno of Dante Aligheri, The Táin, In the Light Of (2012) and From Elsewhere (October 2014). From There to Here (Selected Poems and Translations) was published on the occasion of his 70th birthday (October 2018) and Still Life on 16 October 2019. His Collected Poems was originally published in 2008 and reissued in September 2023 as Collected Poems: Volume One along with Collected Poems: Volume Two which incorporates Ciaran Carson’s later poems.
In recent years Ciaran Carson has written five prose books: Last Night’s Fun, a book about traditional music; The Star Factory, a memoir of Belfast; Fishing for Amber: A Long Story; Shamrock Tea, a novel, which was longlisted for the Booker Prize and The Pen Friend (a novel). He has won several literary awards, including the Irish Times Irish Literature Prize and the T.S. Eliot Prize. Ciaran Carson’s translation of Dante’s Inferno (2002) was awarded the Oxford Weidenfeld Translation Prize, and in 2003 he was made an honorary member of the Irish Translators’ and Interpreters’ Association. He was a member of Aosdána and a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature.
Ciaran Carson died at his home in Belfast on 6 October 2019.