Poet Greg Delanty has been named the first recipient of the David Ferry and Ellen LaForge Poetry Prize. The prize was established at Suffolk University through the generosity of the Ellen LaForge Memorial Foundation. It honors Ellen LaForge, a lifelong avid poetry lover and supporter, and poet and translator David Ferry. The prize, along with a $2,000 honorarium, is awarded to an accomplished poet who has also published books of translation.
Ferry — a Distinguished Visiting Poet at Suffolk for over a decade and winner of the National Book Award — participated in the ceremony, praising Delanty for the “immediacy of his language.”
English Professor George Kalogeris lauded Delanty’s gift for translation and talent for crafting poems that “sing across the kitchen table” and also speak to global challenges, notably decades of focus on climate change.
Greg Delanty maintains dual citizenship in Ireland and the United States, where he has lived since 1986. He is the author of No More Time, Apathy is Out, a translation of the selected poems of Séan Ó Ríordáin, Book Seventeen, and The Ship of Birth, among many other books, and he has received numerous awards for his poetry, including a Guggenheim Fellowship. He teaches at Saint Michael’s College in Vermont.
Delanty read from both his original and translated works, and spoke of the challenge and reward of translation:
“We are, in fact, translating non-stop really all our lives, multiple translations and for all different people,” Delanty said.
A recording of his reading is available here: https://suffolk.zoom.us/rec/share/DBPx9MRIzPSYKbpXSGw3DyD03RB_dxbzJoIwji39xFkDY1ac6M4Vz7QvTYgPHI0.GP1d52gtsL1JgVo2
“In the parish, there is the universe as well,” said Irish Taoiseach Micheál Martin as he closed his welcome to virtual attendees from around the globe at Suffolk University’s first David Ferry and Ellen LaForge Poetry Prize reading and celebration.
The truly international event was also attended by Consul General of Ireland to New England Laoise Moore, the Irish Ambassador Dan Mulhall, the celebrated Irish poet Michael Longley and his wife, the eminent critic Edna Longley, and the former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins.
Martin, the Taoiseach (or Prime Minister) of Ireland grew up in Cork with the evening’s honoree, poet and translator Greg Delanty. He spoke eloquently of his love for Delanty’s poetry, and discussed how reading Greg Delanty’s translation of Irish poet Séan Ó Ríordáin keeps him connected to his childhood memories and Irish culture.
“There’s a beautiful poem, Fill Arís, which means ‘return again,’ and Greg translates it beautifully in this book,” said Martin. “And O’Riordain is saying, ‘Go back to that place. You will discover your essence of what you’re about as a people. You can never ditch your country, your ethos, your culture, your language.’”
Martin’s warm remarks began an evening of celebration — of poetry, of Delanty and his work, of Irish culture, and of the prize’s namesakes David Ferry and Ellen LaForge.