Eamon Grennan

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(Poets and Poetry in America)

Eamon Grennan was born in Dublin in 1941. He attended a boarding school in a Cistercian monastery. He did his undergraduate studies at University College in Dublin, where he became acquainted with fellow poets Derek Mahon and Eavan Boland. Afterward, he spent one year in Rome before coming to the United States in 1964. He earned his doctoral degree at Harvard. In 1974, he became the Dexter M. Ferry, Jr., Professor of English at Vassar College, and remained in that position until his retirement in 2004.

Grennan published Wildly for Days, his first collection of poems, in 1983. He has a long and distinguished record of publications and is known for his attention to the lyrical and cerebral qualities of his works. Former U.S. poet laureate Collins has remarked on Grennan’s generous, telluric, and sensual works, which deal openly and compassionately with the complexity of being human.

Grennan has settled in the United States but returns frequently to Ireland. Like his poetry, he shares components of both cultures, often blending American experience with Irish recollection. He twice returned to Ireland for limited periods, in 1977 and 1981. It was in Ireland that he began writing poetry, and he states that Gaelic poetry became a dominant force in his need to produce poems that echo this unique linguistic sound. Grennan embraces his status of alien resident in the United States, stating that he prefers to live at a distance from the land he occupies, as this gives his work an angle that cannot otherwise be achieved.


(Poetry for Students)

Eamon Grennan was born November 13, 1941, in Dublin, Ireland, the son of Thomas P. (an educational administrator) and Evelyn (Yourell) Grennan and was raised in middle-class suburban Dublin. Grennan’s interest in literature was first awakened by a young teacher named Gus Martin, at a boarding school run by Cistercian monks that Grennan attended. Martin managed to communicate to the adolescent Grennan his own enthusiasm for Shakespeare and other writers.

Grennan studied literature at University College, Dublin, where, as Grennan later wrote, he was fortunate to have teachers who nurtured his literary interests. Grennan was awarded a bachelor of arts degree in 1963 and a master of arts degree in 1964. In the late 1960s, Grennan attended graduate school at Harvard University, where he continued to be inspired by what he described in the preface to Facing the Music: Irish Poetry in the Twentieth Century (1999), quoting Edmund Spenser, as “the brightness of brave and glorious words.” He had a particular interest in Shakespeare and wrote his dissertation on Shakespeare’s history plays. He earned a Ph.D. from Harvard University in 1973. The following year, Grennan became a member of the English faculty at Vassar College in Poughkeepsie, New York. Grennan went on to become the Dexter M. Ferry Jr. Professor of English at Vassar. He also taught Irish Studies at Villanova...

(The entire section is 695 words.)