Irish American Poets at the Boston Book Festival

Joseph Lee of New York University describes the author of Awake in America, Daniel Tobin, as “a marvelous ambassador for poetry.” The book, which is a study of Irish American poetry, makes Tobin a natural to the host of the Irish American Poetry session for the Boston Book Festival on October 27.

Tobin’s Irish grandmother came to America in 1913, but his grandfather and his

Daniel Tobin

father’s family came over earlier. “I remember listening to stories about Ireland from the people who dropped by my grandmother’s house to chat,” says Tobin. His personal history is also reflected in the book The Narrows, a series of poems about family in this country and their ties to the old country. His credentials are also bolstered by his book, A Passage to the Center: Imagination and the Sacred in the Poetry of Seamus Heaney.

But Tobin isn’t the only one in the lineup of Irish American poets who stands out as an extraordinary poet. The rest of the panel include:


Joan Houlihan

Joan Houlihan is the founder of both the Concord Poetry Center and the Colrain Poetry Manuscript Conferences as well as the author of three books of poetry, the latest of which is The Us (Tupelo Press). Houlihan teaches in the Lesley University MFA in Creative Writing Program in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and the MFA program at Columbia University in New York.
·         X.J. Kennedy is the author of six collections of poetry, eighteen children’s books and several

X.J. Kennedy

textbooks, including An Introduction to Poetry, 13th edition, with Dana Gioia.  His latest book of poetry is In a Prominent Bar in Secaucus: New and Selected Poems.  (Johns Hopkins.)



Aiden Rooney

Aiden Rooney is a past winner of the Guinness Literary Award and the NY Yeats Society Competition. He received the Hennessy Literary Award for New Irish Poet in 1997. His collections, Day Release (2000) and Tightrope (2007), are published by The Gallery Press in Ireland.

·         Nick Flynn is a poet, playwright and memoirist whose most recent book is The Captain

Nick Flynn

Asks for a Show of Hands (2011, Graywolf Press), a collection of poems linked to his latest memoir, The Ticking is the Bomb  (2010, W. W. Norton & Company).  Flynn has written two other books of poetry. His 2004 memoir, Another Bull**** Night in Suck City, was turned into a movie (Being Flynn) starring Robert DiNero as Flynn’s homeless father.

Tobin will introduce the program, setting the listeners’ expectations for poetry in a city with a history drenched in Irish immigrants and Irish lore. He will also introduce the poets and will read his own poetry.

Each poet will read about 15 minutes. “Although,” Tobin adds with an Irish twinkle in his voice, “You never know – X. J. Kennedy could possibly break out in song!”