Home News Alice Lyons first writer in residence of the Heaney-Milosz Residency

Alice Lyons first writer in residence of the Heaney-Milosz Residency

Alice Lyons has been selected as the first writer in residence of the new Heaney-Milosz Residency

The Estate of Seamus Heaney, Krakow Festival Office, and the Irish Embassy in Poland have selected poet Alice Lyons to be the first writer in residence of the new Heaney-Miłosz Residency, which will take place in Krakow, Poland.

The Heaney–Miłosz Residency aims to support writers, resident in Ireland, who are at the early to mid-stages of their careers, to give them the space and time to develop their work in the beautiful surroundings of Krakow.

Awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1980, Czesław Miłosz is one of Poland’s most outstanding writers. Described by Seamus Heaney as a “veteran of turmoil”, Miłosz experienced the devastation of war and occupation in Central and Eastern Europe which shaped his writing.

It was in Krakow that Miłosz and Heaney strengthened their friendship. The work of both authors springs from experiences of conflict and adversity, and they are also connected by a commitment to dignity and human rights.

Alice Lyons is an Irish writer, originally from the USA, who has lived in the west of Ireland for over 20 years. Author of three books of poetry, she is the recipient of several awards both in Ireland and the USA for her work.

Many of her poems have been translated into Polish, appearing most recently in publications such as Czas Literatury and Tygodnik Powszechny.  She currently lectures in writing and literature at the Yeats Academy of Arts, Design & Architecture at the Institute of Technology, Sligo.

Oona gives voice to a female character on her fraught journey into adulthood and charts her evolution as an artist, as her adolescent dissociation is thawed through contact with the physical world, the materials of painting and her engagement with Irish community, culture and landscape.

Set during the era of the Celtic Tiger and its aftermath, this is a resonant story conveyed in an innovative form. Written entirely without the letter ‘o’, the tone of the book reflects Oona’s inner damage and the destruction caused by hiding, omitting and obliterating parts of ourselves.

Carolina Pietyra, Director of KBF, the operator of the Krakow UNESCO City of Literature programme said that she hopes that the opportunity will be fruitful.

“Czesław Miłosz lived on Bogusławskiego Street in Krakow for the last decade of his life. We hope, therefore, that the opportunity to stay in Krakow, which pulses with creativity and creative energy, will provide excellent working conditions for Alice Lyons, and contribute to strengthening the literary relationship between Ireland and Poland.”

Welcoming her selection, Chris Heaney, of the Estate of Seamus Heaney, said that everyone was delighted that Lyons will be the first recipient of the Residency, having been selected from a very strong field of impressive candidates.

“Alice Lyons has a longstanding and deep connection with Poland and Polish culture, which has informed her work across various media, and we hope that the Residency will provide her with time and space for the development of her work.”

Ambassador of Ireland to Poland, Patrick Haughey, also welcomed the news, saying that this Residency is a tangible celebration of the friendship between Czeslaw Milosz and Seamu Heaney.

“It will contribute to strengthening the ever tighter bonds between Irish and Polish literature, poetry and culture.”