Leontia Flynn

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Leontia Flynn (born 1974) is a poet from Northern Ireland. She grew up in Ballyloughlin, south County Down, between the towns of Newcastle and Dundrum, close to Murlough Nature Reserve and Royal County Down Golf Club.

She studied English Literature at Queen's University Belfast followed by a masters in writing and cultural politics at Edinburgh University. She later returned to Queen's to complete a Ph.D.

As of February 2014, she is the Seamus Heaney Poet-in-Residence at the Bloomsbury Hotel in London.

Literary career[edit]

Flynn won an Eric Gregory Award in 2001. Her first book of poems These Days (Jonathan Cape) was published in 2004 and won the Forward Poetry Prize for best First Collection. It was also shortlisted for the Whitbread Poetry Prize.

The critic Tom Paulin described Flynn’s poetry in These Days as “smart as a whip, lyrical, always on point – the real, right thing”.

The Whitbread judges described Flynn’s first collection as: “A breathtakingly accomplished debut. These Days transforms Flynn's experiences into literary jewels. She has exceptional insight and the writerly rigour of a poet many years her senior.”

On the basis of These Days, Flynn was named one of twenty ‘Next Generation poets’ by The Poetry Book Society.

Flynn’s second poetry collection Drives (Jonathan Cape) was published in 2008. That same year she won the Rooney Prize for Irish Literature and a major Individual Artists Award from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. Drives was also shortlisted for the 2009 Poetry Now Award.

On Drives, Random House states: “Her second collection of poetry is a book of restless journeys — real and imaginary — interspersed with sonnets on writers. Starting in Belfast, where she lives, she visits a number of cities in Europe and the States, each one the occasion for an elliptical postcard home to herself.”

Profit and Loss[edit]

Her third collection, Profit and Loss, was published in September 2011. It was the Poetry Book Society Choice for Autumn and shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize.

Profit and Loss is divided into three sections. Section One is a series of interconnected poems based on the motif of rooms, and entitled ‘A Gothic’ and Section Two is a long poem entitled ‘Letter to Friends’.

Reviewing Profit and Loss for The Guardian, Fran Brearton described Flynn “as one of the most original and accomplished poets of her generation”. Bernard O’Donoghue in TLS Books of the Year wrote that Profit and Loss demonstrated Flynn’s “unrivalled capacity as a good-humoured but devastating observer of the modern secular scene” and declared ‘Letter to Friends’, “Flynn’s long poem about the way we live now” as “a masterpiece”.

In The Irish Times, Philip Coleman wrote “Flynn’s place as one of the strongest and most skillful poetic voices of her generation is confirmed in Profit and Loss”. He continued “(In Letter to Friends) The poet’s voice speaks clearly through the stanzas of this poem in lines that are rhymed and enjambed with exemplary wit and syntactical care… Flynn’s decision to cast her verse letter in a form famously used by WH Auden in his Letter to Lord Byron – the ‘conversational song’ in which he said the “average poet” is “unobservant, immature, and lazy” – was spot on. Like Auden, she addresses important issues here in a language that is both playful and serious, and in a form that is, if not “large enough to swim in”, at least robust enough to contain the many concerns she raises in it, from the delights and torments of personal and familial memory to the function and value of poetry in (postmodern) society.”

Leontia Flynn has written a Ph.D. thesis and a book on the poetry of Medbh McGuckian, as well as reviews and articles. She has written for the free Belfast newspaper The Vacuum since 2001.

Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry[edit]

Flynn has been Research Fellow at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry, Queen’s University Belfast, since 2005 and currently edits the journal The Yellow Nib with Frank Ormsby.

Personal life[edit]

She currently lives in Belfast with her partner and young daughter.

Bibliography[edit]

External links[edit]

  • [1] www.leontiaflynn.com
  • [2] - Leontia Flynn, British Council profile
  • [3] - Fran Brearton's review of Profit and Loss for The Guardian, 2 September 2011
  • [4] - Yellow Nib website
  • [5] - The Vacuum website