Chaired by Professor Frank Shovlin (Irish Studies). In association with Culture Ireland.
Born in Galway, Irish poet and playwright Rita Ann Higgins was one of thirteen children in her family, and left school at the age of fourteen. She began to write poetry in her twenties after being hospitalised with tuberculosis.
Higgins’s frank, wry poems often look squarely at economic and gender-based inequalities. Calling hers a “smart, sassy, unabashed, female working class voice in Irish writing” in a 2011 Irish Times review of Ireland Is Changing Mother, Fintan O’Toole observes that “the anger in her work is transmuted into invention and absurdity, and it rubs shoulders with other deliciously deadly sins, like lust and pride.” Higgins is the author of numerous collections, including Ireland Is Changing Mother (2011), Sunny Side Plucked: New & Selected Poems (1996, a Poetry Book Society Recommendation), Philomena’s Revenge (1992) and Goddess on the Mervue Bus (1986).
She has also written several plays, including Down all the Roundabouts or (no one is entitled to a view) (1999) and Face Licker Come Home (1991), which was staged by Punchbag. Higgins has edited the anthologies Word and Image: A Collection of Poems from Sunderland Women’s Centre and Washington Bridge Centre (2000) and Out the Clara Road: The Offaly Anthology (1999).
Her honours include the Peadar O’Donnell Award, several arts council grants, and residencies granted by National University of Ireland-Galway, Offaly County Council and Galway City Library. A member of Aosdána, Higgins has directed workshops and gave readings at Texas Christian University. She lives in Galway and Spiddal.