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Pearse Hutchinson

Pearse Hutchinson

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Pearse Hutchinson is an Irish
Irish people
The Irish people are an ethnic group who originate in Ireland, an island in northwestern Europe. Ireland has been populated for around 9,000 years , with the Irish people's earliest ancestors recorded having legends of being descended from groups such as the Nemedians, Fomorians, Fir Bolg, Tuatha...

A poet is a person who writes poetry. A poet's work can be literal, meaning that his work is derived from a specific event, or metaphorical, meaning that his work can take on many meanings and forms. Poets have existed since antiquity, in nearly all languages, and have produced works that vary...

, broadcaster
A presenter, or host , is a person or organization responsible for running an event. A museum or university, for example, may be the presenter or host of an exhibit. Likewise, a master of ceremonies is a person that hosts or presents a show...

 and translator.

Childhood and education

Pearse Hutchinson was born in Glasgow
Glasgow is the largest city in Scotland and third most populous in the United Kingdom. The city is situated on the River Clyde in the country's west central lowlands...

. His father, Harry Hutchinson, a Scottish printer whose own father had left Dublin to find work in Scotland, was Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin
Sinn Féin is a left wing, Irish republican political party in Ireland. The name is Irish for "ourselves" or "we ourselves", although it is frequently mistranslated as "ourselves alone". Originating in the Sinn Féin organisation founded in 1905 by Arthur Griffith, it took its current form in 1970...

 treasurer in Glasgow and was interned in Frongoch
Frongoch internment camp
Frongoch internment camp at Frongoch in Merionethshire, Wales was a makeshift place of imprisonment during the First World War. Until 1916 it housed German prisoners of war in an abandoned distillery and crude huts, but in the wake of the 1916 Easter Rising in Dublin, Ireland, the German prisoners...

 in 1919-21. His mother, Cathleen Sara, was born in Cowcaddens
Cowcaddens is an area of the city of Glasgow, Scotland. It is virtually in the city centre and is bordered by the areas of Garnethill to the south and Townhead to the east....

, Glasgow, of emigrant parents from Donegal
Donegal or Donegal Town is a town in County Donegal, Ireland. Its name, which was historically written in English as Dunnagall or Dunagall, translates from Irish as "stronghold of the foreigners" ....

. She was a friend of Constance Markievicz. In response to a letter from Cathleen, Éamon de Valera
Éamon de Valera
Éamon de Valera was one of the dominant political figures in twentieth century Ireland, serving as head of government of the Irish Free State and head of government and head of state of Ireland...

 found work in Dublin for Harry as a clerk in the Labour Exchange, and later he held a post in Stationery Office.

Pearse was five years old when the family moved to Dublin, and was the last to be enrolled in St. Enda's School
St. Enda's School
St. Enda's School, or Scoil Éanna, was a Secondary school for boys set up by Irish nationalist Patrick Pearse in 1908.-Background:Pearse, generally known as a leader of the Easter Rising in 1916, had long been critical of the educational system in Ireland, which he believed taught Irish children to...

 before it closed. He then went to school at the Christian Brothers, Synge Street
Synge Street CBS
Synge Street CBS is a Christian Brothers School in Dublin 8, Ireland. It was founded in 1864.-Primary school:The primary section caters for boys from seven to twelve years. It is called Sancta Maria CBS. It opened in 1954.-Secondary school:...

 where he learnt Irish
Irish language
Irish , also known as Irish Gaelic, is a Goidelic language of the Indo-European language family, originating in Ireland and historically spoken by the Irish people. Irish is now spoken as a first language by a minority of Irish people, as well as being a second language of a larger proportion of...

 and Latin
Latin is an Italic language originally spoken in Latium and Ancient Rome. It, along with most European languages, is a descendant of the ancient Proto-Indo-European language. Although it is considered a dead language, a number of scholars and members of the Christian clergy speak it fluently, and...

. In 1948 he attended University College Dublin
University College Dublin
University College Dublin ) - formally known as University College Dublin - National University of Ireland, Dublin is the Republic of Ireland's largest, and Ireland's second largest, university, with over 1,300 faculty and 17,000 students...

 where he spent a year and a half, learning Spanish
Spanish language
Spanish , also known as Castilian , is a Romance language in the Ibero-Romance group that evolved from several languages and dialects in central-northern Iberia around the 9th century and gradually spread with the expansion of the Kingdom of Castile into central and southern Iberia during the...

 and Italian
Italian language
Italian is a Romance language spoken mainly in Europe: Italy, Switzerland, San Marino, Vatican City, by minorities in Malta, Monaco, Croatia, Slovenia, France, Libya, Eritrea, and Somalia, and by immigrant communities in the Americas and Australia...


Travels overseas

Having published some poems in The Bell
The Bell (magazine)
The Bell Magazine Dublin, Ireland. A monthly magazine of literature and social comment which had a seminal influence on a generation of Irish intellectuals.- History :...

in 1945, his poetic development was greatly influenced by a 1950 holiday in Spain
Spain , officially the Kingdom of Spain languages]] under the European Charter for Regional or Minority Languages. In each of these, Spain's official name is as follows:;;;;;;), is a country and member state of the European Union located in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula...

 and Portugal
Portugal , officially the Portuguese Republic is a country situated in southwestern Europe on the Iberian Peninsula. Portugal is the westernmost country of Europe, and is bordered by the Atlantic Ocean to the West and South and by Spain to the North and East. The Atlantic archipelagos of the...

. A short stop en route at Vigo
Vigo is a city and municipality in north-west Spain, in Galicia, situated on the ria of the same name on the Atlantic Ocean.-Population:...

 brought him into contact for the first time with the culture of Galicia. Later, in Andalusia
Andalusia is the most populous and the second largest in area of the autonomous communities of Spain. The Andalusian autonomous community is officially recognised as a nationality of Spain. The territory is divided into eight provinces: Huelva, Seville, Cádiz, Córdoba, Málaga, Jaén, Granada and...

, he was entranced by the landscape and by the works of the Spanish poets Lorca
Federico García Lorca
Federico del Sagrado Corazón de Jesús García Lorca was a Spanish poet, dramatist and theatre director. García Lorca achieved international recognition as an emblematic member of the Generation of '27. He is believed to be one of thousands who were summarily shot by anti-communist death squads...

, Prados
Emilio Prados
Emilio Prados was a Spanish poet and editor, a member of the Generation of '27.-Life:Born in the Andalusian city of Málaga in 1899, Prados was offered a place at Madrid's famous Residencia de estudiantes in 1914 and moved into its university section in 1918...

 and Cernuda
Luis Cernuda
Luis Cernuda , was a Spanish poet and literary critic.-Life and career:...

: "That early September of 1950," he would later write, "the light walked for me as it never had before, and I walked through the light I'd always longed for".

In 1951 he left Ireland again, determined to go and live in Spain. Unable to get work in Madrid, as he had hoped, he travelled instead to Geneva
Geneva In the national languages of Switzerland the city is known as Genf , Ginevra and Genevra is the second-most-populous city in Switzerland and is the most populous city of Romandie, the French-speaking part of Switzerland...

, where he got a job as a translator with the International Labour Office, which brought him into contact with Catalan
Catalan language
Catalan is a Romance language, the national and only official language of Andorra and a co-official language in the Spanish autonomous communities of Catalonia, the Balearic Islands and Valencian Community, where it is known as Valencian , as well as in the city of Alghero, on the Italian island...

 exiles, speaking a language then largely suppressed in Spain. An invitation by a Dutch friend led to a visit to the Netherlands
The Netherlands is a constituent country of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, located mainly in North-West Europe and with several islands in the Caribbean. Mainland Netherlands borders the North Sea to the north and west, Belgium to the south, and Germany to the east, and shares maritime borders...

, in preparation for which he taught himself Dutch
Dutch language
Dutch is a West Germanic language and the native language of the majority of the population of the Netherlands, Belgium, and Suriname, the three member states of the Dutch Language Union. Most speakers live in the European Union, where it is a first language for about 23 million and a second...


He returned to Ireland in 1953, and he became interested in the Irish language poetry of writers such as Piaras Feiritéar
Piaras Feiritéar
Piaras Feiritéar was an Irish poet.Feiritéar was a Norman-Irish lord of Baile an Fheirtéaraigh in Corca Dhuibhne. Although best known as a poet, it was his role as a leader of the nascent Catholic Irish community of Norman- and Gaelic- Irish origin which ultimately lead to his execution in...

 and Aonghus Fionn Ó Dálaigh
Aonghus Fionn Ó Dálaigh
Aonghus Fionn Ó Dálaigh , Irish Poet, fl. 1520-1570.Thought to have been born County Meath, Aonghus Fionn was the head of the branch of the Ó Dálaigh family who were poets to the MacCarthy of Desmond...

, and published a number of poems in Irish in the magazine Comhar in 1954.

The same year he travelled again to Spain, this time to Barcelona
Barcelona is the second largest city in Spain after Madrid, and the capital of Catalonia, with a population of 1,621,537 within its administrative limits on a land area of...

, where he learnt the Catalan and Galician languages, and got to know Catalan poets such as Salvador Espriu
Salvador Espriu
Salvador Espriu i Castelló was a Catalan poet writing in the Catalan language.-Biography:Espriu was born in Santa Coloma de Farners, Catalonia. He was the son of an attorney. His childhood was divided between his home town, Barcelona, and Arenys de Mar, a village on the Maresme coast...

 and Carles Riba
Carles Riba
Carles Riba i Bracons was a Catalan poet, writer and translator.He was born in Barcelona and studied Law and Philosophy at the University of Barcelona. In 1916 he married the poet Clementina Arderiu. He worked for a time in the School of Librarianship.In 1922 he travelled to Munich to study under...

. With the British poet P. J. Kavanagh
P. J. Kavanagh
Patrick J. Kavanagh is an English poet, lecturer, actor and broadcaster. His father was the ITMA scriptwriter, Ted Kavanagh.He fought in the Korean War, being evacuated as result of his injuries....

, he organised a reading of Catalan poetry in the British Institute.

He went home to Ireland in 1957 but returned to Barcelona in 1961, and continued to support Catalan poets. An invitation by the publisher Joan Gili
Joan Gili
Joan Gili i Serra, also known as John Gili, was a Catalan antiquarian book-seller, publisher and translator.Joan Gili was born in Barcelona in 1907. His father, Lluis Gili, ran a religious publishing house which also published a cookery book, Sabores, written by his mother, which became a...

 to translate some poems by Josep Carner
Josep Carner
Josep Carner i Puig-Oriol , was a Catalan poet, journalist, playwright and translator. He was also known as the Prince of Catalan Poets.-Biography:...

 led to the publication of his first book, a collection of thirty of Carner's poems in Catalan and English, in 1962. A project to publish Hutchinson's translation of Espriu's La Pell de brau (The Bull-skin), fell through some years later. Some of the poems from this project are included in the collection Done Into English.

Return to Ireland

In 1963, his first collection of original poems in English, Tongue Without Hands (the title a quotation from the Spanish epic El Cid
Cantar de Mio Cid
El Cantar de Myo Çid , also known in English as The Lay of the Cid and The Poem of the Cid is the oldest preserved Spanish epic poem...

), was published by Dolmen Press
Dolmen Press
The Dolmen Press was founded by Liam and Josephine Miller in 1951. The Press operated in Dublin from 1951 until Liam Miller's death in 1987. A printing division was opened in the late 1950s as an additional revenue source, and was eventually shut down in 1979...

 in Ireland. In 1967, having spent nearly ten years altogether in Spain, Hutchinson returned to Ireland, making a living as a poet and journalist writing in both Irish and English. In 1968, a collection of poems in Irish, Faoistin Bhacach (A Lame Confession), was published. Expansions, a collection in English, followed in 1969. Friend Songs (1970) was a new collection of translations, this time of medieval poems originally written in Galicoportugeuse
Galician-Portuguese or Old Portuguese was a West Iberian Romance language spoken in the Middle Ages, in the northwest area of the Iberian Peninsula. It was first spoken in the area bounded in the north and west by the Atlantic Ocean and the Douro River in the south but it was later extended south...

. In 1972 Watching the Morning Grow, a new collection of original poems in English, came out, followed in 1975 by another, The Frost Is All Over.

In October 1971, Hutchinson took up the Gregory Fellowship in Poetry at the University of Leeds
University of Leeds
The University of Leeds is a British Redbrick university located in the city of Leeds, West Yorkshire, England...

, on the recommendation of Professor A. Norman Jeffares. There was some controversy around the appointment following accusations, later retracted, that Jeffares had been guilty of bias in the selection because of their joint Irish heritage. Hutchinson held tenure at the University for three years, and during that time contributed to the University's influential poetry magazine Poetry & Audience; one edition of the magazine, devoted entirely to his poetry, was published as a limited edition.

From 1977 to 1978 he compiled and presented Oró Domhnaigh, a weekly radio programme of Irish poetry, music and folklore for Ireland's national network, RTÉ
RTÉ is the abbreviation for Raidió Teilifís Éireann, the public broadcasting service of the Republic of Ireland.RTE may also refer to:* Recep Tayyip Erdoğan, 25th Prime Minister of Turkey...

. He also contributed a weekly column on the Irish language to the station's magazine RTÉ Guide
RTÉ Guide
The RTÉ Guide is a television and radio listings magazine in Ireland published by RTÉ Commercial Enterprises Ltd, a subsidiary of Raidió Teilifís Éireann....

for over ten years. 1981 saw the publication of another translated collection: this time a collaboration with Melita Cataldi, of Old Irish lyrics into Italian. Another collection in English, Climbing the Light (1985), which also included translations from Irish, Italian and Galician, was followed in 1989 by his last Irish collection, Le Cead na Gréine (By Leave of the Sun). The Soul that Kissed the Body (1990) was a selection of his Irish poems translated into English. His most recent English collection was Barnsley Main Seam (1995); the long title poem celebrates the splendours of York Minster
York Minster
York Minster is a Gothic cathedral in York, England and is one of the largest of its kind in Northern Europe alongside Cologne Cathedral. The minster is the seat of the Archbishop of York, the second-highest office of the Church of England, and is the cathedral for the Diocese of York; it is run by...

, and is a homage to the manual workers of the world.

His Collected Poems were published in 2002 to mark his 75th birthday. This was followed in 2003 by Done Into English, a selection of many of the translated works he produced over the years; it contains translations of more than sixty poets from over a dozen languages or dialects, including Catalan, Italian, Dutch, Milanese and Irish. 'Every poem in this book has been translated because I liked it', he explained.

A co-editor and founder of the literary journal Cyphers, he received the Butler Award for Irish writing in 1969. He is a member of Aosdána
Aosdána is an Irish association of Artists. It was created in 1981 on the initiative of a group of writers and with support from the Arts Council of Ireland. Membership, which is by invitation from current members, is limited to 250 individuals; before 2005 it was limited to 200...

, the state-supported association of artists, from which he receives a cnuas (stipend) to allow him to go on writing. He has described this as "a miracle and a godsend": "I was fifty-four when I was invited to become a member and frankly I was at the end of my tether. I might have carried on, but I would have been in the gutter because I would have been evicted or I would have gone mad or killed myself or both." A two-day symposium of events was held at Trinity College Dublin, to celebrate his 80th birthday in 2007, with readings from his works by writers including Macdara Woods
Macdara Woods
Macdara Woods is an Irish poet born in Dublin.-Life:Macdara Woods is married to the poet Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, they have an adult son, Niall, a musician. Woods currently lives in Dublin and Umbria...

, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin
Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin
Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin is an Irish poet born in Cork .-Life:Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin is the daughter of Eilís Dillon and Professor Cormac Ó Cuilleanáin. She was educated at University College Cork and The University of Oxford. She lives in Dublin with her husband Macdara Woods, and they have one...

, Paul Durcan
Paul Durcan
Paul Durcan is a contemporary Irish poet.-Early life:Durcan grew up in Dublin and in Turlough, County Mayo. His father, John, was a barrister and circuit court judge; father and son had a difficult and formal relationship. Durcan enjoyed a warmer and more natural relationship with his mother,...

 and Sujata Bhatt
Sujata Bhatt
Sujata Bhatt is an Indian poet, a native speaker of Gujarati.-Life and career:Bhatt was born in Ahmedabad, and brought up in Pune until 1968, when she emigrated to the United States with her family. She has an MFA from the University of Iowa, and for a time was writer-in-residence at the...


In his most recent collection, At Least For A While (2008), which was shortlisted for the Poetry Now Award
Poetry Now Award
The Poetry Now Award is an annual literary prize presented for the best single volume of poetry by an Irish poet. The €5,000 award is presented during the annual Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown Poetry Now international poetry festival. The festival began in 1996 and the first Poetry Now Award was bestowed...

, he comments on the replacement of the traditional symbolism of Ireland with the Celtic Tiger
Celtic Tiger
Celtic Tiger is a term used to describe the economy of Ireland during a period of rapid economic growth between 1995 and 2007. The expansion underwent a dramatic reversal from 2008, with GDP contracting by 14% and unemployment levels rising to 14% by 2010...

: "Music and a small plant/ we had for emblems once./ Better, surely,/ than lion or eagle./ Now our proudest boast/ is a dangerous beast of prey." He lives in Rathgar
Rathgar is a suburb of Dublin, Ireland, lying about 3 kilometres south of the city centre.-Amenities:Rathgar is largely a quiet suburb with good amenities, including primary and secondary schools, nursing homes, child-care and sports facilities, and good public transport to the city centre...

, Dublin.

Critical Opinion

Hutchinson's 'unique achievements resist neat classification', writes Michael Kenneally. 'When he writes of privilege and opportunism Hutchinson leaves no aftertaste of self-righteousness'. The Irish Times has described him as 'one of Ireland's most inventive, instructive, and perennially newsworthy poets. ... His poems are often short, they can appear delicate on the page, and they sometimes seem to record glimpses or passing glances, but they always embody and, at their best, articulate Hutchinson's desire for what he once called "true gentleness".'


  • Josep Carner: Poems (Oxford, The Dolphin Press, 1962)
  • Tongue Without Hands (Dublin, The Dolmen Press, 1963)
  • Faoistin Bhacach (Baile Átha Cliath, An Clóchomhar, 1968)
  • Expansions (The Dolmen Press, 1969)
  • Watching the Morning Grow (Dublin, The Gallery Press, 1972) ISBN 0-904011-00-3
  • The Frost is all Over (The Gallery Press, 1975) ISBN 0-902996-34-7
  • Selected Poems (Oldcastle, Co Meath, The Gallery Press, 1980) ISBN 0-904011-28-3
  • Climbing the Light (The Gallery Press, 1985) ISBN 0-904011-86-0
  • The Soul that Kissed the Body: Selected Poems in Irish with translations into English (Dublin, The Gallery Press, 1990) ISBN 1-85235-060-1
  • Le Cead na Gréine, (An Clóchomhar, 1992)
  • Barnsley Main seam (The Gallery Press, 1995) ISBN 1-85235-155-1
  • Collected Poems (The Gallery Press, 2002) ISBN 1-85235-312-0
  • Done Into English: Collected Translations (Dublin, The Gallery Press, 2003) ISBN 1-85235-315-5
  • At Least For A While (The Gallery Press, 2008) ISBN 1-85235-448-0