Poet to conduct reading for Annual Irish Author event

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April 16, 2018

Tony CurtisTony Curtis qualifies under the first criteria for the Annual Irish Author event, in memory of College of Saint Benedict President Emerita S. Colman O’Connell, OSB.

He’s Irish, born in 1955 in Dublin.

But that is shortchanging Curtis, who is a talented poet. He’ll give a reading from his latest book of poetry, “Approximately in the Key of C,” at 4:30 p.m. Monday, April 23, at Saint John’s Pottery.

The event, which is free and open to the public, will include a reception and is sponsored by Saint John’s Pottery and the University Chair in Critical Thinking.

Curtis studied literature at the University of Essex and Trinity College, Dublin. 

In 1993, his poem “The Dowser and the Child” won the Poetry Ireland/Friends Provident National Poetry Competition. “These Hills” won the Book Stop Poetry Prize. In 2003, he was awarded the Varuna House Exchange Fellowship to Australia.

"Curtis' humor and charm, ability to turn a poem with the seemingly simplest of images, and that understanding of how words will play over the listener's ear, are hallmarks brought to the fore on the page... His greatest skill is to make readers go 'yes, of course'; he reminds us of what we've known all along," wrote Michael McKimm in The Warwick Review.

 “Approximately in the Key of C” (Arc Publications, UK) was launched at the Clifden Festival in September 2015. Peter Viggers of the Manchester Review had this to say about the book:

“ ‘Approximately in the Key of C’ is a work of seeming ease. The key of C is thought to be the simplest of keys because it has no sharps and no flats ….. Music recurs in the collection, starting with ‘Blessing on Things Made Well’ where a set of uilleann pipes made by Michael Egan are displayed in a museum under a sign that says ‘Approximately in the Key of C.’ Curtis loves ‘the beauty of those words’ seeing in them a metaphor for the difficulty of writing a good poem (and for life), when they are too often ‘buckled and bent.’

“Fortunately for the reader, Curtis poetry moves with subtle cadences and deceptively simple language, singing in his own way, on the borderline between the earthly and the unseen, evoking Ireland’s landscape and past,” Viggers said.

O’Connell, a 1949 graduate of CSB, served as the 11th president of CSB from 1986-96. Before becoming president, she taught in the theater and dance department at CSB. After her presidency, O’Connell served as a vice president for College Advancement and then as a senior development officer at CSB.