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Michael Hofmann appointed Seamus Heaney International Visiting Poetry Fellow at Queen’s

4th September, 2023

Award-winning poet Michael Hofmann has been appointed as the fourth Seamus Heaney International Visiting Poetry Fellow at Queen’s University Belfast.

A profile picture of a person, gazing into distance, hand on chin
Michael Hoffman, 2023 Seamus Heaney International Poetry Fellow

The fellowship is part of the Arts Council of Northern Ireland (ACNI) and Queen’s joint ten-year Seamus Heaney Legacy project and is supported by Atlantic Philanthropies. The appointment is worth £20,000 annually and made to a distinguished poet of international repute.

Hofmann will be based at the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s in autumn this year, presenting public readings, workshops and masterclasses for students at the University.

Speaking about the appointment and looking ahead to his time in Belfast, he said: "I first heard Heaney read in the 1970s when I was an undergraduate, and many times since, and never enough. The book then was Field Work. His poems, essays and interviews (in Dennis O'Driscoll's great compilation) have been an example to me. A life in the art would have been unthinkable without him and his illustrious peers. I couldn't be more lit up about coming to Belfast as the next Seamus Heaney Visiting Poetry Fellow."

Michael Hofmann was born in Germany in 1957, and grew up in England, Scotland and the US. Since 1983, he has published five books of poems, Nights in the Iron Hotel, Acrimony, Corona, Corona, Approximately Nowhere and One Lark, One Horse, and three books of prose, Behind the Lines, Where Have You Been? and Messing About in Boats. He has edited the Faber Book of 20th Century German Poems, and made personal selections from the writings of Malcolm Lowry, and the poetry of Robert Lowell, John Berryman and W.S. Graham. He writes regularly for the London Review of Books and the New York Review of Books and has translated the better part of 100 titles from German, including work by Fallada, Doblin, Kafka, Koeppen and Roth.

Professor Glenn Patterson, Director of the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s, said: “The arrival of the new Seamus Heaney Centre International Poetry Fellow each autumn has become one of the highlights of the Belfast literary calendar. The arrival this year of Michael Hofmann is cause for particular celebration. As a poet, as a translator, as an editor, his influence, like his output, for the past four decades been nothing short of remarkable. We are delighted to have him with us.”

Nóirín McKinney, Director of Arts Development at the Arts Council of Northern Ireland commented: “It is with great pleasure that we announce today that Michael Hofmann will be the fourth Seamus Heaney International Visiting Poetry Fellow. A multi-award-winning poet and translator of prose and poetry, he has emerged as one of the key influencers of 21st-Century culture in Europe and America. He is the perfect choice for this prestigious appointment. During his time in Northern Ireland, Michael will work closely with the MA students at Queen’s and take part in a series of engagements. We very much look forward to welcoming him to Belfast.”

The distinguished selection panel assigned to make the appointment included poets and lecturers at Queen’s Nick Laird and Leontia Flynn, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, Gerald Dawe, Michael Longley and Paula Meehan, plus Professor Glenn Patterson, representing the Seamus Heaney Centre at Queen’s, and Nóirín McKinney from the Arts Council.

For more information on the Fellowship and the Fellows’ public programme, please visit:

Notes to editor:

  • Michael Hofmann is available for interview. Media enquiries to Zara McBrearty at Queen’s Communications Office on email:
  • Award-winning American poet, Mark Doty, was appointed the first Seamus Heaney International Visiting Poetry Fellow in 2018. Kathleen Jamie, the current Scottish Makar was appointed in 2019, and the award-winning poet and essayist Jane Hirshfield was appointed in 2022.

No Fellow was appointed in 2020 or 2021 due to uncertainty and restrictions to international travel.