Matthew Sweeney (1952-2018) was born in Lifford, Co. Donegal, Ireland. He moved to London in 1973 and studied at the Polytechnic of North London and the University of Freiburg. After living in Berlin and Timisoara for some years, he returned to Ireland and settled in Cork. He died in August 2018 from motor neurone disease.
His poetry collections include A Dream of Maps (Raven Arts Press, 1981), A Round House (Raven Arts Press, 1983), The Lame Waltzer (Raven Arts Press, 1985), Blue Shoes (Secker & Warburg, 1989), Cacti (Secker & Warburg, 1992), The Bridal Suite (Jonathan Cape, 1997) and A Smell of Fish (Jonathan Cape, 2000), Selected Poems (Jonathan Cape, 2002), Sanctuary (Jonathan Cape, 2004), Black Moon (Jonathan Cape, 2007), The Night Post: A Selection (Salt, 2010); and three from Bloodaxe, Horse Music (2013), Inquisition Lane (2015) and My Life as a Painter (2018). Black Moon was shortlisted for the T.S. Eliot Prize and for the Irish Times Poetry Now Award. Horse Music won the inaugural Pigott Poetry Prize in association with Listowel Writers’ Week, and is a Poetry Book Society Recommendation. He also published editions of selected poems in Canada (Picnic on Ice, Vehicule Press, 2002) and and two translated by Jan Wagner in Germany, Rosa Milch (Berlin Verlag, 2008) and Hund und Mond (Hanser Berlin, 2017).
He won a Cholmondeley Award in 1987 and an Arts Council Writers' Award in 1999. He also published poetry for children, with collections including The Flying Spring Onion (1992), Fatso in the Red Suit (1995) and Up on the Roof: New and Selected Poems (2001). His novels for children include The Snow Vulture (1992) and Fox (2002). He edited The New Faber Book of Children's Poems (2003) and Walter De la Mare: Poems (2006) for Faber; co-edited Emergency Kit: Poems for Strange Times (Faber, 1996) with Jo Shapcott; and co-wrote Writing Poetry (Teach Yourself series, Hodder, 1997) and the comic novel Death Comes for the Poets (Muswell Press, 2012) with John Hartley Williams.
Matthew Sweeney held residencies at the University of East Anglia and the South Bank Centre in London, and was Poet in Residence at the National Library for the Blind as part of the Poetry Places scheme run by the Poetry Society in London. He was writer-in-residence at University College Cork in 2012-13, and was a member of Aosdána.
Author photo: John Minehan
Books by Matthew Sweeney