Nov 9, 2000 - By Steven Federspiel
The University will welcome Irish poet Nuala Ni Dhomhnaill as a guest professor of English this spring. A graduate student of University College in Cork, Ireland, Ni Dhomhnaill speaks six different languages and has published numerous poetry collections. She comes to the University after years of teaching and lecturing around Europe, Japan and Turkey. She has also taught at Boston College and New York University.
A few years ago, Charlie Heinbold endowed a gift to the University to allow an Irish scholar to teach at Villanova every spring semester. The Irish scholar chosen becomes the new Heinbold chair of Irish Studies and has the opportunity to share the Irish culture for one semester.
Heinbold, a University graduate, is the chairman and chief executive officer of Bristol-Myers Squibb, one of the largest health care companies in the world.
Ni Dhomhnaill, one of the leading poets in Ireland, continues this rich tradition. Ni Dhomhnaill remains one of the few Irish poets who writes her poetry in Irish and then has someone else translate it into English. Dr. James Murphy, director of Irish studies, said, "She doesn't want to think creatively in English."
Writing this way, Nuala furthers the Irish culture, as well as the Irish language. She fears that writing in the English language might distract her thoughts and influence her poetry.
"I have chosen my language, or more rightly, perhaps, at some very deep level, the language had chosen me", she wrote in a New York Times article.
Often, her poetry relates to the past. She finds it beneficial to write about the Irish language from the fifth century down to the Middle Ages. Thus, in connecting her works to Ireland's past, she keeps alive all aspects of the Irish culture.
One of the reasons for writing in Irish is to gauge the reactions of those with Irish descent. "I particularly like it when my poetry in English translation sends them back to the originals in Irish, and when they then go on to pick up the long-lost threads of the language that is so rightly theirs," she wrote.
Ni Dhomhnaill plans to teach "Poetry and Prose," which will include selections from her own work and Irish Language Literature which includes texts that span 1500 years of the Irish culture.