Irish poet Alice Lyons selected for the first edition of the Heaney-Miłosz Residency


The Estate of Seamus Heaney, Krakow Festival Office (KBF) – operator of the Krakow UNESCO City of Literature programme, and the Irish Embassy in Poland, are pleased to announce that Irish poet Alice Lyons has been selected to be the first writer-in-residence of the new Heaney-Miłosz Residency, to take place in Krakow, Poland.

Alice Lyons is an Irish writer, originally from the USA, who has lived in the west of Ireland for over 20 years. She currently lectures in writing and literature at the Yeats Academy of Arts, Design & Architecture at Atlantic Technological University (ATU) Sligo.

Author of three books of poetry and one novel, she is the recipient of several awards both in Ireland and the USA for her work. Her poetry film, The Polish Language, co-directed with Orla Mc Hardy, was nominated for an Irish Film and Television Award (IFTA) in 2010 and continues to tour cinemas, festivals and galleries worldwide. She has been to Poland a number of times and many of her poems have been translated into Polish, appearing most recently in publications such as Czas Literatury and Tygodnik Powszechny.

Miłosz-Heaney Residency

As part of the Heaney–Miłosz Residency, Ms. Lyons will stay in the former apartment of Polish poet and writer Czesław Miłosz in Krakow for 4-6 weeks in autumn 2023.

Welcoming her selection, Chris Heaney, of the Estate of Seamus Heaney, said: “We’re delighted that Alice Lyons will be the first recipient of the Heaney-Miłosz Residency, having been selected from a very strong field of impressive candidates. She has a longstanding and deep connection with Poland and Polish culture, which has informed her work across various media, and we hope that the Residency will provide her with time and space for the development of her work.”

Ambassador of Ireland to Poland, Patrick Haughey, also welcomed the news:

“It is wonderful to see Alice Lyons selected as the first recipient of the Heaney-Miłosz Residency. This Residency is a tangible celebration of the friendship of Czesław Miłosz and Seamus Heaney, and will contribute to strengthening the ever tighter bonds between Irish and Polish literature, poetry and culture.”

The Heaney–Miłosz Residency aims to support writers, resident in Ireland, who are at the early to mid-stages of their careers. It is intended that the residency period will provide writers the space and time to develop their work in the beautiful surroundings of Krakow city.

During the residency period, the writer will have the opportunity to take part in a variety of events and meetings with representatives of the creative and literary community in Krakow. At the end of the residency, the writer will provide a written reflection on her experience in Krakow.

Aarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1980, Czesław Miłosz is one of Poland’s most outstanding writers. Described by Seamus Heaney as a “veteran of turmoil”, Miłosz personally experienced the devastation of war and occupation in Central and Eastern Europe. These experiences, as well as his Polish-Lithuanian heritage, shaped his writing. As Seamus Heaney said of Miłosz’s work: “You are a slave to a unique voice, a poetry imbued with the density of experience that has been lived and radiated by an understanding that has made it symbolic.”

It was in Krakow that Miłosz and Seamus Heaney – also a Nobel laureate – strengthened their friendship. The works of both authors grow out of difficult experiences of conflict and adversity, and they are also linked by a commitment to dignity and human rights.

“Czesław Miłosz lived on Bogusławskiego Street in Krakow for the last decade of his life. We hope, therefore, that the opportunity to stay in Krakow, which pulses with creativity and creative energy, will provide excellent working conditions for Ms Alice Lyons and contribute to strengthening the literary relationship between Ireland and Poland”, said Carolina Pietyra, Director of KBF, the operator of the Krakow UNESCO City of Literature programme.

29 writers responded to the first Call for Proposals for the Residency, launched in July 2022.