MA, DPhil (Oxford); Fellow of the English Association.

Academic background

I went to school in my birthplace, Belfast, and then to University College as an undergraduate and graduate student at Oxford, where I read English.  I was a Junior Research Fellow at Christ Church from 1986-1988, becoming a Fellow in English at Pembroke College, Cambridge from 1988–92.  In 1992 I took up a post as Lecturer in English at the University of Bristol, where I remained until 1999, becoming Senior Lecturer and then Reader in English Literature.  I began my present job at Christ Church in 1999.  In Oxford, I am a titular supernumerary CUF in the English faculty, and have since 2015 held a Chair in British and Irish Poetry.

Undergraduate teaching

I teach poetry topics in a number of period papers taken by English undergraduates, but especially in the Romantic period, the nineteenth and the twentieth centuries.

Research interests

My main areas of literary critical and editorial interest are poetry of the nineteenth century; Yeats, Eliot, and earlier twentieth-century poetry; Irish literature; classical reception and translation.

Featured publications

My published work as a critic includes a number of book-length studies: Louis MacNeice: The Poet in his Contexts (1991), Mistaken Identities: Poetry and Northern Ireland (1997), Serious Poetry: Form and Authority from Yeats to Hill (2002), and Sound Intentions: The Workings of Rhyme in Nineteenth-Century Poetry (2012). 

I have edited a number of critical collections, including Paul Muldoon: Critical Essays (2004) and Geoffrey Hill: Essays on his Later Work (2012).  I have also produced editions of Louis MacNeice’s Selected Plays (1993) and Collected Poems (2007). A recent editorial project is a four-volume edition of The Poems of W.B. Yeats for the Longman Annotated English Poets series: volume 1 (covering the years 1882–99), which appeared in 2020. 

My own poetry has been published regularly since the 1980s: since my first full volume, Biting the Wax (1989), I have published seven books of poetry, including Pastorals (2004), Torchlight (2011), Herne the Hunter (2016) and my own Collected Poems (2012).  My poetry has been published internationally, and included in a number of anthologies; most recently, in The Norton Anthology of English Poetry (Sixth Edition).  My latest book, The Gifts of Fortune (published, like the titles above, by Carcanet Press), was published in 2020. My translations of classical material include a full version (with notes) of The Homeric Hymns (2016), which was a Poetry Book Society Translation Choice, and was shortlisted for the London Hellenic Prize.  I am presently working on a verse translation of Homer’s Odyssey.