Eamon Grennan (1941 - ) is an Irish poet born in Dublin. He has lived in the United States, except for brief periods, since 1964. He is Dexter M. Ferry Jr. Professor of English at Vassar College.
Though his Irish roots are clear in his poetry, Grennan has an international sense of literary tradition. He has cited as influences American poets including Robert Frost and Elizabeth Bishop (herself an international poet with ties to the U.S., Canada, and Brazil). At Vassar, he has taught Shakespeare along with Yeats and Joyce, and he has translated Giacomo Leopardi andâ€”with classicist Rachel Kitzingerâ€”Sophocles.
Grennan studied at University College, Dublin, where he met poets Derek Mahon and Eavan Boland, and at Harvard University, and began teaching at Vassar in 1974. He returned to Ireland fairly briefly, first in 1977 and later in 1981, and began writing poetry there. His first book, Wildly for Days, was published in 1983. Gaelic poetry became an important influence, particularly, he has said, on the sound of his poems. At the same time, he is interested in the sentence as a poetic unit as well as a prose unit. In an interview with Timothy Cahill, Grennan said:
I have, it's a toothache quality, a kind of pain -- the ambition to make a sentence that is full, that has not gone limp, hasn't stopped while it still has some elasticity in it.
Grennan's career has been long, productive and distinguished, and he has earned from fellow poets a reputation for lyrical skill and psychological intensity. Former U.S. Poet Laureate Billy Collins said of Grennan:
Few poets are as generous as Eamon Grennan in the sheer volume of delight his poems convey, and fewer still are as attentive to the marvels of the earth. To read him is to be led on a walk through the natural world of clover and cricket and, most of all, light, and to face with an open heart the complexity of being human.