New Bard Announced/ Peter Schjeldahl Dies – Poetry News Roundup October 24th

We begin the week with a look at the announcement of the new bard of the Royal National Mòd and the death of the poet and critic Peter Schjeldahl.

New Bard of the Royal National Mòd Announced

Peter Mackay, a lecturer at the University of St Andrews, has recently been appointed as the Royal National Mòd. This is a literature honour with a great historical background and has been awarded in honour of MacKay’s significant contributions to the World of Gaelic literature.

Mackay, who is a poet and former broadcast journalist, was born and spent his formative years on the Isle of Lewis. He is now living in Edinburgh, where he is working as a senior lecturer at the University of St Andrews in the literature department.

During his career, Mackay has worked for the BBC as a broadcast journalist, and he has also worked at the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry, as well as both trinity college Dublin and University College Dublin. He has also spent time as the writer in residence at Sabhal Mòr Ostaig. His two books of published poetry have been nominated for a number of awards, including the Gaelic Book of the Year, the Saltire Scottish Poetry Book of the Year and the Ramraids MacThòmais Prize. They have also been longlisted for the Highland Book Prize.

The An Comunn’s Bardic Award was inaugurated in 1923, almost 100 years ago, and Mackay is the 58th recipient. The first poet to be awarded the bard title was James Thomson, who was from Lewis.

The Poet and Art Critic of “New Yorker,” Peter Schjeldahl, Has Died at 80

Peter Schjeldahl, the esteemed poet and art critic, died in his home in New York. He was aged 80. In 2019 he was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.

His death was confirmed by the “New Yorker” on Twitter. He had worked for the magazine since 1998, and before that, he had also been the art critic for the “Village Voice”. Whilst his writing appeared in many magazines over the years, it was his essay “The Art of Dying” that brought his name to the headlines. The essay dealt with the difficult subject of coming to terms with a terminal diagnosis.

Schjeldahl was born in 1942 in North Dakota. He dropped out of college and fell in love with the idea of being a journalist. He moved to New York, where he became friends with the poet Frank O’Hara. O’Hara died in 1966, and Schjeldahl planned a biography of his life; something that he never finished.

He also spent time in Paris, and on his return to New York, he started writing poetry as continuing with his journalism. He spent almost the next 60 years working in the field and was awarded many accolades for his writing. These included a Clark Prize for Excellence in Arts and Letters and also a Guggenheim Fellowship.

Schjeldahl is survived by his wife, daughter, grandson and also four siblings.

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