Anne Le Marquand Hartigan, poet, painter, playwright
Anne Le Marquand Hartigan is a writer and artist. She is an award-winning poet, painter and playwright. Her work has been translated into German, Spanish, Russian and Galician.
To date Hartigan has seven books of poems published, the most recent was Unsweet Dreams, 2011, published by Salmon Poetry and her selected poems is due out in the near future. She has read her work at poetry readings throughout Ireland and internationally. Hartigan has exhibited art work in Ireland and England – in both solo and group shows, and her plays have been performed in Ireland, Europe, New Zealand and USA.
Brought up in England, Hartigan’s mother was from Ireland, her father from Jersey in the Channel Islands, and both her parents and the cultures they stemmed from have been a significant yet subtle influence in her work. Jersey features strongly in two of Hartigan’s avant-garde plays, La Corbière and the Jersey Lillies trilogy, and much of Hartigan’s work is informed by the language, myths and environment of Ireland.
After training in Fine Art at Reading University, Hartigan moved with her husband and young children to farm in Ireland in the early ‘60s. There, the farmland itself, and the enigmatic megalithic landscapes nearby, augmented the air of mystery she was introduced to in her childhood.
After her move to Dublin, Hartigan maintained a studio in Temple Bar Studios for a period before it was developed into the state-of-the-art centre it is now. While she continued to paint, and exhibit in group shows, and is still actively involved in the visual arts, Hartigan found herself increasingly drawn towards writing.
However, writing began to take up a greater part of her time. Initially, Hartigan focused on the medium of poetry, finding this suited her sensibility. She also played a part in bringing other women poets to new audiences. Hartigan was actively involved in the embryonic UCD Women’s Studies Forum in the early 1980s and arranged a series of poetry readings by women poets as part of the UCD women’s studies program – a series that might appear commonplace today, but was considerably less so at that time.
Working predominantly in free verse Hartigan has also worked in different poetic disciplines. For instance she has written poetry in jig and reel time and performed this with renowned traditional Irish dancer, Jimmy Hickey, who composed a dance to the work’s particular cadence.
Her long poem Now is a Moveable Feast (1991) – which was broadcast on RTE 1 as a full-length programme directed by Dick Warner and with music specially composed for it by Eibhlis Farrell – was inspired by her mother’s family history and the farm on which they lived, stretching back across the previous 100 years. When this was published in book form, it was illustrated with line drawings by the artist/author – and indeed all but one of her book covers have featured her own art work.
As Hartigan became established as a poet – winning awards, publishing collections – she also ventured into the area of playwriting. An eye-opener for her, and of considerable influence on her drama, was the innovative Polish Theatre of the 1970s which appeared to discard many of the customary theatrical conventions and turn others upside-down. As a consequence some of Hartigan’s early theatrical work such as Beds, performed in the Dublin Theatre Festival in 1982, and La Corbière, 1989, was highly experimental and out of the ordinary. At present Anne Hartigan is working on an operatic version of La Corbière.
Over the past decades Anne Hartigan has had her dramatic work produced by companies in Ireland and abroad; has had plays included in anthologies, such as Seen and Heard, Six new plays by Irish Women edited by Cathy Leeney, (Carysfort Press, 2001,) and Irish Women Dramatists 1908-2001, edited by Eileen Kearney and Charlotte Headrick, (Syracuse University Press, USA,). Her work has been used as part of academic courses and has been the subject of post-graduate theses
Her plays have been published in six books by Chiswick Books, with perhaps her most conventional, a gripping drama, The Secret Game, (winner of the Mobil, Ireland, playwriting prize 1995,) the first to be launched in 2014.