The only Professor
Higgins we had come across previously was Professor Henry Higgins,
the witty teacher of Cockney Eliza Doolittle in My Fair Lady. But
now there’s another Professor Higgins - Galway poet Rita Ann
So how did Rita Ann,
author of Goddess and Witch, Philomena’s Revenge, Face Licker
Come Home and God-of-the-Hatch-Man, find herself elevated to the
heights of academe? Well, Rita Ann has been invited to Texas
Christian University where, for the duration of her stay, she will
bear the august title of Cecil and Ida Green Honors Professor.
It’s actually an award, but with it goes the splendid title.
It seems that Cecil and Ida Green were a Jewish couple who
generously left a considerable financial legacy to the university
with the aim of bringing to the university people of various
backgrounds and interests - writers, poets, musicians, etc, - from
far and wide to the Texas campus.
In his letter to Rita
Ann, Provost and Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs William H
Koehler, explained the purpose of the award: 'We invite a number
of distinguished persons to be with us each year to share their
experience and knowledge with our students and faculty.”
The university decided
to associate the award with an honorary professorship, hence,
Professor Rita Ann Higgins, Cecil and Ida Green Honors Professor.
Rita Ann Higgins
leaves Ireland on October 21, and - practical as always - she’s
going to visit her sister in Florida while she’s in the US.
It’s a bit of whirlwind as she’ll be back home again by
November 5. Wonder what all those Texans will make of this punchy,
no-nonsense poet with a fine line in irony? We await her return
with baited breath and look forward to some characteristically
mordant observations on life and learning in the Lone Star state.