His eight books of poetry include New and Selected Poems (2004), a Poetry Book Society Special Commendation, Reality Check (2007) and Dear Life (Winner of the Irish Times Poetry Now Award, 2013).
He was editor of the Bloodaxe Book of Poetry Quotations (2006) and Quote Poet Unquote (2008). His book, Stepping Stones: Interviews with Seamus Heaney (2008), was shortlisted for ‘Book of the Decade’ in the Irish Book Awards 2010.
He received a Lannan Literary Award, the E.M. Forster Award of the American Academy of Arts and Letters, the O’Shaughnessy Award for Poetry, and the Argosy Irish Non-Fiction Book of the Year Award. He was a member of Aosdána and an Honorary Member of the Royal Hibernian Academy and was awarded an honorary doctorate in literature by University College Dublin in 2009. He judged many major awards, including the Griffin Poetry Prizes, T.S. Eliot Prize, Cholmondeley Awards (Society of Authors) and Geoffrey Faber Award.
As a reviewer, he contributed to, among others, The Irish Times, Times Literary Supplement, London Review of Books, Parnassus, London Magazine, Poetry (Chicago), Harvard Review and A Poetry Criticism Reader (University of Iowa Press).