I hadn’t heard of English-born Irish poet Michael Longley until I listened to a recent On Being podcast. What a fascinating and wise conversation (aired 3rd November 2016). At once, both insightful and poetic. I was captivated. All the more so as I drove and listened and watched the sun rise in the East. Again I’m so very grateful for the gifts of poets and poetry in my life.
“To reassert the liveliness of ordinary things, precisely in the face of what is hardest and most broken in life and society — this has been Michael Longley’s gift to Northern Ireland as one of its foremost living poets. He is a voice for all of us now, wise and winsome about the force of words in a society that has moved away from sectarianism in living memory. A profound conversation before an adoring crowd at The MAC Belfast.”
Longley (b. 27th July 1939), it turns out, has written more than 20 books of poetry, including Collected Poems, Gorse Fires, and his most recent collection, The Stairwell. He was the professor of poetry for Ireland from 2007 to 2010 and is the winner of the Whitbread Poetry Prize, the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Hawthornden Prize, and the Griffen Prize. In 2015 he was honored with the Freedom of the City of Belfast. In relation to religion, an atheist, he describes himself as a "sentimental" disbeliever.
You’ll find the conversation here. See also the video recording, and listen to Longley reading several of his poems.