Michael Longley - Author

About the Author

Michael Longley was born in Belfast in 1939 and educated at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution and Trinity College Dublin where he read Classics. He has published nine collections of poetry including Gorse Fires (1991) which won the Whitbread Poetry Award, and The Weather in Japan (2000) which won the Hawthornden Prize, the T. S. Eliot Prize and the Irish Times Poetry Prize. His Collected Poems was published in 2006. In 2001 he received the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry, and in 2003 the Wilfred Owen Award. He was awarded a CBE in 2010. He was Ireland Professor of Poetry, 2007-2010. He and his wife, the critic Edna Longley, live and work in Belfast.

Featured books by Michael Longley

The Stairwell

The Stairwell

Author: Michael Longley Format: Paperback Release Date: 14/08/2014

Shortlisted for the T S Eliot Poetry Prize 2014. In The Stairwell, his tenth collection, Michael Longley's themes and forms reach a new intensity. The second part of the book is a powerful sequence of elegies for his twin brother, Peter, and the dominant mood elsewhere is elegiac. The title poem begins: 'I have been thinking about the music for my funeral ...' The two parts are also linked by Homer. Longley is well-known for his Homeric versions, and the Iliad is a presiding presence - both in poems about the Great War and in the range of imagery that gives his twin's death a mythic dimension. Yet funeral music can be life-affirming. Longley has built this collection on intricate doublings, not only when he explores the tensions of twinship. The psychologically suggestive word 'stairwell' is itself an ambiguous compound. These poems encompass birth as well as death, childhood and age, nature and art, the animal and human worlds, tenderness and violence, battlefield and 'homeland'.

Other books by Michael Longley

Sidelines: Selected Prose 1962-2015

Sidelines: Selected Prose 1962-2015

Author: Michael Longley Format: Hardback Release Date: 09/10/2017

Michael Longley's prose centres on poetry. This is so, even when he is writing autobiographically, or reflecting on war and memory, or enthusing about music and painting. Since Longley writes relatively little criticism, readers of his poetry have lacked access to his aesthetic thinking. Sidelines fills the gap by assembling prose that ranges from his (often-combative) youthful poetry reviews, to the lectures he gave as Ireland Professor of Poetry. Among the poets Longley discusses are Homer, Propertius, Louis MacNeice, Robert Graves, James Wright, Ian Hamilton Finlay and Ruth Stone. Sidelines, which includes interviews with Longley, not only illuminates his own work. Longley's perspectives on modern poetry are both distinctive and important. He is also uniquely qualified to interpret the phenomenon of poetry from Northern Ireland. Cover Image: My Father in the Cottage, Sarah Longley

Angel Hill

Angel Hill

Author: Michael Longley Format: Paperback Release Date: 01/06/2017

A Guardian / Herald Scotland Book of the Year Winner of the 2017 PEN Pinter prize Shortlisted for the 2017 Forward Prize A remote townland in County Mayo, Carrigskeewaun has been for nearly fifty years Michael Longley's home-from-home, his soul-landscape. Its lakes and mountains, wild animals and flowers, its moody seas and skies have for decades lit up his poetry. Now they overflow into Angel Hill, his exuberant new collection. In addition, Longley has been exploring Lochalsh in the Western Highlands where his daughter the painter Sarah Longley now lives with her family. She has opened up for him her own soul-landscape with its peculiar shapes and intense colours. In Angel Hill the imaginations of poet and painter intermingle and two exacting wildernesses productively overlap. Love poems and elegies and heart-rending reflections on the Great War and the Northern Irish Troubles add further weight to Michael Longley's outstanding eleventh collection. Angel Hill will undoubtedly delight this great poet's many admirers.

The Stairwell

The Stairwell

Author: Michael Longley Format: Paperback Release Date: 14/08/2014

Shortlisted for the T S Eliot Poetry Prize 2014. In The Stairwell, his tenth collection, Michael Longley's themes and forms reach a new intensity. The second part of the book is a powerful sequence of elegies for his twin brother, Peter, and the dominant mood elsewhere is elegiac. The title poem begins: 'I have been thinking about the music for my funeral ...' The two parts are also linked by Homer. Longley is well-known for his Homeric versions, and the Iliad is a presiding presence - both in poems about the Great War and in the range of imagery that gives his twin's death a mythic dimension. Yet funeral music can be life-affirming. Longley has built this collection on intricate doublings, not only when he explores the tensions of twinship. The psychologically suggestive word 'stairwell' is itself an ambiguous compound. These poems encompass birth as well as death, childhood and age, nature and art, the animal and human worlds, tenderness and violence, battlefield and 'homeland'.

A Hundred Doors

A Hundred Doors

Author: Michael Longley Format: Paperback Release Date: 15/03/2011

Michael Longley has remarkable powers of reinvention. Certain themes remain constant - the natural world, war, violence, love, friendship, art, death - but they also keep changing because the forms and genres of his poetry never stand still. In A Hundred Doors a sinuous short line complements his variations on pentameter and hexameter. And Longley's interlacing of individual lyrics, so that a diverse collection seems a single poem, intensifies in the shadow of mortality. A sequence about his grandchildren's births is counterpointed by elegies, including Longley's continuing elegy for the Great War dead. The Mayo townland, Carrigskeewaun, with its cast of leverets, otters, swans, wrens, lesser twayblade and bird's-foot trefoil, also takes on fresh guises. Longley is among Europe's foremost 'ecological' poets. Yet Carrigskeewaun is ultimately symbolic, a microcosm, a 'soul-arena'. A Hundred Doors roams in time and space. The title-poem evokes the oldest Byzantine church in Greece: Our Lady of a Hundred Doors on the island of Paros. The remains of a Greek temple 'ache' beneath its floor. Wild orchids, which crop up in Greece and the Italian Garfagnana as well as Ireland, are among the collection's multiple 'doors'. Others are music and paintings, 'cloudberry jam from Lapland', a Shetland pony. This is work of power, precision and delicacy: poems that 'bend and magnify the daylight', poems by a master craftsman.

Gorse Fires

Gorse Fires

Author: Michael Longley Format: Paperback Release Date: 03/09/2009

Emerging, as it did, after over a decade of silence, Gorse Fires had an immediate and resounding impact - revealing a poetry that seemed renewed and re-energised - and winning the Whitbread Prize for Poetry in 1991. It is now regarded as the pivotal book in Michael Longley's distinguished career. If Ireland remains Longley's starting-point or implied focus, it is often sighted through disturbing perspectives that derive from foreign cultures, from Homer's Odyssey, from the Second World War, and from the Holocaust. Even his beautifully precise poems about the West of Ireland are shadowed by the many destructive forces ranged against the creative act. Longley's versions of Odysseus' return to Ithaca and 'Ghetto' (based on the Polish ghettoes) epitomise his concern with the meaning of home and family. He sees these archetypes of Western civilisation as vulnerable, problematic, violated by power. Odysseus' homecoming involves murder and vengeance as well as reunions - a connection with the ambiguities of life in Northern Ireland. Gorse Fires is an unusual artistic blend: darkly austere, yet abundant in images, catalogues and syntactical virtuosity. The formal links between poems gives the whole collection the air of a richly varied sequence; it is a work of the highest order. Winner of the Whitbread Prize for Poetry.

Collected Poems

Collected Poems

Author: Michael Longley Format: Paperback Release Date: 04/10/2007

Michael Longley has been called 'one of the finest lyric poets of our time'. In assembling the work of forty years, his Collected Poems displays a brilliantly sustained achievement whose depth, beauty and wit can now be fully appreciated. Longley's poetry combines intense concentration with remarkable variety. The formal and thematic range laid down in No Continuing City (1969) has undergone a series of rich metamorphoses up to Snow Water (2004), and the two poems included here as an epilogue. Longley's genres span love poetry, war poetry, nature poetry, elegies, satires, verse epistles, poems that reflect on art and the art of poetry. He has extended the capacity of the lyric to absorb dark matter: the Great War, the Holocaust, the Northern Irish 'Troubles'. His poetic landscape intermingles Belfast (where he lives), western Ireland, Italy, Japan and Homeric Greece. Longley's superb translations from classical poets (such as 'Ceasefire', which greets the IRA ceasefire in terms of the Iliad) speak to contemporary issues while activating the deepest sources of European poetry.

Collected Poems

Collected Poems

Author: Michael Longley Format: Hardback Release Date: 05/10/2006

Michael Longley has been called 'one of the finest lyric poets of our time'. In assembling the work of forty years, his Collected Poems displays a brilliantly sustained achievement, whose depth, beauty and wit can now be fully appreciated. Longley's poetry combines intense concentration with remarkable variety. The formal and thematic range laid down in No Continuing City (1969) has undergone a series of rich metamorphoses up to Snow Water (2004), and the two new poems included here as an epilogue. Longley's genres span love poetry, war poetry, nature poetry, elegies, satires, verse epistles, poems that reflect on art and the art of poetry. He has extended the capacity of the lyric to absorb dark matter: the Great War, the Holocaust, the Northern Irish 'Troubles'. His poetic landscape intermingles Belfast (where he lives), western Ireland, Italy, Japan and Homeric Greece. Longley's superb translations from classical poets (such as 'Ceasefire', which greets the IRA ceasefire in terms of the Iliad) speak to contemporary issues.

Snow Water

Snow Water

Author: Michael Longley Format: Paperback Release Date: 15/03/2004

The poems collected in Snow Water find their gravity and centre in Michael Longley's adopted home in west Mayo, but range widely in their attention - from ancient Greece to Paris and Pisa, from Central Park to the trenches of the Somme. Meditations on nature and mortality, there is a depth and delicacy to these poems, a state of lucid wonder, that allows for the easy companionship of love poem and elegy, hymns to marriage and friendship and lyric explorations of loss. Though the embodiment of these themes is often found in the wildlife of Carrigskeewaun and Allaran Point - the plovers and oystercatchers, whooper swans and snow geese, the hares and otters, the marsh marigolds and yellow flags - Snow Water is emphatically a celebration of humanity. These are all, in a way, poems of love and kinship - even the magnificent sequence that links the horrors of the Great War with those of the Trojan War, and with all the wars between. What Longley says of Edward Thomas might easily be said of him: 'The nature poet turned into a war poet as if/ He could cure death with the rub of a dock leaf'. Full of intensity and grace, tenderness and wisdom, these are poems of deceptive simplicity from a craftsman of international stature.

The Weather In Japan

The Weather In Japan

Author: Michael Longley Format: Paperback Release Date: 10/02/2000

In the space of two collections, Gorse Fires (1991) and The Ghost Orchid (1995), Michael Longley broke a long poetic slience and re-drew the map of poetry at the end of the millenium. The Weather in Japan consolidates and expands the vision of those volumes, leading the reader through the various hells we have made this century. Preferring to see the horrors of political violence through the filter of the domestic, pointing up the fragility of the order we create, he takes us from the fields of Flanders, through Terezin and Auschwitz to the troubled north of Ireland. And, in images drawn from the west of Ireland, Italy, America and Japan, he explores the fundamentals of 'home' and 'civilisation'. Longley's grave humanity, Zen-like connective imagination and ecological eye give the most delicate compelx, beautiful things - a spring gentian, a lapwing or a snowflake - the nutritious light that allows them to grow greater than the crass brutality that surrounds them.

Selected Poems

Selected Poems

Author: Michael Longley Format: Paperback Release Date: 15/10/1998

Celebrated for his lyrical intensity, his metaphysical wit, his thematic and formal range, Michael Longley is widely regarded as one of the finest poets in these islands. His life in Northern Ireland has contributed to the complexity of a poetic universe in which love, friendship and aesthetics contend with war, death and violance. There are no hard boundaries between Longley's love poetry, his nature poetry, his war poetry and his elegies. Longley looks to the poets of Greece and Rome, particularly Homer and Ovid, and to the poets of the two world wars. His great ability, perhaps, has been to distil the large and difficult themes into highly concentrated forms. This is Michael Longley's own selection from thirty years of writing; it reveals the strength and coherence of an extraordinary body of work.

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