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District and Circle by Seamus Heaney
  

District and Circle

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Winner of the T S Eliot Poetry Prize 2006. Shortlisted for the Costa Poetry Award 2006.

T S Eliot Judges' comment:
“Seamus Heaney’s District and Circle is a commanding, exhilarating work. In an outstandingly strong field, this was an exceptional collection of poems.”

On hearing that he had won the T S Eliot Prize 2006, Seamus Heaney said:

“There are many reasons to feel honoured by the award of this prize – the aura of T S Eliot’s name, for a start; the distinction of the previous winners; the quality of the other poets on this year’s shortlist; and the high regard in which the judges are held. When I called one of the poems in District and Circle ‘Anything Can Happen’ I wasn’t thinking that anything like this would happen to the book, but it certainly expresses what I’m feeling at the moment.”

Costa Book Awards 2006 Judges' comment: "Elegiac and contemporary haunting and haunted poems of immense intelligence and freshness."

Synopsis

District and Circle by Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heaney's new collection starts 'in an age of bare hands and cast iron' and ends 'as the automatic lock / clunks shut' in the eerie new conditions of a menaced twenty-first century. In their haunted, almost visionary clarity, the poems assay the weight and worth of what has been held in the hand and in the memory. Images out of a childhood spent safe from the horrors of World War II - railway sleepers, a sledgehammer, the 'heavyweight silence' of cattle out in rain - are coloured by a strongly contemporary sense that 'anything can happen', and other images from the dangerous present - a journey on the underground, a melting glacier - are fraught with this same anxiety.

But District and Circle, which includes a number of prose poems and translations, offers resistance as the poet gathers his staying powers and stands his ground in the hiding places of love and excited language. In a sequence like 'The Tollund Man in Springtime' and in several poems which 'do the rounds of the district' - its known roads and rivers and trees, its familiar and unfamiliar ghosts - the gravity of memorial is transformed into the grace of recollection. With more relish and conviction than ever, Seamus Heaney maintains his trust in the obduracy of workaday realities and the mystery of everyday renewals:

Again the growl
Of shutting doors, the jolt and one-off treble
Of iron on iron, then a long centrifugal
Haulage of speed through every dragging socket.

(from 'District and Circle')

Reviews

A book as original, startling and aesthetically compelling as any since his magisterial 1984 sequence, Station Island,

-- The Washington Post Book World

[Heaney
s

] voice carries the authenticity and believability of the plainspoken-- even though (herein his magic) his words are anything but plainspoken. His stanzas are dense echo chambers of contending nuances and ricocheting sounds. And his is the gift of saying something extraordinary while, line by line, conveying a sense that this is something an ordinary person might actually say. -- Brad Leithauser, The New York Times Book Review

A book as original, startling and aesthetically compelling as any since his magisterial 1984 sequence, Station Island,

-- The Washington Post Book World

[Heaney's] voice carries the authenticity and believability of the plainspoken--even though (herein his magic) his words are anything but plainspoken. His stanzas are dense echo chambers of contending nuances and ricocheting sounds. And his is the gift of saying something extraordinary while, line by line, conveying a sense that this is something an ordinary person might actually say. --Brad Leithauser, The New York Times Book Review

A book as original, startling and aesthetically compelling as any since his magisterial 1984 sequence, Station Island .

-- The Washington Post Book World

[Heaney's] voice carries the authenticity and believability of the plainspoken--even though (herein his magic) his words are anything but plainspoken. His stanzas are dense echo chambers of contending nuances and ricocheting sounds. And his is the gift of saying something extraordinary while, line by line, conveying a sense that this is something an ordinary person might actually say. --Brad Leithauser, The New York Times Book Review Praise for Electric Light : Heaney's status as one of the most significant poets writing in English and the greatest Irish poet since Yeats in already well established. Electric Light is further confirmation of his power to capture and transcend the immediacy of the moment, to find the stillness at the heart of things. --Joe Treasure, Los Angeles Times Book Review

Electric Light includes poems that are sparks of fulminating retrospection . . . To say it the best I can . . . ?Heaney? exercises poetry's power to proclaim truth and the artist's power to make us know that it is a truth we can't be without . . . Engagement is the heart of a poem . . . and Mr. Heaney's strongest engagement in this collection is with time: the past that lives, the present that dies. --Richard Eder, The New York Times Praise for Electric Light: Heaney's status as one of the most significant poets writing in English and the greatest Irish poet since Yeats in already well established. Electric Light is further confirmation of his power to capture and transcend the immediacy of the moment, to find the stillness at the heart of things. --Joe Treasure, Los Angeles Times Book Review

Electric Light includes poems that are sparks of fulminating retrospection . . . To say it the best I can . . . [Heaney] exercises poetry's power to proclaim truth and the artist's power to make us know that it is a truth we can't be without . . . Engagement is the heart of a poem . . . and Mr. Heaney's strongest engagement in this collection is with time: the past that lives, the present that dies. --Richard Eder, The New York Times


About the Author

Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heaney was born in 1939 in County Derry in Northern Ireland. He grew up in the country, on a farm, in touch with a traditional rural way of life, which he wrote about in his first book Death of a Naturalist (1966).

Seamus Heaney began to write in 1962, publishing first in Irish magazines. During the early and mid-sixties, he was connected with a group of writers in Belfast that included Derek Mahon, Michael Longley and James Simmons. Philip Hobsbaum ran a poetry group during these years and the poets met regularly at his house until he moved to Glasgow in 1966. After this, the meetings continued under Heaney's chairmanship until 1970, and in this later period were attended by younger poets such as Paul Muldoon, Frank Ormsby and Michael Foley.

Seamus Heaney has won numerous awards, including the Somerset Maugham Award (1968), the Denis Devlin Award (1973), the Duff Cooper Memorial Prize (1975), the American Irish Foundation Literary Award (1973) and the WHSmith Annual Award (1976). In 1987 he was awarded the Whitbread Poetry Award for The Haw Lantern.

In 1965 he married Marie Devlin and they have three children. He is currently the Ralph Waldo Emerson Poet-in-Residence at Harvard University where he goes to teach for 6 weeks every two years. From 1989 to 1994 Seamus Heaney was Professor of Poetry at Oxford University.

In October 1995, Seamus Heaney was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. He died in August 2013.

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Book Info

Publication date

5th October 2006

Author

Seamus Heaney

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Publisher

Faber And Faber

Format

Paperback (b Format)
96 pages

Categories

Poetry
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ISBN

9780571230976

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