Seamus HeaneyPosted: March 17, 2012 | |
When I was a young freshman in the “smart kids” 200 level English Lit & Composition class, I have to admit that I was NOT ready for Seamus Heaney. Our professor, Dr. Dennis Dooley (I miss him, would like to say THANK YOU wherever he is now, hopefully enjoying his retirement), was quite the fan. Which means we read A LOT of Mr. Heaney. He had even come to our wee-bitty college for its Writer’s Series in 1984. Oh, to have been there.
Anyway, Mr. Heaney is a poet from Northern Ireland, who very much identifies himself as being Irish, NOT British. He has also written plays and prose, and perhaps the best translation out there of Beowulf. In 1995, he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, which officially makes him supercool for life.
His other awards include:
- 1966 Eric Gregory Award
- 1967 Cholmondeley Award
- 1968 Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize
- 1975 E. M. Forster Award
- 1975 Duff Cooper Memorial Prize
- 1995 Nobel Prize for Literature
- 1996 Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et des Lettres
- 2001 Golden Wreath of Poetry, the main international award given by Struga Poetry Eveningsto a world renowned living poet for life achievement in the field of poetry
- 2006 T. S. Eliot Prize for District and Circle
- 2007 Poetry Now Award for District and Circle
- 2009 David Cohen Prize
- 2011 Poetry Now Award for Human Chain
- 2011 Griffin Poetry Prize for Human Chain
- 2011 Bob Hughes Lifetime Achievement Award
Still writing, still producing, he has an extensive bibliography, and an impressive résumé befitting a Laureate. He has been on the faculties of Harvard, Berkeley, Oxford, Queen’s University, and has received honorary degrees from several more institutions.
His works and archives are divided between Queen’s University Belfast and Emory University in Atlanta.
Other than his incredible imagery and skill with words, things I most like about Mr. Heaney:
While he writes about politics and The Troubles, he himself refuses to claim that poetry is going to change history, and has avoided taking an overt stand in the difficulty, instead offering a personal reflection of his experiences. Maybe that’s the only way to be honest about it all. To stay above the fray as it were.
My other favorite quote,
“In 2003, when asked if there was any figure in popular culture who aroused interest in poetry and lyrics, Heaney praised rap artist Eminem, saying “He has created a sense of what is possible. He has sent a voltage around a generation. He has done this not just through his subversive attitude but also his verbal energy.”“
Interesting. very interesting. If you haven’t read Seamus, take a minute.