He was buried a week later in Musmus. His funeral was attended by thousands of Palestinians. The land comes near me drinks from me leaves its orchards with me to become a beautiful weapon defending me. Even when I sleep the land comes near me in my dream. I smuggle its wild thyme between exiles I sing its stones I will even sweat blood from my veins to drink its news so the land comes near me leaves a stone of love with me to defend it and defend me.
When I repay it I will embrace it a thousand times I will worship it a thousand times I will celebrate its wedding on my forehead on the rubble of exiles and the ruins of prisons. I will drink from it It will drink from me So that the Galilee would remain beauty, struggle, and love defending it defending me. I see the land; a morning that will come and the land will come near me. Without a Passport. I was born without a passport I grew up and saw my country become prisons without a passport. In addition, of course, his poetry opened up the subject matter of rural Ireland, reinforcing and extending the work of Kavanagh and Montague.
He was a towering figure in Irish poetry for decades.
The Poetry of Death
The number of critical studies of his work and the appearance of his books on university syllabuses all over the world attest to his popularity and influence. Aside from Heaney, I would imagine that John Hewitt is also an important influence on your work. I was not an admirer of Hewitt from the start. That designation carries a heavy obligation these days. It was brutal then and it is brutal now. Hewitt wrote to me from Coventry, where he was curator of the Herbert Art Gallery. Detecting an element of hurt in the letter, I wrote an apology to Hewitt, which was accepted. Shortly after this, he retired from the Herbert Gallery and returned to Belfast.
Back in Belfast, Hewitt became a father figure to several generations of poets and won honours galore. He quarried new collections from his notebooks, revising poems from as far back as the Forties. After our initial skirmish, we settled down and developed a friendship. I found him gruff and kindly, always ready to give judicious praise.
It is difficult to say I think whether Hewitt influenced my poems — unless it be in the use of traditional forms, a fondness for short poems and, occasionally, a four-square quality. Hewitt certainly detected a poetic affinity. Hewitt was not given to overstatement.
I admired his nature poems and lyric poems generally. At what point in composing do you decide on shape? So, by the end of the first verse, I am likely to have a sense of whether the poem will be in free verse, blank verse, couplets, quatrains, or whatever. A connection to place is very important in your poetry, and your rural upbringing in Fermanagh features in much of your work, beginning with your first collection, A Store of Candles This preoccupation with the local seems more prevalent in the work of Northern Irish poets than in the work of Southern poets with the exception of Patrick Kavanagh.
Poetry Without Borders “Poems about Poetry”
Would you agree with this assessment or am I making too broad an assumption? The local is a starting point for the Southern poet as much as it for the Northerner. I notice this when I read newspaper and magazine contributions by young Southerners and register the local fidelities.
The Troubles, however, have given Northern poets a sharper sense of place. This is likely to persist as the bodies of the Disappeared continue to be raised from bogland and other landscapes.
British Prose Poetry - The Poems Without Lines | Jane Monson | Palgrave Macmillan
Your second volume, A Northern Spring , includes a section of 36 poems about the American GIs who were stationed in Fermanagh ahead of the Normandy landings in I was born in and had no direct memories of the American presence, but the GIs related particularly well to the nationalist community and there were numerous stories about them.
A Northern Spring is an attempt to imagine their lives and experiences. The sequence is about the fate of the universal soldier who has his future taken from him. The Troubles are to the fore in some of these poems, a significant undercurrent in others. The images that run through Maimed Civilians, Isigny would be very familiar to anyone who had heard about or seen photographs of various atrocities in the North and the stunning capacity for recovery shown by the casualties.
How difficult was it to write poetry about the Troubles?
Free Verse Poems: No Rules
It was easy enough, indeed all too easy to write about the Troubles. My anthology A Rage for Order: Poetry of the Northern Troubles did not appear until , almost 25 years after the Troubles began, by which time poets had absorbed the subject — not entirely, of course, but sufficiently to approach the topic thoughtfully and with authority. Do you find the experience of writing about your father to be cathartic? Cathartic, yes. He presides over the poems and even answering this question brings a familiar image of him.
White hair, cap, walking stick. He is almost always seated and silent but somehow manages to remain an authority figure. We will take a short walk, during which he will keep one hand on my shoulder. My mother will give him an insulin injection and I will feed him porridge with a spoon. I believe you taught there from until your retirement in Can you speak a little about your career as an educator? It is essentially a Protestant school but prides itself on being open to pupils of all denominations.
It makes a point of not enquiring into the religious background of staff or pupils. My professional life as a teacher was spent there. I was an assistant teacher of English from to and head master of the English fepartment from to The school was founded to be the local university, which explains the head master. John Hewitt was a pupil there for one year, circa I realise that this answer has become a survey but I want to mention three other interesting figures — the painter Paul Henry, Dr William Neilson, head master of the classical school, who taught Irish and, in , published an Irish Grammar, and the poet Charles Reavy, poet, translator and founder of the Olympia Press.
I loved teaching literature every working day but probably had more impact simply as a poet on the staff.
A poet who managed a school hockey team! Pete Brown. Many writers disagree with her thesis, arguing that metaphor and other types of symbolic language help afflicted people form meaning out of their experiences. What are your thoughts on this? I have had a sense of metaphor in action. When I walk into a room, there is a second in the course of which I see coats, cushions, clocks, etc.
I can only assume that what happens is caused by medication. Would you attribute this new burst of creativity to the fact that you are now retired and have more time to devote to writing or are there other factors also at play? Retirement has played a significant part. It used to take me nine years to get a book together, now it takes two.
I think medication plays some part in this. Just as it can make your mind wander, it can also encourage feats of concentration that can be useful when you are trying to finish a recalcitrant poem. Furthermore, I am a man in a hurry.
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From that point on, I am in a hurry. I feel free but psychologically I must have a sense, however deeply buried poetry is in there, that my time is limited and that I must get the poems on to paper whatever. All this is speculation and even perhaps a little ridiculous.
You were the editor of The Honest Ulsterman from to How did the poet and editor in you work together in shaping the magazine? Also, were you surprised how influential the magazine became? There was no tension between the poet and the editor!