Michael Longley says:
'...Carrigskeewaun is unbelievably beautiful - it's the most magical place in the world for me. It's the Garden of Eden and I often think about it. If I am depressed I go for a walk in my mind up the path to the cottage around the little ruined out houses and I stand taking in the view even though I am in Belfast or London or New York.'
'...The whole thing is an exploration and I think the emerging form of the poem is like a compass that an explorer might use when he is exploring unknown territory...the poet in the act of writing a poem should be discovering at the back of his or her mind things that he doesn't know about...it should be a surprise...if the poet doesn't surprise himself he is not going to surprise anybody else.'
'...The patterns of poetry are a way of finding, echoing mirrored shapes in patterns in the world around us.'
'...The major task for the poet is to find fresh rhythms. To make fresh music and not to repeat himself or anybody else for that matter, and the only way one is going to find new vital rhythms is being vital and alive and alert and responsive oneself. To live life with all of one's pores open.'
Michael Longley was born in Belfast in 1939 and has lived there for most of his life. For many years he worked for the Arts Council of Northern Ireland where he was Combined Arts Director. Previous collections include Poems 1963-83, Gorse Fires, The Ghost Orchid and Broken Dishes. Selected Poems was published in October 1998. He won the TS Eliot Prize and the Irish Literature Prize for Poetry in 2001 for his collection The Weather in Japan. He won the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry in 2001. The Longley poems in this selection are Carrigskeewaun and The Civil Servant.
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