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Michael Longley

A letter to a young poet from Belfast writer Michael Longley.

Taking Rilke's classic correspondence as inspiration, five leading poets write a personal letter to a young poet. Today, eminent Belfast poet, Michael Longley.

The original Letters to a Young Poet is a compilation of letters by Rainer Maria Rilke, written between 1902 and 1908 to a 19-year-old officer cadet called Franz Kappus. Kappus was trying to choose between a literary career and entering the Austro-Hungarian army. Rilke's letters touch on poetry and criticism, but they range widely in subject matter from atheism and loneliness, to friendship and sexuality:

"If your everyday life seems to lack material, do not blame it; blame yourself, tell yourself that you are not poet enough to summon up its riches; for there is no lack for him who creates and no poor, trivial place."

In their new letters, five poets imagine a young poet protégé to whom they want to pass on life experience and thoughts about the poetic art.

Our poets are: Michael Symmons Roberts, Vicki Feaver, Michael Longley, Moniza Alvi and Don Paterson.

About Michael Longley: Michael Longley was born in Belfast in 1939. His Collected Poems was published in 2006 and in 2007, he was appointed Professor of Poetry for Ireland. His most recent poetry collections are Gorse Fires (2009) and A Hundred Doors (2011), shortlisted for the 2011 Forward Poetry Prize (Best Poetry Collection of the Year).

First broadcast in January 2014.

Available now

15 minutes


  • Wed 15 Jan 2014 22:45
  • Thu 21 Aug 2014 22:45

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