Seamus Heaney
Irish poet
Seamus Heaney
Seamus Heaney is an Irish poet, playwright, translator, lecturer and recipient of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature. Born at Mossbawn farmhouse between Castledawson and Toomebridge, he now resides in Dublin. As well as the Nobel Prize in Literature, Heaney has received the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize, the E. M. Forster Award (1975), the PEN Translation Prize (1985), the Golden Wreath of Poetry (2001), T. S. Eliot Prize (2006) and two Whitbread Prizes (1996 and 1999).
Biography
Seamus Heaney's personal information overview.
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News
News abour Seamus Heaney from around the web
What Happens When A President Doesn't Like To Read? We're Already Finding Out.
Huffington Post - 4 days
Back what seems like years ago, when former President of the United States Barack Obama surprised Joe Biden with the Presidential Medal of Freedom, he invited the Vice President to step up to the podium and give an off-the-cuff acceptance speech. Biden proceeded to, from memory, quote a line from Harry Truman, a lyric from Irish poet Seamus Heaney, and a passage from the Talmud. In the moment, it was a brief but stark reminder of what was about to leave the White House – an administration that valued literature, led by one of the biggest book worms the Oval Office has ever seen - and what was about to hurl itself in. The new occupant, to say the least, does not share the same passion. Donald Trump doesn’t read books, and it’s not something he’s embarrassed about. When Megyn Kelly asked him during the campaign what the last book he read was, Trump responded “I read passages, I read areas, chapters, I don’t have the time.” The fact is, the words of other people don’t matter too muc ...
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Huffington Post article
Five British Poets to Watch in 2017
Huffington Post - about 2 months
Lovers of poetry have this consolation at least: when times get tough, the poetry gets better. Stalinism gave us Anna Akhmatova; The Troubles in Northern Ireland gave us Seamus Heaney. In fact, nothing seems to focus the art like tyranny, terror, and an unsteady economy. We have much to look forward to. Dark humour aside, poetry can provide a solace deeper than comfort eating or the break from reality that reality television provides--by probing past the sound bites (and bytes) into singular and timeless human experience. Here are five sharp poets who make that cut. Rebecca Bird is a poet and performer of remarkable verve. There is urgency and honesty in her work, pressing at the elastic bounds of language, but always with a human purpose, wanting to "brush the dark from your knees". Look out for her debut Shrinking Ultraviolet from Eyewear Publishing later this year. Bryony Littlefair is an emerging poet of considerable talent. Though still building her print record, I had the ...
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Huffington Post article
Celebrating Seamus Heaney’s Legacy, at His Birthplace
NYTimes - 4 months
A 21,000-square-foot arts center has opened in Bellaghy, Northern Ireland, where the Nobel Prize-winning poet was born.
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NYTimes article
Roger Sedarat Talks About the First Poem He Ever Translated
Huffington Post - 5 months
Roger Sedarat is a 2015 recipient of the Willis Barnstone Translation Prize and a nominee for the Pushcart Prize in translation. The author of three poetry collections, his translations of classical and modern Persian literature have appeared or are forthcoming in Poetry, Guernica, Brooklyn Rail, and World Literature Today. His most recent project is Eco-Logic of the Word Lamb (forthcoming, Ghost Bird Press). He teaches poetry and literary translation in the MFA Program at Queens College, City University of New York. Loren Kleinman (LK): Tell us why we should care about translation: Roger Sedarat (RS): Most obviously regarding literary translation (assuming the importance of other informational renderings--like medical textbooks), I'd suggest imagining our lives without it: no Freud or Plato; no King James Bible, so foundational in shaping the English we use today; no great classic and contemporary books from all over the world. LK: What was the first poem you ever ...
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Huffington Post article
Review: ‘The Burial at Thebes,’ a Vicious but Poetic Tale Retold
NYTimes - about 1 year
Seamus Heaney’s adaptation of Sophocles’ “Antigone,” at the Irish Repertory Theater, was written in response to the American invasion of Iraq.
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NYTimes article
Cathy Galvin's Gorgeous Sonnets
Huffington Post - almost 2 years
(Cathy Galvin is photographed by Paul McVeigh) Over the years, Cathy Galvin had forged a formidable career as a journalist and editor at The Sunday Times and Newsweek to name just a few. She has established herself as a powerful champion of the short story by setting up the lucrative Sunday Times EFG short story award and London's premier short story literary salon, The Word Factory. Amongst these achievements, Galvin has branched out into poetry, and her new pamphlet of sonnets, Black and Blue, is a perfectly formed masterclass in poetic risk-taking. These poems are filled with vivid imagery and ideas that run the gamut from mourning the loss of loved ones to the celebration of all that is meaningful in life. There is a gorgeous melancholic tone here, but one that is tinged with wisdom, passion and experience. When asked how the project came about, Galvin says: Nothing would have happened if I hadn't taken a risk. Journalists are not the sort of people who write poetry ...
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Huffington Post article
Rising Arab American composer seeks more poetic era
Yahoo News - about 2 years
In an era where conflict between cultures has become alarmingly frequent, the composer Mohammed Fairouz has crafted his music into a plea for understanding and the transformative power of poetry. The prolific 29-year-old, whose work brings elements from the Islamic world to Western classical music, bases much of his new album, "Follow, Poet," around verses by 20th-century literary giants W.H. Auden and Seamus Heaney. It's much more difficult to dehumanize a group if you love their music and their poetry," Fairouz told AFP over a mug of tea at a New York recording studio.
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Yahoo News article
Nicholas Miriello: Kill the Teacher, Spare the Poet: A Conversation with John Hennessy
The Huffington Post - about 3 years
The poet John Hennessy shares a name with a millionaire college president, who was not long ago profiled in the New Yorker, and a cognac everyone knows, but not everyone drinks. His name positions his work in a cruel sort of fame and obscurity. In New York, after a reading for the Best American Poetry 2013 series, in which his work is anthologized, a fan came forward and asked him to spell his last name. An odd attempt at an ice breaker. "It's easy," he said. "Like the drink." He's perhaps the perfect portrait of the present-day poet. He's too smart, decorated with degrees, printed in sterling publications, a popular professor, and not yet well enough known. He is the author of two acclaimed collections, Bridge and Tunnel and, more recently, Coney Island Pilgrims. Hennessy was raised in Rahway, New Jersey between the drifting tides of the Arthur Kill and the "single gleaming green" that was the Merck chemical plant. When people talk about his poetry, New Jersey is a ...
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The Huffington Post article
What makes a book a classic
Salon.com - about 3 years
What makes a book a classic? That's one of the most acrimonious, endless and irresolvable discussions in the literary world. Like debates over which books are "great" (and why), it's also a mostly pointless question, fodder for overcaffeinated undergraduate bull sessions, feral comments threads and other milieus suffering under the delusion that we can arrive at an ironclad consensus on what constitutes literary merit. But there are a few places where deciding whether a book is a classic or not has real consequences. One is, obviously, classrooms, but the other is bookstores, as Elizabeth Bluemle of the Flying Pig Bookstore in Vermont let on recently in the blog Shelf Talker. One of the store's staff members recently asked her if he should shelve Seamus Heaney's translation of "Beowulf" with poetry or classics. After some discussion, they went with classics, but as Bluemle explains, "Neither is wrong; like many bookstore decisions, it’s booksellers’ choice, which mainly boils down to ...
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Salon.com article
Why We Should Respect All Cultural Celebrations
Huffington Post - about 3 years
It's the beginning of 2014, and this may be a good time to begin raising awareness about how we celebrate our numerous ethnic holidays throughout the year. Each and every American today stands on the shoulders of courageous, hard-working ancestors who came here from another country, some under great duress, bringing their cultures with them. Each of us is justifiably proud of our culture and heritage, and we deserve to see them respected, if not honored. Unfortunately, that was not the case on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, when members of the State University of Arizona chapter of the Tau Kappa Epsilon fraternity threw an "MLK Black Party." The party was reminiscent of days back in the '50s, when white people painted their faces black and put on "minstrel" shows. Surely we've put that sort of thing behind us! Or not. The insults have already started for St. Patrick's Day, though it's not even March. Getting a head start on the holiday's commercialization, Bed, Bath & Beyond keyed ...
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Huffington Post article
San Francisco's Arion Press: Fine Books, Great Artwork and Good Talk
Huffington Post - about 3 years
Here in San Francisco, we've got any number of iconic sites and sights. The Golden Gate Bridge. Lombard, "The crookedest street in the world." Coit Tower, and those little cable cars -- each highly visible, well known, popular with one and all. I'm here to add one more unique item to the list, less visible but deserving of far more widespread renown: Arion Press, which is not only maintaining the historic tradition of letterpress printing and hand-bound books but, for almost 40 years, has been creating wonderful limited-edition artist books. I go to as many of its events, in Arion's airy two-story building on the edge of the Presidio, as often as I can -- not because I can afford any of the books, which have original artwork by the likes of Jasper Johns, Kiki Smith and Wayne Thiebaud, but because I never cease to admire them, on display in steel-and-plexiglass vitrines in the gallery. Also because the events -- featuring artists, poets, and writers -- are often very special (and fre ...
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Huffington Post article
A Return to Language
The Huffington Post - over 3 years
My friend and collaborator Seamus Heaney was buried two months ago. A great Irish vessel was laid to rest, emptied of it's poetry. The Irish people lost their beloved Nobel Prize-winning bard and the world was robbed of one of it's greatest practitioners of language. It seemed particularly cruel to me that we would lose a poetic giant in a time when the need for a return to language seems to be vital to the future of humanity. My first work in collaboration with Seamus Heaney was when I composed an oratorio called Anything Can Happen based on three of his poems. I approached Seamus with the idea that I would set his poem, Anything Can Happen, after receiving a commission from the choir at Grinnell College in Iowa. He told me that he would be interested to see what I did with the poem since he couldn't really see it being set to music. Since I didn't want to undertake a setting that the poet was not enthusiastic about, I asked him to think more about it and share his thoughts with me. ...
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The Huffington Post article
Gerry Adams ordered Jean McConville killing, says ex-IRA commander on tape
Guardian (UK) - over 3 years
Recording of deceased Belfast IRA commander Brendan Hughes names Sinn Féin president as giving execution order A tape recording of a deceased Belfast IRA commander in which Gerry Adams is accused of ordering the murder and secret burial of a widowed mother of 10 in 1972 will be broadcast for the first time this week. A former IRA hunger striker, Brendan Hughes, alleges the Sinn Féin president was one of the heads of a unit that kidnapped, killed and buried west Belfast woman Jean McConville. Hughes, who died in 2008, is recorded as saying: "There was only one man who gave that order for that woman to be executed – and that man is now the head of Sinn Féin." Hughes also says that Adams went to the McConville children after their mother was abducted and promised an internal IRA investigation. "That man is the man who gave the order for that woman to be executed. I did not give the order to execute that woman. He did." Adams is challenged on the BBC's Storyville programme over whether ...
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Guardian (UK) article
The Learning Network Blog: Poetry Pairing | ‘The Fisherman’
NYTimes - over 3 years
In this Poetry Pairing, two well-known Irish poets are remembered. There is the nearly 100-year-old poem “The Fisherman” by William Butler Yeats, paired with the August 2013 obituary “Seamus Heaney, Irish Poet of Soil and Strife, Dies at 74.”     
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NYTimes article
Seamus Heaney's last poem published
Guardian (UK) - over 3 years
Guardian publishes In a Field ahead of its appearance in anthology marking centenary of outbreak of first world war • The War Poets Revisited – interactive anthology What may have been Seamus Heaney's final poem, a "heartbreakingly prescient" reflection on the first world war, has been published for the first time by the Guardian. Heaney was invited by the poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, to contribute to a memorial anthology marking the centenary of the outbreak of the first world war. She asked poets to respond to poetry, letters and diary entries from the time. Heaney chose Edward Thomas's great poem, As The Team's Head Brass, which he wrote in 1916 shortly before he asked to be posted to the front – a decision that led to his death at Arras the following year. In response Heaney wrote In a Field (see below), completed in June, two months before his own death and now published for the first time. Duffy said: "Seamus's poem is typically beautiful, placed and weighted at the cent ...
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Guardian (UK) article
Seamus Heaney: A Poet Who Liked the Red Sox
Huffington Post Sports - over 3 years
The critics called him the greatest Irish poet since Yeats, but few of them knew that Seamus Heaney, the Nobel Laureate who died in Dublin on August 30 at age 74, was also a fan of the Boston Red Sox. And he probably is rooting for them to win the World Series. I know it only because I took him to a Red Sox game in 1982 when he was teaching at Harvard and I was a fellow at the John F. Kennedy School of Government. We lived in nearby student residences, and I made it a point to meet him. Somehow we hit it off, maybe because I told him my mother's father was from Ireland, or that I had been a pitcher in the Cleveland Indians minor league system, or I'd been to Ireland with Vice President Mondale as his press secretary, or that I'd written a biography of Sen. Eugene McCarthy, who was among other things, an aspiring poet whose work he had read. Well, it's not exactly accurate to say that Heaney was a Red Sox fan because he had a hard time understanding baseball, despite my efforts ...
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Huffington Post Sports article
Monday open book stuff: September
Roanoke.com - over 3 years
Who would expect a tame bird to fend for itself if it were set free after a lifetime of gilded captivity? – “Lionheart,” Sharon Kay Penman Happy Monday, book lovers! It’s been a long week for me, but I got in a ton of reading. I finished “The Disaster Artist,” the book I referred to in my previous post, and it was excellent. I never got round to basing a blog post on it because I wanted to share changes that are coming to the Books section. Starting this Sunday, the section will be just one page. I’m soliciting your thoughts on how to best use this space, and I really want to know what you want for the page. I can’t promise anything, but I want to hear your ideas. This page is for you, the readers, and my priority is pleasing you. Shifting back to books, I devoured one called “Four Wives” by Wendy Walker. It wasn’t a great book — I devoured it the way I do a McDonald’s hamburger when I’m in the mood for one. It was a fluffy “chick lit” that addressed the perennial problems wo ...
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Roanoke.com article
Timeline
Learn about memorable moments in the evolution of Seamus Heaney
    LATE_ADULTHOOD
  • 2013
    Age 73
    His funeral was held in Donnybrook, Dublin, on the morning of 2 September 2013, and he was buried in the evening at his home village of Bellaghy, in the same graveyard as his parents, young brother, and other family members.
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    Heaney died in the Blackrock Clinic in Dublin on 30 August 2013, aged 74, following a short illness.
    More Details Hide Details After a fall outside a restaurant in Dublin, he entered hospital for a medical procedure, but died at 7:30 the following morning before it took place.
    Heaney died in August 2013, during the exhibition's curatorial process.
    More Details Hide Details Though the exhibit's original vision to celebrate Heaney's life and work remains at the forefront, there is a small section commemorating his death and its influence. In September 2015, it was announced that Heaney's family would posthumously publish his translation of Book VI of The Aeneid in 2016.
    He was scheduled to return to Dickinson again to receive the Harold and Ethel L. Stellfox Award—for a major literary figure—at the time of his death in 2013; Irish poet Paul Muldoon was then named recipient of the award that year, partly in recognition of the close connection between the two poets.
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  • 2012
    Age 72
    In June 2012, Heaney accepted the Griffin Trust for Excellence in Poetry's Lifetime Recognition Award and gave a speech in honour of the award.
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  • 2011
    Age 71
    In December 2011, he donated his personal literary notes to the National Library of Ireland.
    More Details Hide Details Even though he admitted he would likely have earned a fortune by auctioning them, Heaney personally packed up the boxes of notes and drafts and, accompanied by his son Michael, delivered them to the National Library.
    Heaney was named one of "Britain's top 300 intellectuals" by The Observer in 2011, though the newspaper later published a correction acknowledging that "several individuals who would not claim to be British" had been featured, of which Heaney was one.
    More Details Hide Details That same year, he contributed translations of Old Irish marginalia for Songs of the Scribe, an album by Traditional Singer in Residence of the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry, Pádraigín Ní Uallacháin.
  • 2010
    Age 70
    In 2010, Faber published Human Chain, Heaney's twelfth collection.
    More Details Hide Details Human Chain was awarded the Forward Poetry Prize for Best Collection, one of the major poetry prizes Heaney had never previously won, despite having been twice shortlisted. The book, published 44 years after the poet's first, was inspired in part by Heaney's stroke in 2006, which left him "babyish" and "on the brink". Poet and Forward judge Ruth Padel described the work as "a collection of painful, honest and delicately weighted poems a wonderful and humane achievement." Writer Colm Tóibín described Human Chain as "his best single volume for many years, and one that contains some of the best poems he has written... is a book of shades and memories, of things whispered, of journeys into the underworld, of elegies and translations, of echoes and silences." In October 2010, the collection was shortlisted for the T. S. Eliot Prize.
    He spoke at the West Belfast Festival 2010 in celebration of his mentor, the poet and novelist Michael MacLaverty, who had helped Heaney to first publish his poetry.
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  • 2009
    Age 69
    RTÉ Radio 1 Extra transmitted a continuous broadcast, from 8 a.m. to 9:15 p.m. on the day of the funeral, of his Collected Poems album, recorded by Heaney in 2009.
    More Details Hide Details His poetry collections sold out rapidly in Irish bookshops immediately following his death. Many tributes were paid to Heaney. President Michael D. Higgins said: " we in Ireland will once again get a sense of the depth and range of the contribution of Seamus Heaney to our contemporary world, but what those of us who have had the privilege of his friendship and presence will miss is the extraordinary depth and warmth of his personality Generations of Irish people will have been familiar with Seamus' poems. Scholars all over the world will have gained from the depth of the critical essays, and so many rights organisations will want to thank him for all the solidarity he gave to the struggles within the republic of conscience." President Higgins also appeared live from Áras an Uachtaráin on the Nine O'Clock News in a five-minute segment in which he paid tribute to Seamus Heaney.
    In 2009, Heaney was awarded the David Cohen Prize for Literature.
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  • 2008
    Age 68
    Faber and Faber published Dennis O'Driscoll's book Stepping Stones: Interviews with Seamus Heaney in 2008; this has been described as the nearest thing to an autobiography of Heaney.
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    In 2008, he became artist of honour in Østermarie, Denmark, and the Seamus Heaney Stræde (street) was named after him.
    More Details Hide Details In 2009, Heaney was presented with an Honorary-Life Membership award from the University College Dublin (UCD) Law Society, in recognition of his remarkable role as a literary figure.
  • 2006
    Age 66
    Heaney's District and Circle won the 2006 T. S. Eliot Prize.
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    In August 2006, Heaney suffered a stroke.
    More Details Hide Details Although he recovered and joked, "Blessed are the pacemakers" when fitted with a heart monitor, he cancelled all public engagements for several months. He was in County Donegal at the time of the 75th birthday of Anne Friel, wife of playwright Brian Friel. He read the works of Henning Mankell, Donna Leon and Robert Harris while in hospital and was visited at the time by Bill Clinton.
  • 2004
    Age 64
    Heaney wrote the poem "Beacons of Bealtaine" to mark the 2004 EU Enlargement.
    More Details Hide Details He read the poem at a ceremony for the 25 leaders of the enlarged European Union, arranged by the Irish EU presidency.
  • 2003
    Age 63
    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.
    More Details Hide Details He has sent a voltage around a generation. He has done this not just through his subversive attitude but also his verbal energy."
    In 2003, the Seamus Heaney Centre for Poetry was opened at Queen's University Belfast.
    More Details Hide Details It houses the Heaney Media Archive, a record of Heaney's entire oeuvre, along with a full catalogue of his radio and television presentations. That same year, Heaney decided to lodge a substantial portion of his literary archive at Emory University as a memorial to the work of William M. Chace, the university's recently retired president. The Emory papers represented the largest repository of Heaney's work (1964–2003), donated to build their large existing archive from Irish writers including Yeats, Paul Muldoon, Ciaran Carson, Michael Longley and other members of The Belfast Group.
  • 2002
    Age 62
    In 2002, Heaney was awarded an honorary doctorate from Rhodes University and delivered a public lecture on "The Guttural Muse".
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  • 2000
    Age 60
    In 2000, Heaney was awarded an honorary doctorate and delivered the commencement address at the University of Pennsylvania.
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  • FIFTIES
  • 1996
    Age 56
    Heaney was elected a Member of the Royal Irish Academy in 1996 and was admitted in 1997.
    More Details Hide Details In the same year, Heaney was elected Saoi of Aosdána.
    Heaney's 1996 collection The Spirit Level won the Whitbread Book of the Year Award; he repeated the success with Beowulf: A New Translation.
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  • 1995
    Age 55
    Heaney was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995 for what the Nobel committee described as "works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past."
    More Details Hide Details He was on holiday in Greece with his wife when the news broke. No one, not even journalists or his own children, could find him until he appeared at Dublin Airport two days later, though an Irish television camera traced him to Kalamata. Asked how it felt having his name added to the Irish Nobel pantheon featuring William Butler Yeats, George Bernard Shaw and Samuel Beckett, Heaney responded: "It's like being a little foothill at the bottom of a mountain range. You hope you just live up to it. It's extraordinary." He and Marie were immediately whisked straight from the airport to Áras an Uachtaráin for champagne with President Mary Robinson.
  • 1993
    Age 53
    In 1993, Heaney guest-edited The Mays Anthology, a collection of new writing from students at the University of Oxford and University of Cambridge.
    More Details Hide Details That same year, he was awarded the Dickinson College Arts Award and returned to the Pennsylvania college to deliver the commencement address and receive an honorary degree.
  • 1990
    Age 50
    In 1990, The Cure at Troy, his play based on Sophocles's Philoctetes, was published to much acclaim.
    More Details Hide Details The next year, he published another volume of poetry, Seeing Things (1991). Heaney was named an Honorary Patron of the University Philosophical Society, Trinity College, Dublin, and was elected an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature (1991).
  • FORTIES
  • 1989
    Age 49
    In 1989, Heaney was elected Professor of Poetry at the University of Oxford, which he held for a five-year term to 1994.
    More Details Hide Details The chair does not require residence in Oxford, and throughout this period, he was dividing his time between Ireland and the United States. He also continued to give public readings; so well attended and keenly anticipated were these events that those who queued for tickets with such enthusiasm were sometimes dubbed "Heaneyboppers", suggesting an almost teenybopper fanaticism on the part of his supporters.
  • 1988
    Age 48
    Heaney was compiling a collection of his work in anticipation of Selected Poems 1988-2013 at the time of his death.
    More Details Hide Details The selection includes poems and writings from Seeing Things, The Spirit Level, the translation of Beowulf, Electric Light, District and Circle, and Human Chain (fall 2014). In February 2014, Emory University premiered Seamus Heaney: The Music of What Happens, the first major exhibition to celebrate the life and work of Seamus Heaney since his death. The exhibit holds a display of the surface of Heaney's personal writing desk that he used in the 1980s as well as old photographs and personal correspondence with other writers.
    In 1988, a collection of his critical essays, The Government of the Tongue, was published.
    More Details Hide Details In 1985 Heaney wrote the poem "From the Republic of Conscience" at the request of Amnesty International Ireland to, in Heaney's words, "celebrate United Nations Day and the work of Amnesty." The poem went on to inspire Amnesty International's highest honor, the Ambassador of Conscience Award.
  • 1986
    Age 46
    In 1986, Heaney received a Litt.D. from Bates College.
    More Details Hide Details His father, Patrick, died in October the same year. The loss of both parents within two years affected Heaney deeply, and he expressed his grief in poems.
  • 1985
    Age 45
    Heaney was Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory at Harvard University (formerly Visiting Professor) 1985–1997 and the Ralph Waldo Emerson Poet in Residence at Harvard 1998–2006.
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  • 1982
    Age 42
    At the Fordham commencement ceremony in 1982, Heaney delivered the commencement address in a 46-stanza poem entitled "Verses for a Fordham Commencement".
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  • 1981
    Age 41
    As he was born and educated in Northern Ireland, Heaney felt the need to emphasise that he was Irish and not British. Following the success of the Field Day Theatre Company's production of Brian Friel's Translations, Heaney joined the company's expanded Board of Directors in 1981, when the company's founders Brian Friel and Stephen Rea decided to make the company a permanent group.
    More Details Hide Details In autumn 1984, his mother, Margaret, died.
    Also in 1981, he left Carysfort to become visiting professor at Harvard University, where he was affiliated with Adams House.
    More Details Hide Details He was awarded two honorary doctorates, from Queen's University and from Fordham University in New York City (1982).
    When Aosdána, the national Irish Arts Council, was established in 1981, Heaney was among those elected into its first group (he was subsequently elected a Saoi, one of its five elders and its highest honour, in 1997).
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  • THIRTIES
  • 1979
    Age 39
    His next volume, Field Work, was published in 1979. Selected Poems 1965-1975 and Preoccupations: Selected Prose 1968–1978 were published in 1980.
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  • 1976
    Age 36
    He became Head of English at Carysfort College in Dublin in 1976, and the family moved to Sandymount in Dublin.
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  • 1975
    Age 35
    In 1975, Heaney published his fourth volume, North.
    More Details Hide Details A pamphlet of prose poems entitled Stations was published the same year.
  • 1972
    Age 32
    In 1972, Heaney left his lectureship at Belfast, moved to Wicklow in the Republic of Ireland, and began writing on a full-time basis.
    More Details Hide Details In the same year, Wintering Out was published. Over the next few years, Heaney began to give readings throughout Ireland, Great Britain and the United States.
  • 1971
    Age 31
    Heaney's engagement with poetry as a necessary engine for cultural and personal change is reflected in his prose works The Redress of Poetry (1995) and Finders Keepers: Selected Prose, 1971–2001 (2002).
    More Details Hide Details "When a poem rhymes," Heaney wrote, "when a form generates itself, when a metre provokes consciousness into new postures, it is already on the side of life. When a rhyme surprises and extends the fixed relations between words, that in itself protests against necessity. When language does more than enough, as it does in all achieved poetry, it opts for the condition of overlife, and rebels at limit." He continues: "The vision of reality which poetry offers should be transformative, more than just a printout of the given circumstances of its time and place". Often overlooked and underestimated in the direction of his work is his profound poetic debts to and critical engagement with 20th-century Eastern European poets, and in particular Nobel laureate Czesław Miłosz. Heaney's work is used extensively on school syllabi internationally, including the anthologies The Rattle Bag (1982) and The School Bag (1997) (both edited with Ted Hughes). Originally entitled The Faber Book of Verse for Younger People on the Faber contract, Hughes and Heaney decided the main purpose of The Rattle Bag was to offer enjoyment to the reader: "Arbitrary riches." Heaney commented "the book in our heads was something closer to The Fancy Free Poetry Supplement." It included work that they would have liked to encountered sooner in their own lives, as well as nonsense rhymes, ballad-type poems, riddles, folk songs and rhythmical jingles. Much familiar canonical work was not included, since they took it for granted that their audience would know the standard fare.
    After a spell as guest lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley, he returned to Queen's University in 1971.
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  • TWENTIES
  • 1969
    Age 29
    In 1969, his second major volume, Door into the Dark, was published.
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  • 1966
    Age 26
    Also in 1966, he was appointed as a lecturer in Modern English Literature at Queen's University Belfast, and his first son, Michael, was born.
    More Details Hide Details A second son, Christopher, was born in 1968. That same year, with Michael Longley, Heaney took part in a reading tour called Room to Rhyme, which led to much exposure for the poet's work.
    In 1966, Faber and Faber published his first major volume, called Death of a Naturalist.
    More Details Hide Details This collection was met with much critical acclaim and went on to win several awards, including the Gregory Award for Young Writers and the Geoffrey Faber Prize.
  • 1965
    Age 25
    In August 1965, he married Marie Devlin, a school teacher and native of Ardboe, County Tyrone. (Devlin is a writer and, in 1994, published Over Nine Waves, a collection of traditional Irish myths and legends.) Heaney's first book, Eleven Poems, was published in November 1965 for the Queen's University Festival.
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  • 1963
    Age 23
    In 1963, Heaney became a lecturer at St Joseph's, and in the spring of 1963, after contributing various articles to local magazines, he came to the attention of Philip Hobsbaum, then an English lecturer at Queen's University.
    More Details Hide Details Hobsbaum set up a Belfast Group of local young poets (to mirror the success he had with the London group), and this would bring Heaney into contact with other Belfast poets such as Derek Mahon and Michael Longley.
  • 1962
    Age 22
    With McLaverty's mentorship, Heaney first started to publish poetry in 1962.
    More Details Hide Details Hillan describes how McLaverty was like a foster father to the younger Belfast poet. In the introduction to McLaverty's Collected Works, Heaney summarised the poet's contribution and influence: "His voice was modestly pitched, he never sought the limelight, yet for all that, his place in our literature is secure." Heaney's poem Fosterage, in the sequence Singing School from North (1975), is dedicated to him.
  • 1961
    Age 21
    He graduated in 1961 with a First Class Honours degree.
    More Details Hide Details During teacher training at St Joseph's Teacher Training College in Belfast (now merged with St Mary's, University College), Heaney went on a placement to St Thomas' secondary Intermediate School in west Belfast. The headmaster of this school was the writer Michael McLaverty from County Monaghan, who introduced Heaney to the poetry of Patrick Kavanagh.
  • TEENAGE
  • 1957
    Age 17
    In 1957, Heaney travelled to Belfast to study English Language and Literature at Queen's University Belfast.
    More Details Hide Details During his time in Belfast, he found a copy of Ted Hughes's Lupercal, which spurred him to write poetry. "Suddenly, the matter of contemporary poetry was the material of my own life," he said.
  • 1953
    Age 13
    In 1953, his family moved to Bellaghy, a few miles away, which is now the family home.
    More Details Hide Details His father, Patrick Heaney (d. October 1986), was the eighth child of ten born to James and Sarah Heaney. Patrick was a farmer, but his real commitment was to cattle dealing, to which he was introduced by the uncles who had cared for him after the early death of his own parents. Heaney's mother, Margaret Kathleen McCann (1911–1984), who bore nine children, came from the McCann family. Her uncles and relations were employed in the local linen mill, and her aunt had worked as a maid for the mill owner's family. Heaney commented on the fact that his parentage thus contained both the Ireland of the cattle-herding Gaelic past and the Ulster of the Industrial Revolution; he considered this to have been a significant tension in his background. Heaney initially attended Anahorish Primary School; when he was twelve years old, he won a scholarship to St. Columb's College, a Roman Catholic boarding school situated in Derry. Heaney's brother, Christopher, was killed in a road accident at the age of four while Heaney was studying at St. Columb's. The poems "Mid-Term Break" and "The Blackbird of Glanmore" focus on his brother's death.
  • CHILDHOOD
  • 1939
    Born
    Heaney was born on 13 April 1939, at the family farmhouse called Mossbawn, between Castledawson and Toomebridge in Northern Ireland; he was the first of nine children.
    More Details Hide Details
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