Poetry News

Poetry Ireland Review Tributes Seamus Heaney in Special Issue

By Harriet Staff


The Guardian has the scoop on a new "tribute album” celebrating the work of the late Seamus Heaney, published as a dedicated issue of Poetry Ireland Review. Editor Vona Groarke approached 50 poets, asking them to write a takeaway on their favorite poem. The issue UK poets like Simon Armitage and Lavinia Greenlaw, among others, and should serve as a guidebook.

Just out, the issue sees Armitage plump for A Constable Calls, in which Heaney’s father is visited by a policeman, calling it “typical Heaney, full of his trademarks and tricks, all the signs and signatures by which his work is identified, admired and occasionally imitated”.

Greenlaw went for The door was open and the house was dark, about Heaney’s visit to the house of a dead friend; Nick Laird for The Rain Stick - although he writes that “there are no poems by Heaney that I don’t admire, that aren’t somehow consummate, it seems to me, in art and scope”.

Michael Symmons Roberts chooses Station Island, Sean O’Brien Alphabets and Michael Hoffman the haiku 1.1.87, in which Heaney writes: “Dangerous pavements. / But I face the ice this year / With my father’s stick.”

“Something in me finds it almost unbearably moving that in among the quatrains and sonnets … Heaney slips in this inconspicuous compression of a compression, with every bit of the traditional obliqueness, every edge of implication for the future that is ascribed to the Japanese form,” writes Hoffman.

“I think I wanted to do this special Issue of Poetry Ireland Review as a tribute to Seamus Heaney, certainly, but also as a way of offering younger poets an opportunity to say why his poems mattered so much to them,” said Groarke. “Many established poets stop reading new work by younger poets when they get to a certain stage; Seamus never did. He was keenly interested in new work and unfailingly encouraging towards younger poets: Issue 113 was a chance for them to return the compliment, to look at why his work matters so much to all of us who try to write poems.”

Find out more at The Guardian.

Originally Published: March 2nd, 2015