Snow Water

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Wake Forest University Press, 2004 - Poetry - 65 pages
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Michael Longley’s Snow Water follows his highly acclaimed The Weather in Japan to prove that he is one of the best nature poets in English: a poet who can rightly claim the paradoxically liquid crystal "snow water” as a metaphor for his own imagination. Yet, living in Northern Ireland, Michael Longley is a "nature poet turned into a war poet as if / He could cure death with the rub of a dock leaf,” as he writes in "Edward Thomas’s Poem.” Longley cherishes the natural world, the words associated with it, and the perspective which dwelling in the five elements has revealed to his tender, patient mind. The imperatives of the subjective world resound in every sacramental detail of the landscape. Even in the elegies, eulogies and friendship verse, Longley’s ability to find the right natural image with which to communicate his fellow feelings is striking; for example, he compares the poems of the late Michael Hartnett to the "skylark’s / Chilly hallelujah, the robin’s autumn song.” And so it is with the rest of the poems on a multiplicity of subjects; Longley’s discrete ministrations invite us to capture our "own little cumulus of exhalations.” Literature and the land are seen throughout as a form of shelter for the inner life, for here it may be explored. With cover artwork by Michael Longley’s daughter, Sarah

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About the author (2004)

Michael Longley was born in Belfast, Northern Ireland, in 1939. He was educated at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution and studied Classics at Trinity College. Strongly influenced by the classics, he has alluded to his love of Homer in many of his poems. Early in his career, Longley worked as a schoolteacher in Dublin, London, and Belfast. He founded the literary program in the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, and in 1970 he became the assistant director of that organization. In 2010, he was honored with the title of Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a member of Aosd na, an affiliation for Irish artists. He is married to the critic Edna Longley and has three children. Michael Longley has written nine collections of poetry. Holding honorary doctorates from both Trinity College, Dublin, and Queen’s University, Belfast, Longley was awarded the prestigious Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2001. He has received numerous other awards for his work, including the American Irish Foundation Award, the T. S. Eliot Poetry Prize, the Whitbread Prize, the Hawthornden Prize, the International Griffin Poetry Prize, and the Ulster Tatler Lifetime Achievement Award in 2015. He served as the Ireland Professor of Poetry from 2007-2010.

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