Saturday 25 November 2017

Heaney thoughts on humanity win top poetry award

Seamus Heaney: awarded the Forward Prize for his first collection since his 2006 stroke
Seamus Heaney: awarded the Forward Prize for his first collection since his 2006 stroke
Seamus Heaney Human Chain Book Cover

John Spain Books Editor

Seamus Heaney has won the Forward Prize, Britain's best known poetry award. For Heaney, who is already a Nobel Laureate, this award, worth £10,000 (€11,400), is extremely gratifying --especially as he was in the running twice before but lost out on each occasion.

Heaney won the award for his latest collection of poetry, 'Human Chain', his first book of poetry since he suffered a stroke in 2006. That experience, and the reminder of his own human frailty and mortality, gave his latest collection a depth of intensity, which won universal praise from the critics.

The 71-year-old writer was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995 and had previously been in contention for the Forward Prize in 1996 for 'The Spirit Level' and in 2006 for 'District And Circle'.

Heaney said yesterday that he was "honoured" to be the recipient but was unable to collect the prize in person in London. "The quality of the other books on the shortlist, my respect for the judges, and the distinction of previous winners have made this prize a prominent and highly regarded contribution to the life of poetry," he said.

"I am truly grateful to all concerned."

Chair of judges Ruth Padel, said: "Seamus Heaney's 'Human Chain' is a collection of painful, honest and delicately weighted poems.

"It is a wonderful and humane achievement."

Booker-winning author John Banville, said last night that " 'Human Chain' is a wonderful collection; Heaney at his finest. If this is late work, it is entirely timely. Heaney's take on death is life giving."

Pat Boran, poet and presenter of 'The Poetry Programme' on RTE Radio 1, said: "'Human Chain' sees Heaney in solid, sure-footed form, doing -- with apparent ease -- what he does so well that we sometimes overlook its brilliance, steering clear of abstraction or easy summary, instead recreating experience in an earthed language."

Irish Independent

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