So Long Seamus
*Seamus Heaney, one of the most significant living poets on the planet, passed away on August 30 at the age of 74. He did a superb translation of Beowulf, but he was best known for for his own poetic compositions. Heaney was highly acclaimed by critics, but he also had an immense popular audience (at the time of his death over half of the poetry books sold in the UK were by him). He won the Noble Prize for Literature in 1996, and he was probably one of the most acclaimed and popular Irish poets since William Butler Yeats (well there’s also Auden and Dylan Thomas). When Heaney celebrated his 70th birthday, Heaney’s achieved poetry readings were broadcast in Ireland for 12 hours.
The web site http://www.poemhunter.com/poem/death-of-a-naturalist/ contains some of his best known poems including the title poem from “Death of a Naturalist,” which was obviously influenced by Frost’s work.
*Another important Irish poet, Louis MacNeice, has been in the news quite a bit lately. At first MacNeice’s work was greatly underestimated, and he was almost completely overshadowed by his lookalike and contemporary, W. H. Auden. But MacNeice’s work is cure is being revaluated, and his star is rising after such notable contemporary literary figures such as Paul Muldoon have championed his work. His “Collected Poems” is now available in the United States. See http://www.amazon.com/Collected-Poems-Louis-MacNeice/dp/0571113532
*Now here’s an unconventional travel idea. The English writer, Simon Armitage, is going to travel extensively in Europe, and he is offering poetry readings in return for lodging. He intends to pay for his whole trip with his performances. He is going to travel the West Coast Path in England, walking 260 miles, and then he is going to go to Sicily by boat. His web page is at http://www.simonarmitage.com/biography.html. Besides poetry Armitage is also known for his work in theatre and TV.
*I don’t see poems being mentioned in Chicago newspaper editorials too much anymore aside from “April is the cruelest month,” which is quoted by someone every spring. Perhaps poetry is considered too high brow, esoteric or obscure for the “common” reader.
But the Chicago Tribune columnist, Mary Schmich is apparently an avid poetry reader. In her Sunday column which is about enjoyable things to do, she mentions cicadas, the best coffee houses (including Bridgeport Coffeehouse which I occasionally go to), as well as the work of poet, Wendell Berry. She quotes the line, “The mind that is not baffled is not employed.” This comes from his fine short work, ‘The Real Work,” which can be found at http://writersalmanac.publicradio.org/index.php?date=2012/08/04. Schmich’s whole column can be found at