Michael Longley, the distinguished Irish poet and much-acclaimed influence for many young poets, has been announced as the winner of the 2017 PEN Pinter Prize. Awarded to poets who cast 'unflinching, unswerving gaze upon the world’ with a ‘fierce intellectual determination…to define the real truth of our lives and our societies, PEN Pinter Prize also has a personal significance for Longley: the Nobel Prize-winning playwright, Harold Pinter, after whom the prize is named, had encouraged the poet in his youth.
Longley's far-reaching poems always swerve away from cheap sentiments and easy dichotomy, plumbing the depth of human emotions and venturing towards the inexplicable truth beyond text. Combining the classical with the contemporary, the orient and the Occident, often in dexterous long lines, his poetry is of irresistible beauty and intellectual resilience. As the chair of judges and poet Don Paterson praised, '[f]or decades now his effortlessly lyric and fluent poetry has been wholly suffused with the qualities of humanity, humility and compassion, never shying away from the moral complexity that comes from seeing both sides of an argument.'
The prize will be awarded to Michael Longley at a public ceremony on the 10th October, at the British Library.
Angel Hill, Longley's new collection was published in June. Members of Poetry Book Society get 25% off all orders.