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Ash Keys by Michael Longley PRE-ORDER

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Published 25th July 2024. Available for pre-order.

Published to coincide with his 85th birthday, Ash Keys looks back on the extraordinary career of the last surviving member of the triumvirate of poets that rose out of 1960s Belfast'A master in an old, great tradition' THE TIMES'A keeper of the artistic estate, a custodian of griefs and wonders' SEAMUS HEANEYThe title of Michael Longley’s New Selected Poems is taken from his poem ‘Ash Keys’. The wing-shaped, wind-borne seeds of the ash-tree might be an image for poems in search of their readers. This selection, based on thirteen individual collections, represents Longley’s unusual range as a lyric poet.

It shows how his themes, genres and forms have evolved and interlaced since the 1960s. Love, violence, the natural world, art, psychodrama, family, the Great War, the Homeric past and Northern Ireland’s troubled present cohabit in these pages – as do depth, wit and beauty. Longley’s poems of the west of Ireland, which pivot on Carrigskeewaun, his ‘soul landscape’, have also made him a pioneer of ‘eco-poetry’.

In 2022 Longley was awarded the Feltrinelli Prize for poetry, a major international prize. Announcing the award, the Accademia dei Lincei in Rome stressed ‘the contemporary relevance of his themes and their cultural implications’, and said: ‘Longley is an extraordinary poet of landscape, particularly of the Irish West, which he observes with the delicate and passionate attention of an ecologist, and a tragic singer of Ireland and its dramatic history. But he has also addressed the seduction, conquest, and fascination of love, as well as the shock of war in all ages, the tragedy of the Holocaust and of the gulags, and the themes of loss, grief and pity.’

Jonathan Cape



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