In a time of burnings and bombings Heaney used poetry to offer an alternative world; he gave example by his seriousness, his honesty, his thoughtfulness, his generosityTwo years ago I invited Seamus Heaney to read at the Kilkenny arts festival in Ireland. The venue was St Canice’s Cathedral, one of the most beautiful churches in Ireland. It was here almost 40 years earlier that, as a young poet, he had met Robert Lowell, who had become a friend and a mentor. Heaney admired Lowell’s utter dedication to his craft, his ability to change, his absolute belief in the importance of poetry. When I suggested that Dennis O’Driscoll, who had done a book of interviews with Heaney, should introduce him on stage, Seamus said he would like that, but he would prefer it if Dennis would read as well. Dennis, he said, had done enough introducing; since he was also a poet, he should get equal billing. It was typical of Seamus’s generosity.That evening, I suggested to him that he should do no signing of books after the reading, but go and have a drink with the theatre director Peter Brook, who was in Kilkenny and wanted to meet him. As …read more

Via: The Guardian | Books