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  • Published: 10 January 2022
  • ISBN: 9781787333901
  • Imprint: Jonathan Cape
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 96
  • RRP: $32.99

The Slain Birds



The new collection from the greatest living Irish poet - who Seamus Heaney called 'a keeper of the artistic estate, a custodian of griefs and wonders'.

**WINNER OF THE 2022 FELTRINELLI INTERNATIONAL POETRY PRIZE **


'One of the most perfect poets alive. There is something in his work both ancient and modern. I read him as I might check the sky for stars.' Sebastian Barry

Michael Longley's new collection takes its title from Dylan Thomas - 'for the sake of the souls of the slain birds sailing'. The Slain Birds encompasses souls, slayings and many birds, both dead and alive. The first poem laments a tawny owl killed by a car. That owl reappears later in 'Totem', which represents the book itself as 'a star-surrounded totem pole/ With carvings of all the creatures'. 'Slain birds' exemplify our impact on the creatures and the planet. But, in this book's cosmic ecological scheme, birds are predators too, and coronavirus is 'the merlin we cannot see'. Longley's soul-landscape seems increasingly haunted by death, as he revisits the Great War, the Holocaust and Homeric bloodshed, with their implied counterparts today. Yet his microcosmic Carrigskeewaun remains a precarious 'home' for the human family. It engenders 'Otter-sightings, elvers, leverets, poetry'. Among Longley's images for poetry are crafts that conserve or recycle natural materials: carving, silversmithing, woodturning, embroidery. This suggests the versatility with which he remakes his own art. Two granddaughters 'weave a web from coloured strings' and hang it up 'to trap a big idea'. The interlacing lyrics of The Slain Birds are such a web.

  • Published: 10 January 2022
  • ISBN: 9781787333901
  • Imprint: Jonathan Cape
  • Format: Trade Paperback
  • Pages: 96
  • RRP: $32.99

About the author

Michael Longley

Michael Longley has received many awards, among them the T.S. Eliot Prize, the Hawthornden Prize, the Irish Times Poetry Now Award, the American Ireland Fund Literary Award and the Griffin International Prize. His Collected Poems was published in 2006, and Sidelines: Selected Prose in 2017. In 2001 Longley received the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry, and in 2003 the Wilfred Owen Award. He was appointed a CBE in 2010, and from 2007 to 2010 was Ireland Professor of Poetry. In 2017 he received the PEN Pinter Prize, and in 2018 the inaugural Yakamochi Medal. In 2015 he was made a Freeman of the City of Belfast, where he and his wife the critic Edna Longley live and work.

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