Tag Archives: Manchester Literature Festival 2010

Unseen Forces: A Tribute to Seamus Heaney


Saturday 14th September, Martin Harris Centre, Manchester University

A night that should have included a recital by a great Irish poet sadly became a posthumous celebration of the greatest Irish poet to have ever lived, Seamus Heaney.

Upon opening the evening’s recital, Irish poet, Vona Groarke, said: “we have been left in the lea of Heaney,” heavy sentiments which were also echoed by renowned poets, Don Paterson and Paul Muldoon.

Irish poet, Paul Muldoon, winner of the Pulitzer Prize for poetry in 2007, was due to appear at the event alongside Heaney, but instead took to the lectern with the Scottish Forward Prize-winning poet, Don Paterson. The event was part of the 3rd British and Irish Contemporary Poetry Conference, held by The Centre for New Writing at The University of Manchester, in association with the Manchester Literature Festival, 2013.

In 2010, Heaney headlined the Manchester Literature Festival and spoke warmly of his links with the city as it was here that he had some of his earliest works published in a literary magazine set up by Harry Chambers. He also heaped praises on the university’s Centre for New Writing which he said has cultured some of the best Irish poets of recent years.

Paterson began the evening’s recitals acknowledging that, “we cannot disguise the sadness of the situation […] we’re on our own now.” Despite the melancholia surrounding the event, the night was a celebration and reassessment of Seamus Heaney’s work, the sadness and loss of which was reflected in both poets’ choice of poems. Each poet chose poems that tapped into Heaney’s psyche and borrowed from Opened Ground: Poems 1966-1996. They traced Heaney’s upbringing on his parents’ farm at Mossbawn (‘Death of a Naturalist’, ‘Follower’, ‘The Harvest Bow’), Ireland and The Troubles (‘Two Lorries’, ‘A Lough Neagh Sequence’) and ending fittingly with poems associated with peace, such as ‘St Kevin and the Blackbird’ and ‘The Wishing Tree’.

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Merry Christmas From The Poplar Tree

Hello Poplar Tree fans, if you click on the above image, fingers crossed, you should be able to read its little review of 2010. It’s not as in-depth a review as The Poplar Tree would like, but that’s because Crimbo has been a proper busy time.
Next year, The Poplar Tree plans to read more contemporary books and review them because it should keep up-to-date more with stuff like that and it doesn’t. Included in the review is a tribute to the late comic genius Frank Sidebottom, an overview of Missing Thumbs in The Road, highlights of the Manchester Literature Festival and a list of books and TV shows it’s enjoyed over the past twelve months.
The Poplar Tree hasn’t had time to list all the other things it’s been up to recently – last week it went to watch Angelos Epithemiou at the Stockport Plaza (review coming soon-ish). Anyway – enjoy this in the meantime, and thanks to everyone who has contributed to this blog and taken the time to read some of the entries.

All the best for 2011 – The Poplar Tree x

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