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Ulster poetry

Death of a Naturalist, Late but in Earnest, Night Crossing, No Continuing City, Preoccupations

poets heaney simmons irish

the corporate designation for the work of a number of distinguished poets of Northern Irish birth who came to prominence from the mid-1960s onward. Seamus Heaney, Michael Longley, Derek Mahon, Paul Muldoon, Frank Ormsby, Tom Paulin, and James Simmons are the principal writers classifiable as Ulster poets. The oldest among them, James Simmons, was born in 1933 and the youngest, Paul Muldoon, in 1951; all produced their first substantial collections of poetry after 1966, when the appearance of Seamus Heaney's Death of a Naturalist began to generate interest in the new poetic talents of the Province. Simmons's Late but in Earnest (1967), Mahon's Night Crossing (1968), and Longley's No Continuing City (1969) followed, impressing critics through their accomplishment and originality of tone. Over the next ten years a succession of volumes from these poets contained much of the finest poetry written in English during the 1970s. Seamus Heaney's essay ‘Belfast’ in Preoccupations (1980) describes the stimulating effect on young writers in the city of the writing group begun by Philip Hobsbaum in the early 1960s; Heaney and his fellow poets had begun to attract attention by the time of the Belfast Festival in 1965, in which their work was featured. The onset of the Troubles in Northern Ireland in 1969 added urgency to the poetry being produced there; although the Ulster poets rejected the expectations of certain commentators concerning the directness with which they should confront the strife, military and sectarian violence became a clear theme in much of their writing. The examples of the Movement and the Group informed the earlier work of the Ulster poets, all of whom had a keen awareness of post-war developments in English poetry. Patrick Kavanagh's precedents in the treatment of Irish rural material were important in the emergence of Heaney's poetry, and Louis MacNeice's poems on Northern Irish themes indicated possibilities for Mahon and Longley.

Ulysses - The Egoist, The Little Review, Dubliners, Ulysses [next] [back] Ulster Literary Theatre, The - Cathleen Ni Houlihan, Deirdre, Brian of Banba, The Reformers

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