Cover image for Finders keepers : selected prose 1971-2001
Finders keepers : selected prose 1971-2001
Heaney, Seamus, 1939-2013.
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Publication Information:
New York : Farrar Straus Giroux, [2002]

Physical Description:
452 pages ; 23 cm
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PR6058.E2 A6 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Central Closed Stacks

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Whether autobiographical, topical, or specifically literary, these writings circle the central preoccupying questions of Seamus Heaney's career: "How should a poet properly live and write? What is his relationship to be to his own voice, his own place, his literary heritage and the contemporary world?"

Along with a selection from the poet's three previous collections of prose ( Preoccupations, The Government of the Tongue , and The Redress of Poetry ), the present volume includes Heaney's finest lectures and a rich variety of pieces not previously collected in volume form, ranging from short newspaper articles to radio commentaries. In its soundings of a wide range of poets - Irish and British, American and Eastern European, predecessors and contemporaries - Finders Keepers is, as its title indicates, "an announcement of both excitement and possession."

Author Notes

Seamus Heaney was born in Mossbawn, Ireland on April 13, 1939. He received a degree in English from Queen's College in Belfast in 1961. After earning his teacher's certificate in English from St. Joseph's College in Belfast the following year, he took a position at the school as an English teacher. During his time as a teacher at St. Joseph's, he wrote and published work in the university magazine under the pen name Incertus.

In 1966, he became an English literature lecturer at Queen's College in Belfast. His first volume of poems, Death of a Naturalist, went on to receive the E.C. Gregory Award, the Cholmondeley Award, the Somerset Maugham Award, and the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize.

After the death of his parents, Heaney published the poetry volumes The Haw Lantern, which includes a sonnet sequence memorializing his mother, and Seeing Things, a collection containing numerous poems for his father. His other works included Field Work, Opened Ground: Poems 1966-1996, and Human Chain.

Heaney was a professor at Harvard from 1981 to 1997 and its Poet in Residence from 1988 to 2006. From 1989 to 1994 he was also the Professor of Poetry at Oxford and in 1996 was made a Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres. Other awards that he received include the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize (1968), the E. M. Forster Award (1975), the PEN Translation Prize (1985), the Golden Wreath of Poetry (2001), T. S. Eliot Prize (2006) and two Whitbread Prizes (1996 and 1999). In 2012, he was awarded the Lifetime Recognition Award from the Griffin Trust For Excellence In Poetry. His literary papers are held by the National Library of Ireland.

He died following a short illness on August 30, 2013 at the age of 74. Heaney's last words were in a text to his wife Marie, "Noli timere", which means "Do not be afraid."

(Bowker Author Biography) Seamus Heaney lives in Dublin and teaches at Harvard University. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in literature in 1995.

(Publisher Provided) Seamus Heaney was born in 1939 in Northern Ireland. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995. A resident of Dublin, he has taught poetry at Oxford University and Harvard University.

(Publisher Provided)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Nobel laureate Heaney grew up in rural County Derry, in a place that he evocatively describes as "in between," the borderlands of Northern Ireland, within which one invisibly passes from Catholic nationalist to Protestant loyalist terrain. This is a land Heaney describes as a proper natal site for any poet, for poets are born to endlessly traverse the spaces between sound and sense. This collection, however, gathers Heaney's occasional prose from four decades, much of it meditating upon other poets who have moved him, including familiar members of the canon, such as Eliot and Yeats and Auden, and lesser-known and newer moderns, such as Hugh MacDiarmid, Thomas Kinsella, and Norman MacCaig, whose work draws his interest. Not surprisingly for a poet from a war-wracked land, Heaney comes back again and again to the question of how poetry can matter against human savagery. Again and again, he concludes that beauty and the meaning it gives to life must matter. --Patricia Monaghan

Publisher's Weekly Review

Ireland's most recent Nobel laureate offers up many old, and some new, critical and autobiographical essays in this invitingly capacious volume, which reprints most of his previous books of prose, from Preoccupations (1980) to the Oxford lectures in The Redress of Poetry (1995). The book, like its title, both "expresses glee and stakes a claim," as Heaney remarks. Subjects of glee (or appreciation, anyway) include several major (and some minor) poets, among them Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Lowell, John Clare, W.H. Auden, W.B. Yeats and Patrick Kavanagh, all examined in the literary criticism that makes up the second and longest of the book's three parts. Heaney as critic both offers insight into the makings of others' verse and shows how his readings of others' poetry (such as Clare's and Kavanagh's) have informed the making of his own. More general pieces examine, for example, "The Irish Poet in Britain" and the place of poets in the classroom. Part three collects recent book reviews and short magazine pieces, among them Heaney's memorial to Joseph Brodsky and his famous division of Paul Muldoon's oeuvre into "muldoodles" and "mulboons." Of equal or broader interest are the personal reflections in the volume's first section, which moves from the "secret nests" of Heaney's childhood to Belfast in the 1960s and the Irish peace process of the 1990s. Evocative, bedazzling and fruitful in its implications, Heaney's prose has become a necessary complement to his poetry. (May) Forecast: Shelved side-by-side with his Collected Poems, Heaney's tomes should sell well for years to come, with this book coming strongly off the blocks. Buyers should be aware that this volume does not include Heaney's Nobel lecture ("Crediting Poetry"), presumably because it's in print at the back of the Collected. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

In his prose work, Heaney's critical method is to borrow and spin: he'll take an idea from another writer and put it to new use as he bores into the subject at hand. Describing the poetry of Elizabeth Bishop, for example, Heaney quotes from fellow poet Charles Simic's essay on Joseph Cornell to describe what we do when we read Bishop: we look at the image we see and the one we imagine at the same time. Another characteristic of Heaney's approach is that he never presents a static picture but always describes the artist or artwork in motion. It is not for nothing that Heaney likens his pen to a spade, for again and again the Nobel prize-winning poet puts his earthy Irish practicality to the service of criticism as he delves into the life and work of the major Anglophone poets, himself included. Here his prose is divided into three sections: autobiographical or topical essays; studies of Yeats, Dylan Thomas, and other individual authors; and then "a kind of kite-tail, a stringing out of miscellaneous pieces that for all their brevity retain, I hope, a certain interest." They do: Heaney may borrow his tools, but he always uses them to unearth new literary treasure. Recommended for all academic and large public libraries. David Kirby, Florida State Univ., Tallahassee (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Table of Contents

Forewordp. ix
I Mossbawnp. 3
from Feeling into Wordsp. 15
Learning from Eliotp. 28
Belfastp. 42
Cessation 1994p. 48
Something to Write Home Aboutp. 51
Earning a Rhymep. 63
On Poetry and Professingp. 71
II Englands of the Mindp. 81
Yeats as an Example?p. 103
Place and Displacement: Recent Poetry from Northern Irelandp. 122
The Placeless Heaven: Another Look at Kavanaghp. 146
The Main of Lightp. 158
Atlas of Civilizationp. 167
from Envies and Identifications: Dante and the Modern Poetp. 184
from The Government of the Tonguep. 197
from Sounding Audenp. 209
Lowell's Commandp. 220
from The Indefatigable Hoof-Taps: Sylvia Plathp. 238
The Place of Writingp. 253
1. On W. B. Yeats and Thoor Ballyleep. 253
2. On Thomas Kinsellap. 262
Edwin Muirp. 269
from The Redress of Poetryp. 281
from Extending the Alphabet: Christopher Marlowep. 286
John Clare's Progp. 300
A Torchlight Procession of One: Hugh MacDiarmidp. 319
from Dylan the Durable? On Dylan Thomasp. 339
Joy or Night: Last Things in the Poetry of W. B. Yeats and Philip Larkinp. 343
from Counting to a Hundred: Elizabeth Bishopp. 361
Burns's Art Speechp. 378
Through-Other Places, Through-Other Times: The Irish Poet and Britainp. 396
III Stevie Smith's Collected Poemsp. 419
Joyce's Poetryp. 422
Italo Calvino's Mr Palomarp. 425
Paul Muldoon's The Annals of Chilep. 429
Norman MacCaig, 1910-1996p. 433
Joseph Brodsky, 1940-1996p. 437
On Ted Hughes's 'Littleblood'p. 441
Secular and Millennial Miloszp. 444
Acknowledgementsp. 451