Poet Michael Longley was born in Belfast in 1939 and educated at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution and Trinity College, Dublin, where he read Classics. He joined the Arts Council of Northern Ireland in 1970, working in literature and the traditional arts as Combined Arts Director before taking early retirement in 1991. He was awarded the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry in 2001.
Michael Longley was Writer Fellow at Trinity College, Dublin, in 1993. He has written widely on the arts in Northern Ireland and has written scripts for BBC radio. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and the American Academy of Arts & Sciences and a member of Aosdána.
His Collected Poems was published in 2006. In 2007, he was appointed Professor of Poetry for Ireland, and his inaugural lecture, A Jovial Hullabuloo was published in pamphlet form in the same year.
He lives in Belfast with his wife, the critic Edna Longley.
“I ... believe now that other people’s feelings are more important than poems. In The Echo Gate I wrote a lament for our local greengrocer who was murdered by the UVF [Ulster Volunteer Force]. I sent this to his widow before even considering publication. I felt very nervous doing so, and enormously relieved when she replied graciously, thanking me for the poem. You have got to bring your personal sorrow to the public utterance. Otherwise you are in deadly danger of regarding the agony of others as raw material for your art, and your art as a solace for them in their suffering.”
From an interview with Dermot Healy
No Continuing City: Poems 1963-1968, Macmillan, 1969
Causeway: The Arts in Ulster (editor), Gill & Macmillan, 1971
Under the Moon: Over the Stars (editor), Arts Council of Northern Ireland, 1971
An Exploded View: Poems 1968-1972, Gollancz, 1973
Man Lying on a Wall: Poems 1972-1975, Gollancz, 1976
The Echo Gate: Poems 1975-1979, Secker & Warburg, 1979
Poems 1963-1983, Gallery Press (Dublin), 1985
Selected Poems: Louis MacNeice (editor), Faber, 1988
Gorse Fires, Secker & Warburg, 1991
Selected Poems: W. R. Rodgers (editor), Gallery Press, 1993
Tuppeny Stung: Autobiographical Chapters, Lagan, 1994
The Ghost Orchid, Cape, 1995
Penguin Modern Poets Volume 13 (with Robin Robertson and Michael Hofmann), Penguin, 1998
Selected Poems, Cape, 1998
Out of the Cold: Drawings and Poems for Christmas (with Sarah Longley), Abbey Press, 1999
The Weather in Japan, Cape, 2000
20th Century Irish Poems (editor), Faber and Faber, 2002
Snow Water, Cape, 2004
Collected Poems, Cape, 2006
Selected Poems/John Hewitt (editor with Frank Ormsby), Blackstaff Press, 2007
A Jovial Hullabaloo, Enitharmon, 2008
A Hundred Doors, Cape, 2011