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Culture news, 16.06.2003 13:37

Seamus Heaney, the famous Irish poet and Nobel prize winner gives a lecture on Irish literature

Seamus Heaney Seamus Heaney, the famous Irish poet and Nobel prize winner has come to the city to take part in the week of Ireland in Saint-Petersburg. Yesterday he read his poetry in the Anna Akhmatova museum as an hommage to his close friend and fellow poet Josef Brodsky and today he gives a lecture on Irish literature at the State University.Heaney's poems first came to public attention in the mid-1960s when he was active as one of a group of poets who were subsequently recognized as constituting something of a "Northern School" within Irish writing. Heaney does share with all the representatives of this school the fate of having be en born into a society deeply divided along religious and political lines, one which was doomed moreover to suffer a quarter-century of violence, polarization and inner distrust. This had the effect not only of darkening the mood of Heaney's work in the 1970s, but also of giving him a deep preoccupation with the question of poetry's responsibilities and prerogatives in the world, since poetry is poised between a need for creative freedom within itself and a pressure to express the sense of social obligation felt by the poet as citizen. The Gaelic heritage has always been part of his larger keyboard of reference and remains culturally and politically central to the poet and his work.

In recent years, Heaney has been the recipient of several honorary degrees; he is a member of Aosdana, the Irish academy of artists and writers, and a Foreign Member of The American Academy of Arts and Letters. In 1996, subsequent to his winning the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995, he was made a Commandeur de L'Ordre des Arts et Lettres by the French Ministry of Culture.

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