Thanks to reminders from a dear friend, I’ve recently started listening to Krista Tippet’s podcast, On Being. This morning I listened to her conversation with the Irish poet Michael Longley.
The conversation focuses often on Longley’s writing about “the troubles” in Northern Ireland, and feels remarkably timely. He speaks about love (in all its forms) as the center of poetry, as its central subject, and acknowledges that his work has “no agenda — I stagger around.” He reminds me that “self-importance engraves its own headstone” and that “silence is part of the enterprise.” About compliments, he quotes his wife as saying: “you accept them, but you don’t inhale.”
And, he declares: “Good art, good poetry, makes people more human, more intelligent, more sensitive and emotionally pure than than they might otherwise be … poetry encourages you to think for yourself and disregard church and state.”