Michael Longley: Belfast poet wins €250,000 prize

Poet Michael Longley pictured at home in south Belfast. File picture by Mal McCann
Poet Michael Longley pictured at home in south Belfast. File picture by Mal McCann

BELFAST-BORN poet Michael Longley has won a €250,000 (£216,000) European arts award.

The Feltrinelli International Prize for Poetry will be officially awarded at a ceremony in November. Previous winners of the prize include WH Auden and US poet John Ashbery.

Longley, born in 1939, has published many acclaimed poetry collections including The Weather in Japan and The Stairwell. He is best known for poems including Ceasefire and The Ice-Cream Man.

He held the post of professor of poetry for Ireland from 2007 to 2010.

Italy's Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei, which awards the poetry prize, said Mr Longley had won for "the extraordinary relevance of his themes and their cultural?implications, as well as the very high stylistic quality of his oeuvre".

It said: "Longley is an extraordinary poet of landscape, particularly of the Irish West, which he observes with the delicate and passionate attention of an ecologist, and a tragic singer of Ireland and its dramatic history.

"But with his poetry he has also addressed the seduction, conquest, and fascination of love, as well as the shock of war in all ages, the tragedy of the Holocaust and of the gulags, and the themes of loss, grief and pity."

Mr Longley, one of Ireland's best-known poets, has won the Whitbread Poetry Award and the TS Eliot Prize.

He received Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry in 2001 and the Wilfred Owen Award in 2003.

He was awarded the freedom of Belfast in 2015 for his contribution to literature and cultural life.