A Guardian / Herald Scotland Book of the Year
Winner of the 2017 PEN Pinter prize
Shortlisted for the 2017 Forward Prize
A remote townland in County Mayo, Carrigskeewaun has been for nearly fifty years Michael Longley’s home-from-home, his soul-landscape. Its lakes and mountains, wild animals and flowers, its moody seas and skies have for decades lit up his poetry. Now they overflow into Angel Hill, his exuberant new collection. In addition, Longley has been exploring Lochalsh in the Western Highlands where his daughter the painter Sarah Longley now lives with her family. She has opened up for him her own soul-landscape with its peculiar shapes and intense colours. In Angel Hill the imaginations of poet and painter intermingle and two exacting wildernesses productively overlap. Love poems and elegies and heart-rending reflections on the Great War and the Northern Irish Troubles add further weight to Michael Longley’s outstanding eleventh collection. Angel Hill will undoubtedly delight this great poet’s many admirers.
Michael Longley’s Angel Hill…is at once elegiac and celebratory, and achingly beautiful. Longley has honed his poetry to the bone, but how the bone does shine.
There are few contemporary poets as likeable as Michael Longley. That’s not because his poems are simply amiable, but because he looks at things hard and clearly and invites his readers to share his acts of seeing… Longley is one of few contemporary poets who can capture Homer’s spare and unrelenting humanity… The Stairwell (2014) – one of the loveliest collections of verse in the past decade… Literary historians of the future will no doubt position Longley among his fellow Irish poets Heaney and Mahon as the heirs of Yeats, and if not children of the Troubles then their wise observers.
The pleasure of reviewing becomes a privilege when presented with poets and poetry of this quality... To adopt and adapt a phrase from The Beatles...Longley in [his]communion of the spirit and the soul gift[s] us with alchemical compounds, “saviours of the human race”.
Thoughtful, elegant poems that celebrate family life, grandchildren, and a long marriage.
Unafraid to capture the intimacies and specifics of this life, Longley is also one of the very few poets able to take us, time and again, to a place as “Wild and melodious” as the birdsong he celebrates.