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Seamus Heaney's latest poems 'the most personal yet'

24th September 2010

Seamus Heaney has revealed that his latest collection of poems is the most personal yet, drawing on childhood memories and some of his closest relationships.

The Nobel Prize-winning author, now 71, told BBC Radio Ulster's Arts Extra programme that Human Chain also touches upon one of the most challenging periods of his life - the aftermath of the stroke he suffered last year.

Human Chain is Heaney's 12th collection of poems and he revealed that the writing process was somewhat daunting, due to the 'strong sense of mortality' running through the work.

In the poem 'Miracle', which he described as central to the collection, Heaney recollected how he needed assistance to walk after his stroke and how being carried up the stairs was akin to a paralysed man being taken to Jesus to be healed.

'I realised the guys that are hardly mentioned are central - without them no miracle would have happened,' he explained.

Heaney added that he now plans to take a year off, but has already written a poem which is likely to act as a 'tuning fork' for his next collection.

Last month, Heaney paid tribute to his mentor Michael MacLaverty at the West Belfast Festival 2010 for helping him get his first poem published and providing inspiration for many of his works.

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