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BOOK REVIEW: District and Circle by Seamus Heaney

District and CircleDistrict and Circle by Seamus Heaney
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

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“District and Circle” is a collection of 44 poems by the Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney that was released in 2006.

One feels the essence of the 20th century across this collection. There are a couple of poems that refer to World War II, not from the perspective of crucial events and violent clashes, but as it was experienced in “the District” (e.g. “Anahorish 1944.”)

There are also a number of poems that make industrialization romantic or—at least, in some way–evocative. Heaney writes of mechanical devices and processes in a way that many great nature poems are composed (e.g. the first poem in the collection “The Turnip-Snedder.”) In fact, it’s almost like industrial haiku. It doesn’t share the brevity of Japanese form, but it removes the extraneous and deals in only what one can experience with the senses. In that way, one can feel the heft of these objects. They aren’t cheap, flimsy plastic, but wood and iron and brass. There are also some lovely nature poems.

Heaney’s use of language is resplendent. It’s not just the description, but the sound. I’ve even found myself thinking, “I don’t know what that word means, but—damn–it sounds gorgeous right there.”

The poems range from several words to a few pages in length, with most fitting on a single page. It’s about 80 pages of beautifully composed poetry.

I’d recommend this book for all poetry readers.

View all my reviews


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