Summer is one of the happiest seasons at Tweetspeak Poetry, because it is the season of Take Your Poet to Work Day (or, you know, to the beach). It’s one thing to start every day with a poem (we recommend it). But how great would it be to start your day with a poet? On Take Your Poet to Work Day, we encourage people around the world to take their favorite poet to work for the day.
Take Your Poet to Work Day is coming July 20, 2016
To help you play and celebrate with us, we’re releasing poets each week in a compact, convenient format you can tuck in your pocket, tool belt, or lunchbox. We started our celebration three years ago with Sara Teasdale, Pablo Neruda, T. S. Eliot, Rumi, Edgar Allan Poe, and the reclusive Emily Dickinson (for folks who work at home). We even released a full collection, The Haiku Masters: Matsuo Basho, Yosa Buson, and Kobayashi Issa. In 2014, we added Langston Hughes, Adrienne Rich, John Keats, William Butler Yeats, Christina Rossetti and the beloved 20th-century American poet, Sylvia Plath. And last year, we introduced the Bard of Avon William Shakespeare, beloved poet Maya Angelou, and iconic American poet Robert Frost, Russian poet Anna Akhmatova, Polish poet Wisława Szymborska, and America’s poet, Walt Whitman.
Because you can never have too many poets in your lunch box (or your desk drawer), we have a new collection of poets to release this year, including English Romantic poet William Wordsworth, Elizabeth Barrett Browning and this week’s release, Irish poet Seamus Heaney.
Take Your Poet to Work: Seamus Heaney
Get your own downloadable version of Take Your Poet to Work Day Printable Seamus Heaney that you can print, color and cut out for the big day.
Irish poet Seamus Heaney was a beloved and prominent poet of the 20th century. Heaney was born in Northern Ireland in 1939.
His work was traditional in form, influenced by the likes of William Wordsworth, and is considered part of of the “Northern School” of Irish writing that developed in the 1960s. He was the author of more than 20 collections of poetry and works of criticism as well as anthologies and translations. His first collection, Death of a Naturalist, was published in 1966, the year after he married. Heaney’s work had a regional flavor, and was heavily influenced by the natural and political circumstances into which he was born and which he came into adulthood.
Heaney taught at both Harvard and Oxford and won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995. He was well received by academics and casual readers alike. Heaney died in Dublin in 2013.
for Philip Hobsbaum
Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer’s blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots
Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
We trekked and picked until the cans were full,
Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
Like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard’s.
We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn’t fair
That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they’d keep, knew they would not.
— Seamus Heaney
Post and illustrations by LW Lindquist. Poem from Death of a Naturalist by Seamus Heaney.