Friday, 12 March 2021

Nathanael O’Reilly : part five

What poets changed the way you thought about writing?

Seamus Heaney showed me that poetry could be about place, the local, family and farm life, while simultaneously engaging with spiritual, cultural, historical and political concerns. His use of dialect, verbs, nouns and enjambment affected my writing in a fundamental way. His language seemed to come directly out of the earth and convey both universal and personal truths. John Keats’ poetry, especially the odes and the sonnets, showed me how a poet could combine romance, passion, beauty and wonder with technical virtuosity. His concept of negative capability has had a tremendous influence on my approach to both writing and teaching. Li-Young Lee’s poetry showed me how to approach subjects like exile, expatriation, diaspora, homesickness, loss and unbelonging, as well as how to write a great love poem. 

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