"Purple Potatoes and Radicchio", 5 x 7", oil on Ampersand Gessobord
"One of the most marvelous things about poetry is that it's useless. It's useless. 'What use is poetry?' People occasionally ask in the butcher shop, say. They come up to me and they say 'What use is poetry?' And the answer is no use, but it doesn't mean to say it's without value. It's without use, but it is valuable. The first thing the dictators try to get rid of are the poets, and the artists, and the novelists, and the playwrights. They burn their books. They're terrified of what poetry can do."
- Michael Longley
“The Ice-Cream Man”
Rum and raisin, vanilla, butterscotch, walnut, peach:
You would rhyme off the flavours. That was before
They murdered the ice-cream man on the Lisburn Road
And you bought carnations to lay outside his shop.
I named for you all the wild flowers of the Burren
I had seen in one day: thyme, valerian, loosestrife,
Meadowsweet, tway blade, crowfoot, ling, angelica,
Herb robert, marjoram, cow parsley, sundew, vetch,
Mountain avens, wood sage, ragged robin, stitchwort,
Yarrow, lady's bedstraw, bindweed, bog pimpernel.
Krista Tippett says Longley’s poetry, “invokes beauty and normalcy, reasserting the vitality of ordinary things, precisely in the face of what is hard and broken in life and society.”
Listen to Krista Tippett’s full interview with Michael Longley here, On Being.