The problem as you get older... is that you become more self-aware. At the same time, you have to surprise yourself. There's no way of arranging the surprise, so it is tricky.
My father was a creature of the archaic world, really. He would have been entirely at home in a Gaelic hill-fort. His side of the family, and the houses I associate with his side of the family, belonged to a traditional rural Ireland.
My experience is that prose usually equals duty - last minute, overdue-deadline stuff or a panic lecture to be written.
Over the waves, with the wind behind her and foam at her neck, she flew like a bird until her curved prow had covered the distance...
In the United States, in poetry workshops, it's now quite a thing to make graduate students learn poems by heart.
We want what the woman wanted in the prison queue in Leningrad, standing there with cold and whispering for fear, enduring the terror of Stalin's regime and asking the poet Anna Akhmatova if she could describe it all, if her art was equal to it.
I suppose you could say my father's world was Thomas Hardy and my mother's D.H. Lawrence.
The aim of poetry and the poet is finally to be of service, to ply the effort of the individual into the larger work of the community as a whole.
The Ireland I now inhabit is one that these Irish contemporaries have helped to imagine.
The experiment of poetry, as far as I am concerned, happens when the poem carries you beyond where you could have reasonably expected to go.
I think that water is immediately interesting. It's just, as an element, it is full of life. It is associated with origin; it is bright - it reflects you.
I would say that something important for me and for my generation in Northern Ireland was the 1947 Education Act, which allowed students who won scholarships to go on to secondary schools and thence to university.
I have always thought of poems as stepping stones in one's own sense of oneself. Every now and again, you write a poem that gives you self-respect and steadies your going a little bit farther out in the stream. At the same time, you have to conjure the next stepping stone because the stream, we hope, keeps flowing.
Even if the last move did not succeed, the inner command says move again.
You carried your own burden and very soon your symptoms of creeping privilege disappeared.
My language and my sensibility are yearning to admit a kind of religious or transcendent dimension. But then there's the reality: there's no Heaven, no afterlife of the sort we were promised, and no personal God.
I'm very conscious that people dear to me are alive in my imagination - poets in particular.
In a war situation or where violence and injustice are prevalent, poetry is called upon to be something more than a thing of beauty.
Since I was a schoolboy, I've been used to being recognized on the road by old and young, and being bantered with and, indeed, being taunted.
I feel myself part of something. Not only being part of a community but part of an actual moment and a movement of Irish writing and art. That sense of being part of the whole thing is the deepest joy.
I suppose I'm saying that defiance is actually part of the lyric job.
It's difficult to learn poems off by heart that don't rhyme.
As writers and readers, as sinners and citizens, our realism and our aesthetic sense make us wary of crediting the positive note.
I think of the bog as a feminine goddess-ridden ground, rather like the territory of Ireland itself.
It is difficult at times to repress the thought that history is about as instructive as an abattoir; that Tacitus was right and that peace is merely the desolation left behind after the decisive operations of merciless power.
Tom Sleigh's poetry is hard-earned and well founded. I great admire the way it refuses to cut emotional corners and yet achieves a sense of lyric absolution.
The group of writers I had grown up with in the '60s - Derek Mahon, Michael Longley, James Simmons, John Hewitt, Paul Muldoon - formed a very necessary and self-sustaining group.
The gift of writing is to be self-forgetful, to get a surge of inner life or inner supply or unexpected sense of empowerment, to be afloat, to be out of yourself.
If you have the words, there's always a chance you'll find the way.
As writers and readers, as sinners and citizens, our realism and our aesthetic sense make us wary of crediting the positive note. The very gunfire braces us and the atrocious confers a worth upon the effort which it calls forth to confront it.
I've said it before about the Nobel Prize: it's like being struck by a more or less benign avalanche. It was unexpected, unlooked for, and extraordinary.
We go to poetry, we go to literature in general, to be forwarded within ourselves.
That was their way, their heathenish hope; deep in their hearts they remembered hell.
I came from a farming background, and my career was teaching.