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Friday 30 August 2013

Seamus Heaney - Great Irish Poet Dies

"Between my finger and my thumb, The squat pen rests. I'll dig with it."
Seamus Heaney (1939-2013)

Recognised by many people worldwide as the best Irish poet since Yeats, and studied by most school children in Ireland, Heaney began his career as a teacher before embarking on the career in poetry that led to him winning the Nobel prize for literature in 1995.

The Nobel prize-winner was born in April 1939, eldest of nine children, on a farm called Mossbawn near Bellaghy in Co Derry, Northern Ireland.

"Let whoever can, win glory before death"

His world renowned poetry first came to public attention in the mid-1960s with his first major collection, Death Of A Naturalist, published in 1966.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny quite rightly stated that "He belongs with Joyce, Yeats, Shaw and Beckett in the pantheon of our greatest literary exponents."

Heaney was made an honorary fellow at Trinity College Dublin and just last year was bestowed with the Seamus Heaney Professorship in Irish Writing at the university.

Notable awards:

  • 1995 Nobel Prize for Literature 
  • PEN Translation Prize (1985) for his translation of Sweeney Astray from Irish into English
  • Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize (1968)
  • E. M. Forster Award (1975)
  • PEN Translation Prize (1985) 
  • Golden Wreath of Poetry (2001) 
  • T. S. Eliot Prize (2006) 
  • 2 x Whitbread Prizes (1996 and 1999)
  • He was both the Harvard and the Oxford Professor of Poetry and was made a Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres in 1996. 
  • Lifetime Recognition Award from the Griffin Trust For Excellence In Poetry

Random Fact: Former US President Bill Clinton apparently loves Heaney's poetry so much he called his dog 'Seamus'.

  • Death of a Naturalist, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1966.
  • Door into the Dark, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1969.
  • Wintering Out, Faber (London), 1972, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1973.
  • North, Faber, 1975, Oxford University Press (New York, NY), 1976.
  • Field Work, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1979.
  • Poems: 1965-1975, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1980.
  • (Adapter) Sweeney Astray: A Version from the Irish, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1984, revised edition, with photographs by Rachel Giese, published as Sweeney's Flight, 1992.
  • Station Island, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1984.
  • The Haw Lantern, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1987.
  • New and Selected Poems, 1969-1987, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1990, revised edition published as Selected Poems, 1966-1987, 1991.
  • Seeing Things: Poems, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1991.
  • The Midnight Verdict, Gallery Books (Old Castle, County Meath, Ireland), 1993.
  • The Spirit Level, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1996.
  • Opened Ground: Selected Poems, 1966-1996, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 1998.
  • Electric Light, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 2001.
  • District and Circle, Farrar, Straus (New York, NY), 2006.
  • Contributor to 101 Poems Against War, edited by Matthew Hollis and Paul Keegan, Faber and Faber (London, England), 2003.

Wednesday 28 August 2013

Michael Collins Funeral

"I nDíl-Cúimne ar Mícheál Ó Coileáin a fuir bás í Bean-na-mBlat an 22ad la de mí Lugnasa 1922"

 (In memory of Michael Collins who died at Beal na mBlath on 22nd August 1922)
Michael Collins 16 October 1890 – 22 August 1922) 

An Irish revolutionary leader, Minister for Finance and Teachta Dála (TD) for Cork South in the First Dáil of 1919, Director of Intelligence for the IRA, and member of the Irish delegation during the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations.

He also became President of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and, therefore, under the bylaws of the Brotherhood, President of the Irish Republic.

Collins was assassinated in August 1922 during the Irish Civil War at an ambush of his journey returning from Bandon, the village of Béal na Bláth. Collins's men brought his body back to Cork where it was then shipped to Dublin. His funeral mass took place at Dublin's Pro Cathedral (St Mary's) with approx 500,000 people (one fifth of the country's population) attended his funeral.

 "In my opinion it gives us freedom, not the ultimate freedom that all nations desire 
... but the freedom to achieve it."
Michael Collins on the Treaty in debates.

Sunday 25 August 2013

The Disney Files - Tim Burton

Timothy Walter "Tim" Burton (born August 25, 1958) 

American film director, film producer, writer, artist and animator. He is famous for his dark, gothic, macabre and quirky take on horror and fantasy style movies such as

  • Beetlejuice 
  • Edward Scissorhands
  • The Nightmare Before Christmas
  • Ed Wood
  • Sleepy Hollow 
  • Corpse Bride
  • Sweeney Todd: The Demon Barber of Fleet Street
  • Dark Shadows
  • Frankenweenie 
  • Pee-wee's Big Adventure
  • Batman, its first sequel Batman Returns
  • Planet of the Apes 
  • Remakes - Charlie and the Chocolate Factory and Alice in Wonderland
  • Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter

Burton is known for using recurring collaborators on his works; among them are Johnny Depp, musician Danny Elfman, who has composed scores for all but five of the films Burton has directed and/or produced; and actress/partner Helena Bonham Carter. Also Danny DeVito, Jeffrey Jones, Michael Keaton, Christopher Lee, Sarah Jessica Parker, Michelle Pfeiffer, Alan Rickman, Christopher Walken.

He also wrote and illustrated the poetry book The Melancholy Death of Oyster Boy & Other Stories, published in 1997, and a compilation of his drawings, sketches and other artwork, entitled The Art of Tim Burton, was released in 2009.

Burton has directed 16 films and produced 12, as of 2012.

Burton's successful short film 'Stalk of the Celery Monster' attracted the attention of Walt Disney Productions' animation studio, who offered a young Burton apprenticeship at their studio where he worked as an animator, storyboard artist and concept artist on films such as The Fox and the Hound, The Black Cauldron and Tron.

'Stalk of the Celery Monster'

While at Disney in 1982, Burton made his first short 'Vincent' a six-minute black-and-white stop motion film. The film was produced by Rick Heinrichs, a guy Burton had befriended while working at Disney.

Burton's next live-action short was a black and white movie called Frankenweenie which was released in 1984 and a little dark by Disney standards - it tells the story of a young boy who tries to revive his dog after it is run over by a car.  After this film was completed, Disney fired Burton, claiming he spent the company's resources on a film that would be too scary for children to watch.