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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 26 February 2013
More biographies should be like this.
But where would you find such an equable, articulate, fluent subject as Seamus Heaney, who spent what must have been many hours talking to the late Dennis O`Driscoll, about poetry, people, places, and - luckily for us - more poetry.
Over 500 generous, packed pages, prompted by his intelligent interrogator, Heaney talks like the most literate companion you could, in your wildest dreams, wish for.
As can be discerned in TV interviews with the Nobel laureate, his gentle and compassionate nature never compromises a rigorous, fair-minded, fiercely eloquent artist, whether in prose or poetry.
You could happily quote from any page anywhere in this remarkable book, and you`d find gold. Heaney doesn`t just have `a way with words` he seems to freshly mint each word he says, while sounding utterly natural, pearls flowing from his amply stocked mind like pure water from a deep well.
This book acts as a kind of (auto)biography of the Northern Irish poet - his home life, both as a child then with his devoted wife Marie, as well as his friendships and collaborations with more fellow poets than you can shake a stick at, some of whom, such as Milosz or Hughes, live in these pages more vividly and truthfully than in many a conventional biography. Heaney`s balanced and informed views on other poets make for stimulating reading, for example his only slightly qualified praise for the great American poet Wallace Stevens, or his unqualified love of Robert Frost, who (unsurprisingly) has been a life-long inspiration.
If you have the remotest interest in poetry, poets, why, what and how they write, then you really should read this literally marvellous book. I sometimes pick it up and spend an hour - invariably becoming two - contentedly browsing its pages, knowing I`m in the safest of literary hands. Heaney is a poet to his fingertips, and a man who can talk like a dream.
Essential.
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on 11 June 2013
I have been reading this to help with my dissertation on Heaney's poetry and I have found it a really useful resource for learning about Heaney's careers, childhood and poetry.

He generously answers a wealth of questions on his political views, family life, poetry and his experiences with other writers.

If you need to learn more about Heaney's poetry or are just interested in the man himself, then this is a good book to support your reading of his collections.
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on 27 January 2009
If I had to use one word to sum up what I learned about Seamus Heaney from reading the excellent Stepping Stones it would be: grounded. Heaney is a serious man writing serious work and in this collection of questions and responses with Dennis O'Driscoll it is apparent he doesn't take himself too seriously. It is full of insights into the man and his work- how does he keep performing at the top of his game? Heaney says it is simply a matter of "Getting started, keeping going, getting started again".
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on 27 February 2014
Heaney's passing over, which is what all good Celts do rather than dying in the ordfinary way, leaves us with a treasure house of work from a great yet humble mind. This collection of interviews with Dennis O'Driscoll helps to fill that personal gap between the reader of the work of a fine poet and the meeting with the man himself which few of us could achieve in his lifetime. It's also great stuff for an amateur poet to have in hand. We should all write some poetry.
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on 9 February 2009
This is a wonderful book. Seamus Heaney is everything we hoped a poet or artist would be - wise, unpretentious, generous, observant. It may seem a long book at first glance, but it's full of wonderful comments about poetry and life. Well worth reading.
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on 3 October 2010
This book gives great insight into the mind and life of such a great poet. It's very readable and mostly fascinating to hear these personal interviews with Heaney. Highly recommended.
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on 30 March 2010
This is an excellent non-autobiogarphy. Set up as a long interview it reveals Heaney in all his intellectual glory. From descriptions of his couch at home,to his thoughts on poets from Bishop to Rich, as well as allusions to politics and the creative impulse, this is a must have for anyone interested in poetry.
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on 11 September 2015
For a Heaney aficionado a must read. It gives the Poet's and the writers views and thoughts of times ,events and happenings as well as particular insights, not found elsewhere.
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on 11 September 2015
O'Driscoll's gentle inquisitive style of interviewing allows Heaney's voice and personality to shine through. A wonderfully informative and engaging read.
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on 26 April 2015
Humbling to be taken so close to Heaney's own thoughts and feelings in the formation of his character and his discipleship to the craft of poetry.
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