Happy Birthday, Sean O’Brien, born 19 December 1952
The Plain Facts of the Matter
There are two tribes this world can boast:
The Marmite-lovers and the damned.
Fact is, though, everybody’s toast
Whatever breakfast they’ve got planned.
It’s not for us to turn away
The sort who shun the dark brown jar,
But sure as sure come Judgement Day
The Lord will know who His folk are.
- At a certain point, yes, all writing is political, whether the writer is aware of it or not, because it positions itself at a certain angle. It stands, whether it likes it or not, in relation to its time.
- I believe poetry is its own effect. Poetry is itself, and not for some other purpose.
- I think there is a continual negotiation between the rational, analytical part of the mind, and something which is less knowable. You feel like you are in luck when all your rational preparations actually resort in something unexpected arriving on the page.
- In recent years people began to talk about Englishness to try and identify what it means. I find the subject very complicated. Is Englishness, in the East Midlands, for example, the same as Englishness on the Thames Estuary? Are they all the same tribe? Probably not. Is there anything that binds them together? The English, like any people, enjoy a myth. We need this myth in order to function.
Sean O’Brien is a British poet, critic, playwright. He has won many prizes, including the the Somerset Maugham Award, the Forward Poetry Prize and the T. S. Eliot Prize. He is well-known for his collection of poems, The Drowned Book.
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