RIP Seamus Heaney





Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.
Under my window, a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down
Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.
The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked,
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.
By God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man.
My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner’s bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.
The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.
Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.

Source: Death of a Naturalist (1966)

Some writers you have (probably) never heard of


Female writers have been at it just as long as men, yet often have been overlooked by history as unimportant. Male pan names have been used, and even JK Rowling only used her initials for fear of being rejected a s a female author.

Here are some more female authors that you’ve probably never heard of.

1. Alice Ruth Moore Dunbar Nelson (1875-1935):

Alice Ruth Moore Dunbar Nelson was an American poet, journalist and political activist. Born in New Orleans, she  as one of the great African Americans at the heart of the Harlem Renaissance. Moore graduated in 1892 and worked as a teacher. Her diary provides insight into the harsh lives of black women at the time facing many difficulties was published.

2. Zitkala-Sa (1876-1938):

Zitkala-Sa was a Native American Sioux writer, teacher and political activist. She wrote about the struggles that she faced in her youth trying to live somewhere between American culture and her Native American heritage.  American Indian Stories is one of her more famous works  and showcases her writing as well as her strident political views.

3. Ann Petry (1908-1997): 

The first  woman to sell a million copies of her book in America, Anne Petry won the Houghton Mifflin Literary Fellowship for her novel. the book was Inspired by her experiences as a poor Black woman and what she saw around her, including the neglected children in Harlem.

4. Nathalia Crane (1913-1998):

Just nine years old when she was published, Crane wrote The Janitor’s Boy and her novel The Sunken Garden. When she got older, she became a professor of English at San Diego State University.

5. Jean Stafford (1915-1975):

The Collected Stories of Jean Stafford in 1970 won the Pulitzer Prize. Her first novel, Boston Adventure, was a best seller. She wrote many short stories too, which were published in The New Yorker and various literary magazines.