Following on from the remarkable riches of Gorse Fire, the poems brought together under the title The Ghost Orchid share some of the same concerns, but take many different approaches. Whether in the west of Ireland, Sissinghurst or the stone gardens of Japan; whether confronting the blood of the Iliad or the Odyssey or undergoing Ovidian metamorphoses; whether testing poetic form or renewing Ulster Scots dialect; whether in Buchenwald or Belfast, Longley speaks with pared delicacy, passion and huge vulnerability about love, life and death. A lyric craftsman of genius, Michael Longley has written a book that is fragile and exquisite - like the evanescent ghost orchid itself - yet full of tragic intensity; it is his finest achievement.
Michael Longley was born in Belfast in 1939. He has recently retired from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland where he was Combined Arts Director. His previous collections include Poems 1963-83 and Gorse Fires, which won the 1991 Whitbread Poetry Award. He is married to the critic Edna Longley and they have three children.