Northern Irish poet known for Gorse Fires, An Exploded View, Man Lying on a Wall, and other works. He received both the Hawthornden Prize and the T.S. Eliot Prize for a 2000 poetry collection entitled The Weather in Japan.
He attended the Royal Belfast Academical Institution before studying Classics at Trinity College, Dublin. His debut poetic work was published in 1965.
He received honorary doctoral degrees from Trinity College, Dublin and Queen's University, Belfast.
He married Edna Longley, a literary critic. The couple raised three children.
He and fellow Northern Irish author Seamus Heaney were born in the same year. The two men were both recipients of the prestigious T.S. Eliot Prize.