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Aidan Byrne (10) pictured at the launch of Poetry Town, Source: Marc O’Sullivan / Poetry Ireland

Poetry Town initiative launched in Ireland

Poetry Town initiative launched in Ireland

The new Poetry Town initiative will see verse-related activities taking place in 20 towns across the island between 10 and 18 September

In September or October, when the wind
And the light are working off each other
So that the ocean on one side is wild
With foam and glitter, and inland among stones
The surface of a slate-grey lake is lit
By the earthed lightning of a flock of swans,
Their feathers roughed and ruffling, white on white...

These lines from Seamus Heaney’s ‘Postscript’ convey more than just a personal infatuation with the magical landscapes of County Clare. With a population of less than 5 million, Ireland boasts four Nobel Prize winners in literature, two of them poets - W.B. Yeats (1923) and Seamus Heaney (1995).  

20 Poetry Towns with own Poet Laureate

Capitalizing from the assumption that poetry is in the nation’s veins, Poetry Ireland has launched a new initiative, called Poetry Town.  Under it, 20 towns across the island have been designated as Poetry Towns, where more than a hundred free poetry-related activities will take place between 10 and 18 September 2021

Poetry Ireland and its local authority partners will appoint after 17 August a Poet Laureate for each participating town. The chosen one must be either a resident of or strongly connected to the respective local area. He or she will be commissioned to write a poem honouring and reflecting their Poetry Town and its people.

Each poem will be revealed and presented to the people of the participating towns at a series of online events. Each town will physically host one event where local poets, artists and musicians will display their talent. 

Additional activities in the Poetry Towns will include a series of poetry events involving local poets, poetry workshops and public poetry displays. There will also be a range of town-specific physical activities called ‘Poems that Move You’.

Local businesses, including cafés and chemists, will also get involved in the poetic celebration of their towns by handing out   ‘pocket poems’ to customers.

Poetry, collaboration and communal experiences 

Commenting on the initiative, Director of Poetry Ireland, Niamh O’Donnell said: “The idea behind Poetry Town is to celebrate the many vibrant towns and communities across the island of Ireland, through poetry, collaboration and communal experiences. 

“Over the past 18 months, many of us have become more aware of what’s around us – from local parks or nature walks, to landmarks and monuments, to the stories held within the collective memory of our communities. There is poetry waiting to be uncovered in our surroundings and our everyday lives. 

“Poetry is indispensable in Ireland, and we are incredibly fortunate to have so many talented poets across the island. We hopePoetry Townwill play a significant role in helping to ensure Ireland’s diverse and talented voices are heard and seen. We will give voice and visibility to well-known visionary poets and – importantly – to new powerful voices, broadening and diversifying the understanding of what a Poet Laureate looks like.”

Poetry Town is taking place in partnership with Local Authority Arts Offices and thanks to Arts Council of Ireland’s Open Call funding. The initiative is also supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland. 

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