Pictured in Mountmellick, Co Laois, at the launch of Poetry Town, a new all-island poetry initiative from Poetry Ireland, are Kathleen and Michael O’Loughlin with their grandchildren Billy Byrne (11),
Poetry Ireland has today announced details of Poetry Town, a new initiative, which will see more than a hundred free poetry-related activities take place in 20 towns across the island of Ireland between 10th and 18th September 2021.
Naas in Co Kildare will be among the Poetry Towns, with activities for the town being organised by Poetry Ireland in partnership with Kildare County Council Arts Office.
As part of the initiative, Poetry Ireland, together with its local authority partners, will appoint a Poet Laureate for each participating town. The chosen Poet Laureates, who will either be from the respective local area or have strong connections with it, will be commissioned to write a poem honouring their Poetry Town and its people. The Poet Laureates for each town will be announced next month.
Each poem will be revealed and presented to the people of the participating towns at a series of flagship online events, one of which will be hosted in each town, which will feature contributions from local poets, artists and musicians.
There will also be a wide variety of additional activities in the Poetry Towns. These will include a series of poetry events involving local poets; poetry workshops; public poetry displays, including ‘Poetry Underfoot’; and a range of physical activities called ‘Poems that Move You’, which will vary from town to town. Local businesses, including cafés and chemists, will also be participating in the activities to celebrate their towns by distributing ‘pocket poems’ to customers. The full programme for each town will be made available on the Poetry Town website during the last week of August.
Poetry Town activities will take place in the following 20 towns:
Adare, Co Limerick;
Athenry, Co Galway;
Bailieborough, Co Cavan;
Ballycastle, Co Antrim;
Bandon, Co Cork;
Belmullet, Co Mayo;
Bray, Co Wicklow;
Carrick-on-Shannon, Co Leitrim;
Carrick-on-Suir, Co Tipperary;
Cootehill, Co Cavan;
Dublin 1, Co Dublin;
Dungarvan, Co Waterford;
Dunshaughlin, Co Meath;
Ennistymon, Co Clare;
Listowel, Co Kerry;
Mountmellick, Co Laois;
Naas, Co Kildare;
Strokestown, Co Roscommon;
Tullamore, Co Offaly;
Wexford Town, Co Wexford.
Commenting, 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 hope Poetry Town will 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.
“We are excited to invite individuals, families and communities to join their Poetry Towns, or the Poetry Towns in their vicinity, in a vibrant celebration of the pride in their locality, the value and importance of our heritage, and the strength and diversity in our towns and rural areas.”
Poetry Town is an initiative of Poetry Ireland in partnership with Local Authority Arts Offices. It is made possible with funding from the Arts Council of Ireland’s Open Call funding, and is also supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland.
For further information, visit the Poetry Town website: poetrytown.ie.
It is Poetry Ireland’s ambition to run Poetry Town on an annual basis in different towns with new Laureates each year, in partnership with Local Authority Arts Offices, as a celebration of ideas, communities, and artists who are making art in and for their own localities.
The participating towns in Poetry Town were put forward by the Local Authority Arts Offices in each county. Decisions were made in conversation with Poetry Ireland and are based on several factors, including local amenities, local arts groups and activities, and local cultural infrastructure and provision.
The selection of each town’s Poet Laureate is almost complete. Selection is being made by Poetry Ireland in conjunction with the Local Authority Arts Offices, and with contributions from county and local libraries. Considerations for selection are: a connection with the town and vicinity; a thematic resonance in the poet's work; a track record of publishing or performance; and – the final and key factor – ensuring a balance of diversity across the towns and country in relation to gender, age, ethnic background, and language. The ultimate ambition of Poetry Town is to have a cohort of Poet Laureates who are representative of those writing poetry on the island of Ireland today.
Poetry Ireland aims to include and welcome poets and audiences from every community in Ireland. To do this, it must challenge thinking around what a poet might look like. At the end of the project, Poetry Ireland hopes to have started to redefine the public perception of poets and Poet Laureates, broadening and diversifying connotations of Irish poetry.
About Poetry Ireland
Poetry Ireland connects poetry and people, and is committed to achieving excellence in the reading, writing and performance of poetry throughout the island of Ireland. The non-profit organisation, established in 1978, combines its role as a promoter and supporter of poetry with advocacy for poets, advancing the art form through solid development goals.
It works to make poetry more accessible to people of all ages and backgrounds across the island of Ireland, through live events, education and publications. Poetry Ireland is currently working with its partner, The Irish Heritage Trust, on a long-held ambition to establish the Poetry Ireland Centre, dedicated to celebrating, supporting and promoting poetry and poets.
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