Poetry Ireland – a look back over 2017 

20th December 2017

As 2017 draws to a close, we’ve been looking back over a busy year at Poetry Ireland. We’ve included an overview of what we've been up to below, which we thought might be of interest to our supporters, partners and readers.  
 
We’ll be unveiling our full programme for 2018 in January, but you can look forward to an eclectic mix of events in Poetry Ireland with Soul clap its hands and sing and They Tuck You Up Your Mum and Dad, two new series of events for spring. In association with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade we will be re staging In Dreams Begin Responsibilities in London at the Barbican and in Belfast, to mark the 20th anniversary of the Good Friday Agreement in early April.  
 
We’re also looking forward to presenting some of Ireland’s finest poets in Liverpool, Manchester, Edinburgh, Nottingham and Newcastle as part of GB18: Promoting Irish Arts in Britain, and look out for us at festivals in Boston and Miami: all with support from Culture Ireland.  

We'd like to take this opportunity to thank The Arts Council / An Chomhairle Ealaíon and the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, and all our funders and partners for their continued support. 
 
Wishing you a very peaceful and happy Christmas break, and we’re looking forward to welcoming you to one of our events in 2018! 

Spring

Eavan Boland began her tenure as Editor of Poetry Ireland Review at the start of 2017, and notable highlights from the Review this year have included her own essay on Patrick Kavanagh, a focus on the work of poet Alvy Carragher, Theo Dorgan’s tribute to John Montague and new poems from a broad range of voices.  
 
In February we presented cult US poet Eileen Myles in Trinity College Dublin. Tickets were snapped up in minutes, and those who missed out were able to watch the event on Facebook Live. 

In March, thirteen poets were selected for the Poetry Ireland Introductions Series 2017 and we collaborated with RTÉ and Creative Ireland to present events at two separate venues in Dublin on Easter Monday.  

Spring also saw Paul Durcan at Ennis Bookclub Festival, a series of poetry readings at UCC, the Intervarsity Poetry Slam, the Poetry Ireland Table Quiz, the start of Fíochán Filí, a year-long series of Irish language readings in partnership with An Lab, and Bualadh Boston, a mini festival of Irish literature in Boston, presented in partnership with the Irish Writers Centre with support from Words Ireland and Culture Ireland, and featuring Paul Howard, Kevin Cullen, Tara Bergin, Nick Laird & Stephen Sexton, Kevin Barry and Lisa McInerney.  
 
Ó Bhéal, Cork’s weekly poetry event, and the monthly Over The Edge series in Galway, both kicked off their 2017 programmes in spring, and Poetry Ireland were pleased to offer support to these series again this year.   
 
In April Out of the Marvellous, a tapestry created in response to Seamus Heaney's ‘Lightenings viii’, was unveiled at Poetry Ireland, and of course, Poetry Day Ireland 2017 took place at the end of April: bigger than ever this year with more than 150 events programmed by around 100 promoters around the country.  

Spring launches at Poetry Ireland included John Montague's Second Childhood; Michael O'Loughlin's Poems 1980-2015, Siobhán Campbell's Heat Signature; and Fermata: Writings inspired by Music.  

For writers, Colette Bryce ran a series of poetry clinics at Poetry Ireland, and the Words Ireland Writers Series got underway.  

Poetry Ireland and the Central Vetting Unit presented a Garda Vetting Information Seminar for the arts and arts in education sectors at the National Concert Hall, while other education-focused events included free workshops for teachers on exploring global issues through creative writing, the Me, Myself and I project with schools in Derry and Belfast, supported by the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade through their Reconciliation Fund, as well as the annual Poetry Ireland and Trócaire Poetry Competition.  

Summer

One of our summer highlights was undoubtedly Muldoon's Picnic, a Scottish and Irish tour featuring poets Paul Muldoon, Eavan Boland, Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill, Michael Longley and Sinéad Morrissey along with Ireland’s finest novelists and musicians in six landmark Irish venues and the Edinburgh International Book Festival.  
 
In Dreams Begin Responsibilities was presented in Armagh as part of the John Hewitt International Summer School. Hosted by Olivia O’Leary, this major production featured poets Colette Bryce and Siobhán Campbell, musicians Neil Martin, Iarla Ó’Lionáird and Kevin Doherty and included work by John Hewitt, Eavan Boland, Gráinne Tobin, Seamus Heaney, Derek Mahon, Frank Ormsby and Jean Bleakney.   
 
Launches and readings at Poetry Ireland included Sinéad Morrissey's On Balance; Gorse Editions’ Subcritical Tests by Ailbhe Darcy & SJ Fowler; the Irish Architecture Foundation’s Dublin Plays Itself; Teri Ellen Cross Davis and Jane Clarke; a poetry masterclass and reading with Elizabeth Willis as part of the Bloomsday Festival; and The Beauty of It with Paula Meehan, Ron Carey, Claire-Louise Bennett and Fergus Cronin as part of Bealtaine Festival.  

Elsewhere in the country Poetry Ireland supported or co-presented events at Listowel Writers' Week, International Literature Festival Dublin, Kilkenny Arts Festival (Paula Meehan was this year’s Poet in Residence), West Cork Literary Festival and at Feis Teamhra/A Turn at Tara.  
 
For Seamus Heaney HomePlace, we published a pamphlet of eight new poems inspired by the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service and we were associate publisher with Meath County Council of A Bittern Cry, a book of essays and poems for Francis Ledwidge’s centenary edited by Tom French. 
 
There was no rest for our education team over the summer either, with the presentation of 24 workshops as part of SICCDA Liberties Festival in June, and professional development initiatives including mentor training for five experienced Writers in Schools artists, and a week-long summer course in Development Education through the Arts for Primary Teachers at Dublin West Education Centre, supported by Irish Aid. We received support from Foras na Gaeilge for a mentoring programme for artists working in Irish, allowing five new artists to join the Writers in Schools scheme.  
 
In July we were delighted to welcome two new appointees to our board of directors: Jean O’Mahony and Olwen Dawe. 

Autumn

While we were disappointed to miss out on our bid for WB Yeats’s writing bureau and chair at auction in September, we were extremely grateful for the enthusiastic support for our bid offered by a number of institutions and private donors. 

This autumn our executive and board have been actively engaged in the process of establishing a policy around diversity and gender balance in every aspect of our work. We will be launching this policy in early 2018, and would like to thank everyone who has assisted us in this process so far.   

In partnership with the US Embassy in Ireland's Creative Minds Series, we presented a very popular reading with Kevin Young, the in-coming poetry editor of The New Yorker, at the American Ambassador's residence in September.   

Meanwhile in Parnell Square, we celebrated 1 year of being in our new digs with a reading featuring Moya Cannon, Tom French and musician John Mc Intyre, and other launches and events at Parnell Square included Poetry Ireland on Culture Night (complete with a poetry debate, workshops for families, a reading of TS Eliot's The Wasteland with Cathy Belton and tours of the building with Maud Gonne herself (actor Caitríona Ní Mhurchú); Poetry Ireland at Open House Dublin in collaboration with the Irish Architecture Foundation; Words on the Street – a European Literature Trail with Dublin UNESCO City of Literature; an evening dedicated to Richard Murphy, Come to Where I’m From as part of Dublin Theatre Festival; Ceo Draíochta Tionscadal Liam S Gógan / Fantastical Fog: The Liam S Gógan Project; Julie Morrissy and Terese Svoboda; and launches with Tara Bergin, Nerys Williams, Erin Fornoff and Elaine Cosgrove (Dedalus Press) and Aifric Mac Aodha, David Wheatley, Andrew Jamison and Conor O'Callaghan (The Gallery Press).  

We were particularly proud to collaborate with Little Island to present Hopscotch in the Sky, a beautiful single volume of poems by Lucinda Jacob for children, illustrated by Lauren O'Neill. The book was launched at Poetry Ireland, with additional interactive events built around the book programmed as part of RTÉ's programme of events on Culture Night at Dublin Castle, as well as at Dublin Book Festival.  

Finally for autumn, we were delighted to announce that Joseph Horgan, Kathleen McCracken and Lorna Shaughnessy were selected poets for the Poetry Ireland / Tyrone Guthrie Centre Bursary 2017. 

Winter

In winter we were thrilled to receive a gift of $250,000 towards our Poetry Ireland Centre capital fund from the Adrian Brinkerhoff Poetry Fund of the Sidney E Frank Foundation. The public funding campaign for the Centre was also launched, and planning permission for the development was granted by Dublin City Council. We are very much looking forward to taking this project forward as a priority in the coming year.
  
On 30 November we marked the 50th anniversary of Patrick Kavanagh's death with a reading in Trinity College Dublin with the Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh Trust, while events at Parnell Square included The Vibrant House: Irish Writing and Domestic Space; An Architect in Public Service; The Snow Project (with IMRAM); In Another World: Van Morrison & Belfast by Gerald Dawe; and Metamorphic: 21st Century Poets respond to Ovid.    

We also partnered with UCD and Science Week to present The Bone Vault: the Poetry and Palaeontology of Heaney's Bog Bodies at the National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology and with The Lit: A Festival of Reading and Writing for Young Adults in Waterford. 

Poetry Aloud regional heats were held in 16 venues throughout the country and the final was held in the National Library of Ireland on 1 December. The standard was impressively high once again, and we send our congratulations to this year's finalists, especially this year's overall winner, 14 year old Brendan Mac Domhnaill from Coláiste Oiriall, Co. Monaghan. 

This year we have been celebrating the 40th anniversary of the Writers in Schools scheme (delivered by Poetry Ireland on behalf of the Arts Council) and the programme was honoured at special events in Áras an Uachtaráin on 20 September and in the Arts Council at Merrion Square on 13 December.  

Writers in Schools also marked the culmination of the Oileán programme with an event at Poetry Ireland on 12 December. The Oileán Programme was made possible by the Irish American Partnership in honuor of Anne Anderson the 17th Ambassador of Ireland to the United States. The ambassador was inspired to support a poetry initiative which would give students in Ireland the opportunity to enjoy workshops with poets and writers, on the themes of emigration and the diaspora. The finale event gave us a chance to hear the outstanding poems written by students from Coláiste an Eachréidh, Athenry, and from Sancta Maria College, Louisburgh, under the guidance of Geraldine Mitchell and Áine Ní Ghlinn.
 
The year came to a festive close with the recording of the RTÉ Christmas Poetry Programme at Poetry Ireland. Presented by Olivia O'Leary and featuring Marie Heaney, poets Rita Ann Higgins, Tom French and Nithy Kasa, actor Cathy Belton, singer songwriter Kevin Doherty, Ciarán Tourish of Altan and pianist James Delaney, the show will be broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1 at 5pm on Christmas Day.