Poemathon with Older People

12th January 2021

Poemathon with Older People brings a spotlight to their voices, imagination and creativity 

Poetry Ireland with the Global Brain Health Institute (Trinity College Dublin) and Neuroscience Ireland is inviting older people across the island of Ireland to write a line of poetry for a Poemathon with Older People.  

The contributions will be combined to form a longer poem that captures the thoughts and imaginings of older people right now in society. John Sheahan, one of Ireland’s best known musicians and member of The Dubliners, has penned the opening line of the poem: “Intrepid intruder, stalker of unwashed hands”.  

He will also be contributing the final line of the poem, which will be curated and edited by poet and editor Seamus Cashman.  

John Sheahan said, “The Poemathon with Older People is helping to give a voice to an older generation - a wonderful way to bring us together creatively from all parts of the island of Ireland in a collaborative poem. I look forward to seeing how each contribution steers the poem, meandering like a river, towards its final destination when the finished poem is launched in March.”    

Submissions to the Poemathon can be made through the Google form below from 18 January until 5pm on 12 February

Niamh O’Donnell, Director of Poetry Ireland, said that the project is designed to give an opportunity to create, to imagine, and to write.  

“The Poemathon is a creative opportunity to express reflections, reactions and responses to what is currently happening in society including the great number of changes to our lives, and particularly to the lives of older people, due to the Covid-19 restrictions,” she said.  

“I’m really looking forward to reading their specific and deep insights into issues of isolation and togetherness, community and belonging, vulnerability, resilience and hope. It’s really vital at this time to provide a space for their voices and thoughts while celebrating creativity for everyone and we’re delighted John Sheahan is working with us on the Poemathon, along with the Global Brain Health Institute and Neuroscience Ireland.” 

The Poemathon with Older People is following on the success of the Poetry Day Ireland Poemathon for children, which took place in April 2020, and saw 380 young writers contribute lines to a poem with the first and last lines penned by the President of Ireland, Michael D Higgins.  

Collaboration in poetry writing has a long history and tradition, often used as a method of ‘opening the voice’ in poetry workshops, based on the idea that when writers share in a writing process, the outcomes often prove to be imaginative and surprising, with a creative conversation taking place within poems themselves. 

The Global Brain Health Institute at Trinity College Dublin is one of the partners in the Poemathon project.  

"As an Atlantic Fellow at the Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI), I work to promote brain health and dignity in aging populations," said Dr Francesca Farina. "I am therefore delighted that GBHI is supporting the Poemathon in partnership with Poetry Ireland and Neuroscience Ireland. 

“This creative project is devoted to older people across the island of Ireland. At a time when many may feel forgotten and vulnerable, the Poemathon is an opportunity to remember and acknowledge peoples’ experiences and, ultimately, help us to feel more connected as a society.” 

One lucky entrant will be drawn at random to receive a book bundle comprising of titles from Poetry Ireland and Trinity College Dublin.  

John Sheahan bio 
John Sheahan is one of Ireland’s best known musicians. He was a member of The Dubliners from 1964 to 2012. He has played with musicians the world over and has guested on numerous folk, traditional and rock recordings. His own compositions, among them The Marino Waltz and Autumn in Paris, have become essential elements of the Irish musical repertoire. In 2013, John was conferred with an honorary doctorate in music from Trinity College Dublin. In 2015, he published Fiddle Dreams (Dedalus Press), his debut collection of poems and lyrics. In 2020, at age 80, he published his debut solo album, Flirting Fiddles. 

Seamus Cashman bio 
Seamus taught in Tanzania in the 1960s and then in Ireland before founding Wolfhound Press in 1974. After 2001, when he ceased publishing, in addition to his poetry writing, he was a workshop facilitator in schools across the country. Seamus has read his own poetry in Ireland, England and other EU countries, and the USA and the Middle East. His poetry books include That morning will come: new and selected (Salmon, 2007), The Sistine Gaze: I too begin with scaffolding (Salmon, 2015), and the children’s anthology of poems by Irish poets, P is for Poetry (O’Brien, 2020). 

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 combines its role as a promoter and supporter of poetry with advocacy for poets, advancing the art form through solid development goals. Poetry Ireland is one of the few organisations that receives funding from both Arts Councils on the island. 

Global Brain Health Institute, Trinity College Dublin 
The Global Brain Health Institute (GBHI) is a leader in the global community dedicated to protecting the world’s aging populations from threats to brain health. GBHI works to reduce the scale and impact of dementia in three ways: by training and connecting the next generation of leaders in brain health through the Atlantic Fellows for Equity in Brain Health programme; by collaborating in expanding preventions and interventions; and by sharing knowledge and engaging in advocacy. We strive to improve brain health for populations across the world, reaching into local communities and across our global network. To learn more visit gbhi.org or follow us on Twitter @GHBI_Fellows.     

Neuroscience Ireland  
Neuroscience Ireland (NI) was established in 2005 as Ireland’s National Neuroscience Society, and is a registered charity in the Republic of Ireland. The aim of the Society is to advance research and education in the neurosciences in Ireland, and to represent Irish neuroscience researchers both nationally and internationally. NI has a membership in the region of 200 scientists and clinicians, and represents Ireland on the Governing Council of the Federation of European Neuroscience Societies (FENS). The current President of NI is Prof Áine Kelly, Trinity College Dublin.