Poetry Ireland and the Poetry Foundation Announce ‘Hope Rhymes’ Partnership

17th March 2021

Poetry Ireland and the Poetry Foundation announce a new multiyear partnership, Hope Rhymes, aimed at connecting communities of poets and audiences in the United States and Ireland, with a focus on engagement with and services for young people.  

The organisations will coordinate to develop and implement a range of programming, beginning in 2021 and continuing into 2023. Alongside alignment across the organisations’ existing programmes, this venture includes a range of new initiatives, including a celebratory event in Washington, DC in 2022. 

US President Joseph Biden and Taoiseach Micheál Martin expressed their welcome for the partnership at their St. Patrick’s Day meeting earlier in the day, noting that it, “affirms the inspirational power of poetry.” The leaders expressed a hope that it would “deepen appreciation of each other’s poetic cultures and...facilitate a sharing of experience between poetry teachers and students across the United States and Ireland.’’ 

The new initiative takes inspiration from Irish poet Seamus Heaney and his verse adaptation of Sophocles' Philoctetes, The Cure at Troy

But then, once in a lifetime 
The longed for tidal wave 
Of justice can rise up 
And hope and history rhyme. 

Engaging Young People with Poetry 

Hope Rhymes will highlight the Poetry Foundation and Poetry Ireland’s respective poetry recitation programmes for young people, strengthening the efforts of both organisations where their work aligns. 

Niamh O’Donnell, director of Poetry Ireland, said the organisation was delighted to be entering into this new exciting partnership with the Poetry Foundation. “Our partnership will help us to shape narratives and, importantly, shift norms,” said O’Donnell. “We’re looking forward to new collaborations and conversations that will take place through Hope Rhymes, bringing a further spotlight to poets and their work, and increasing the opportunities to engage children and young people in their enjoyment of poetry.” 

 A video celebrating the launch of the initiative includes recitations by 13-year-old Brayden Harrington, Choctaw-Ireland Scholar Jessica Militante, and Michael Tient, a 2019 Poetry Aloud winner. 

The opportunities to engage with poetry extends to educators, as Hope Rhymes includes the development of educational materials on the work of selected American and Irish poets to encourage and enhance learning and to support anti-racist poetry pedagogy in classrooms. These materials will be distributed via teacher training conferences hosted by the Poetry Foundation and writer-in-residence programmes run by Poetry Ireland. 

Fostering Transatlantic Dialogue 

In addition to youth-centered programming, Hope Rhymes aims to offer virtual events, which will be free and open to the general public. These readings by and conversations with American and Irish poets will consider issues that inform their poetic work and practices, including race, identity, place, and immigration. 

Ydalmi Noriega, Poetry Foundation director of programs and community engagement, said, “We are very excited to begin this partnership, which opens new opportunities for poets and readers to encounter different perspectives on interconnected themes. It is an opportunity not only to put ourselves before the power of poetry, but to interact with the humanity and lived experiences of the poet." 

The organisations will collaborate with one another where existing programmes align, creating opportunities for resource sharing and inviting new audiences to participate in poetry as a living art form. Hope Rhymes includes a commitment to diversity, inclusion, accessibility, and respect as guides to create spaces that encourage creativity, innovation, appreciation of poetry for all those who wish to engage with 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 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.  

About the Poetry Foundation 

The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organisation committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in American culture. It exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience. The Poetry Foundation seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery, and encouraging new kinds of poetry through innovative literary prizes and programs.