Poetry Ireland publishes Inclusion and Diversity Strategy

13th April 2018

Today, Friday 13 April, Poetry Ireland has published its Diversity and Inclusion Strategy 2018-2020. Poetry Ireland recognises the value of welcoming, encouraging and embracing the work of poets from all communities with a wide variety of needs. The organisation's mission is to connect people and poetry, a mission which can only be achieved when the full diversity of voices within the poetic community is represented. 

Over the past five months Poetry Ireland has sought out feedback from poets from marginalised communities, with particular consideration to the nine grounds of the Equal Status Acts: gender (including transgender), civil status, family status, sexual orientation, religion, age, disability, race, and membership of the Traveller community. The organisation has also sought feedback from poets from diverse socio economic backgrounds. 

In response to the feedback provided, Poetry Ireland has focused its 2018-2020 Diversity and Inclusion Strategy on four key areas, with the aim of confronting and correcting the existing inequities in Irish poetry. These areas are Breaking Down Barriers, Communication and Outreach, Leadership and Opening Doors. 

The commitment outlined in the strategy will be met by piloting a series of initiatives during 2018, as well as a schedule of actions for 2019-2020. Such initiatives have already included a writing workshop geared towards poets of colour facilitated by poet Jackie Kay and a writing workshop of particular interest to LGBTQI+ poets with Eileen Myles.  Palestinian poet Rafeef Ziadah will deliver a workshop in Poetry Ireland on May 10th. Four of the 12 places in the workshop will be reserved for free attendance by Creative Space and Direct Provision writers. A seminar responding to the debate concerning gender representation in the Irish poetic canon, featuring papers exploring 'Missing Voices: Irish Women Poets, 16th-20th centuries' will be held at Poetry Ireland in autumn 2018. A call for papers will be announced later this month. 

Poetry Ireland's Director Maureen Kennelly acknowledges that "As Ireland's largest publicly-funded literary organisation, we have a duty to ensure that poetry from Ireland in all its diversity is visible. We do not believe this mission to be altruistic; we know that it is for the health and relevance of Irish poetry."