A Poetry Jukebox has been installed at the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) as part of a collaboration with UCD Library’s Poetry as Commemoration initiative. The sound installation, which plays recordings of contemporary poems inspired by the history of the War of Independence and Civil War, sits alongside a major new art exhibition Self-Determination: A Global Perspective. Part of the Decade of Centenaries programme, Self-Determination: A Global Perspective explores common strategies and methodologies developed by artists, cultural practitioners, and others invested in the formation of a new state in the first half of the twentieth century. 

The poems featured in this curation are contemporary reflections on the events that shaped Ireland 100 years ago. Poems range from meditations on major events such as the destruction of the Four Courts and the Belfast Pogrom, to reflections on the histories of individual lives affected by the wars. Ten of the twenty poems are Poetry as Commemoration commissions inspired by archives of the War of Independence and Civil War and the remaining ten poems were selected during an open call to writers earlier this year. 

While the artwork on display at IMMA points to strategies employed by artists during times of political and social upheaval in their region, the poems in the Poetry Jukebox represent the ways in which contemporary writers reflect on the history of conflict in Ireland 100 years later.

Speaking about the initiative, Katherine McSharry, Director of Cultural Heritage at UCD Library, said: 

‘Poetry offers a way to reflect on different facets of our complex past, and the Poetry as Commemoration initiative led by UCD Library has played a very significant role in that process of reflection. Publicly accessible installations such as the Jukebox bring poetry into everyday life, and we are particularly pleased to be doing so in partnership with this important exhibition at IMMA.’

Since January 2022, Poetry as Commemoration – an all-island initiative delivered in partnership with Poetry Ireland and Arts Council Northern Ireland – has encouraged citizens to engage with archives from a century ago and to respond in poetic form to this challenging period in our shared history. The project has collected over 500 poems through workshops, commissions and open calls, and this collection will be preserved in UCD Special Collections for future generations.

On Thursdays 22 November & 29 November, award-winning writer Victoria Kennefick will lead two workshops facilitating poetic responses to artwork featured in Self-Determination: A Global Perspective, at the Irish Museum of Modern Art, Royal Hospital Kilmainham. Find out more here. Poet Hazel Hogan will facilitate workshops with a group of creative practitioners from the Ukrainian Creative Hub at the Museum of Literature Ireland. Second level students will have an opportunity to respond to the exhibition under the guidance of Colm Keegan.

The Poetry Jukebox will be located at the entrance to IMMA until April 2024. If you would like to contribute to the Poetry as Commemoration archive, email poetryascommemoration@ucd.ie or post a poem to UCD Special Collections, James Joyce Library, Belfield, Dublin 4. Submissions will be accepted up until Friday 16 December 2023.