2022-2023 marks the centenary of one of the most challenging periods in Irish history including the ratification of the Anglo-Irish Treaty, the establishment of the Free State and the ensuing Civil War. As we embark on this difficult phase of the Decade of Centenaries, Poetry as Commemoration invites communities to turn to poetry as a mode of understanding and expression.

Poetry, as a medium, invites nuanced interpretation, unpacking complex issues in a compressed space. As former Director of Poetry Ireland, Niamh O’Donnell, has stated, poetry has a generative capacity, ‘offering interaction and discovery as an alternative to confrontation, offering curiosity not certainty, hope not hate’.  Poetry can communicate the effect of significant events on the lives of ordinary people, while simultaneously promoting a shared understanding of these events.

Poetry as Commemoration encourages people on the island of Ireland, to build a greater understanding of our shared past through creative engagement with archival materials  relating to the War of Independence and Civil War.

The project involves 3 core activities:

  • Poetry Commissions
    Ten new poems will be commissioned, inspired by primary sources, in English and Irish, on topics, themes and events relating to this challenging period of Irish history.
  • Creative Writing Workshops
    A community engagement programme of creative writing workshops for a range of age groups will be rolled out in 2022 and 2023. Archival materials relating to the War of Independence and Civil War era will be used to inspire these workshops. Poems created in workshops will be gathered to form a new archive which will be housed in the Irish Poetry Reading Archive, UCD Library, as a record of public commemorative practice. This archive will be part of the legacy of the Decade of Commemorations and will, in time, be made available to the public for research and teaching.
  • Public Art
    Touring public art installations will make the written word come to life in our public spaces, bringing poetry to new audiences and opening up unique perspectives on the past.

Team

Ursula Byrne, Head of Development & Strategic Initiatives, UCD Library.

Dr. Lucy Collins, Associate Professor of Modern Poetry, UCD School of English, Drama & Film.

Evelyn Flanagan, Head of Special Collections, UCD Library.

Dr. Catherine Wilsdon, Creative Producer, Poetry as Commemoration.

This project is an initiative of the Irish Poetry Reading Archive at UCD and is supported by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, under the Decade of Centenaries 2012-2023 programme.

Legacy

Fine Print Edition

Ten commissioned poems will be published as a limited edition collection, providing a tangible record of the Decade of Centenaries and a legacy object for future generations. It will contribute to our collective memory while also engaging imaginatively with a new and future Ireland. This book will represent a collaboration between poet, artist and printer and will include an introduction and contextualisation by academics and archivists.

Recordings

Recordings of commissioned poets reading their poems will be made available to a national and international audience via the Irish Poetry Reading Archive, where their preservation will be assured.

Workshops

Poems written by workshop participants will be preserved by the Irish Poetry Reading Archive on the Virtual Poetry Wall and in UCD Library providing a tangible record of participants’ engagement with the commemoration of the War of Independence and Civil War through poetry in 2022-2023.

Website

Screenshot of website homepageThis site including all poems gathered and submitted will be web archived by UCD Library as a record of this Decade of Centenaries project.

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