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New Partnership for Decade of Centenaries with Irish Poetry Reading Archive at UCD Library

The Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin T.D., has announced a new initiative under the Creative Imagination Strand of the Decade of Centenaries Programme 2012-2023– ‘Poetry as Commemoration’.

The project is led by the UCD Library’s Irish Poetry Reading Archive and supported by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, with a funding allocation of up to €370,000 over the remainder of the Decade of Centenaries Programme.

‘Poetry as Commemoration’ is a unique and innovative project and will see poetry used as a means to deepen our collective understanding of our past and to explore a challenging period of Irish history, relating to the Struggle for Independence and Civil War, in a spirit of openness and inclusivity.

The Irish Poetry Reading Archive will work in partnership with Poetry Ireland and will collaborate with a diverse range of poets, institutions, groups, and individuals across the island of Ireland to deliver innovative and imaginative outputs. Collaborators will include the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, the Local Government Management Agency, county archivists, arts officers, heritage officers, public libraries, schools, universities, museums, and arts organisations, such as the Museum of Literature Ireland.

Ten new poems will be commissioned, in English and Irish, on topics, themes and events relating to the War of Independence and the Civil War, documented by these primary sources. The commissioned poems will be recorded and preserved in the Irish Poetry Reading Archive, and made freely available to everyone. A fine press publication of the commissioned poems will also be published.

An extensive, complementary public engagement programme will also be delivered, with online and in-person events to be held across the island of Ireland, in 2022-2023, including an extensive programme of creative writing workshops for adults and young people. Each activity will draw inspiration from primary source material in our national and local archives. Poetry readings, online exhibitions, a symposium, a ‘poetry in public spaces’ initiative, and a dedicated website hosting a virtual poetry wall are among a range of anticipated opportunities for engagement with poetry as a form of commemoration, created by this initiative.

Minister Martin said, “this is an exciting new partnership between UCD Library’s Poetry Reading Archive and my Department. ‘Poetry as Commemoration’ is a really important opportunity for us all to consider and explore, in a creative way, some of the significant themes and events associated with the emerging Irish State, grounded in engagement with the collections from national and local archives, relating to the War of Independence and the Civil War.”

“‘Poetry as Commemoration’ is a multifaceted project which will provide rich and varied opportunities for meaningful engagement with people of all ages across the island of Ireland. I welcome, too, the project’s collaborative approach and I wish all of the participating partners every success”.

Evelyn Flanagan, one of the founders of UCD Library’s Irish Poetry Reading Archive, together with Dr Lucy Collins and Ursula Byrne added, “we are delighted with the Government’s support for this two-year creative project. This is a great opportunity for the Irish Poetry Reading Archive, working in collaboration with Poetry Ireland, to facilitate a journey of discovery that will engage writers of all ages and levels of experience, encouraging them to draw inspiration from archival material relating to the War of Independence and Civil War. Poetry plays an important role in our collective understanding of Ireland’s past and will help us to explore this challenging period of our history in new and inclusive ways.”

“This project has a very exciting community engagement element at its heart. Events and installations – such as the Poetry Jukebox and Rain Poetry – 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. All of these events and materials will, in turn, be archived, and accessible to future generations. It is a great honour for UCD Library’s Irish Poetry Reading Archive to lead this project”

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