Wednesday, May 30, 2007

TY Evening

(Pictured - Professor Kevin Barry of NUI Galway, with Premier Award winners Rebecca Feeney-Barry, Celeste Guinness, Emily Plunket and Joseph Millar)

Last night in the BSR we concluded this year's Transition Year English course. Eleven pupils read from their work in front of their peers, parents, next year's TY, and other pupils and staff. Kevin Barry (Professor of English Literature at NUI Galway) addressed the audience and commented on this work, and at the end grades were awarded to the 41 pupils.

Over the coming days we hope to post here a small proportion of the 400+ essays written for this year's Work Portfolios. Last night,
  • Shane Lavin read his piece, 'The Oldest Person I know' about his 103 year-old French great-grandmother,
  • Mikeila Cameron read her personal essay, 'My First Home', about her house in Mombasa, Kenya,
  • Crispin Maenpaa read Johnny Cooper's story 'Spying', about a brutal South African policeman,
  • Sarah Wilson read her story 'The End', about a frantic gambling game,
  • Emma Klyne read Rosemary Wentges's 'Oldest Person', about another centenarian great-grandmother,
  • Gary Lawler read Paddy Owens's piece 'Parents',
  • Helene Tonner's powerful 'Oldest Person', about her German octogenarian grandfather, was read by Rosemary Wentges
  • Poppy Law read Celeste Weatherhead's impassioned protest about Saddam Hussein's execution, 'The End',
  • Emily Plunket read her own evocative description of a street late at night,
  • Ollie Smith read Joey Millar's ambitious essay about music, 'Soundtrack',
  • and finally David Beresford read his own entertaining essay, 'What Women Know'.
Then Professor Barry spoke eloquently about the nature and importance of writing. He said he had heard an impressive array of different kinds of writing, and that it was particularly notable that the TY course encouraged the process of revision and correction (in current academic terms, writing always has a 'genetic history'). He cited Jonathan Swift's ideas of the two different kinds of writers - the spider creating nothing new or fresh 'spinning out of its own entrails), the bee gathering its material from the world around it (from 'The Battle of the Books' : "So that, in short, the question comes all to this: whether is the nobler being of the two, that which, by a lazy contemplation of four inches round, by an overweening pride, feeding, and engendering on itself, turns all into excrement and venom, producing nothing at all but flybane and a cobweb; or that which, by a universal range, with long search, much study, true judgment, and distinction of things, brings home honey and wax").

Professor Barry moved on to two other models of writing - the idea of the patchwork quilt promulgated by Walter Benjamin, and finally Dave Hickey's concept of the artist/writer who plays 'air guitar'. He praised the writing he had heard, and finally announced the four winners of Premier Awards this year (pictured above), who achieved over 80% in their course.

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