Matt Brooke from I form opened with 'My Dad's Old Boots', an appropriate start for an evening that involved journeys of many kinds - geographical, linguistic, poetic, emotional...
The first foreign language heard was Russian, in the form of a poem to women by Pushkin read by Olga Kolobkova, and others were Dutch (Lavinia Thelen), Farsi (Milo Reddaway), Latin (Patrick Faulkner), Italian (Sophie Kyd-Rebenburg), Spanish (Gina Mirow), French (Philip Arndt), Gujerati (Rishi Manuel), and German (Helene Tonner). Our national language was represented by Oscar Nunan from Donegal reading a poem by Cathal O Searcaigh.
Interspersed with these languages was poetry in English, much of it by pupils. Olivia Plunket read 'A cold wind', which came out of the Christmas Past project last December; two poems from the TY Images in Art module were Thomas Emmet's 'The Old Guitarist' and Robbie Hollis's 'The Scream'; Opeline Kellett, one of the three successful Poetry Aloud finalists this year, read her Junior Poetry Prize-winning 'Youthful Innocence'; Patrick McGonagle read 'Messy Room' by the American children's author Shel Silverstein (see his fine site here); William Maire, another Poetry Aloud finalist, read Yeats's 'An Irish Airman Foresees his Death'; the Senior Prefect, Rebecca Feeney-Barry, chose Wilfred Owen's 'Has Your Soul Slipped?'; Fiona Boyd, winner of this year's Dix Poetry Prize, read one of her winning pieces, a memorable mirror poem called 'Christmas Reflexive'; and the evening concluded with Molly Buckingham reading 'Dawn' by the youngest poet of the night, Mark Russell from Primary.
There were also readings from staff members - the Warden marked Seamus Heaney's recent 70th birthday with 'Twice Shy' and his powerful sestina 'Two Lorries' (listen to Heaney reading it here on the Poetry Archive); Dr Riemenschneider, shortly on her way to America after two years here, read Robert Frost's 'The Road not Taken'; Mr McCarthy read a powerful personal poem about love by his brother Ted (from his 1999 book November Wedding); and the Chaplain, shortly to retire, delivered Peter Dix's poem 'We all walk on walls', which is inscribed on the front of the Dix Memorial Award (pictured).
It was a superb evening, full of juxtapositions and surprises, eddying through seriousness and humour, and expertly brought together by organiser and presenter Mr Swift.