Tuesday, May 31, 2022

Senior Poetry Prize 2022

 Mr Canning writes:

The Peter Dix Memorial Prize for Poetry 2022 was awarded to Transition Year pupil Isabella Treacy. It was the overall consistency and quality of her submitted body of five poems based on or inspired by the idea of either or all of  MEMORIES or JOY or ECHOES which edged out some other very strong entries. It was fantastic that so many Transition Year students entered.

Knots by Isabella Treacy

Once we were a pair,
Content to stay
Transfixed in each other's steady gaze,
You look at me now with hollow eye sockets
And smile,
Yesterday I was a word,
A word that I could never find
Left with no voice to speak it,
Now I am a happy song
Placed on your lips,
By this sound I was resurrected,
Life was not aware of me
And I wasn’t aware of life,
Now, its flames warm my heart
Please, don't ever stop singing,
You showed me that life
Wasn’t about extending your time,
But I had already crowned that same old passing
In such an idyllic swiftness,
For everything dies
And may the days
All pass me by,
As the stillness covers my ears
Until all sound disappears,
And I am left again with a word,
And no one left to speak it.   

Monday, May 30, 2022

Voices of Poetry 2022

Sunday evening saw the special event that is Voices of Poetry return to the Big Schoolroom in its long-lasting and infallible format: a pupil or teacher reading a short poem after a brief explanation in a darkened room, picked out by a single spotlight. Some of these were in languages other than English: it is amazing how powerful such readings can be, even if you don’t understand the lines. The evening was organised by Mr Swift, and the presenter was Mr Girdham.

Marianne Lee from First Form opened proceedings, with her own evocative poem ‘The Witching Hour’, followed by Mr Jameson from the English Department with a translation of a poem by the Swedish Nobel Laureate Tomas Tranströmer, 'The Tree and the Sky'.

The other languages kicked in: poems in Italian (Alexia Fantacci), German (Toni Ladanyi), Cecilia Corti (Arabic), Irish (Dairbhre Murray) and Chinese (Harry Wang). The aural contrasts were fascinating.

Mr Girdham then read out ‘Resistance’, recently written by the British Poet Laureate Simon Armitage in solidarity with all those under fire and bombardment in Ukraine, which led on naturally to Pavlo Shvalov reading a piece in Ukrainian celebrating his country’s independence.

Another step change was to Leonid Mylvaganam, who read out his own flowing work, close to performance poetry. Three European languages came next: Dutch (Josefien Hutchinson), French (Eole Mignot) and Spanish (Mateo Aliaga). Again, it was remarkable to hear the differences even though you can drive from one country to the next.

This year’s Junior Poetry Prize was won by Delia Brady, and her poem 'The Moon' was read by Anna Rose McManus.  She was followed by the Warden, who said that from a young age at prep school he had to learn poems off by heart, and he recited G.K. Chesterton’s ‘The Donkey’.

Then, Slavic languages were represented by Polish (Dr Pyz) and Czech (Phoebe Landseer).  

The next two poems brought us close to the end, with two people who are soon to leave the College: Ms Heidi Kavanagh (Yeats’s ‘When You are Old and Grey’) and the Senior Prefect, Evie Pringle, with Stevie Smith’s 'In My Dreams'.

And finally, Mr Canning announced the winner of this year’s Peter Dix Memorial Prize for Poetry (pictured), Isabella Treacy, and read out a poem from her winning portfolio, 'The Knots'.

To conclude, Mr Girdham recommended Pádraig Ó Tuama’s podcast Poetry Unbound: a short podcast twice a week on a single poem, with
Ó Tuama’s reflections. It does what poetry should do for readers: provide a space for attention away from the busy noise of the world. And that is just what Voices of Poetry does too.